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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


New Active Spaces partnership will protect open spaces and tackle physical inactivity across the UK - Fields in Trust

A new Fields in Trust protection programme will create a legacy of 50 permanently safeguarded outdoor spaces across the UK and tackle physical inactivity. The Active Spaces programme funded by The London Marathon Charitable Trust will protect recreational land and encourage people, particularly the most inactive communities, to participate in physical activity, sport and play.

This is the first UK-wide funding programme delivered by The London Marathon Charitable Trust. The innovative Active Spaces partnership will safeguard the future of green spaces across the UK The Trust has set aside £675,000 in 2017/18 to safeguard 50 green spaces in perpetuity and to fund activation programmes on those sites. Through the partnership with Fields in Trust, the green spaces will be protected from development by funding from The Trust. In addition, each site will be awarded a grant of up to £5,000 by The Trust to fund programmes that inspire the local community to get active. Programmes can include any activity including walking, cycling or coaching on the use of outdoor gym equipment.

One chosen site in each home nation (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) which demonstrates the most significant impact will receive a major grant of £25,000 for its activation programme.  Landowners and communities across the UK can now apply online to protect a site and to secure funding for activation programmes. Sites will be selected for support following an assessment of the proposed activation programme.

Find out more and apply online to protect a site. 


Litter raises money for local charities - Keep Scotland Beautiful

Our latest report shows that a social experiment to tackle littering in Paisley has helped to clean up the town centre streets and raised hundreds of pounds to support local good causes.

The innovative project, undertaken on behalf of The Wrigley Company, and Renfrewshire Council, set out to test visitors to the town centres’ littering behaviours. Members of the public were encouraged to use specially branded bins which highlighted the good causes that were set to benefit if they disposed of their rubbish in them.

The experiment, undertaken over a 15-week period, monitored the existing litter levels in the area before installing the highly visible charity branded bin wraps. It then put local people to the test to see if they would use the bins more frequently if a good cause was set to benefit.  A 16% increase in litter being collected was reported and surveys in the local area also found that 61% of people felt that making bins more prominent would increase usage.

Our Chief Executive commented, “Keep Scotland Beautiful recently reported that local environmental quality throughout Scotland is deteriorating. We all have a shared responsibility to do more collectively and individually to protect our local environments. By focussing on preventing litter being dropped in the first instance this reduces the need to clean up a local area. This innovative project is a perfect example of how we can encourage more people to carefully consider their littering behaviour and make it easy for them to do the right thing.”


Feasibility study: translocation of species for the establishment or protection of populations in northerly and/or montane environments - Scottish Natural Heritage publications

Climate change is predicted to have substantial impacts on biodiversity, in some cases driving species to extinction when they are unable to track suitable climatic conditions. This is a particular threat for alpine species, given both the strong control on them exerted by climatic conditions and the increasing isolation of alpine species at higher altitudes. Translocations have been proposed as a technique for helping to conserve such species, if threatened during climate change. 

Download the report (PDF)


Wildlife Challenge Goes Mobile With Inspirational App! – Surrey Wildlife Trust

Nature lovers can now have wild inspiration at their fingertips as Surrey Wildlife Trust launches its latest 30 Days Wild mobile phone app.

The annual 30 Days Wild challenge is being billed as ‘sunshine for the soul’ this year. The charity is urging everybody, everywhere to get closer to nature every day this June – and feel happier and healthier as a result.

The free 30 Days Wild phone app generates 101 ‘Random Acts of Wildness’ - simple actions people can take to help or connect with nature every day during the month of June.

Image: Free 30 days wild mobile phone app!Image: Free 30 days wild mobile phone app!

“We’re really excited about getting people of all ages across Surrey engaged with nature every day in June – whether you take time out to listen to birdsong, have your meeting or lesson outside, go pond dipping or climb a tree,” said Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Magowan. “The mobile phone app makes it so easy – you’ll never be short of ideas!”

The nature challenge has been supported by international film star Dame Judi Dench this year, who made a surprise cameo appearance in Surrey Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild video! The much-loved Surrey actress, who is patron of the Trust, took time out from her filming schedule to record a message appealing to us all to get out and go wild in June. “Surrey Wildlife Trust would like you to do something wild on every day in June,” says Dame Judi in the video. “Just get out and do something every day – just go wild!” 


First ‘Chough’ Chick Born in Kent for 150 years! – Wildwood Trust

Image: Wildwood TrustConservationists are celebrating as the first ever baby chough chick is born at the Wildwood Trust conservation centre.  Expert conservationists at the Canterbury based charity say this is the first ever chough to be born in Kent in at least 150 years. Lost to Kent for centuries, the magnificent chough, which adorns the Canterbury City's coat of arms and civic regalia, can once again be seen back in the county synonymous with this wonderful bird.

Image: Wildwood Trust

The chough, a member of the crow family, is one of the rarest birds in the UK and was driven to extinction in Kent well over 100 years ago. The chough has a long-standing association with Kent and still lives on in the coat of arms of CanterburyCity and the University of Kent, and in Shakespeare's King Lear (Act iv – Fields near Dover, Scene 6) where he introduces the chough in his description of the Dover Cliffs. 


8 things we’ve learned from the first year of the Polli:Nation survey - OPAL

Last year saw the launch of Polli:Nation, a large-scale national survey that is providing answers to important research questions about the health and status of pollinating insects across the UK.Polli:Nation Project Officer Vanessa Barber reports back on an eventful first season.

Pollinators are struggling. Half the UK’s bumblebee species, two thirds of our moths and 71% of our butterflies are in decline. But we can all do something about it.

Polli:Nation is all about empowering people to take action to protect their local bees, flies, butterflies and other pollinating insects. This time last year, we asked the nation to count pollinators in their garden, local park or schoolyard and to pick a 10 x 10 metre patch, recording the different habitat types and plant species.

We received 474 survey submissions from across the UK and have just finished analysing the mound of data collected - here’s what we’ve learned.

1. Daisies were the most common species of flower participants spotted… but you’re far more likely to find pollinators buzzing around bramble, buddleia or umbelifers

2.  Sunshine + ‘floweriness’ = more pollinators

3. Honeybees take number one spot in our ‘Species Quest’

4. The most common habitat reported was short grass – showing huge potential for improvement

5. Our participants counted 5,513 flies, beetles, bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects

6. Two thirds of participants were inspired to take action to improve their patch

7. In total, Polli:Nation participants put 20 days’ worth of time into surveying their local pollinators and habitat, covering a total of 42768 m2

8) Pollinators still need your help!

You can contribute to our research by becoming a citizen scientist and surveying your school grounds, park or garden for pollinators. If you would like to part in this season’s survey, everything you need to get started can be found here

 For further details of the findings please read the full Polli:Nation results 2016 report. (PDF) 


Royal Bank of Canada donates Chelsea garden to Martin Mere - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Royal Bank of Canada and the Wildfowl &Wetlands Trust announced that the Royal Bank of Canada Garden from the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be donated and relocated to the WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Lancashire following the show.

Royal Bank of Canada garden (image WWT)Royal Bank of Canada garden (image WWT)

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, and designer Charlotte Harris drew inspiration from the vast and ecologically vital boreal forest and freshwater lakes of Canada. The garden seeks to create a space inspired by this landscape rather than to recreate it; a wilder garden folds around man-made elements, crafted from materials evocative of the boreal.

Following its showcase at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Bank of Canada Garden will be relocated to the Wooded Wetlands development, which opened at WWT Martin Mere in August 2016. The new attraction was a complete redevelopment of the North American area of the waterfowl gardens and features waterfowl species found in the boreal zone.  

WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray CBE said: “We’re thrilled to receive the opportunity to give visitors a taste of the great Canadian wilderness right here in Britain. Martin Mere is about enjoying beautiful nature, and appreciating how these natural landscapes look after us wherever we are. It really is an awe inspiring garden – we’re very grateful to Royal Bank of Canada for continuing their longstanding support of WWT’s wetland conservation through their Blue Water Project”.


Back to health for the River Clyde - Scottish Government

Water quality improves significantly.

Investment in the River Clyde has helped to tackle pollution and restore habitats, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed.  

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) which monitors the water quality in Scotland’s lochs and rivers has reported the Clyde is in significantly better health than expected thanks to investment by Scottish Water, SEPA, farmers and local authorities.  

Between 2010 and 2021, Scottish Water will have invested more than £600 million in wastewater treatment works and sewerage systems in the area.   The Scottish Government’s Water Environment Fund (WEF) which is administered by SEPA has helped restore natural habitats by removing fish barriers and concrete channels to allow fish to reach the upper reaches of the Clyde catchment. The WEF fund has already invested £3.1 million in river restoration projects near Hamilton and Shotts, with more investment planned for this coming year. 

These efforts have resulted in: 

  • River quality improving from ‘bad’, the worst category, to ‘moderate’ in 2015 with some stretches of river now at ‘excellent’;
  • The quality of water discharged from wastewater treatment works has improved and overflows from sewers have been limited;
  • 100 km of waterways opened up with salmon reintroduced in higher parts of the river;
  • Less pollution from agricultural sources. 


Columbia Sportwear® becomes the official outfitter of the National Parks’ rangers and staff - National Parks 

Today (24/5), Columbia Sportswear and the UK’s National Parks announced a first of its kind five-year partnership, making Columbia the official outfitter of the National Parks’ rangers and staff – the people who protect and promote some of Britain’s best-loved landscapes. 

Columbia has committed to outfitting upwards of 2,000 National Park staff for five years, including 300 rangers, providing high quality clothing that’s ‘tested tough’ and designed to keep them warm, dry, cool and protected in Britain’s toughest conditions.  In addition to outfitting rangers and staff and obtaining their valuable feedback on the gear, Columbia will work alongside the National Parks on new initiatives to deepen the public’s understanding of their National Parks and encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors. 

Jacquie Burgess, Chair of National Parks UK says, “Columbia Sportswear is showing a strong commitment to the UK’s National Parks with this partnership. Providing clothing for more than 2,000 staff is a very significant contribution, supporting the very heart of our work.  Columbia will take a leading role in helping to increase public understanding of our wonderful National Parks by sharing the stories of our people and our Parks over the coming five years.”

Steve Curl, Chair of National Parks Partnerships LLP, the organisation that facilitates corporate partnerships on behalf of the UK National Parks, says, “We applaud Columbia for this enlightened investment in the UK’s National Parks. This is a high-value partnership, enabling us to focus our resources towards looking after these special places for now and for future generations to enjoy. We have been hugely impressed by Columbia’s environmental and ethical commitments as well as their genuine enthusiasm for the UK’s National Parks and their plan for support over the next five years.”


Volunteers give Highland beaches a makeover - Scottish Wildlife Trust

Two scenic beaches north of Ullapool in the North West Highlands have been treated to a makeover by almost 50 volunteers through our Living Seas project. 

300 bags of rubbish collected during a beach clean at Dun Canna © Noel Hawkins via Scottish Wildlife Trust300 bags of rubbish collected during a beach clean at Dun Canna © Noel Hawkins via Scottish Wildlife Trust

More than 300 bags of rubbish were gathered from two beaches at Dun Canna – enough to fill a 25 cubic metre skip. Most of the rubbish was made up of fishing nets and ropes, plastic bottles and caps, as well as old toys and food packaging.

The two beaches which have been cleared are on either side of an Iron Age fort nestled on a headland on the shore of Keanchulish Estate. They have become covered and clogged in predominantly plastic waste, netting, containers, ropes and even old metal fish tins that date back to Soviet factory ships from the 1970s and ’80s.

Living Seas Communities Officer Noel Hawkins said: “Marine waste is an ever increasing issue. Not only does it spoil beautiful locations but it’s also a serious threat to marine life, and can injure pets and visitors to the beach. Access to the beaches at Dun Canna involves a mile and half long walk over hills and fields so removing the rubbish is a challenge, but we saw this as an opportunity to bring together different people and groups to try and tackle the situation. Many of those who came along were shocked by the sheer scale of the litter. Hopefully taking part in beach cleans encourages people not only to come and help but also to look at how much plastic they use and how it is disposed of.”


SNH revokes licence on Raeshaw Estate after suspected wildlife crime offences - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estates as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime.

Police Scotland is now investigating the potential offences on the Scottish Borders estate.

SNH imposed a general licence restriction on Raeshaw Estates in 2015 on the basis of clear evidence provided by Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on the estate. The estate challenged the restriction through a judicial review, but the restriction was upheld in March this year.

During a compliance check this month, SNH staff found multiple instances of breaches of conditions of an individual licence that had been granted to cover essential management activities on the estate. These breaches may also constitute offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so SNH has reported the details to Police Scotland.

General licences allow land owners or managers to carry out certain management actions with minimal bureaucracy, largely relying on trust that land managers will carry out activities legally. This includes controlling common species of wild birds to protect crops or livestock. However, those land managers in which SNH has lost confidence may have their General Licences removed, as was the case at Raeshaw. The estate is then allowed to apply for individual licences to control wild birds, which gives SNH more control and oversight of the activities being carried out.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of National Operations, said: “‘After discovering several failures to comply with the terms, we have no other option than to revoke the licence. In cases like this, we have to take breaches of licences very seriously and will work with Police Scotland as they investigate this case. We hope this also spreads the message that we will take action to stop wildlife crime whenever possible. We’re committed to working strongly in partnership with Police Scotland, and other members of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS), to stamp out wildlife crime in Scotland.” 


Response: RSPB Scotland responds to news of revoked licence at Raeshaw Estate

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has today announced that it has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estate as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime. In response, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson, said: “Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise at all in relation to this particular estate. These latest multiple breaches found by SNH on the Raeshaw Estate can be added to a long list of confirmed poisoning, shooting and illegal trapping cases in this area dating back over more than a decade.

“The fact that there is an ongoing criminal investigation here, despite the sanctions previously imposed by SNH, echoes a pattern of repeat offending that occurs in a significant number of areas of Scotland where intensive grouse moor management is the main land use.

“While we welcome SNH’s revocation of the individual licenses issued to this estate’s employees, it is clear that current legislation and the available penalties are no deterrent to the continued criminal targeting of protected wildlife. The time has come for a robust regulatory regime, including the licensing of gamebird shoots, where wildlife crimes with a proven link to estate management could lead to a loss of shooting rights.”


Wildlife groups call for partnership with shooting community over licensing of gamebird hunting - RSPB

Wildlife conservation organisations are calling for a progressive partnership with the shooting community, to develop a licensing scheme for gamebird hunting in Scotland.

The Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG), the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland want to see a regulatory system introduced that helps tackle wildlife crime while delivering a range of public benefits, and would like to see the shooting industry play a full role in this approach.

The call follows the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee’s consideration this week, of a petition calling for gamebird shooting in Scotland to be licensed - which was lodged by the SRSG.

The committee recognised that the illegal persecution of birds of prey remains a widespread concern and has voted to write to the Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, recommending that the Scottish Government commission an inquiry to explore how such a licensing system could work.

All three wildlife groups welcome the ECCLR Committee’s decision and its view that a fresh approach to address the issue of persecution and the associated unsustainable land management practices is required.


Scientific Publications

Krupke, C. H., Holland, J. D., Long, E. Y. & Eitzer, B. D. (2017) Planting of neonicotinoid-treated maize poses risks for honey bees and other non-target organisms over a wide area without consistent crop yield benefit. Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12924


Orwin, K. H., Mason, N. W. H., Jordan, O. M., Lambie, S. M., Stevenson, B. A. and Mudge, P. L., Season and dominant species effects on plant trait – ecosystem function relationships in intensively grazed grassland. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12939 


Prevedello, J. A., Almeida-Gomes, M. and Lindenmayer, D. B., The importance of scattered trees for biodiversity conservation: a global meta-analysis. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12943


Hume, A. M., Chen, H. Y. H. and Taylor, A. R., Intensive forest harvesting increases susceptibility of northern forest soils to carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus loss. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12942


Pettett, C.E., Moorhouse, T.P., Johnson, P.J. et al. Factors affecting hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) attraction to rural villages in arable landscapes. Eur J Wildl Res (2017) 63: 54. doi:10.1007/s10344-017-1113-6


Helen Hoyle, Anna Jorgensen, Philip Warren, Nigel Dunnett, Karl Evans, “Not in their front yard” The opportunities and challenges of introducing perennial urban meadows: A local authority stakeholder perspective, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Available online 25 May 2017, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2017.05.009.


Fernández, N., Navarro, L. M. and Pereira, H. M. (2017), Rewilding: A Call for Boosting Ecological Complexity in Conservation. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12374



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