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


To mark the start of National Countryside Week:

Public starkly unaware of the tough realities of farming - The Prince’s Countryside Fund

According to new research by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, the UK public appears to have a rosy view of farming life, with 1 in 4 (25%) UK adults liking the idea of giving up their day job and working on a farm.

However, the findings of the ‘Who’d be a Farmer Today?’ report, launched to mark the start of National Countryside Week (Monday 31st July to Sunday 6th August) highlights a disconnect between the positive perception and the tougher realities of the profession.

When asked to estimate the annual incomes of UK farmers, the study found the public’s guess averaged at £46,801, with 9% of people estimating farmers’ salaries to be over £75,000. DEFRA reported in 2015 that average incomes fell below £20,000; the lowest point since 2007. Furthermore, the Fund’s previous Cash Flow Crisis in Farming report found 50% of farmers no longer make a living from farming alone.  Interestingly, only 32% of respondents said their knowledge of the countryside and farming was either poor or very poor, while 95% of farmers surveyed feel they don’t think the British public understands the everyday challenges that farmers face  Research with farmers indicated that the majority of challenges facing family run farms today are financial: poor commodity prices coming top (26%), with the potential loss of the Single Farm Payment (19%) and costs being too high (15%) cited as concerns.

Lord Curry, Chairman of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: "The true reality of what it takes to be a farmer is not widely understood. Many of us envisage the picturesque countryside lifestyle with a comfortable living. Unfortunately, for one of the oldest professions which contributes over £108bn a year to the economy, the reality can be very different. Farmers work long hard hours, receive modest pay for their efforts, have financial instability and are now faced with growing uncertainty. The farming industry needs support from the British public through the buying of home produced food to help maintain its viability for the future."

You can view the full report here. (PDF) 


£200 million boost for rural England - defra

Grants expected to generate more than 6,000 new jobs overall and support growth of rural businesses and broadband projects.

Funding for rural businesses that will generate thousands of jobs and provide new support to expand and improve their premises has been announced as part of a £200million grant offer.

Announcing the latest round of Rural Development Programme funding, Lord Gardiner confirmed that for the first time under the current scheme specific funding will be available to support new rural broadband projects, and provide significant amounts of funding to on-farm businesses to invest in new infrastructure such as new buildings and machinery.

The current Rural Development Programme for England is expected to generate 6,750 new jobs. Already more than 1,400 projects have been agreed which are expected to create over 2,300 jobs.

The grants will also fund landowners to improve farm productivity and invest in rural tourism opportunities.

This funding will make sure businesses in remote locations can get online, help farmers install cutting-edge technology, create new tourist hotspots and bring high quality jobs to rural communities across the country.

This round of funding will include:

  • £30m to improve rural broadband – the grants available will encourage growth by helping provide broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster where this is not available or planned. It will supplement existing Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport investment in rural broadband.
  • £45m to help rural businesses grow and invest in new equipment – rural businesses, including those engaged in tourism and food production, can apply for funding to invest in their company, helping them to expand, diversify, and invest in new technology.
  • £120m for projects that improve farm productivity – this money will help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively. Funding will be available for a wide range of purposes, including woodland management equipment, creating on-farm reservoirs and using water more efficiently.


Scientists develop ranking system to scale the impact of alien species - University College London

A transparent ranking system for measuring the socio-economic impact of plants and animals that are introduced by humans to areas where they do not naturally occur (termed “aliens”) has been developed by an international team of scientists, from UCL, Université de Fribourg and Stellenbosch University.

The ‘Socio-Economic Classification of Alien Taxa (SEICAT)’, described in a study published today in Methods in Ecology and Evolution and supported by an EU COST Action grant, will help to capture the impact that alien species have on human livelihood and well-being.

“Alien species can cause harm in many ways in areas to which they are introduced. Besides the effects on biodiversity, which can lead to extinctions of native species and transformations of whole landscapes and ecosystems, they can also have wide-ranging effects on human health, livelihoods, and well-being,” said Professor Tim Blackburn, Chair of Invasion Biology at UCL. 

 “All aspects of human well-being, such as health, material assets, safety, and social and cultural relationships are measured at the same scale, which allows for the impact of different species to be compared and ranked. In contrast to monetary approaches, SEICAT assessments can be made even when data are scarce; this should allow us to rank large numbers of alien species in a relatively short time,” explained Dr Sabrina Kumschick, Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University. 

It is considered that this unique system for comparing and ranking alien species according to their effects on human well-being and livelihood can also be used to underpin decisions on how management resources are allocated.

“Such insights are crucial in an age when managers simply cannot afford to tackle all invasive species,” said Professor Dave Richardson, Director of the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University.

Read the paper: Bacher S, Blackburn TM, Essl F, et al. Socio-economic impact classification of alien taxa (SEICAT). Methods Ecol Evol. 2017;00:1–10. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12844


Funding boosts for local authorities to transform local communities and release land for new homes – Local Government Association

The Government has today (Tuesday 1 August) launched a £54 million package to transform local communities and release land for thousands of new homes. This comes as part of a new cross-government partnership to make smarter use of government-owned property.

DCLG’s £45 million ‘Land Release Fund’, launched in partnership with the Cabinet Office and Local Government Association’s One Public Image: Local Government AssociationEstate programme, will empower local councils to release their unused or surplus land for housing. This will help to meet the Government’s ambition to unlock enough council-owned land for at least 160,000 homes by 2020.

Image: Local Government Association

Councils can now bid for funding for land remediation and small-scale infrastructure, which will help bring sites forward for housing that would not have otherwise been developed.

Alongside this, One Public Estate is making £9 million funding available to support more councils to deliver ambitious property-focused programmes.

The programme channels funding and support through councils to deliver ambitious property-based projects. By 2020, councils on the programme are expected to deliver £615m in capital receipts, £158 million running costs savings, create 44,000 new jobs and release land for 25,000 new homes.

This partnership between DCLG and One Public Estate will give local authorities greater access to support from across government and help them to release more land, more efficiently.


Improving habitats for bats – University of Stirling

The effects of 160 years of woodland creation on bats has been revealed by a natural experiment.

A study led by the University of Stirling has produced evidence of the characteristics of planted woodlands that are likely to benefit bats and other Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, Research Fellow, led the study (University of Stirling)wildlife.  

The research is part of the innovative Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN) project between the University of Stirling, Forest Research and Natural England, which is using a novel large-scale natural experiment to assess the impact of 160 years of woodland creation on current biodiversity. Taking advantage of the well-mapped changes in landscapes in England and Scotland since 1840, the researchers have identified woodlands planted between 10 and 160 years ago; there, they are studying a wide range of woodland species to understand their habitat requirements at different spatial scales.

Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, Research Fellow, led the study (University of Stirling)

The results, published in the journal ‘Ecological Applications’, show species of bat respond differently to local woodland attributes and the surrounding landscapes, depending on their mobility.

The study also shows that landscape characteristics, such as woodland connectivity, are most important for bats in intensively farmed landscapes where woodland loss and fragmentation have been more severe.


Benefits of dikes outweigh costs - effective measures for reducing future flooding – University of Bristol

In the first study of its kind, an international team of scientists – including the University of Bristol – has concluded, on a global scale, that the economic and long-term benefits of building dikes to reduce flood damage far outweigh their initial cost.

Image: University of BristolThey found that in many parts of the world, it is even possible to reduce the economic damage from river floods in the future to below today’s levels, even when climate change, growing populations, and urbanisation are taken into account.

The authors also assessed how much flood damage could be avoided in the future per state, if new dikes are constructed or dikes that are already in place are heightened.

Image: University of Bristol

They then assessed how much it would cost to build and maintain these dikes, and whether the benefits would outweigh the costs using a range of hydrological and economic models.

The study, published today (Monday 31 July) in the journal Nature Climate Change, was led by Dr Philip Ward from the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

He said: "It is well-known that economic damages from floods are expected to increase over the coming decades due to climate change and an increase in population and assets in flood prone areas. However, in this study we show that flood damages in the year 2080 can actually be reduced to below today’s level, if we effectively invest in flood protection measures.”


Major project to protect Orkney’s internationally important wildlife wins Heritage Lottery Fund support – Scottish Natural Heritage

An ambitious project to save Orkney’s native wildlife has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) it was announced today (Tuesday 1 August).

The Orkney Native Wildlife Project is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland and is set to be the largest project of its kind in the world.

It will safeguard the unique and internationally important native wildlife of Orkney now and into the future by addressing the threat it faces from an invasive non-native predator: the stoat.

Development funding of £64,600 has been awarded to help the partnership progress plans for an ambitious stoat eradication project before applying for a full grant of more than £3 million in 2018.

Orkney is an important home for wildlife. Despite the combined land area of Orkney’s 70 islands accounting for less than 1% of the UK, the islands are home to more than a fifth of the UK’s breeding hen harriers, internationally important numbers of seabirds and one of the few places in the UK in which waders such as curlews are still a common breeding species.


Space invaders! – Zoological Society of London

Collaborative study suggests nature reserves enable greater resilience for ecosystems against foreign invaders.  

Nature reserves, national parks and marine protected areas have been proven to effectively shield native wildlife from the impacts of invasive species, in a new study published this week in the journal Global Change Biology.

Led by the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE) alongside co-authors from institutions including international conservation charity ZSL The invasive grey squirrel displaced red squirrels in the UK (ZSL)(Zoological Society of London), the University of Cambridge and CABI, the international research shows that despite their effectiveness, these areas could be compromised in future, as climate change impacts the range of increasing numbers of species. 

The invasive grey squirrel displaced red squirrels in the UK (ZSL)

Invasive species – non-native organisms that are introduced to an ecosystem and can often thrive at the expense of native wildlife, such as the invasive grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) which displaced red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in the UK – have been implicated in 58 per cent of recent extinctions worldwide and are unanimously recognised by conservationists as posing a serious threat to global ecosystems. 

Until now, however, conservationists have lacked evidence of how effective protected areas are in mitigating against the threats and challenges these species cause, such as competition for food and territory, inter-species predation and invasive diseases. 

Evaluating the current and future distributions of 100 of the most invasive terrestrial, freshwater and marine species in Europe – from the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) to the red-swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkia) – the team assessed the combined threat these animals pose to existing protected areas, when combined with the overarching issue of climate change. 


Hen harriers return to the Dales - Yorkshire Dales National Park 

One of England’s rarest breeding birds, the hen harrier, attempted to nest in the Yorkshire Dales National Park this spring for the first time in 10 years.

The National Park has large areas of potentially suitable nesting upland habitat for the birds of prey, but several factors – including persecution – have precluded breeding.  

Several hen harriers, however, lingered in the Cumbrian part of the National Park this spring and started to display.  One male paired up with two separate females: an adult female and an immature female.  This behaviour – called polygyny – is rare in most bird species but is often found in hen harrier breeding populations.  

Both females laid eggs in nests sited on the edge of a moor managed for grouse shooting.  The birds were watched by a small team of staff and volunteers from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and Natural England. The monitoring was undertaken with the close co-operation and support of local landowners, including the shooting estate, and residents.  

Unfortunately neither nesting attempt was successful.  One failure happened very early in the season, the other midway through the incubation period. Both attempts are thought to have failed because of predation by foxes.  There was no evidence of human interference.  The male and both females were seen in the area after the nesting attempts had failed.

The YDNPA’s Chief Executive, David Butterworth, said: “Given it had been ten years since hen harriers nested in the National Park, the presence of these birds was extremely welcome.  It was, therefore, incredibly disappointing that the nesting attempts failed, despite the best efforts of all involved. The Authority is fully aware of all the issues surrounding hen harriers in the uplands, so it was really encouraging that the birds’ presence was welcomed by all stakeholders.  We would like to thank them all for their cooperation during the nesting period.  We hope that the enlightened attitude towards the presence of these birds is the start of a more positive outlook for this species, which will lead to the hen harrier returning as a regular breeding species within the Yorkshire Dales National Park”.


10 Hen Harriers dance in the Northumbrian sky - Northumberland National Park

The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership is pleased to announce that five pairs of hen harriers attempted to nest in Northumberland fledging ten young.

Hen Harrier chicks in Northumberland (image: Northumberland NPA)Hen Harrier chicks in Northumberland (image: Northumberland NPA)

After another very poor season for hen harriers elsewhere in England, with no successful breeding attempts, the Northumberland population is once again bucking the trend. In 2015 eight young from two nests successfully fledged and last year six young from two nests fledged. This year, three of the five nests were ultimately successful and produced the ten young.

This spring we saw an increase in activity with even more birds performing their spectacular courtship displays known as “sky dancing” and five pairs eventually nesting, four of them once again on land managed by the Forestry Commission.  A dedicated team of raptor conservation volunteers together with specialists from the partnership worked together to watch over all of the nests. Despite some atrocious weather, ten young birds have successfully fledged. All of them were checked and ringed and the partnership is using satellite technology to monitor birds.

The Partnership is also delighted to learn that a young hen harrier named Finn that fledged in Northumberland in 2016 is successfully raising her own chick in South West Scotland. Finn was fitted with a satellite tracker before leaving her nest in Northumberland last year and has been closely monitored ever since. Finn was named after teenage conservationist and blogger, Findlay Wilde, who together with energy company, Ecotricity, sponsored Finn’s tag.

Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation at Northumberland National Park, and Chair of the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership said: “Hen harriers are still facing an uphill battle to re-establish themselves in the uplands of England. However with the positive support of all our partners including key landowners, ten young birds have successfully fledged. Working together and using the latest scientific techniques is also increasing our knowledge of this amazing species. We will continue to monitor our birds throughout the year and hope that this year’s youngsters will stay safe and be as successful as Finn”


River areas overrun by invasive plants - Radboud University

Rivers are high-speed corridors for the spread of invasive exotic plants. Increasingly, these plants are pushing out native species and making floods more likely. A study conducted by Deltares, Utrecht University, Radboud University and the German Institute for Flood Plain Ecology has shown that exotic varieties like the Japanese knotweed and the Himalayan balsam grow faster and form denser vegetation in European flood plains than the native vegetation. The phenomenon is also seen Dutch river areas.

Particularly where a river deposits new sand, exotic species spread like a plague. The dense plant growth slows down the flow of the river and increases the flood risk in the summer and autumn.

River development calculated for a century and a half. Mijke van Oorschot (Utrecht University/Deltares) and fellow-researchers from Radboud Unviersity (amongst others) combined an existing computer model for water flows and the deposition of sand with a new model for the spread, growth and death of plants. In this case, willows, poplars and the Japanese knotweed. 'Model results showed that, in the worst case, the invasive species became dominant within a few years and that water levels rose by about 35%. The patterns were similar for rivers in Northwest Europe,' explains Mijke


Historical wildlife trends reliable for predicting species at risk - University of York

Scientists at the University of York have shown that using historical wildlife data provides a more accurate measure of how vulnerable certain species might be to extinction from climate change.

Adonis blue butterfly (image: University of York)Adonis blue butterfly (image: University of York)

Some of the methods used to predict at risk species are trend-based – an indicator of what happens gradually over time – while others are trait based, which uses signs of climate change in the current environment.  Mix these methods together, however, and you get an unreliable set of results, scientist have found.

The researchers are calling for guidelines produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the world’s main authority on species that are at risk of extinction, to be updated to include cautionary messages on some methodologies of climate change risk assessment.

Researchers tested 12 methods of assessing the potential risk of climate change on British birds and butterflies by running the assessment as though the data was being collected in the 1970s.  They then looked at whether the results matched the reality of the British bird and butterfly population today. 

Professor Chris Thomas, also at the University’s Department of Biology, said: “We found that methods relying on historical climate change trends from the 1970s to today identified high risk species that have consistently declining populations over time.  Those methods that relied on species trait information showed very little pattern, and therefore it was difficult to use this data to explain the populations that we see today.” 

Access the paper: Wheatley CJ, Beale CM, Bradbury RB, Pearce-Higgins JW, Critchlow R, Thomas CD. Climate change vulnerability for species—Assessing the assessments. Glob Change Biol. 2017;00:1–12. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13759


Now for something different….

logo: Forestry CommissionIf you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise, no not teddy bears but Gruffalos!


Using new technology to bring new visitors to Forestry Commission woods and forests in England  

Gruffalo spotter appThe Gruffalo Spotters campaign was launched in February 2017 at FC sites across England and was delivered as a partnership between Forestry Commission England and Magic Light Pictures. The campaign uses the Gruffalo Spotter, an augmented reality app, to bring the Gruffalo and other characters from the bestselling children’s book to life along an interactive walking trail. ‎The app and trail provide a unique opportunity to engage visitors with the outdoors, providing learning messages about the forests and the habitats within them in a fun and innovative new way. Read the article in full here.


(This article was commissioned for CJS Focus on Fundraising and Promotion but due to the snap election had to be held until the period of purdah was over)



50th Kielder osprey chick fledges - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

The Kielder ospreys have now fledged 50 chicks since they began nesting at Kielder Water & Forest Park in 2009.

Archer, the 50th chick to fledge at Kielder on Nest 3 (centre). © Forestry Commission EnglandThis year, nine chicks have fledged from four nests including Archer from Nest 3, who is officially the 50th bird to take its first flight at Kielder.

Archer, the 50th chick to fledge at Kielder on Nest 3 (centre). © Forestry Commission England

This year is the second most successful breeding season ever for the Kielder Ospreys, with only 2016 producing more fledged chicks, a record-breaking 11 of them. However, this year’s success has been tinged with sadness. One of the 13 eggs one failed to hatch and three of the chicks died before they had a chance to fledge.

Extremely wet weather at times has affected a number of UK osprey nests this season, including Kielder. The overall productivity of just over two fledges per nest is still above the average for many UK osprey projects.

Joanna Dailey, Kielder Osprey expert volunteer, said: “Kielder Water & Forest Park has proved to be a successful home for ospreys, with excellent habitat and food supply. A special pleasure this year has been seeing the Nest 3 adults, breeding here since 2014, raise three chicks for the first time. It is apt that the official 50th Kielder fledge is from that nest.”

Visitors can still watch the antics of the birds until late August through nest cameras broadcasting at Kielder Castle Café. For a chance to see these magnificent birds, join Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers at Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Waterside every Saturday, Sunday and Monday to view Nest 1A and 2 through a scope and see live footage broadcast from the nest to a screen in the cabin.


Volunteers pitch in to tackle balsam blight - Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Volunteers have spent 120 hours 'bashing' a rampant non-native plant from the banks of the river Wallington and one of its tributaries.

Himalayan balsam flower © HIWWTIntroduced to the UK by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant, Himalayan balsam has spread rapidly along riverbanks, out-competing our native wildlife. It's seed-pods ‘explode’ when ripe and when the seeds fall into the river they are carried downstream to form large colonies of plants, sometimes reaching an amazing four or five metres in height.

Himalayan balsam flower © HIWWT

In a bid to help reduce the spread of the plant across the whole of the river system, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust teamed up with East Hampshire Catchment Partnership to remove the invasive plants.

Volunteers from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Purbrook & Widley Residents Association and energy company SSE cleared about 2km of river banks of the invasive plant. The area was on the Potwell Tributary was east of Southwick Village, including a section at the Wildlife Trust’s Hookheath nature reserve.

Meanwhile a couple of km away at Durley Mill, volunteers from Portsmouth & District Angling Society, Sparsholt College, and Groundwork got to work.


Lynx UK Trust announce sheep welfare program - Lynx UK Trust 

Following their application for a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx in the Kielder Forest region of England and Scotland, the Lynx UK Trust has outlined a sheep welfare program providing farmers with grants to boost flock health and reduce sheep predation.

(image: Chris Godfrey) (image: Chris Godfrey) 

Since the Lynx UK Trust began their lynx reintroduction project two years ago, the farming industry, most vocally led by the National Sheep Association (NSA), has focused on a perceived threat to sheep. The Trust have maintained the threat is minimal; individual Eurasian lynx kill sheep less than once a year across almost every country they live in, rising to two or three times a year in parts of France and Austria. 

“Farmers are skeptical and I understand that; many predators cause much more damage, and science is often misrepresented to farmers and the wider general public.” comments Steve Piper, the Trust's chief communications advisor, “But we are quoting real-world examples and the studies are consistent; lynx are ambush hunters, they need forest cover to do that, and so their diet is almost all roe deer killed in the forest. Of course, the sheep farming sector's concerns have been rigorously recorded and submitted with the application. Their feedback has been critical shaping our application to ensure local farmers get a significant benefit from a lynx trial, resulting in a sheep welfare program covering health, disease and predation, funded from lynx eco-tourism.”

Read the full release (PDF) More on Lynx UK Trust here.


NFU responds to Lynx UK Trust's sheep welfare plan

The NFU continues to raise members' serious concerns about animal welfare and the safety of livestock after the announcement of a sheep welfare grant programme by Lynx UK Trust.

Further to its application for a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx in the Kielder Forest, the Lynx UK Trust has outlined plans for a sheep welfare programme, in response to concerns from the farming sector.

A grant programme funded by lynx eco-tourism would be available to local farmers to help build lambing shelters and maintain fencing. The trial would also be used to survey predatory killing, maiming, and stressing of sheep and introduce preventative measures, such as the use of llamas as guardian animals.

NFU countryside adviser Claire Robinson said: “Any species reintroduction, particularly if it hasn’t been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers – local wildlife and biodiversity. Our biggest concerns would be the impact on animal welfare and safety of livestock. The Kielder Forest is a remote upland area dependent on sheep farming and our fear is that these predators would prey on lambs.  We have not seen any evidence that there are adequate plans to mitigate this concern and there is no evidence that lynx will stay within woodland or forestry. The proposals to monitor impacts on sheep is not acceptable."


UK Biodiversity indicators - defra / National Statistics 

This is an update to the report on UK progress towards meeting the biodiversity goals and targets ‘the Aichi targets’ agreed in 2010.  

This release and publication report on UK progress towards meeting the biodiversity goals and targets ‘the Aichi targets’ agreed in 2010. These targets were set out in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The UK is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

All of the 2017 Biodiversity Indicators for the UK are available on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.

Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth. It includes all species of animals and plants, and the natural systems that support them. Biodiversity matters because it supports the vital benefits we get from the natural environment. It contributes to our economy, our health and wellbeing, and it enriches our lives. 

Download the UK Biodiversity indicators 2017 report (DPF)


Response: Biodiversity indicators highlight government failure on environment - Friends of the Earth

The UK Biodiversity Indicators 2017, published by the UK government shows not enough is being done to protect our natural environment, with too many indicators static or showing a decline in our biodiversity, says Friends of the Earth.

Reacting to the report  Friends of the Earth nature campaigner Paul de Zylva said:  "Our birds, bees and butterflies are under threat and the government’s response has been completely inadequate. In 2010 the UK government boasted about leading international efforts to restore nature - but three years from the 2020 deadline too many indicators are static or heading in the wrong direction. Ministers must make the protection of our natural environment a top priority and stand up to the vested interests who want to ride roughshod over our green and pleasant land. If Michael Gove wants a Green Brexit, he must build on existing EU regulations and develop a tough set of measures to boost habitats and allow our precious wild species to thrive.”


Light pollution as a new threat to pollination - University of Bern 

Artificial light disrupts nocturnal pollination and leads to a reduced number of fruits produced by the plant. This loss of night time pollination cannot be compensated by diurnal pollinators. The negative impact of artificial light at night on nocturnal pollinators might even propagate further to the diurnal community, as ecologists of the University of Bern were able to show.

Nocturnal flower visitor on thistle: Beetle actively moving on the cabbage thistle (Cirsium oleraceum) during night. Nocturnal pollination of the cabbage thistle was disrupted by artificial light at night, leading to a reduced fruit set. © UniBE/Eva KnopNocturnal flower visitor on thistle: Beetle actively moving on the cabbage thistle (Cirsium oleraceum) during night. Nocturnal pollination of the cabbage thistle was disrupted by artificial light at night, leading to a reduced fruit set. © UniBE/Eva Knop

The number of bees and other diurnal pollinators is declining worldwide – due to diseases, introduced parasites, pesticides, climate change and the continuing loss of habitats. Now, Eva Knop's team from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern, shows for the first time, that nocturnal pollinators can be affected by artificial light leading to a disruption of the pollination service they provide. "So far, nocturnal pollinators have been largely neglected in the discussion of the worldwide known pollinator crisis", says Knop. However, there are numerous nocturnal pollinators, and they play an important role for plants, as the study in the Bernese Prealps shows. Knop’s team found out, that flowers on meadows which were experimentally illuminated with street lamps are visited around two thirds less frequently by pollinators, than those that were on meadows without any light sources in the vicinity. This has an effect on the fruit set, and therefore the reproduction of plants.

The study also shows, that the nocturnal pollinators indirectly promote the diurnal pollinators, by visiting the same plants. According to Knop, this still needs to be researched in detail, as well as the long-term consequences of the pollination losses for the biodiversity.  The findings have driven the researchers to demand action: "Urgent measures must be taken, to reduce the negative consequences of the annually increasing light emissions on the environment", says Knop. This will be big challenge, as residential areas are worldwide increasing.

Access the paper: Knop E., Zoller L., Ryser R., Gerpe Ch., Hörler M., Fontaine C. (2017) Artificial light at night as a new threat to pollination. Nature, 02. August 2017, doi:10.1038/nature23288


Public backs call for continued investment in the countryside - CLA

More than eight out of 10 people (84%) think the Government should spend money on preserving and managing the countryside.

The findings were revealed by a poll of more than 1,500 people undertaken by YouGov for the CLA. In addition, the poll showed that 61% of the public think that the current spend of £3bn per year is either the right amount of public money to spend on it (40%) or too little (21%).  Just over a quarter (27%) said the landscape was the feature they most enjoy about visiting the countryside and just under half (44%) knew that farmers and landowners are responsible for managing it. A total of 42% of people surveyed thought food production should be one of the top priorities for government investment in the countryside with flood management, enhancing wildlife and planting trees coming close behind.

The CLA is running a campaign, The Countryside Matters, which aims to unite people who love the countryside and believe investing in it should remain a national priority for the UK Government.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “It is reassuring to see that the countryside matters to so many of the Great British public. Our survey has shown a ringing endorsement of how important investing in the countryside is so that we can continue to eat nutritious and wholesome food, breathe clean air and enjoy a rich diversity of wildlife.

(Full results to be published this weekend) 


Scotland’s coastline at risk, New mapping tool highlights threat to coastline - Scottish Government

Nearly a fifth of Scotland’s coastline is at risk of erosion, threatening some of the country’s most prized land and infrastructure within the next 30 years.

The potentially devastating effects of climate change and coastal erosion came to light after experts from the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Glasgow studied coastlines dating back to the 1890s, to plan for the future of Scotland’s coastal landscape.

The ‘Dynamic Coast: Scotland’s National Coastal Change Assessment’ (NCCA) tool uses more than 2,000 maps and one million data points to make its predictions. It identifies past erosion and growth rates, and projects the data forward to show the potential change to Scotland’s coastline.

Speaking at the launch of Dynamic Coast in St Andrews, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Since the 1970s the rates of coastal erosion has doubled, and that pace will not slow down anytime soon. In fact, it will probably get worse and faster.  The Dynamic Coast tool is a great new innovation that could help protect existing infrastructure and heritage sites from significant environmental change and damage.  More than 9,000 buildings, 500 kilometres of road, 60 kilometres of rail track, 300 kilometres of water supply lines and vital airports runways, such as Islay, are protected by natural defences; however some of these already face serious damage and it’s vital that local authorities, transport agencies and other planning bodies investigate how they can work together to manage coastal change before it’s too late. Tools such as this will enable them to do just that.” 


Scientific publications

Nedelc, S. L. et al Motorboat noise disrupts co-operative interspecific interactions. Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 6987(2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06515-2


Wood, K.A. et al (2017) Apparent survival of an Arctic-breeding migratory bird over 44 years of fluctuating population size. IBIS. DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12521


Hillebrand H, Blasius B, Borer ET, et al. Biodiversity change is uncoupled from species richness trends: consequences for conservation and monitoring. J Appl Ecol. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12959 


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