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


Loss of old trees threatens survival of wood-dependent beetles – IUCN Red List

Brussels, 5 March 2018 (IUCN) – Almost a fifth (18%) of European saproxylic beetles assessed so far are at risk of extinction due to ongoing decline in large veteran trees across Europe, a new IUCN report has found.

Saproxylic beetles depend on dead and decaying wood for at least part of their lifecycle, and are involved in decomposition processes and Iphthiminus Italicus - assessed as endangered (© Herve Bouyon)the recycling of nutrients in natural ecosystems. They also provide an important food source for birds and mammals, and some species are even involved in pollination.

Iphthiminus Italicus - assessed as endangered (© Herve Bouyon)

The new European Red List of Saproxylic Beetles by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assesses the conservation status of almost 700 species of saproxylic beetles. Around 80 European experts across Europe contributed to the project which was funded by the European Commission and through a LIFE grant.

“The IUCN Red List gives us key intelligence for understanding the status of saproxylic beetles and highlighting conservation priorities to ensure their long term survival,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “Some beetle species require old trees that need hundreds of years to grow, so conservation efforts need to focus on long-term strategies to protect old trees across different landscapes in Europe, to ensure that the vital ecosystem services provided by these beetles continue.”

Due to their dependence on dead or decaying wood, the loss of trees across Europe is the main driver of decline in saproxylic beetle populations. Loss of ancient and veteran trees, tree age structure gaps, degraded landscapes that are unfriendly to tree growth, and indiscriminate felling for spurious health and safety reasons all contribute to the loss and degradation of suitable saproxylic beetle habitat.


Parks Boosts Local Economy, Lift House Prices – The Land Trust

This week (wb 26/2), the Land Trust released a new report: The Economic Value of our Green Spaces, which highlights the direct economic Image: The Land Trustbenefits as a result of the creation of a park.

Image: The Land Trust

A report published today (Thursday 1 March) by the Land Trust shows how parkland lifts nearby house prices, creates jobs and generates revenue for local businesses.

The report, commissioned from Alliance Manchester Business School, used evidence from the creation in 2013-14 of Port Sunlight River Park in Wirral, Merseyside, and made comparisons with comparable nearby areas.

The study identified a range of benefits around the park’s creation, including:

  • Adding £7.8 million to houses within a 500 metre radius of the park – an average of £8,674 per property.
  • Generating £48,000 annual revenue for the small businesses that operate in the park, such as dog walkers and ice cream vendors.
  • Adding £38,000 revenue to other local businesses, where people have spent money while visiting the park.

Download the report here


Mass marine death along North Sea coast – The Wildlife Trusts

Tens of thousands of animals washed up on the beaches after the storm

Tens of thousands of marine animals have been washed up along the UK’s east coast following the cold temperatures and rough weather over the last week. Crabs, starfish, mussels and lobsters are ankle-deep in places along the Holderness coast in Yorkshire. Most of the animals are now dead – except for lobsters. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas team have been working alongside local fisherman rescuing the lobsters that are still alive - gathering them in buckets and taking them to tanks in Bridlington for care - with the aim of putting them back in Image: Bex Lynham the sea when the weather improves.

Image: Bex Lynham

Similar scenes have been reported down the North Sea coast including Norfolk and Kent.

Bex Lynam, North Sea Marine Advocacy Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, says: “There was a three degree drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels. This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in. Larger animals such as dolphins are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens. Lobsters are one of the few species still alive – that’s why we’re saving them with local fisherman. This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fisherman to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks. It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.”


Rare mineral discovered in plants for first time – University of Cambridge

A rare mineral with potential industrial and medical applications has been discovered on alpine plants at Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

Scientists at Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University have found that the mineral vaterite, a form (polymorph) of calcium carbonate, is a dominant component of the protective silvery-white crust that forms on the leaves of a number of alpine plants, which are part of the Garden’s national collection of European Saxifraga species.

Saxifraga sempervivum, an alpine plant species discovered to produce "pure vaterite" Credit: Paul AstonSaxifraga sempervivum, an alpine plant species discovered to produce "pure vaterite" Credit: Paul Aston

Naturally occurring vaterite is rarely found on Earth. Small amounts of vaterite crystals have been found in some sea and freshwater crustaceans, bird eggs, the inner ears of salmon, meteorites and rocks. This is the first time that the rare and unstable mineral has been found in such a large quantity and the first time it has been found to be associated with plants.

The discovery was made through a University of Cambridge collaboration between the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University microscopy facility and Cambridge University Botanic Garden, as part of an ongoing research project that is probing the inner workings of plants in the Garden using new microscopy technologies. The research findings have been published in the latest edition of Flora.


Young Placechangers programme takes off in Year of Young People – Greenspace Scotland

Scotland’s parks and greenspace charity, greenspace scotland has received £90,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop the Young Placechangers programme over the next two years in partnership with Youth Scotland. Young Placechangers puts young people in the lead role – bringing together the wider community to look at local spaces, plan and deliver improvements. Welcoming the award, Julie Procter, greenspace scotland chief executive said “Young people are the citizens of the future but too often they are invisible in the public realm and the missing voice in place consultations. Blending together greenspace scotland’s expertise in community placemaking and Youth Scotland’s extensive youth work experience, we have worked with youth groups and young people on a series of pioneer projects to co-develop a Young Placechangers programme” The Young Placechangers programme will engage and empower young people to take the lead on changing the places where they live. The programme has three core elements drawn from community placemaking principles and youth work approaches: Young people and youth workers will be given training both in residential settings and in local clusters. The Ideas Fund will support activity and deliver quick-wins. Support from peers and ‘place professionals’ will inspire and enthuse the young people to get involved in their local areas.


World's fastest bird making a comeback – British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

The latest population estimate, just published, shows that the breeding numbers of Peregrine Falcon in the UK have hit a historic high, with particularly large increases in England.

In a paper, just published in the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) journal Bird Study, scientists analysed the results from the 2014 Peregrine survey with the aim of producing an up-to-date population estimate for this aerial hunter, and the findings are interesting.
The survey estimates the breeding population at 1,769 pairs, 22% larger than found in the previous Peregrine survey, which was carried out in 2002. This is largely thanks to population increases in lowland areas, particularly in England, where many Peregrines are now breeding on man-made structures. Out of around 500 monitored pairs in England, just over a quarter were on buildings, pylons, or other man-made sites. The majority of these were in areas where a lack of suitable nesting crags would once have resulted in Peregrines being scarce or absent. However, despite the success of Peregrines in these newly colonised areas, they are not doing so well in all parts of the UK.
The number of breeding Peregrines estimated for England is almost twice that reported in 2002, whilst in Wales the population is stable. On the Isle of Man and in Scotland, Peregrine numbers fell but there was a slight increase in Northern Ireland. Further investigation showed that it wasn’t quite as simple as this though.
Within Scotland and England, trends varied between different regions. In both countries, populations in upland regions showed the greatest declines, whilst the regions that experienced the largest increases within the UK were in eastern England. In East Anglia, the Peregrine population increased from no pairs to an estimated 44 pairs between the two surveys. The Channel Islands were covered in this survey for the first time, with an estimated total of 16 breeding pairs found, probably covering the majority of breeding pairs on the islands.


Number of songbirds illegally trapped on UK Base in Cyprus falls more than 70% - RSPB

Over 260,000 songbirds, such as blackcaps and robins, are estimated to have been illegally killed on a British military base in Cyprus last autumn, according to a new report by BirdLife Cyprus and the RSPB. However, this number was down from 880,000 the previous year, a reduction of more than 70%. 

This decrease in illegal hunting is due to the work undertaken by the RSPB, working with the Sovereign Base Area Police to deter trappers. By increasing patrols and following through with prosecutions coupled with heavier sentences hunters now face a double deterrent. 

Blackcap in mist net (Guy Shorrock - RSPB)Blackcap in mist net (Guy Shorrock - RSPB)

The songbirds are illegally trapped and killed to provide restaurants with the main ingredient for the local and expensive delicacy of ambelopoulia- a plate of cooked songbirds. Organised crime gangs are driving this illegal activity on a huge scale and it is estimated they earn millions of Euros every year from the songbirds they kill on British territory. 

Birds are trapped using nets placed between acacia bushes, and speakers playing bird calls are used to attract birds down as they migrate. In 2016, RSPB Investigations worked with the SBA Police to covertly film some 19 trappers, at seven sites, catching and killing birds. All were prosecuted, with fines up to 6,600 Euros and several jail sentences suspended for three years, meaning automatic imprisonment if caught again during this period. More men were caught in 2017 and cases are ongoing.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “The reduction in the numbers of birds being illegally killed is a direct result of on-the-ground work by RSPB and Sovereign Base Area staff. The enforcement and the severity of sentences is also adding to the risks that would-be trappers take. We now need to finish removing the remaining non-native acacia bushes to make sure that there are no longer places where trappers can hide their nets. This is the long-term solution needed for these migrant birds.”


Protecting Turtle Doves at home and away – North York Moors National Park Authority

Protecting Turtle Doves at home and away: Yorkshire team head to Israel to help prevent illegal slaughter of migratory bird species

A team of four Yorkshire wildlife enthusiasts are heading toImage: NYMNPA Israel to take part in an international bird-watching competition while raising thousands of pounds for conservation.


‘Champions of the Flyway’, which takes place in the Israeli coastal city of Eilat on 26 March, is a race to record the most species of birds in a 24 hour period. While the challenge itself may be fun, the wider context of the event is far more serious, involving the illegal hunting and trapping of migratory birds during their vast journeys across continents.

Richard Baines, Turtle Dove Project Officer at the North York Moors National Park and member of team ‘Zeiss Yorkshire Terriers’, said: “In the National Park we’re very fortunate to have one of the largest populations of Turtle Doves in England, but these long-distance flyers must complete an extremely perilous journey to reach their winter home in Africa. Illegal hunting in parts of southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East mean many of our much-loved migratory species are at-risk, including the nightingale, cuckoo, flycatchers and yellow wagtails.”


Impact of climate change on rivers – Scottish Government

Project to protect wild Atlantic salmon.

River managers will be able to limit the impact of climate change on Scotland’s rivers and fisheries by using a new online mapping tool to plan mitigation work

Scientists at Marine Scotland and the University of Birmingham have developed a river temperature model to predict the maximum daily river temperatures and sensitivity to climate change throughout Scotland, with interactive maps made available through the National Marine Plan interactive website.

Scotland’s rivers account for around 75% of the UK and 30% of European wild salmon production, with freshwater fisheries and associated expenditure contributing more than £79 million a year to the Scottish economy.

However, with Atlantic salmon sensitive to changes in river temperature and temperatures expected to increase under climate change, there are concerns Scottish rivers could become less suitable for salmon.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We know a number of complex factors, including climate change, are affecting wild salmon numbers in the north east Atlantic region. This research identifies areas where our famous salmon rivers are at risk due to climate change and  will help fisheries managers  target work to protect stocks and increase the resilience of our fresh waters. It is vital we take decisive action to safeguard wild salmon stocks and we will continue to work with Fisheries Management Scotland and their members to do so.”


Our comments on the Climate Change Plan – Keep Scotland Beautiful
The Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan was discussed in Parliament today, 06 March 2018, following a Ministerial Statement made by Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP.

The Climate Change Plan, sets out proposals and policies for how Scotland will meet annual climate change targets between now and 2032. 

Building on the previous reports published in 2011 and 2013, it is part of the strategic framework for the transition to a low carbon Scotland and includes policies and proposals to reduce emissions from electricity generation, buildings, transport, industry, waste, land use and agriculture.   

Derek Robertson, our Chief Executive commented: “Across Scotland, and around the world, people are already feeling the impacts of a changing climate, particularly more extreme weather events.  So, we welcome the recently published Climate Change Plan, in particular its links to the global ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the proposed support of communities and young people and increased focus on public engagement and behaviour change.  The Plan is strong on Natural Capital and our general environment, including the importance of biodiversity and makes good links to the importance of the quality of the places we live through the Planning Bill. We are delighted to see that The Plan presents routes for our communities across Scotland to become more engaged and take action by accessing the Climate Challenge Fund, and via the promotion and use of tools such as Climate Conversations and the use of the ISM model.  We will continue to work in partnership with the public, private and community sector to help us meet future climate change targets which will also deliver sustainable economic development and associated wider community cohesion benefits.”


ORC awarded two new research projects by Defra – Organic Research Centre

ORC investigates how organic ideas can help make UK farming a world leader

The Organic Research Centre has been a pioneer of many techniques such as agroforestry, the use of diverse ley mixtures, cover crops and intercropping, which are being adopted by conventional farmers (ORC)The Organic Research Centre has been a pioneer of many techniques such as agroforestry, the use of diverse ley mixtures, cover crops and intercropping, which are being adopted by conventional farmers (ORC)

The Organic Research Centre (ORC) – the UK’s leading research charity in this field, has been awarded two new research projects by Defra to gather robust evidence on organic farming. Both projects aim to identify how organic food production techniques can help the UK build on its position as a world-leading food and farming nation.

The first project will look at how a selection of organic farming practices can deliver wider sustainability benefits for conventional farming systems. The second project will help provide an evidence base for future policy direction of organic agriculture in the UK following EU exit as well as exploring the issues surrounding the potential implications of introducing an independent organic labelling system.

Dr Susanne Padel from the Organic Research Centre said, “This a fantastic opportunity to see how some of the well-proven farming techniques developed by the organic sector can provide the impetus for mainstream farmers to become more sustainable. Although organic farming accounts for a relatively small proportion of UK food production the sector has emerged as hugely innovative, employing novel solutions to reduce reliance on inputs while maintaining production but with limited resources.”

The ORC will collaborate with the GWCT’s Allerton Project, the Soil Association, Organic Farmers and Growers, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming). During the course of the research the project will identify and actively involve the farming community and relevant industry stakeholders. A key element is to develop future actions to promote sustainable farming practices across all agricultural systems. Results from this research will be widely shared with all interested farmers via a project ‘hub’ on the Agricology website and promoted using social media and events.


Pine Martens confirmed as key to reversing grey squirrel invasion - University of Aberdeen

A new study published today (March 7) has shown that pine martens can help in the conservation of red squirrels - by reversing the spread of invasive grey squirrel populations.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen, Waterford Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published their study ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend: native pine marten recovery reverses the decline of the red squirrel by suppressing grey squirrel populations’, in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society – B.

(image: University of Aberdeen)The study, which was led by Dr Emma Sheehy and Professor Xavier Lambin from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences, used DNA forensics and state of the art analyses to test the hypothesis that pine martens are suppressing grey squirrel populations in Scotland.

(image: University of Aberdeen)

The research took place in the Scottish Borders - an area which pine martens have recently begun to recolonise, Central Scotland - where there is a more established pine marten population - and in the Highlands, where there are no grey squirrels but a long established pine marten population coexists with native red squirrels. 

223 multi-species feeders were deployed throughout the three regions, baited with a mixture of nuts and seeds. Sticky patches placed under the lid collected hair samples from squirrels and pine martens that took the bait. Trail cameras were also used to improve detectability of red squirrels in particular, who often didn’t leave hair behind as pine martens had saturated the sticky patches with their hair before red squirrels got there.

The study built on evidence from a 2014 study, which suggested that pine martens may be responsible for the decline of grey squirrels in Ireland, and confirms that the relationship between red and grey squirrels in the UK is clearly altered in the presence of a native predator.

Access the paper:  Emma Sheehy, Chris Sutherland, Catherine O'Reilly, Xavier Lambin The enemy of my enemy is my friend: native pine marten recovery reverses the decline of the red squirrel by suppressing grey squirrel populations Proc. R. Soc. B 2018 285 20172603; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2603. 


Please click here to read about our featured charity, The Vincent Wildlife Trust, who have been involved in extensive Pine Marten research for the past 30 years


Government is now considering applications for shooting badgers in Derbyshire – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

The Government is now considering applications for shooting badgers in Derbyshire, yet new evidence shows that Derbyshire badgers have extremely low levels of bovine TB.

Over the past 18 months a total of 57 badgers killed on the roads were collected by the Derbyshire Badger Groups (1). The dead badgers were collected from across the county. These badgers were then analysed for the presence of bovine TB by Professor Malcolm Bennet at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Nottingham University. Only one badger was found to be infected.

These results come at a time when the Government seems determined to press ahead with further badger culls across England. Applications to shoot badgers in Derbyshire are now open for consultation.

Tim Birch, Head of Living Landscapes North at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said “We do not believe shooting of badgers is ever an appropriate way of controlling bovine TB in cattle. The findings from the analysis of dead badgers indicates that there is no justification, based on claims that badgers are a source of TB, for a cull in Derbyshire. The level of bovine TB in badgers is very low indeed and vaccination of badgers in Derbyshire is the way forward. Vaccination is also better than culling even where there is evidence of TB in badgers.”


(image: Secret World Wildlife Rescue)Surprise Baby Bat Born at Secret World – Secret World Wildlife Rescue

Staff at Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill were surprised when one of the bats in their care gave birth.

The pipistrelle bat has been in the care of Secret World since December and was brought in having been disturbed from hibernation and found to be severely underweight – too underweight to be released immediately.

(image: Secret World Wildlife Rescue)

While the bat was recovering, staff were surprised by how many mealworms she was eating – double the amount for a bat her size and sex.

Bats have delayed fertilisation and only fertilise their eggs and the semen when the weather is favourable. It is thought that the bat was pregnant when she came to Secret World last year and being kept in a warm vivarium triggered the fertilisation. Once they give birth, bats keep the baby tucked under the wing hidden from view.

The bat has been cared for by Secret World animal carer Sarah Tingvoll

Sarah said: “We kept her on her own away from the other male bats we had in. She was scoffing all her food, eating double the amount the other bats were, but last Sunday it made sense why. We spotted a baby had appeared!

“Mother and baby will stay at Secret World until April and we will take them to a flight pen before releasing them. The baby needs to learn to fly and self-feed from live food and the mum will need to build strength back up, so a period in a purpose-built flight pen will enable them to do this. Then a suitable release site will be found.”


Animals shield their families from a harsh world – University of  Bristol

Animals living in volatile habitats can gain major evolutionary benefits by shielding their families from the changing environment, new research suggests.

Biologists from the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter and UCL investigated an overlooked reason for widespread cooperation amongst animals. In a study published today in Nature, the team showed that when the environment is prone to fluctuate unexpectedly, staying at home to help raise relatives can be much better than going solo.

Patrick Kennedy from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “In the last few years, biologists have noticed that high levels of animal cooperation are often found in very harsh and unpredictable places – from birds on African savannahs to bees in the Alps. We wanted to find out whether evolution might work differently in these changeable habitats.

“Explaining the existence of sterile worker bees was a big problem for Charles Darwin. Why should any bee sacrifice the chance to reproduce in order to raise sisters or nieces? Scientists now understand that helping behaviour evolves because the helper is related to those she helps.”

Recently, however, this explanation for helping behaviour has been challenged. Co-author Professor Andy Radford, also from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, added: “Often, when biologists have measured outcomes in the wild, either helpers weren’t closely enough related, or they could have had their own offspring quite easily, or they didn’t make much difference to the survival of their siblings.”

By including the turbulent nature of environments in the maths, the team showed that helping behaviour was in fact easier to evolve than previously thought: helpers don’t need to be very closely related to those they help if the environment is highly unpredictable.

Access the paper: Patrick Kennedy, Andrew D. Higginson, Andrew N. Radford & Seirian Sumner Altruism in a volatile world

Nature doi:10.1038/nature25965


New Greenpeace Research Finds Microplastics in Scottish Seas – Greenpeace

Last year, Greenpeace sailed around the coast of Scotland to investigate the impact of ocean plastic pollution on iconic Scottish wildlife. Starting in Edinburgh, the MV Beluga II sailed through the Caledonian canal to the Outer Hebrides. On the way there, we encountered many marine wildlife hotspots like Bass Rock which is one of the largest seabird colonies in the world. There we found thousands of gannets but we also found plastic in their nests and beaks. This was a pattern that was repeated throughout the tour. (image: Greenpeace)Whether it was the Shiant Isles or the most remote beaches in the Outer Hebrides, we kept finding stunning landscapes and iconic marine wildlife along with plastic bottles, packaging, microbeads and debris on beaches, in nests and in seabird beaks.

(image: Greenpeace)

Along with documenting landscapes, wildlife and plastic pollution, we also wanted to investigate the amount of microplastics in the seawater. Larger pieces of plastics in the ocean breaks down over time into microplastics which are pieces of plastic that are 5mm or less in any direction. To help us study their presence in Scottish waters, we collected 49 seawater samples during the expedition using a mantra trawl that skims the top surface of the seawater mimicking the feeding motion of marine wildlife. The samples were then frozen and taken to our laboratory at the University of Exeter where they were analysed firstly for the presence of microplastics and secondly for any chemical contaminants attached to the microplastics. The results have come in and we found microplastics in two-thirds of our seawater samples.


World-first report on how climate change impacts Scotland’s geology – Scottish Natural Heritage

A report assessing which of Scotland’s protected geological features are at risk from climate change was published today by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The report, believed to be a world-first, analysed important geological and geomorphological features on all legally protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Scotland.

The researchers found that 97% of sites are in a favourable condition currently, with 73% at relatively low risk when it comes to climate change. However, 17% could be at moderate risk and 10% could be at high risk from climate change impacts. These impacts include increased erosion, coastal flooding, changes in rainfall and storm frequency and intensity, changes in vegetation cover, and reduced freezing of the ground in winter.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform said: “This new tool will help to identify the risk of climate change in some of our most precious sites which is crucial so we can understand what we need to do to adapt and adjust to the impact of climate change.

Kath Leys, SNH’s Ecosystems & Biodiversity unit manager, said:

“This report will be a great tool to help us, the Scottish Government and our partners make plans to combat the effects of climate change on Scotland’s geology and landforms. There are over 850 nationally and internationally important geological and geomorphological features in Scotland and this ground-breaking research will help protect them.”

Read the report here


Government promises no effective action on UK’s mountain of coffee cup waste – Environmental Audit Committee

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes the Government response to the Committee's report on Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups

Read the Government Response

Read the Committee's Report: Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups

The Government has refused to take any decisive action on the complex issue of coffee cups – including the introduction of a ‘latte levy’ – and has instead chosen to rely on voluntary commitments.

Image: Parliamentary copyrightImage: Parliamentary copyright

The Environmental Audit Committee has also announced today (9 March) that it has asked the National Audit Office to inquire into the Government’s oversight of the Packaging Recovery Note scheme, to further scrutinise UK recycling policy

Chair's comments

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP: "The UK’s throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas. Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis. The Government’s response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action.""

"Latte Levy"

The Committee's key recommendation was the introduction of a 25p levy on the use of disposable coffee cups, to reduce their use and help to fund recycling measures.

The Government response suggests that coffee shops should offer discounts for customers with reusable cups, instead of a levy on disposable cups. In its inquiry, the Committee heard that a charge – such as that introduced on plastic bags – was the most effective way to change consumer behaviour.


CFE survey reveals how farmers go above and beyond to care for the countryside - NFU

A survey of more than 500 farmers by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) shows significant improvements in the way England’s farmland is being managed to benefit the environment, but many farmers are unrewarded for delivering these ‘public goods’.

Image: NFUImage: NFU

The survey findings highlight the diversity and extent of measures being implemented to help protect water quality, soil health and farm wildlife. Some 90% of respondents had improved their soil management, 81% had increased their efficiency in using pesticide and fertilisers, and 73% had adopted nutrient management planning.

However, the findings also reveal how much work is currently undertaken without any payment from the current stewardship schemes.  For every farmer receiving an agri-environment payment for sowing a pollen and nectar mix, another farmer is doing the same voluntarily.  About twice as many arable farmers are providing supplementary feeding for birds and about four times as many are sowing catch and cover crops at their own expense outside any scheme. 

The appetite for improved and simplified agri-environment schemes was strong with three-quarters of those surveyed stating that better financial support would encourage them to make further beneficial changes. Over 90% felt that responding to land conditions was highly important in their decision making and over half would like to see options that better fitted within businesses, suggesting a desire for more flexibility in future schemes and something that can be addressed at policy level as UK government looks to new support mechanisms post-Brexit. 


Conservation charity gets a ‘buzzing’ boost – Bumblebee Conservation Trust
£300,000 has been awarded to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The award, revealed this week at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, will allow the Trust to achieve a step change in its ability to manage growth, infrastructure and sustainability over the next 3 years.

As the Trust faces the exciting challenge of growth, with this comes the need to invest in the organisation from its very ‘core’. The award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will allow the organisation to start investing in its people and infrastructure to continue the amazing work already undertaken to halt and reverse the decline of bumblebees in the UK.

The funding award will provide resource to ensure four key outcomes; implementation of its organizational strategy, managing its reputation, safeguarding financial stability for future challenges and ensuring their back office systems are fit for purpose. Helping to set the Trust on a sustainable pathway through the recruitment of Fundraising Managers, roles that would be at a strategic level to enable planning the work towards sustainable funding rather than pursuing funding, and raising awareness through recruiting a Public Engagement Manager upholding our reputation and position in the market is both innovative and leading in the conservation charity sector.

Gill Perkins, CEO of the Trust said “our strategic aims continue to be acting to reverse the declines in our UK bumblebees using science and appropriate practical action; to educate and inspire people across society and work as trusted advisers to all the devolved governments, ensuring that the pollinator strategies produce real results for all pollinator”.


Litter Innovation Fund: Government backs new community projects - Defra

The first tranche of funding has been awarded to innovative litter-fighting projects across Britain

A range of innovative projects to tackle litter louts in local communities have been awarded funding by the government, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has announced today (9 March).

Image: DefraImage: Defra

The first round of funding sees a number of councils, charities, businesses, and public projects awarded almost £125,000 to take innovative steps to tackle littering in their communities.

The successful projects include developing bins to prevent seagulls from scattering litter on beaches and working with river users to reduce plastic getting into rivers, helping to tackle the issue of litter getting into our marine environment.

The funding builds on the Government’s wider Litter Strategy for England, as well as the recent launch of the 25 Year Environment Plan setting out how Government will protect and enhance our natural environment.

Welcoming the new projects, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We want to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it and these innovative new projects will help reduce the amount of litter which so often plagues our streets, parks, countryside, rivers and marine environment. We have all seen the damaging effects that litter can have on wildlife and the environment, and I encourage people to do their bit, take responsibility for their litter and recycle more.”

BWS2017 report published - Sylva

We are pleased to announce the publication of the British Woodlands Survey 2017 report.

We adopted a ‘360-degree’ research method for British Woodlands Survey 2017, whereby stakeholders were engaged in designing the survey, providing data, and reviewing outcomes. Forty-eight workshop delegates ranked priority themes provided by 221 respondents in an initial survey, for UK countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Overall, Societal attitudes ranked highest, followed by Climate change adaptation, and Pests and diseases. Within countries, additional top-ranking themes included: for England, Tree Planting and Timber Production; for Wales, Private woodland owner engagement; and for Scotland; Profitability and Natural capital.

The main survey, based on these themes, was conducted online during summer 2017. Responses were received from 1,630 people, distributed across the UK. The majority of respondents (660) were private woodland owners, who together with 180 forestry agents, controlled 3,629 woodland properties covering 645,370 hectares. The response represented 28% of all private sector woodland area in the UK (2.30Mha), and one-fifth of the total UK woodland area (3.17Mha).

Some headlines

  • Top motivation for woodland owners is protecting and improving nature.
  • Most owners think that society values woodland most for its wildlife.
  • Many in the sector want to engage more in developing policy but feel their voices are not heard.

Download the report here


Scientific publications

Jennifer A. Border, Alison Johnston & Simon Gillings (2018) Can climate matching predict the current and future climatic suitability of the UK for the establishment of non-native birds?, Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2018.1438362 


Hill, M. J., Hassall, C., Oertli, B., Fahrig, L., Robson, B. J., Biggs, J., Samways, M. J., Usio, N., Takamura, N., Krishnaswamy, J. and Wood, P. J. (2018), New policy directions for global pond conservation. Conservation Letters, e12447. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/conl.12447


Glasby TM, West G. Dragging the chain: quantifying continued losses of seagrasses from boat moorings. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst. 2018;1–12. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.2872


Méndez, V., Alves, J. A., Gill, J. A. and Gunnarsson, T. G. (2018), Patterns and processes in shorebird survival rates: a global review. Ibis. doi:10.1111/ibi.12586

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