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


Brownfield registers identify land for more than 1 million homes - CPRE

Councils find sites for more than five times the number of homes predicted by Government

An analysis of Brownfield Land Registers, published today (Monday, 12 February), confirms that there is enough space on brownfield land to build at least one million new homes, with more than two-thirds of these homes deliverable within the next five years.  Many of these sites are in areas with a high need for housing.

Brownfield registers identify land for more than 1 million homes (image: CPRE)This means that three of the next five years’ worth of Government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified, easing pressures on councils to continue releasing greenfield land unnecessarily and preventing the unnecessary loss of countryside.

Brownfield registers identify land for more than 1 million homes (image: CPRE)

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which carried out the analysis, found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for a minimum of 1,052,124 homes – this could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published, confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.

Most brownfield land is within urban areas that already have infrastructure, and where there is a higher demand for housing. The areas of England identified as having the highest number of potential “deliverable” homes include London, the North West and the South East with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

Rebecca Pullinger, Planning Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “It’s fantastic news that local authorities have identified so many sites on brownfield land that are ready and waiting to be developed – and shown how wide of the mark the Government’s estimates of brownfield capacity have been. Contrary to what the Government, and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure. Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites. The Government needs to get on with amending its guidance to make sure that councils identified all the available brownfield sites in their areas. They then need to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment that all that new-builds should be on brownfield first.”

Despite a requirement for all local planning authorities to publish Brownfield Land Registers by 31 December 2017, more than one in five failed to meet the deadline for submissions. As of 31 January, 18 were still to publish. The analysis was carried out on the 95% of Brownfield Land Registers that have been published successfully.


London soon to become the world’s first National Park City – National Park City Foundation

London is a step closer to becoming the world’s first National Park City as the idea has now secured the backing not just of the Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly but a majority of London’s 654 local council ward teams - the local authority councillors elected by Londoners.

With this broad mandate, leaders of the campaign will be working with the Mayor and Londoners across the capital to launch the National Park City in 2019.

Inspired by the aims and values of Britain’s national parks, the London National Park City will celebrate the capital’s remarkable urban landscape and work with Londoners to make the city greener, healthier and more enjoyable. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: “It is fantastic news that so many Londoners are getting behind our ambition of making the capital the first National Park City. I’m committed to working to make this a reality and have already ensured I’m protecting and investing in our outstanding green spaces with my draft London Plan and £9m Greener City Fund. I’ll be working closely with the Foundation to help us reach our goal of declaring London a National Park City in 2019.”

Daniel Raven-Ellison, Founder of the London National Park City campaign said: “London being the world’s first National Park City is backed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, London Assembly members and local councillors of all parties. Thanks to thousands of Londoners contacting their local ward councillors, a majority of local politicians now back the idea of London as a National Park City. “In recent weeks councillors in Bexley, Hackney, Kingston and Southwark have joined ward teams across the capital from Barnet and Bromley to Wandsworth and Westminster to show cross-party support for London to be the world’s first National Park City.

“Making London a National Park City is the capital’s big chance to recognise everything that is done by communities, businesses and councils to make our city greener, richer in wildlife and better for Londoners’ health and well-being - and to challenge us to do even better. With London set to be National Park City in 2019, let’s take pride and use the time to make our streets, gardens and balconies as green and beautiful as we can.”


Green Gym's 20th Anniversary - TCV

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of setting up the first TCV Green Gym in Sonning Common, South Oxfordshire, the pioneering group hosted a giant work session on Thursday 8th February at Watlington Hill Nature Reserve. This was joined by other local Green Gyms and staff from TCV.

The Green Gym was the brainchild of Dr William Bird, then at Sonning Common Health Centre, who brought in nature conservation experts TCV to set up the first group in 1998.  That group has prospered, holding two weekly sessions with a total of 40 active members, some of whom have been there from the beginning. There are now 130 Green Gyms all over the country.

Sonning Common is now an independent Green Gym run completely by a team of dedicated and energetic volunteers. The group enjoy working outdoors, learning new skills and helping to rescue or preserve important wildlife habitats and, of course, the social side of group activity.  Craig Lister the Managing Director of TCV's Green Gym gave a short speech which shared how the Green Gym movement (now international) is growing and its role in the NHS's Social Prescribing Programme.

“I love going out in the fresh air and getting stuck into scrub-cutting or whatever task we’re doing that day.  Catching up with the other members is also a big plus,” said Gill Vaughan, a founder member.


Queen joins battle against plastic pollution in the UK - WDC

Plastic bottles and straws are to be banned from all Royal estates in the UK.

The move is said to have been instigated by the Queen after speaking to television presenter, Sir David Attenborough about the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.

The plan involves gradually phasing out the use of plastic straws in public cafes at Royal estates, and banning  them outright in staff dining rooms. Internal caterers at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh will now use china plates and glasses, or recyclable paper cups. The Royal Collection cafes will also now have to use compostable or biodegradable packaging for any takeaway food or drink items.


Raising the financial red flag is a warning signal for green space - Fields in Trust

Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, comments on the recently published review of local council finance and its potential implications for parks and green spaces.

Figures from the Local Government Information Unit's annual review of local council finance, released last week, show some worrying signs for the UK's parks and green spaces.

Coming just days after Northamptonshire County Council "raised a red flag" indicating a likely budget shortfall in the current year and an inability to set a balanced budget for 2018/19 the LGIU report demonstrates that this troubling situation is widespread and could affect as many as one in ten councils who will be unable to cover the costs of delivering their statutory services. No surprise then to find budgets for all other areas of discretionary spending squeezed – whilst most council taxpayers assume their parks and green spaces will always be there, there are no guarantees that any local authority will maintain a local park when reducing budgets are stretched across the whole range of adult and children's community services.

The LGUI report indicates that, financial difficulties will force councils to cut many core community services for their 2018/19 budgets. Over half say they will be reducing parks and leisure activities this year (53% of councils). Added to this the change in the regulations from the 2015 Autumn Statement which mean local councils can retain 100% of the sale of assets to invest in public services and the prospect of a local council selling off a green space for much needed housing may well be attractive to cash-strapped council leaders - even though not a long-term solution.


Funding to support marine economy – Scottish Government

More than £4.8 million shared between businesses.

Sea fisheries, aquaculture and processing businesses will share more than £4.8 million aimed at boosting growth and creating local jobs.

The fifth round of the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will award grants to 43 projects across Scotland.

The St James Smokehouse Ltd in Gretna is to receive about £1 million to develop a salmon processing factory. This will create 50 jobs locally over the next three years.

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre will use its £2.2 million grant to take forward a range of projects to develop the salmon industry.

Other projects include £12,155 to the Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd collaborative tagging project, which will work with five inshore fisheries groups to develop data to help manage Scotland’s crab stocks. 

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Our maritime economy plays a crucial role in supporting communities across the country, which is why continued investment is important. The support of this fund will help processing businesses expand and enhance their work. I’m particularly delighted to see a number of grants going to fishermen to help make their day–to-day routines easier and safer and to improve the quality of their produce. Investment in fisheries, aquaculture and processors is crucial to support our ambitions to double the value of the food and drink industry.”


Scotland’s woodland and farmland birds increase, as upland birds decline – Scottish Natural Heritage

Scotland’s woodland and farmland bird numbers have increased over the past two decades, but during this time, upland birds have faced decline. This is according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report published today, The Official Statistic for Terrestrial Breeding Birds.

Lapwing (image: Scottish Natural Heritate)The latest results reveal varied trends for Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds, with woodland birds increasing by 67% between 1994 and 2016, farmland birds increasing by 13%, but upland birds decreasing by 16%. 

Woodland specialists, such as great-spotted woodpecker and chiffchaff, have shown the largest increases.  Great-spotted woodpeckers have expanded across Europe, possibly as a result of increased forests and woodlands becoming more connected.  

Lapwing (image: Scottish Natural Heritage)

For farmland species, goldfinches have continued to increase and are now a common sight in most gardens. Whitethroat, a small migratory warbler, has also bounced back from their historical lows associated with droughts in their Sahelian overwintering grounds in Africa. 

Upland birds are the most concerning group, with declines for 10 of the 17 species. Among the largest declines are breeding waders, including curlew, golden plover and lapwing.  Major work is underway to help tackle these declines, including extensive peatland restoration and the Working for Waders project.

Simon Foster, SNH’s trends analyst, said:

“It’s wonderful to see that woodland and farmland birds are not only holding their own in Scotland, but that many are thriving. However, with some upland birds struggling, there are a lot of people and projects working hard to improve conditions for waders – some of which have seen worrying declines. We and many of our partners are hoping to see these birds fare better in the coming years.”


Delight for biologists as new scientific discovery made in the UK – National Trust

A fungus previously unknown to world science has been discovered on land looked after by the National Trust. What was thought to be one species, Big Blue Pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii), has been proven by mycologists at Kew Gardens to be at least four different species in a ground-breaking find.

Big Blue Pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii) (image: Louise Buckley, National Trust)The discovery of the dark blue Entoloma atromadidum – one of the four similar looking species – was made by a group studying fungi at the National Trust’s Wolstonbury Hill and later confirmed by the Lost and Found Fungi project based at Kew. Big Blue Pinkgill had been identified as one of 100 Target Species for the project, which began in 2014 and concludes next year.

Big Blue Pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii) (image: Louise Buckley, National Trust)

Mycologists had suspected Big Blue Pinkgills comprised of more than one species, but lacked the necessary DNA and photographic evidence. The find at Wolstonbury Hill – a South Downs landmark with a rich history – means their suspicions can now be confirmed in the record books, and that there are at least four different species.

Dr Martyn Ainsworth, Research Leader (Mycology), Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew, said: “After more than a year of detective work and DNA sequencing at Kew we finally reached a position where we could confidently describe and name this new species in a publication. This work could not have happened without the keen eyes of many volunteers searching sites such as Wolstonbury for suitable specimens to analyse as part of our Lost & Found Fungi Project. It is always exciting to add a new name to the fungal kingdom and I’m still amazed that, even in a well-studied country such as ours, there are still fungi such as this very striking blue mushroom to be discovered."


Sewage and animal waste having serious impact on UK coastline – Cardiff University

Analysis of fragile seagrass meadows by Cardiff University and Swansea University scientists has shown that consistent pollution from sewage and livestock waste is affecting their survival.

Seagrass meadows are flowering plants that have adapted to live a life in the sea and were recently featured in the BBC’s Blue Planet II episode ‘Green Seas’. They have been called the “canaries of the sea”, due to their sensitivity to a changing environment. Like the canary in the coal mine, their condition can be used as an indicator of the condition of our coastal areas.

Seagrass (image: B Jones)Persistently high pollution puts the long-term resilience of seagrass meadows in doubt. Previous work provided evidence that nutrient pollution is a constant feature across the British Isles, but these new findings give the clearest indication yet of the source.

Leaf tissue was analysed for nitrogen and a stable isotope of nitrogen called 15N. The abundance of 15N is greater in sewage and livestock waste than in other sources, so these results offer a unique insight into where the nitrogen in seagrass originates from.

Seagrass (image: B Jones)

Ten of the 11 sites within this study were in areas with designated EU marine protection. Despite being safeguarded under the EU Habitats Directive and some meadows being designated Special Areas of Conservation, most of the seagrass meadows included in the study were in poor condition, with nitrogen levels 75% higher than global averages.

The seagrass meadow with the highest levels of nitrogen from sewage was found within the Thames waterway. However, a seagrass meadow in Studland Bay, Dorset, popular with swimmers and boaters was also significantly enriched with nutrients from sewage.

Despite high levels of sewage nutrients being detected, none of the locations were classed as unsuitable for swimmers.

Benjamin Jones, a director of Project Seagrass and researcher at Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute, said: “This is the first time research has uncovered the origins of pollution affecting the health of seagrass meadows in the British Isles. Despite these areas of the coast being protected by EU law, and many sites being Special Areas of Conservation, untreated sewage from humans and livestock is still making its way into the sea.

Access the paper: Tracking nitrogen source using δ15N reveals human and agricultural drivers of seagrass degradation across the British Isles – is published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science


‘Momentous day for animals’ as RSPCA Cymru campaign for circus ban set for victory - RSPCA

RSPCA Cymru has decreed today (Wednesday 14 February) as a “momentous day for animals” as the Welsh Government confirms its plan to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The animal welfare charity has led the campaign on this issue for some two decades – with over 9,000 signing an RSPCA petition urging action.

Polling, too, has consistently demonstrated a clear will for action – with 74% of people within Wales supporting a ban on wild animals performing in circuses.

The transient nature of circuses – alongside cramped accommodation and forced training for animals – highlights how inappropriate these settings are for wild animals. The RSPCA has long highlighted how the welfare of wild animals based in such settings is likely to be heavily compromised.  An announcement had previously been made regarding the introduction of a licensing scheme for mobile animal exhibits (MAEs) in Wales, including circuses – but the Welsh Government has now confirmed it is “exploring opportunities to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales”.

Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru Assistant Director of External Relations, said: “This is a momentous day for animals – with the sight of wild animals touring in circuses in Wales set to be consigned to the history books once and for all.  The RSPCA has fought for years to see this ban become a reality – and we are absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government has confirmed its intention to bring forward legislation to end this outdated and cruel practice on this country’s soil.  Wild animals do not belong in the circus. Put simply, it is a life not worth living – with regular travelling, unsuitable accommodation and forced training the grim realities of this cruel practice. Thankfully – after tireless campaigning from the RSPCA and others – animals will no longer face this horrendous life.”


Derbyshire’s badger vaccination project gets Government funding for another 4 years - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce that the badger vaccination programme is now able to continue for another 4 years. This has been made possible thanks to generous funding from several sources, £80,000 from National Trust, £4,000 from the High Peak Derbyshire Badger Group, £40,000 from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust itself, all topped up by £181,906.76 funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which has just been confirmed.

Photo Andrew MasonDerbyshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce that the badger vaccination programme is now able to continue for another 4 years.

Photo Andrew Mason

This has been made possible thanks to generous funding from several sources, £80,000 from National Trust, £4,000 from the High Peak Derbyshire Badger Group, £40,000 from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust itself, all topped up by £181,906.76 funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which has just been confirmed.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Living Landscapes for North Derbyshire Tim Birch said, “We are pleased the Government have provided more money for Derbyshire’s badger vaccination programme. The funding will mean this important work will continue for another 4 years – enabling us to expand the vaccination programme to other areas of Derbyshire. The area scheduled for vaccination will now increase to cover up to 90km2 across Derbyshire. It also enables the Trust to continue to work in partnership with many organisations and show that vaccination is a viable alternative to the badger cull which we are totally opposed to.”

Vaccinating badgers against bovine TB is an important part of tackling the disease in cattle.


Butterfly breeds for first time in 130 years - Butterfly Conservation

A declining butterfly may have started breeding in Scotland for the first time in 130 years, after eggs were discovered by amateur naturalists, Butterfly Conservation (BC) has confirmed.

White-Letter Hairstreak (image: Butterfly Conservation)A handful of White-letter Hairstreak eggs were found on Wych Elm trees at Lennel near Coldstream, Berwickshire, on Sunday 4 February.

White-Letter Hairstreak (image: Butterfly Conservation)

The discovery comes after Borders Butterfly Recorder Iain Cowe spotted an adult White-letter Hairstreak about 10 miles north east of this area last year - the first sighting in Scotland since 1884.

Iain said: “The discovery of these eggs is hugely significant as it not only confirms the White-letter Hairstreak is breeding here, but one of the eggs was an old, hatched shell – so it looks like the butterfly could have been breeding here since at least 2016. Last year was an impossible find, but this year’s egg discovery is beyond anything we thought possible.”

The White-letter Hairstreak, which has a distinctive ‘W’ marking on the underside of its wing, is widespread across England and Wales, but the butterfly has suffered a 72% decline over the last decade.

The butterfly’s caterpillars feed on elm and the White-letter Hairstreak declined dramatically in the 1970s as a result of Dutch Elm disease.

For more than ten years, a group of BC volunteers have been monitoring the butterfly and its gradual spread northwards, which experts think is most likely the result of a warming climate.


Bovine TB strategy review - Animal Plant and Health Agency

The government has announced a review of its 25 year Bovine TB strategy.

The government has announced a review of its 25 year Bovine TB strategy to be chaired by Sir Charles Godfray, a population biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society.

Four years after the 25 year strategy was first published, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said he believes now is a good time to review progress and consider what additional actions might be necessary now to ensure other tools and interventions are ready to be deployed in later phases of the strategy. The government has said it also envisages future reviews at five yearly intervals.

The 25 year strategy outlined a very broad range of interventions to fight the disease including tighter cattle movement controls and removal of infected cattle from herds, improved diagnostic tests, enhanced biosecurity measures, the culling of badgers in areas where disease is rife, vaccination of badgers and work to develop a viable vaccine for use in cattle.

So far, the principal elements deployed in the first phase of the strategy have been cattle movement controls, the removal of infected cattle from herds and the badger cull which covered more than 20 different areas in 2017. Michael Gove and Farming Minister George Eustice have said they want to ensure other elements of the strategy, such as cattle vaccination or developing genetic resistance, are ready to be deployed in the next phase of the strategy in order to ensure the government maintains progress towards its target of becoming officially TB free by 2038.


Severn Waste Services help wildlife - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Boynes Coppice (c) Wendy CarterEvesham-based firm Severn Waste Services have awarded £30,000 via the Landfill Communities Fund to help wildlife in south Worcestershire.

Boynes Coppice (c) Wendy Carter

The money has been awarded to Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the county’s largest conservation organisation, to help with essential maintenance on three of their nature reserves – Boynes Coppice and Meadow and Nash’s Meadows near Upton-upon-Severn and Tiddesley Wood on the edge of Pershore.

David Molloy, the Trust’s Conservation Officer responsible for the three reserves, explained “We’re delighted that Severn Waste Services has chosen to fund this really important work on three of our nature reserves.

“Some of the work that it’s funding may sound mundane but it’s absolutely crucial if we are to manage these beautiful sites in the best way for wildlife.

“Fencing at both Boynes and Nash’s, for example, will allow us to graze the meadows with cattle and sheep. The animals eat the coarser and quicker growing plants, which allows the more delicate wildflowers to thrive; come late spring the fields are awash with colour and alive with bees and butterflies.”


Signs of spring sweep across the nation - RSPB

Acrobatic ravens, the dawn chorus and carpets of bluebells are among the beacons of spring that have started to pop up on RSPB reserves across England and Wales as nature starts to stir from its winter slumber.

Despite the current chilly conditions, temperatures in January were above average with parts of southern England reaching 15°C, enough to trigger a reaction from some early-nesting birds looking to gain a competitive advantage on rivals ahead of the breeding season.

The dawn chorus – nature’s soundtrack – is one of the most well known and loved signs that spring is well on its way. Starting with the sweet, simple melody of the blackbird, shortly followed by the robin, wren and many others, the dawn chorus builds fast during February with more places coming alive with the sound of bird song as the month goes on. 

But it isn’t just our garden birds that have been exercising their vocal chords. The booming call of Britain’s loudest bird, the bittern, was heard as early as mid-January at RSPB Ham Wall in Somerset. While the gruff, far-carrying call of early-nesting ravens have been heard on a number of reserves as they take to the skies to perform their acrobatic, tumbling displays usually only seen at this time of the year. 

Debra Depledge, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “As we emerge out of winter and into spring RSPB reserves will become a hive of activity as birds furiously prepare for the start of the breeding season. The warm January conditions will have stirred many birds out of their winter slumber earlier than usual allowing some pioneering individuals to gain competitive edge on potential rivals by making a start on gathering nest materials, securing a patch and finding a mate.”

The warm January weather also acted as a catalyst for other wildlife. Throughout southern England, there have been a number of reports of frogs starting to spawn and newts heading towards the nearest pond as they emerge from their winter hibernation.

The sight and smell of early-flowing woodland plants such as bluebells, primrose and daffodils have also started to greet people in their gardens or while enjoying a woodland trail. These plants have evolved over many years to flower before the woodland canopy closes overhead plunging them into darkness.


Wildfowl recovery plan at Wyver Lane - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Lapwing at Wyver Lane, Paul ShawDerbyshire Wildlife Trust is celebrating a grant of £3726.22 awarded by the Co-op Local Communities Fund as well as an additional £2,550 from Hamamelis Trust to restore the wetland habitat and renew signage and hide information at Wyver Lane Nature Reserve.

Lapwing at Wyver Lane, Paul Shaw

The reserve is situated in the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Belper and runs along the bank of the River Derwent. It is one of the Trust’s most important wetland sites and is home to many species of bird from waders such as curlew and common sandpiper passing through in spring, to birds which breed here such as lapwing. Large numbers of gulls visit the reserve during winter - they are mainly black headed gulls, but you may also see common, herring, lesser and greater black backed gulls. They are joined by wildfowl escaping the icy north. In really cold conditions, numbers of duck species such as wigeon and teal visit - they both have characteristics whistles, not quacks, best heard at sun rise and sun set, and easily heard from the track running parallel to the reserve (Wyver Lane).

Some of the habitats at the reserve now need a bit of a helping hand in order to be ideal for lapwing and wigeon, two nationally declining species on the UK BAP Amber list. Some of the grant will be used for this important improvement work as well as the help of local volunteers. A barn owl box will also be installed at the reserve as well as a bird seed store.

In addition to the reserve work, the grant will enable the Trust to commission a new orientation panel and several new species information panels signposting the way for visitors and giving them a flavour of the beautiful wildlife and special habitats they will see.


Laser technology reveals the weight of some of UK’s and world’s biggest trees - University College London

New laser scanning technology is being used by UCL scientists to provide fresh and unprecedented insights into the structure and mass of trees, a development that will help plot how much carbon they absorb and how they might respond to climate change.

Two studies, published today (Friday) by the Royal Society, by researchers at UCL and the universities of Oxford, Sonoma State, Ghent and Wageningen, reveal the technology has captured the 3D structure of individual trees in ways they have never been seen before.

The new approach pioneered by Dr Mat Disney, Reader in Remote Sensing in UCL’s Department of Geography, and colleagues has enabled trees to be “weighed” very accurately by estimating their volume from the precise 3D data.

A seemingly ordinary Sycamore tree in Wytham Woods near Oxford, for example, has been found to have nearly 11km of branches, double that of the much larger tropical trees measured by the team led by Dr Disney.

Dr Disney’s team, in collaboration with Yadvinder Malhi, a professor of ecosystem science at Oxford University, and the Gabonese National Parks Agency, used the technology to measure a 45m tall Moabi tree in Gabon with its 60m crown. They estimated its weight at about 100 tons, making it the largest tree ever measured like this in the tropics.

Previously, trees could only be weighed by cutting them down or by using other indirect methods such as remote sensing or scaling up from manual measurements of trunk diameter, both of which have potentially large errors. The new technology provides an important advance in measuring mass which is vital to revealing how much carbon trees absorb during their lifetimes and how they may respond to climate change, according to the papers published in the Royal Society Interface Focus journal.

Access the paper: M. I. Disney, M. Boni Vicari, A. Burt, K. Calders, S. L. Lewis, P. Raumonen, P. Wilkes Weighing trees with lasers: advances, challenges and opportunities Interface Focus 2018 8 20170048


Climate change means more frequent flooding, warns Environment Agency - Environment Agency

The Environment Agency has warned people to be prepared for flooding as it launches its Flood Action Campaign

Intense bouts of flooding are set to become more frequent, the Environment Agency has warned today (Friday 16 February).

The warning follows a pattern of severe flooding over the past 10 years linked to an increase in extreme weather events as the country’s climate changes. Met Office records show that since 1910 there have been 17 record breaking rainfall months or seasons – with 9 of them since 2000. As intense storms are becoming more frequent, sea levels are also rising because of climate change.

The Environment Agency has today launched its Flood Action Campaign, targeting younger people through social media and online advertising to encourage them to check their flood risk at GOV.UK, sign up for free warnings and be prepared to take action when flooding hits. Research shows that 18 to 34 year olds are least likely to perceive flood risk to their area, know how to protect their homes or where to go for information. They are also at highest risk of fatality as they are less likely to perceive their personal risk.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said: "Climate change is likely to mean more frequent and intense flooding. Floods destroy – lives, livelihoods, and property. Our flood defences reduce the risk of flooding, and our flood warnings help keep communities safe when it threatens. But we can never entirely eliminate the risk of flooding. Checking your flood risk is the first step to protecting yourself, your loved ones and your home. In summer 2012, the lengthy period of drought the country had experienced came to an abrupt end when prolonged and intense rainfall increased the risk of flooding from rivers and surface water for long periods. Almost 8,000 homes and businesses were flooded across the country, particularly in the south west. The winter of 2013 to 2014 started with a coastal surge and record sea levels on the north and east coasts. This was followed by 12 storms in succession and became the wettest winter for 250 years – 11,000 homes were flooded."


Scientific Publication 

Gaughran A, Kelly DJ, MacWhite T, Mullen E, Maher P, Good M, et al. (2018) Super-ranging. A new ranging strategy in European badgers. PLoS ONE https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191818


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