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


CJS Featured Charity 2018

Everyone who works within the countryside sector knows how important our charities are. That's one of the reasons why CJS offers free advertising in CJS Weekly, we'd much rather the charities spent their hard earned money (your generous donations) on actually conserving something than on splashy advertising. You're reading CJS, you don't need to be told how wonderful RSPB or your local Wildlife Trust is to make you want to work for them - you already know. CJS supports charities financially too and we've made it possible for you do so by adding a small donation to your subscription or when you get a job and no longer need your Weekly edition to donate the value of the remainder to our charities. 

Each year CJS choses one Featured Charity giving them the opportunity to highlight their cause and good works to CJS readers.  We try to select one of the smaller, perhaps less well known organisations.


logo: The Vincent Wildlife TrustCJS is delighted to welcome our new featured charity and for them to introduce themselves.


The Vincent Wildlife Trust

Who we are

From the groundbreaking national surveys that documented the catastrophic decline in the otter and water vole populations in the 20th century, to the recent reintroduction of the pine marten to mid Wales, The Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) has been at the forefront of mammal conservation in Britain and Ireland for over 40 years. The Trust was founded in 1975 by the late Vincent Weir, a philanthropist, naturalist and visionary. The Trust does not have a membership, but does have a strong ‘Friends of VWT’ supporters group and many loyal and totally indispensable volunteers.

Read on to find out more about what they do and how you can help.


Blue Belt extended to protect rare seabirds - Defra

Government announces two new marine Special Protection Areas and extensions to four other sites to safeguard rare seabirds.  

Nearly 150,000 rare seabirds – including the iconic little tern and black-throated diver – will be better protected as the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas extends by over 650 square miles, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey announced on Sunday 3 December.

Sandwich tern (photo credit: Natural England)Sandwich tern (photo credit: Natural England)

A newly classified marine Special Protection Area (SPA) will come into force along a 24 mile stretch of coast from Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay in Cornwall. The area is the UK’s most important site for the wintering black throated diver. This new protection will help to minimise disturbance to the feeding areas and marine habitats the birds rely on, providing a safe haven where they can spend the winter. A further marine SPA has been announced in the Irish Sea between the Isle of Man and Anglesey – home to over 12,000 Manx shearwaters – while four other sites have been extended around the UK, ranging from Liverpool Bay in the north-west of England, Poole Harbour on the south coast, and the Outer Thames Estuary near London.

The UK is already a world leader in marine conservation, with over 23 per cent of our waters protected, and these new sites will help to strengthen our Blue Belt and give rare seabirds like the little tern a brighter future; providing havens for nearly 150,000 birds that breed on our shores in summer or flock there in autumn and winter, helping them to thrive into the future.

The sites form part of the government’s ongoing commitment to create a ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas around the UK’s coast – with over 23 per cent of UK waters already protected and with more than 300 sites across the UK.


Rare Birds Flock to Surrey Thanks to Trust's Conservation Work - Surrey Wildlife Trust

Some of Surrey’s rarest birds have been given a major boost following years of work by Surrey Wildlife Trust to improve their precious habitats. Populations of nightjars, Dartford warblers and woodlarks have all seen significant increases in recent species surveys.

Carefully planned conservation work on sites including Poors Allotment, Ash Ranges and Barossa, led by the Trust’s countryside team, is having a real impact on the numbers of birds spotted on the important lowland heathland reserves.

“This is incredibly encouraging news as we can really see how all our hard work is making a vital difference to wildlife in the county,” said Ben Habgood, the Trust’s Grazing Officer.

“It represents thousands of volunteer hours cutting and clearing invasive scrub, grazing by our conservation herd, site patrols and litter picking, surveying and monitoring target species and occasional mechanical clearances. It’s been a long, hard slog, but it’s fantastic to see that some of Surrey’s most iconic birds are benefitting.” 

Nightjars are ground nesting birds. (credit: Robert Solomon.)Surveys on Ash Ranges near Woking found more than 150 pairs of Dartford warblers - the highest level since 2008, when populations were all but wiped out by cold winters. Woodlarks were at record levels, with over 40 territories recorded and nightjar numbers were also nearly at record levels, with around 70 pairs. Other species such as tree pipit, stonechat and redstart were also at their highest levels for several years. 

Nightjars are ground nesting birds. (credit: Robert Solomon.)

On Poors Allotment near Bagshot, a recent Natural England survey found the habitat to be much improved and in a ‘favourable’ condition, following years of work by the Trust alongside The Heathland Conservation Society volunteers. Nightjars and woodlarks are moving into new breeding grounds and the number of Dartford warblers has nearly doubled. 


GWCT receives funding for new Avon Valley project - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has received funding for an exciting new project in the Avon Valley.

As well as carrying out vitally-important work on Waders for Real, a team of ecologists from GWCT have started research on Ellingham Floodplain Restoration Project, which consists of species in rich-wet grassland and rush-pasture such as breeding waders, wintering wildfowls, otters and water voles.

Water vole in a hole (image: GWCT)Water vole in a hole (image: GWCT)

Based in Somerley Estate and funded by Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund, the project, like Waders for Real, aims to reverse the decline in breeding lapwing and redshank, by the creation of hotspot sites with ideal habitat and management over the next 12 months.

The numbers of breeding waders in the Avon Valley have declined dramatically, with declines of 64% in lapwing, 75% in redshank and 97% in snipe between 1982-2002. Similar declines have been seen across many other lowland wet grassland sites throughout Britain.  Falls have also been seen within aquatic communities and for species including salmon, roach, perch and eel.

Due to these alarming figures, breeding waders have become a priority species in the valley, and GWCT ecologists aim to further enhance habitat in and around the favoured nesting fields by creating six scrapes to hold water into spring and through selective pollarding of trees and scrub removal to open-up the landscape.

The management of these fields should also make them more attractive to snipe, teal and wigeon in winter. A relict oxbow has been reinstated which lies 800m from a Tarmac aggregates site, to benefit fish, particularly roach, and aquatic invertebrates.


Unique collection of pears to be planted - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust 

Volunteers at a popular Pershore nature reserve are planting a unique collection of Worcestershire pear trees. 

Worcester Black Pear (©Wade Muggleton via Worcestershire Wildlife Trust)Worcester Black Pear (©Wade Muggleton via Worcestershire Wildlife Trust)

Research and DNA testing by Worcestershire orchard expert Wade Muggleton and Paul Labous of Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedfordshire has shown that not all Worcester black pear trees are what they seem.  The two collaborated in 2015 and 2016 to try to discover whether the historic Bedford warden and the Worcester black were actually the same variety; some historic records suggested that this could be the case.

Harry Green, trustee of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and volunteer reserve manager of Tiddesley Wood nature reserve on the outskirts of Pershore offered to start a collection of Worcester black and other warden pears in the orchard on the edge of the woodland.   Harry Green explained “The research undertaken by Wade and Paul has been fascinating. It appears likely that what we know as a Worcester black pear is but one of what were once a wider range of these cooking pears known as wardens.  DNA testing has shown that not all the trees that we believe to be Worcester black pear trees actually are and their story is hidden in the mists of time.  The orchard at Tiddesley already has a number of important trees in it. The Pershore yellow or egg plum, for example, was discovered in Tiddesley Wood itself in 1833 and we have several of them in the orchard.  Creating a collecting of these different pear varieties we believe is unique and it will be interesting to have them growing side by side. We’re delighted that Wade is donating four of the trees that he has grown/grafted personally and would like to thank the County Orchard Project for paying for the others.  It is hoped in future that other culinary pears will be added to the collection.”

Find out more about the importance of orchard habitats in this article by PTES in the current CJS Focus which looks at Forestry & Arboriculture, Click here.


ORCA launches The State of European Cetaceans 2017

Image: ORCAORCA have today (Tuesday 5 December) released the latest in their The State of European Cetaceans reports, with the 2017 edition including some fascinating insights into whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK & European waters.

Image: ORCA

The State of European Cetaceans is a series of reports based on ORCA’s citizen science, documenting the results of its survey findings, and drawing conclusions about what the results mean for whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild. With significant and emerging threats continuing to adversely impact these animals and their habitats, ORCA's findings are crucial in providing evidence to conserve these animals in the future.

ORCA's second report in the series, ‘The State of European Cetaceans 2017’, builds on the work of the first edition by exploring new data alongside a more detailed analysis of specific habitats and species observations from across ORCA’s dataset.

The report adds data from ORCA’s 2016 surveys into its analysis, giving a richer picture of how population and distribution of European cetaceans might be changing. It also explores the key threats facing cetaceans in Europe, as well as conducting a detailed analysis of ORCA’s data on common dolphin in the Celtic Seas, Bay of Biscay and English Channel.

The State of European Cetaceans 2017 is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work and dedication from ORCA volunteers and supporters, and we want to thank everyone who have contributed to making it a reality.

To find out more and download the report, visit the SOEC page here.


Unsustainable food systems threaten wild crop and dolphin species – IUCN Red List

Tokyo, Japan, 5 December 2017 (IUCN) – Species of wild rice, wheat and yam are threatened by overly intensive agricultural production and urban expansion, whilst poor fishing practices have caused steep declines in the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Finless Porpoise, according to the Wild Wheat: Triticum turgidum (Barbara Ender Jone)latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Today’s Red List update also reveals that a drying climate is pushing the Ringtail Possum to the brink of extinction.

Wild Wheat: Triticum turgidum (Barbara Ender Jone)

Three reptile species found only on an Australian island – the Christmas Island Whiptail-skink, the Blue-tailed Skink (Cryptoblepharus egeriae) and the Lister’s Gecko – have gone extinct, according to the update. But in New Zealand, conservation efforts have improved the situation for two species of Kiwi.

“Healthy, species-rich ecosystems are fundamental to our ability to feed the world’s growing population and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 – to end hunger by 2030,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “Wild crop species, for example, maintain genetic diversity of agricultural crops that can adapt to a changing climate and ensure food and nutritional security. Today’s IUCN Red List update raises the alarm about their decline and stresses the urgency to address it – for the sake of our own future.”

Unsustainable agriculture and urbanisation threaten wild crop species
Twenty-six species of wild wheat, 25 species of wild rice and 44 species of wild yam have been assessed for The IUCN Red List, many for the first time, thanks to funding from the IUCN–Toyota strategic partnership to expand knowledge of threats to global biodiversity. In total, three species of wild rice, two species of wild wheat and 17 wild yam species are threatened. Deforestation and urban expansion alongside pressures from intensive agriculture, particularly over-grazing and extensive use of herbicides, are the primary threats to these species.


Medium-sized carnivores most at risk from environmental change – Imperial College London

In a surprise ecological finding, researchers discover medium-sized carnivores spend the most time looking for food, making them vulnerable to change.

Mammalian predators (commonly called carnivores) spend a significant part of their day foraging for food, and the more time they spend, the more energy they use. This makes predators that spend a long time foraging more vulnerable to changes in the environment that affect their primary resource: their prey.

It had been thought that foraging time decreases as animal size increases, but new research by Imperial College London and the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) shows this is not the case.

The team used data on land predators worldwide, from small predators such as weasels to some of the largest such as tigers, to demonstrate that among all species, medium-sized ones (between about one to ten kilograms in weight) spent the greatest part of their day foraging. Examples of such medium-sized carnivores include the Malay civet, Iriomote cat, Leopard cat and Crab-eating fox.

The results, published today (Monday 4 December) in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, provide methods based on a new mathematical model for predicting the vulnerability of animals to environmental changes resulting from habitat loss and climate change.


Spider survey at Delamere reveals two rare species – Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Cheshire Wildlife Trust were delighted to hear the results of a recent spider survey, carried out by the Tanyptera Trust in Delamere, which Image: Cheshire Wildlife Trusthas revealed two rare spiders.

Image: Cheshire Wildlife Trust

The nationally rare jumping spider, Sitticus floricola, was found at two new sites, bringing the total number of sites where this species has been recorded in Cheshire to ten. Measuring between 3.5mm and 7.5mm across this small day hunting spider uses its big eyes to judge its impressive jumps.

Another spectacular find was the rare money spider, Glyphesis cottonae, which was found at four new Delamere sites. The survey results revealed that the number of sites where this species has been recorded in Cheshire has almost doubled.

Both species live on sphagnum found in the boggy areas of Delamere Forest. The extensive restoration work carried out over the last four years, through a partnership between Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission, has involved re-wetting areas of the forest to bring them back to their natural state.


Building protected cycle lanes can prevent premature deaths from air pollution – Sustrans

Building traffic free routes and protected cycle lanes in towns and cities across Scotland can help to prevent premature deaths from air pollution, according to new research released today (Monday 4 December).

Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, has released a model, which can, for the first time, monetise the contribution of walking and cycling to improving air quality and the subsequent benefits to public health.

Image: SustransDeveloped in partnership with environmental consultancy Eunomia, the Air Quality Benefits of Active Travel report carried out modelling that analysed a number of cycling and walking infrastructure schemes run by Sustrans across Scotland and England and looked at the effects of possible city wide interventions.

Image: Sustrans

It found the UK economy could save £931m annually from improved air quality, by meeting the stated goals to increase walking and cycling in Scotland and England. That’s more than £9 billion over 10 years.

Of this, savings of £364 million would be realised annually from improved air quality in Scotland, if the modal share of 10% of all journeys by bike, set out in Scotland’s Cycling Action Plan, was achieved.  It would also mean nearly 4,000 premature deaths would be avoided over a decade.

This was echoed in England, where doubling cycling and increasing walking set out in the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy could save £5.67 billion over 10 years. This is five times more in financial savings from air quality improvements than Westminster’s planned Clean Air Zones.


Report reveals the effect of a changing climate on the UK’s birds – BTO

  • Many of our rare breeding birds are at a high risk of extinction in the UK, based on projections of how climate will become less suitable for these species
  • Climate change will provide opportunities for some species while others will be more vulnerable
  • Migratory birds are arriving in the UK earlier each Spring and leaving later each Autumn.

The distribution, numbers and behaviour of birds in the UK are changing because of a changing climate according to a new report.
The State of the UK’s Birds 2017 (SUKB) - the one-stop shop for all the latest results from bird surveys and monitoring studies – this year highlights how many of the UK’s species are already being affected by climate change, responding to UK average summer temperatures having increased by nearly 1 degree Centigrade since the 1980s.
The report highlights how species’ distributions are moving northwards, shifting their distributions as temperatures rise and their habitats change as a consequence. Many of our rarer breeding birds are at a high risk of extinction in the UK, based on projections of how climate will become less suitable for these species. These birds are mainly found in the north of the UK and in many cases, such as for the dotterel, whimbrel, common scoter, and Slavonian grebe, population declines have already been considerable.
However, the report contains better news for some birds. A number of species that currently only have a toe-hold in the UK will have opportunities for colonisation and range expansion. Some with southerly distributions in the UK have shown substantial increases in recent years, including quail, little egret, hobby, and Mediterranean gull. Other species such as little bittern and zitting cisticola may colonise southern Britain using the UK as a refuge as their home in continental Europe becomes too warm and dry and they shift their distribution northwards.


Study sheds new light on how animals and plants respond to changes in the environment – University of Sheffield

Scientists discover new insight into how living creatures adapt to changes in their environment

Image: Water flea (University of Sheffield)Study is first to show that the responsiveness of populations to environmental change depends on the conditions they experienced in the past

Image: Water flea (University of Sheffield)

University of Sheffield research strengthens our understanding of how animals and plants can respond to natural and man-made changes to the environment

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered that living creatures’ responsiveness to changes in the environment can evolve and depends on the conditions they experienced in their past.

The study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, is the first to show that the ability of a living creature to change its characteristics in response to changes in its environment, can itself evolve. Such flexibility in how organisms develop has fascinated scientists for generations.

This flexibility has emerged as a crucial factor in the study of how animals and plants respond to natural and man-made changes to their environment, which include predators, disease and changes in temperature.

The University of Sheffield study, led by Dr Andrew Beckerman from Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, in collaboration with researchers from across Europe, investigated changes to the characteristics of water fleas.

Water fleas are an iconic example of how the flexibility of a living creature’s ability to develop in response to changes in their environment can evolve. They can grow helmets or spikes on their necks in response to smells emitted by their predators, which signal a risk of mortality.


Plastic Free Coastlines Approved Penzance!!! Surfers Against Sewage

Image: Surfers Against SewageCongratulations to Penzance!

We are extremely proud to announce that Penzance in Cornwall is the UK’s first ever community to achieve ‘Plastic Free Coastlines Approved’ status! Our volunteers in the area have been working tirelessly to raise local awareness about the marine environmental issues that can be caused by our society’s current reliance on single-use plastics.

Image: Surfers Against Sewage

As a result of their work, the presence of this single-use material within Penzance has been massively reduced.

The community of Penzance, led by our SAS Regional Rep Rachel Yates and our SAS Community Leader Oliver Nixon have completed five objectives set out by Surfers Against Sewage which can be used to guide any area to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items.  These are plastic items that are designed to be used for a brief period of time, but when discarded will end up in our environment indefinitely.  Examples of single use plastics include, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic water bottles, coffee cups, coffee cup lids etc.


Faulty drains threaten Thames water quality - Zoological Society of London

Londoners urged to check plumbing as signs of contamination found in almost one-third of outfalls across capital  

Raw sewage and other pollutants are being inadvertently dumped into the Thames by homes and businesses across London due to misconnected plumbing, according to the most comprehensive survey of London’s rivers undertaken in recent years, led by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).  

The study, conducted in collaboration with partners including the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Thames21, Catchment Partnerships in London (CPiL) and over 100 trained volunteers, assessed 1,177 outfalls (drains that send surface water into rivers).  Signs of contamination including sewage fungus were found in 356 of these locations, along with definite pollution problems in 269 cases – equating to an average of 2-3 polluting outfalls for every kilometre of river surveyed.  

The resulting data indicates that a large number of properties across London are sending foul waste from toilets, sinks and washing machines into rivers via the surface water drainage system, rather than to sewage treatment works. This pollution is degrading the ecological health of rivers, restricting the amount of wildlife they can support.   

Joe Pecorelli, project manager for ZSL’s Estuaries and Freshwater team, said: “Based on our comprehensive ‘citizen science’ survey of London’s surface water outfalls, we hope the sobering findings of this report will encourage positive change for the capital’s waterways. Alongside our partners, we’re calling for significant increase in investment to address misconnections in household and commercial plumbing systems across London."  

The data for this report was collected via an innovative, citizen science-based approach dubbed ‘Outfall Safari’, whereby teams of volunteers were able to survey river banks and use a specially-created app to geotag, photograph and assess outfalls for evidence of pollution. This invaluable data was then sent back for analysis by ZSL, and reporting to the Environment Agency and Thames Water. 

To access the full report, Tackling Pollution in London’s Rivers, please visit: www.zsl.org/londonsrivers


Global agreement on ocean plastic pollution - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

WWT is delighted global governments have agreed the world should stop putting plastic waste into our oceans.

At a United Nations conference in Kenya, international environment ministers agreed the wording to a Resolution which, while not legally binding, will set a direction for countries to follow. The UN will set up an international task force to maintain momentum. The agreement is due to be ratified and published tomorrow.

Alongside the environment ministers, non-governmental organisations including WWT are attending in order to advise and provide background evidence. Among them is WWT’s Head of Ecosystem Health Dr Ruth Cromie:

Speaking outside the conference in Nairobi, Dr Cromie said:“There are estimates that by 2050 there is going to be more plastics in the sea than fish. This Resolution calls for more government action but the important thing is it clearly encourages people to do the right thing. I think it’s down to all of us to minimise the plastics we’re using – like refill the water bottle you’re using – we just don’t need to use quite as much.”


Visitor behaviour & connection to nature: a study tour in European Protected Areas - Europarc

by Bryony Slaymaker, Community Involvement Ranger, Peak District National Park,

One of the  winners of the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship in 2016 

Does connection to nature lead to pro-environmental behaviour?

The objective of the study was to explore visitor services in European protected areas and methods of visitor behaviour management for the purposes of nature conservation. Additionally, a visitor survey explored the connection to nature and attitudes to pro-environmental behaviour amongst visitors to protected areas.

I visited six protected areas across Estonia, Finland, Germany and Switzerland, in addition to my local site (and place of work) in England, during the busy summer period, spending time with frontline staff and meeting visitors.

The scope of this study was relatively narrow and further research in this area is essential to widen our understanding of visitor behaviour. Additionally, comparative studies with non-visitors could help staff managing protected areas to better understand how to widen participation and which methods are most effective to promote connection to nature and facilitate pro-environmental behaviour both within protected areas and beyond.

Download the full report: Visitors in European protected areas (PDF)


Biggest-ever influx of one of our smallest garden birds - BTO

This November, Coal Tits were seen in over 70% of gardens, according to figures from the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Garden BirdWatch (GBW). Cold weather or a lack of tree seeds in the wider countryside may be behind the rise in sightings.

Participants in the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch survey have been keeping weekly records of the birds seen in their gardens over the last 20 years, an incr­­­edible citizen science project that enables us understand how birds use human habitats such as gardens. Coal Tits are among our smallest garden birds, and are often driven away from bird feeders by the larger, more aggressive Great Tits and Blue Tits. They have a habit of darting to a feeder, quickly taking a seed and hiding it in moss or a crevice to eat later. Coal Tits can be recognised by their striking black-and-white striped heads, and by their overall brown and grey plumage, with none of the yellow or blue colour seen in Great Tits and Blue Tits.
In the summer Coal Tits normally remain within woodland, and are recorded in fewer than a third of gardens. In the winter they ­are seen in more gardens, and are generally recorded by at least 40% of Garden BirdWatchers in November, when they are driven to garden bird feeders by cold weather. However, in some years they are seen in many more gardens, and research using GBW data has shown that their presence is affected by seasonal availability of tree seed crops in the wider countryside. This year is turning out to be exceptional, with Coal Tit seen in an unprecedented 70% of gardens in November!

Over 11,000 Garden BirdWatchers will be watching and recording their garden birds this winter and into the future. This allows us to understand patterns of garden use and see long-term changes and trends.
Claire Boothby, Garden BirdWatch Development Officer at the British Trust for Ornithology, said “We know from our research that the food and water provided in gardens can be a lifeline, particularly at times of cold weather and reduced natural food. With all this activity and more cold weather forecast, it is a great time to start paying more attention to the bird life in your garden, and we urge everyone who watches their garden birds to regularly record though Garden BirdWatch.”


Gilwell Oak has been crowned UK Tree of the Year 2017! – Woodland Trust

Tree of the Year 2017 has been won by the Gilwell Oak (Photo: WTML)This year’s winner with 1792 votes is a marvellous oak tree located in the heart of Gilwell Park in Essex.

The British public casted their vote to not only celebrate the visuals of the tree but the fantastic story it tells. The Gilwell Oak has overseen the growth of a local scout group since early 20th century and is still regarded as a tribute to the scouting movement today.

Tree of the Year 2017 has been won by the Gilwell Oak (Photo: WTML)

The Gilwell Oak won the England shortlist and was chosen by the panel of experts to be our UK Tree of the Year.

The tree will represent the UK at the European Tree of the Year in 2018.


Environment Secretary backs release of Beavers in Forest of Dean - Defra, Natural England & Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission plans to release four beavers in the Forest of Dean have been approved by Natural England and are backed by Michael Gove.

Beavers are set to be released in the Forest of Dean. (image: defra)(image: defra) 

Beavers are set to be released in the Forest of Dean in plans confirmed by the Environment Secretary and the Forestry Commission.

The project will see two adult beavers and two kits released into a 6.5 hectare secure enclosure to help improve biodiversity and build dams and ponds from next year.

This could be the first of many such schemes. Government guidance published today sets out a new framework for assessing applications for further trial releases across England.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "The beaver has a special place in English heritage and the Forest of Dean proposal is a fantastic opportunity to help bring this iconic species back to the countryside 400 years after it was driven to extinction. The community of Lydbrook has shown tremendous support for this proposal and the beavers are widely believed to be a welcome addition to local wildlife.  The project is an example of the wider approach we are taking to enhance biodiversity, become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state for future generations and deliver on our plans for a Green Brexit."

Scientists believe the beavers may be able to hold back enough water to help with flood alleviation for Lydbrook by quickly constructing natural dam structures and creating new habitat.


£2million National Lottery boost to innovate and improve public parks - Heritage Lottery Fund

£2million of National Lottery funding available to test innovations in managing UK parks.

Groups and organisations are being sought to test innovative ways of managing the UK’s public parks following a £2m National Lottery funding boost for the Rethinking Parks programme.

Children playing in a park (image: HLF)Children playing in a park (image: HLF)

Rethinking Parks – a partnership between Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Nesta - has today announced a £2m grant fund, matched by more than £300,000 in support from innovation foundation Nesta, which will learn from and share the most innovative and promising new business models for parks.

The new funding will build on learning from the first Rethinking Parks programme, which ran from 2014 to 2016 and involved a £1m investment into 11 park schemes across the UK.  With a further £2m in grants available, the programme is now inviting proposals for funding in two areas;

  • Replication – which will support partnerships to replicate and build on promising models for managing public parks sustainably, including some of the concepts from the original Rethinking Parks such as Parks Foundations
  • Prototyping – to support new ideas for testing and learning with park communities and managers; finding ways to use digital and data approaches to help address parks challenges


Rare bats discovered at Whitlingham Country Park - Broads Authority

A rare bat species, known as the Nathusius’ pipistrelle, has been discovered at Whitlingham Country Park. The results of surveys carried out by Norwich Bat Group showed the site to be one of the most important in The Broads for this uncommon and little-known bat species.

2017 is the first year that Norwich Bat Group has joined the National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project run by The Bat Conservation Trust. The project has already revealed important information about this species by trapping and ringing to identify individuals. It has been discovered that, as well as being a resident species in the UK, Nathusius’ pipistrelle also migrates between north east European countries such as Latvia and Lithuania and the UK. The bats migrate south during the autumn months to escape the harsh winters and return in the spring, crossing the North Sea on their journey to and from Europe.

This summer, Norwich Bat Group trapped and ringed Nathusius’ pipistrelle at eight separate locations across the Broads National Park and two other sites in North Norfolk. The numbers of this rare bat discovered in the Broads, and particularly at Whitlingham, supports the staggering statistic that although the Broads National Park only covers 0.1% of the country, it is home to over a quarter of our rarest and most significant wildlife.


Annual wildlife crime report - Scottish Government

Offence numbers down on previous year.

Recorded wildlife crime has fallen by 8%, according to the latest official figures.

The annual wildlife crime report, published today, shows reported offences have dropped from 284 in 2014/15 to 261 the following year.

Fish poaching, which remains the most prolific wildlife crime, was down by 26% on the year before.

The report shows an increase in hunting with dogs offences to 44 - up 24 offences on the previous year and the highest number over the five-year recording period.

The report brings together data from the Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and other sources - all members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland).

The data in the report refers to recorded wildlife crime. It does not, for example, include satellite-tagged tagged birds which may have disappeared in suspicious circumstances, as without a carcass or other hard evidence of criminal activity, Police Scotland are not able to record these incidents as crimes.

The full report can be read on the Scottish Government website.


Draft Welsh National Marine Plan - Welsh Government

We want your views on proposals for a Welsh National Marine Plan to guide the future use of our seas.

Consultation description 

This is the first marine plan for Welsh seas. It covers the inshore and offshore marine plan areas for which Welsh Ministers are the marine planning authority.  
We are consulting on the draft Welsh National Marine Plan which:

  • introduces a framework to support sustainable decision-making for our seas
  • sets out our vision and strategic objectives
  • presents general policies (economic, environmental and social)
  • includes policies specific to the sectors that operate in our seas (aquaculture, aggregates, defence, etc.).

Consultation End Date: 29 March 2018


Responses from RSPB & WWF

Welsh Government Marine Plan supports Tidal Lagoons despite risk of serious damage to nature - RSPB

The Welsh Government released their draft for the first ever Wales National Marine Plan (WNMP). Although the draft plan sets a positive vision for our seas, some of its policies threaten to undo the Welsh Governments own commitments to nature and sustainable development.   

Katie-jo Luxton, Director of RSPB Cymru said “We believe that the draft’s tidal lagoon policy is the worst example of this. The Welsh Government’s own assessment show that their tidal lagoon policy is extremely high risk for nature and could damage some of our most important wildlife sites, including over 50 protected sites for birds, yet the policy supports lagoons with very limited caveats. It is clear Wales needs to find renewable energy solutions, but this should not be to the detriment of the natural environment we depend on, and RSPB research shows that it doesn’t have to be.  Despite the Welsh Government talking a lot about mainstreaming nature into policy-making and looking for win-win scenarios, we are becoming increasingly worried that they are failing to apply the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and continue to prioritise development at the expense of nature. It is deeply worrying that the Marine Plan appears to fail to protect our biggest and most important coastal and marine wildlife sites. As one of the first plans published since the Act, we are shocked by this approach.”

The RSPB will be undertaking a detailed review of the plan to prepare our response to this consultation. We will be calling on the Welsh Government to consider alternative policies that align with Wales’s Well-being of Future Generations Act.  


Welsh National Marine Plan - WWF

The arrival of the first ever marine plan for Wales is a significant moment in the history of our maritime nation.

Alec Taylor, Programme Manager - Marine Governance, UK and EU Advocacy, WWF UK says: “This plan is the biggest and most complex exercise ever to take place in Welsh seas, trying to guide how our coast and marine space should be used into the next generation.  Decisions we take now, through this plan, will have long-lasting consequences for the whole of Wales. Although we welcome this plan, we have concerns about the Government placing too much emphasis on extracting maximum economic benefit from Welsh seas, without sufficiently assessing how that will affect the resilience of our marine ecosystems. To address this the marine plan must put maintaining and enhancing resilient ecosystems at the heart of how sea space is used. This will ensure that the seas continue to provide for our children and grandchildren and that nature and people thrive together.”



Scientific Publications

Berny, P.J., Mas, E. & Vey, D. Embedded lead shots in birds of prey: the hidden threat  Eur J Wildl Res (2017) 63: 101. doi: 0.1007/s10344-017-1160-z


Robertson, P.A., Mill, A.C., Rushton, S.P. et al. Pheasant release in Great Britain: long-term and large-scale changes in the survival of a managed bird.  Eur J Wildl Res (2017) 63: 100. doi: 10.1007/s10344-017-1157-7 


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