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


CJS in DepthThis week is National Parks Week and we've been highlighting some of the in-depth articles from the Parks.

logo: North York Moors National ParkThe North York Moors National Park (where CJS is based - aren't we lucky!) is Championing Apprenticeships

 We are really lucky in that all of us working for the North York Moors get to be paid for spending part of our working time (some more than others!) in our beautiful national park.   Judging by the numbers of applicants that we get for many of our roles, it seems as if lots of other people agree as well.

 We recruit a variety of people at different levels.  We take on trainees from apprentices through to undergraduate placements and post-graduate trainees.  We also need experienced people from a variety of disciplines to join our Conservation and Ranger teams. 

Job roles for experienced staff range from practitioner level, being out there working directly with people and making things happen on the ground, through to managerial posts. While the knowledge needed to carry out these different roles may be similar, the way in which this is used and the skills required can be very different.

Read on for more or click here to see apprenticeships currently available.


logo: Cairngorms National ParkCairngorms National Park - a National Park for all.

Cairngorms National Park is making sure that it is  - A National Park for All 

The Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s largest National Park.  It contains some of the best wildlife habitats in the UK including ancient pine forests, arctic mountain tops, lochs, rivers and moorlands.  Home to a quarter of UK threatened species, it is rich in landscapes, habitats and heritage.  

With such unique qualities the National Park is a fantastic learning resource that inspires people to find out more about its natural and cultural heritage. The landscape begs to be explored and encourages people to get outside and become more active and healthy. 

The Cairngorms National Park is used and enjoyed by 1.5m visitors each year, as well as the 18,000 people who live and work here.  However, we know that there are several groups of people who are under-represented in engaging with the National Park, these include the younger generation, those with disabilities, people on low incomes and also ethnic minorities.  

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is committed to developing a Park for All, part of that work includes identifying the reasons why these groups are not visiting the National Park, then working in partnership with others to encourage and support such groups.  Read on.


logo: Exmoor National ParkIn November 2008 Dave Gurnett, Education Manager, wrote about 20 years of Environmental Education in Exmoor National Park.

"We realise that the adults of today are the children of yesterday and the more time we can spend integrating them into their environment the greater the understanding and belief in the purposes of a NP. We certainly aren’t perfect, but I like to think that trying to engage every child during every year of their education within Exmoor has created some inflammable stuff."

If we want children to continue to enjoy and respect our National Parks that's just as true today as when Dave wrote it nearly 10 years ago. Read the article.


Rare Beetle discovered at How Hill - Broads Authority

The Broads Authority is able to announce the exciting discovery of the Black Longhorn Beetle (Stictoleptura Scutellata) at How Hill. This impressive longhorn beetle is nationally scarce, however despite this fact, a new breeding site was discovered on a tall dead beech trunk at the entrance to the secret garden at How Hill. 

The Black Longhorn Beetle © Michael O'Hara via Broads AuthorityThe Black Longhorn Beetle © Michael O'Hara via Broads Authority

This is a prime example of the importance of maintaining deadwood for the sake of the array of species that are dependent upon its existence. None more so than the Black Longhorn Beetle which particularly favours dead alder stumps and branches. This unusual beetle spends most of its time high in the canopy of large trees but can be found on occasion visiting flowers.

The discovery of the Black Longhorn Beetle is of particular significance as there were previously no records whatsoever of the beetle in Norfolk or Suffolk until one was photographed on fen vegetation at Sutton Fen on the 7th July 2016. It was then on the 27th June 2017 that one appeared when photographed feeding on meadowsweet blossom at How Hill by Red O’Hara and, after several unsuccessful visits by Martin Rejzek (a national longhorn expert), and Martin Collier (Norfolk Beetle Recorder) a breeding site was discovered where a few examples were seen flying and ovipositing in the bark on 9th July 2017.

Andrea Kelly, Senior Ecologist for the Broads Authority stated that, ‘the discovery of this conservation priority species shows the success of our work to retain the full age structure of trees, particularly old deadwood which this rare longhorn beetle requires. Deadwood plays a crucial role in all woodlands, not only by storing nutrients and carbon but also providing the specific conditions for fungi, lichens, bugs and beetles, mosses and birds, many of which have evolved to be entirely dependent on old wood.’


Advice follows diagnosis of Chalara ash dieback disease in ash trees - Isle of Man Government

A disease that can prove fatal to ash trees has been detected in the Island for the first time, prompting a request to landowners to be vigilant and report possible cases.

The presence of Chalara ash dieback disease on private land in the south of the Island, and in the surrounding area, has been confirmed by a UK laboratory.

The disease, caused by a fungus, was detected in the UK in 2012 and is well-established there.

Control on imports has helped the Island to remain free of the disease until now. It is estimated that around one in five of the Island’s hedgerow trees are ash. 

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘It’s disappointing that this disease has reached the Island as it has the potential to change our landscape over time.  In raising public awareness of its appearance and the steps to take if it’s suspected, we hope it can be contained as far as possible.  We are reviewing policies and procedures implemented elsewhere so we can take the most appropriate action to mitigate the impact of the disease on the Island.’


Mapping the state of alien species across the globe - British Ecological Society

Invasive non-native species cost the world billions of dollars every year, threatening native species and biodiversity as well as human health and the way ecosystems work. While ecologists now understand how – and why – these plant and animal invaders spread, a global picture across different groups of organisms and ecosystems has been lacking.

To address this, the British Ecological Society is this week holding a symposium at Durham University, bringing together UK and international ecologists to gather the latest evidence on the geographical distribution and abundance of non-native (alien) species worldwide. The delegates will explore global patterns and drivers of established alien species and their possible ecological and evolutionary impacts.

Human-mediated transport and trade in a globalised world combined with climate change have led to unprecedented movements of alien species among continents and oceans.

According to Dr Wayne Dawson from Durham University, one of the event’s organisers: “The challenge for us is to understand what the consequences are of mixing up the world’s species, to decide how to deal with this change, and what measures we can put in place to try to predict and prevent further introductions.”


Report shows Welsh countryside improvements – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Farmers, land managers and foresters contributing to improvements in Welsh countryside for people and nature, new report shows

A Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) report published today (Tuesday 25 July) on behalf of a wider consortium for Welsh GovernmentReport front cover (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) reports on early findings of the impact of the Glastir land management scheme and long-term trends in the Welsh countryside. Evidence from over 50 indicators collected in a major field survey campaign suggests there have been many improvements in the Welsh countryside for people and nature over the last 30-40 years.

Report front cover (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

The report found there are two to three times more indicators improving (26-30%) than declining (8-14%) in the short and long term, with the remaining 60% showing no change.

Real success has been seen in the improvement of blanket bogs over the last two decades which has been the focus of so much restoration action. Improvement has also been seen in stream water quality and there is now overall stability in bird diversity and specialist butterfly species, with improvements in woodland and upland breeding bird populations. Overall, plant species richness and those indicative of good condition are stable or improving in woodland, open habitat and improved land. More public rights of way are now easy to use.

Remaining areas of concern are just under half of our Historic Environment Features are under some type of threat, 35% priority bird species remain in decline and only a minority of ponds are in good ecological condition. Soil quality is generally stable, but with some early warning signs of some potential problems which need to be monitored going forward.


Boost for bees and butterflies - Scottish Government

Ten-year plan to stop decline of pollinating insects.

A new strategy has been launched to make Scotland a more pollinator friendly place by protecting indigenous bee and butterfly populations.

Since 1980 the number of pollinating insects in Scotland - honey bees, bumble bees, the solitary bee, butterflies and hoverflies - have declined by an estimated 51%, leading to fears of a negative impact on agriculture, food security, the economy and human health.

Buff tailed bumblebee (image: Scottish Government)Buff tailed bumblebee (image: Scottish Government)

The Pollinator Strategy calls for:

  • the restoration and creation of flower rich habitats,
  • greater use of green urban infrastructures, such as roof top gardens
  • the development and use of pollinator friendly pest control
  • new research into the impact of climate change on bee and butterfly numbers

Speaking at The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland’s biodiversity is one of our key assets, and the contribution the humble bumble bee and other pollinators make to this wonderful environment should not be underestimated. That is why we are committed to making Scotland a more pollinator friendly place. Pressures like land use change, pesticides, pollution, disease and climate change are threatening these life-giving insects, so we must act now to protect the pollinators and in turn safeguard our environment, our food and in turn our health.”

Scottish Natural Heritage has led the development of the Pollinator Strategy working closely with a range of environmental and land management organisations.

Download the strategy document. 


Former traffic blackspot recognised as wildlife haven - National Trust

A once notorious traffic blackspot has been converted into a top wildlife haven after habitat restoration by the National Trust with Natural England.

The Devil’s Punch Bowl, which was separated from Hindhead Common by the A3, has undergone huge improvements after the creation of the Hindhead Tunnel by Highways England.

Hindhead Tunnel (picture: Highways England, via National Trust)Hindhead Tunnel (picture: Highways England, via National Trust) 

Six years on from the opening of the tunnel, which saw the restoration of  this Surrey Hills nationally protected landscape, management techniques set out under Higher Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship have also seen the restoration of fragile and endangered historic heathland habitat, and the return of rare and diverse breeding birds such as woodlark and nightjar.  The nationally scarce heath tiger beetle has been sighted, and conditions are now favourable for the return of the silver studded blue butterfly.

The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has now been assessed by Natural England as meeting its nature conservation targets, and is considered to be in favourable condition.

Matt Cusack, Lead Ranger for the National Trust said: “I am thrilled we’ve achieved favourable status for Hindhead and the Punch Bowl during my watch. The removal of the A3 in July 2011 was a major milestone, enabling us to thin trees and transform the site into a swathe of heathland.  But the site has been under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement since 2008.  Heather mowing, the introduction of woodlark nesting areas, grazing and scrub management conducted under the scheme has transformed it. "


National survey fuels plans to help one of Scotland's most iconic birds - RSPB

The latest national survey of Scotland’s population of capercaillie, the world’s largest grouse, estimates there to be only 1114 individuals - making it one of the country’s most endangered birds.

Scotland’s capercaillie population is assessed every six years by RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage with the most recent survey conducted during winter 2015/16.  Between November and March, RSPB surveyors walked nearly one thousand miles of transects looking for and recording the birds. The previous survey was carried out in winter 2009/10 and put capercaillie numbers at around 1285 individuals.

Capercaillie (image: Ben Andrew / RSPB)Capercaillie (image: Ben Andrew / RSPB)

Capercaillie are found in mature pine woodlands in parts of the Highlands, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, but Strathspey holds around 83% of the remaining population.

An innovative five year initiative, the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, is being developed to help the bird. Spearheaded by the Cairngorms Nature Partnership (1), the scheme will work closely with communities to build support for the conservation of capercaillie, as well as aiming to create bigger, better managed and better connected forests to support long-term survival of capercaillie and other species in pine woods.

Key to its success will be partnerships with National Park communities; local residents will help the project team design sensible approaches to improve recreational opportunities for locals and visitors while reducing disturbance of capercaillie.


Fife’s parks Buzzing with life – Buglife

After an exciting three-year team effort between Buglife, Fife Council, schoolchildren and community groups, over 13 hectares of native wildflower-rich grassland have been created at 23 locations across Fife. These new meadows are buzzing with life!

The ambitious Fife’s Buzzing project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Fife Environment Trust to enhance parks and greenspaces across the Kingdom for both wildlife and people to use and enjoy. The UK has lost over 97% of species-rich grassland since the 1940s, with dramatic declines in associated wildlife including native bees, butterflies, hoverflies and beetles. Projects like Fife’s Buzzing help create habitat for pollinating insects and other wildlife. The flowers and wildlife in turn add a welcome splash of colour and interest to public spaces.

Over the course of the Fife’s Buzzing project, over 4,000 people were engaged at meadow creation days, bug hunts and other events. Pupils from 27 schools and volunteers from 10 different community groups have been vital in helping with this project and have enjoyed creating and enhancing habitat for wildlife in their local area.

Suzanne Burgess, Buglife Scotland Manager said: “People of all ages from across Fife have helped enhance their area for wildlife and learn about the importance of native wildflower and grassland meadows for wildlife, especially our pollinators that are currently under enormous pressure.”


Research values soil’s natural capital – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Study sets out way of valuing soil’s contribution to food and wider ecosystem services across Europe

Trees and soilSoil scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have set out a Europe-wide framework for developing a natural capital accounting structure for soil which considers the impact of land use change, climate change and pollution.

Trees and soil (Image: Pixabay)Dr David Robinson of CEH led an international team of researchers who suggest monitoring soil cycles that impact on the economies, societies and ecosystems of European countries is vital to help policy makers protect soil quality and condition in future.

Trees and soil (Image: Pixabay(creative commons))

Soil is crucial to the production of food, feed, fibre and timber production for millions across Europe as well as for earth system functions that support the delivery of other ecosystem services – such as the creation of habitats for plant and animal life.

Dr Robinson, a soil scientist at CEH and lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports, said, "Our research highlights the need to integrate environmental data with economic measures such as national income, gross domestic product and national wealth, so that resource degradation is not invisible."

Read the paper: Robinson, David A, Panos Panagos, Pasquale Borrellis, Arwyn Jones, Luca Montanarella, Andrew Tye, Carl G Obst, Soil Natural Capital in Europe; A Framework for State and Change Assessment Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06819-3


Born to be wild: Grandparents most adventurous in great outdoors - National Trust

Grandparents were much more adventurous during their youth in the great outdoors than today’s youngsters – half of whom have never even climbed a tree, a survey shows.

With 61% of grandparents helping with childcare during school holidays they are the perfect motivators for getting kids to spend more time enjoying nature.

Parents looking for ways to get their kids to spend more time in the great outdoors during the summer holidays need look no further than willing grandparents, keen to spend quality time outside in nature with their grandchildren

Research by leading conservation charity, the National Trust, reveals grandparents are the key ingredient to helping today’s generation develop a connection with nature. Over three quarters (76%) claim they were far more explorative and daring in their youth compared to both their own children and grandchildren, with a huge majority (92%) saying that they take great enjoyment from teaching their grandchildren about these adventurous activities, such as building a den or flying a kite.

The research also reveals that 4 in 5 (79%) adults believe children today have less freedom to explore and play outdoors, compared to their own childhood. While 75% of grandparents said climbing trees was one of their favourite childhood memories, half (51%) said their grandchildren had not experienced this activity.

Nearly half (49%) of grandparents take on the role of childminding more than twice a week to support parents with this increasing during the school holidays by almost two-thirds of grandparents (61%). A whopping 9 in 10 (92%) said that when they do spend time with their grandchildren, they are keen to actively encourage them to take part in explorative outdoor play rather coop up indoors.


Rare moss found in new sites on the National Forest Estate - Forestry Commission Scotland

A rare moss has been found in several new sites on the National Forest Estate. Buxbaumia viridis, or Green Shield-moss, is a nationally scarce moss and rated as endangered.

Green Shield Moss (Image: Colin Leslie)The moss differs to almost every other moss in that its leaves are not visible – only the distinct bright green fruiting body can be seen over winter, from November until April.  It prefers logs where there are areas of bare bark or little competition from other bryophytes.

Green Shield Moss (Image: Colin Leslie)

In 2016, the distribution of the moss was only known on 40 sites, from Garve to Kincardine. The most notable hotspot was at Mar Lodge in Aberdeenshire, where in 2016, 12 separate populations were located at two sites.

A survey organised by Scottish Natural Heritage over winter 2016/17 found new locations in four of the 10 forest districts across Scotland.  In Tay Forest District two new sites have been found and in Lochaber Forest District, the most westerly population in Europe was discovered.

Gareth Mason, Environment Ranger, said: "The surveyors walked an average of 35km at every new site before the moss was discovered.  This demonstrates that it is more practical to focus surveying for Green Shield-moss in coupes where it is known to be present nearby, and where the particular habitat requirements occur.

"We are legally required to protect and enhance this species so we joined forces with SNH to visit a site in Lochaber Forest District, to discuss the practical methods that should be used to protect this species. Following on from this we will produce a management guidance note to support a licensing application process."


Possible wildcat kitten found in Strathbogie priority area - Scottish Wildcat Action

possible wildcat kittenThe outcome for this fun-sized feline may not have been good had our Project Officer Emma Rawling not been contacted by a member of the public (Chris), who found it near Huntly.

image: Scottish Wildcat Action

Though it’s tricky to tell whether a kitten is wildcat when they are so young, we think this kitten might be one. To confirm this we’ve sent off a wee sample of its DNA for testing.

When it was found it was cold, wet and hungry. Chris had been keeping an eye on it for a couple of days prior to Emma arriving. With no sign of the mother over this time and the kitten showing no signs of being cared for, we could be confident that the wee toot needed help. It is now being looked after by a couple, one of whom happens to be a vet so he couldn't be in better hands.

Zac, this year a proud wildcat father of a litter of wildcat kittens at the Highland Wldlife Park, was rescued as a kitten in a similar way not far from this one. There have also been a number of recent possible wildcat sightings in the Strathbogie area and Emma is very excited about this latest finding.


Rare and elusive nightjars return to Snelsmore Common, thanks to walkers - BBOWT

The rare and elusive nightjar has returned to Snelsmore Common in West Berkshire, after an absence of two years, reports the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.

Nightjar by Katie Fuller (via BBOWT)Nightjar by Katie Fuller (via BBOWT)

These extremely well-camouflaged, nocturnal birds spend the day hiding from predators by keeping still, either perched on a branch or on its nest on the ground. But at dusk the air fills with the eerie ‘churring’ noise of the male’s song as they start to hunt for moths across the heath.

Because nightjars nest on the ground, they are prone to being disturbed by people walking too close, and by dogs running through the Common.

This spring and summer the Wildlife Trust had a small group of wardens working with visitors to Snelsmore Common to meet walkers and explain the importance of the area for wildlife, and how people can help the rare birds like the nightjars.

Stephen Plaisted-Kerr, one of the wardens, said: “People have been very interested in finding out about nightjars and other wildlife. Everybody who we have spoken to has been happy to stick to the paths and keep their dogs under control during this sensitive nesting period, so it’s thanks to them that we’ve seen the rewards with the return of the nightjars this year.”


Impacts of marine climate change demonstrated by decade of scientific collaboration - JNCC

Kelp and cliffs - Lundy Island - UK © Alex Mustard via JNCCKelp and cliffs - Lundy Island - UK © Alex Mustard via JNCC

A new report card by the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) demonstrates the important effects climate change is having on UK seas and coastlines. Building on contributions from 400 scientists, key findings 10 years on from the first MCCIP report card are:

A long-term underlying warming trend in sea-surface temperature is still clear, despite year-to-year fluctuations.

Ocean acidification has become established as a major issue for marine ecosystems, and may be taking place at a faster rate in UK seas than in the wider north Atlantic.

Climate change is clearly affecting marine life. Warm-water species, such as squid and anchovies, have become more common place in UK waters; whilst seabirds face an uncertain future with the productivity of fulmars, Atlantic puffins, little and Arctic terns and black legged kittiwakes being impacted by sea-surface temperature rises.

Extreme high-water events are becoming more frequent at the coast due to sea-level rise. However, this has not led to a corresponding increase in coastal flooding to date due to continued improvements in flood defences, emergency planning, forecasting and warning.

Access the report card.


Is Welsh coast haven for Angelsharks? - Natural Resources Wales

A project to gather evidence for a population of one of the world’s rarest sharks has been launched in Welsh waters

Once widespread across Europe, the Angelshark is now listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List (the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species), with the waters around the Canary Islands being the only place where they are frequently sighted.  However there have been an increasing number of sightings of these rare fish off the Welsh coast in recent years.

Now scientists from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) are teaming up with fishermen and others all along the coast of Wales to find out more about our native Angelshark population.  As part of the project people are being asked to report all accidental catches of the shark, and being given advice on how to handle and release them safely back into the water unharmed. Angelsharks can grow up to around two and a half metres (around eight feet) in length. They are also known as monk or monkfish by fishermen in the region.

Ben Wray, Marine Biodiversity Ecologist at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Commercial fishermen and anglers have been reporting more sightings of Angelsharks in recent years. We know very little about the ecology of the shark in Welsh waters at the moment – the population could be present all year round, or only for part of the year. The fact that commercial fishermen and anglers along the coast of Wales are helping us with this research is really important, and we are very grateful to them for their help. We hope that the data we gather will help us build a much better picture of the situation and help our work to conserve these amazing creatures."

Click through for a video of angelsharks.


Scientific Publications 

Stephen C. Votier, Annette L. Fayet, Stuart Bearhop, Thomas W. Bodey, Bethany L. Clark, James Grecian, Tim Guilford, Keith C. Hamer, Jana W. E. Jeglinski, Greg Morgan, Ewan Wakefield, Samantha C. Patrick Effects of age and reproductive status on individual foraging site fidelity in a long-lived marine predator Proc. R. Soc. B DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1068.


Griffiths, S. R., Bender, R., Godinho, L. N., Lentini, P. E., Lumsden, L. F. and Robert, K. A. (2017), Bat boxes are not a silver bullet conservation tool. Mam Rev. doi:10.1111/mam.12097


N. Pieretti, M. Lo Martire, A. Farina, R. Danovaro, Marine soundscape as an additional biodiversity monitoring tool: A case study from the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea), Ecological Indicators, Volume 83, December 2017, Pages 13-20, ISSN 1470-160X, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.07.011.


Patrik Karell, Staffan Bensch, Kari Ahola, Muhammad Asghar. Pale and dark morphs of tawny owls show different patterns of telomere dynamics in relation to disease status Proc. R. Soc. B 2017 284 20171127; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1127.


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