CJS Logo & link to homepage

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


Dog owners “walk this way” to cleaner green spaces – Keep Britain Tidy

‘Walk this way’ - our innovation trial, with the Dogs Trust charity, saw an impressive 38% cut in dog fouling. And now we want to spread the Image: Keep Britain Tidybenefits – asking councils to nominate their local parks or public spaces to receive the make-over too.

Image: Keep Britain Tidy

Whilst the vast majority of people think dog fouling is the most offensive litter, our research found 13% of dog owners admit to leaving bagged dog poo behind on a walk. The most common reason was a lack of nearby bins (54%), followed by forgetting to collect it on their way back (40%) and bins nearby being too full (26%).

Our pilot saw six popular dog walking routes receive a makeover to feature more bins and clear signage to find them – leading to a 38% decrease in dog fouling over the four week period.

We’ll be making-over a further 18 sites – so we are asking local authorities to nominate your local parks and public spaces to join us. Once we have the 18 new sites, we’ll be working with local authorities to feature signage, maps and colour-coded routes which clearly mark the length of the walk and direct walkers to the nearest bins to dispose of their dogs’ waste along the way.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “Contrary to what some people seem to think, there is, in fact, no such thing as the dog poo fairy who will come along and remove their bagged dog poo. The responsibility is on the owner. This approach has led to a marked reduction in the amount of bagged poo littering parks and we’re keen to see if this success can be mirrored in even more sites this year.”


Buglife Reaction to the EC Pollinators Initiative

The launch of the EC Pollinators Initiative on 1st June marks a significant moment for international cooperation to halt the declines in bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other pollinators.  The actions Andrena scotica (c) Roger Keyidentified by the EC for implementation should all be welcomed, endorsed and delivered – they will put pollinator conservation on a stronger footing across the continent.  However, despite overwhelming evidence that EU agriculture policy is not currently compatible with healthy wild bee populations, a solution has been deferred to the post-2020 Common Agriculture Policy.

Andrena scotica (c) Roger Key

Most importantly the report is clear that “the main threats to pollinators are established and allow immediate, knowledge-based action to be undertaken”, the Initiative sets out some clear actions that will contribute to this aim, while promoting other actions to improve and develop knowledge.

The introduction of an EU wide pollinator scheme is very good news, getting robust data on wild pollinator population trends should enable much better protection of the agricultural economy and informed stewardship of our pollinator populations.


New report offers global outlook on efforts to beat plastic pollution – World Environment Day

  • A new report by UN Environment examines the state of plastic pollution in 2018.
  • The report offers the first comprehensive global assessment of government action against plastic pollution.
  • The analysis features best practices and lessons learned from cases studies on single-use bans, levies and other forms of government intervention.
  • UN experts suggest a ten-step roadmap for policymakers.

Released on 5 June, a new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution. The first-of-its-kind accounting finds governments are increasing the pace of implementation and the scope of action to curb the use of single-use plastics.

In what is framed as the first comprehensive review of ‘state of plastics’, UN Environment has assembled experiences and assessments of the various measures and regulations to beat plastic pollution in a report: “Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability.”

This global outlook, developed in cooperation with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, presents case studies from more than 60 countries. The report analyzes the complex relationships in our plastics economy and offers an approach to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics.

Among the recommendations are specific actions policy makers can take to improve waste management, promote eco-friendly alternatives, educate consumers, enable voluntary reduction strategies and successfully implement bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics. The report was launched in New Delhi today by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim on the occasion of World Environment Day.

“The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” said Erik Solheim Head of UN Environment, in the report’s foreword. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”


Over 100 MSPs Champion Scottish Biodiversity for 100 Days under the banner of Scottish Environment LINK’s Species Champions Initiative - Scottish Environment LINK

On 5 June, in celebration of World Environment Day, Scottish Environment LINK members are launching their Species Champion 100-day Challenge. For 100 days over 100 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who have accepted to become a Species Champion will be participating in a series of actions raising awareness about their selected species, encouraging policy changes in support of their species and raising awareness about wider biodiversity concerns in Scotland.

LINK’s award-winning initiative “Species Champions” pairs MSPs with species that are under threat in Scotland. With almost 1 in 10 species in Scotland at risk of extinction, political support for protecting our precious natural environment has never been more critical.

Graeme Dey, MSP for Angus South Constituency and Convener of the Scottish Parliament Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee commented: “Being Species Champion for the Woolly willow has been, and continues to be, an enjoyable learning experience. I am delighted that there are now 100 MSPs committed to championing species. The 100-day challenge will provide a good focal point for this and I look forward to hearing about the actions taken by MSPs to promote their species.”


GPS tracking reveals secrets of gannets’ foraging success - University of Leeds

Long-lived seabird species, such as gannets, take several years to learn where the best feeding grounds are and how to recognize them, new research has revealed.

(image: University of Leeds)Mini GPS trackers, attached to the birds by ecologists at the University of Leeds and University of St Andrews, have uncovered key differences in how able birds of different ages are to target the best feeding zones.

(image: University of Leeds)

The research, published in the Royal Society journal Interface discovered that, while adult birds repeatedly targeted specific areas associated with oceanographic fronts, immature gannets ranged more widely and exhibited a limited response to these frontal areas.

Professor Keith Hamer, from the School of Biology at the University of Leeds, said: “The results of our study provide crucial information on how seabirds efficiently locate and exploit patchy food resources vital to their survival and long-term fitness. The time taken for individuals to learn how to recognize good foraging sites and where they’re likely to occur probably goes a long way to explaining why seabirds and other long-lived predators don’t start breeding until they are several years old. Differences in the foraging ranges of adults and immature birds may also mean they face different levels of risk at sea, for instance from collision with offshore wind turbines, which we’re now investigating further.”

Access the paper: W. James Grecian, Jude V. Lane, Théo Michelot, Helen M. Wade, Keith C. Hamer Understanding the ontogeny of foraging behaviour: insights from combining marine predator bio-logging with satellite-derived oceanography in hidden Markov models J. R. Soc. Interface 2018 15 20180084; DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0084.


Wildlife sites threatened by Government’s ‘yes’ to Heathrow Airport expansion - London Wildlife Trust

A statement from London Wildlife Trust on the Transport Secretary's approval this week of a third runway at Heathrow

London Wildlife Trust is disappointed – but unsurprised – to see the Government exhibit its shifting and fickle attitude to the environment by giving the green light to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport on World Environment Day.

This expansion will be disastrous for the environment close to the airport, and for the wildlife assets that will be destroyed or damaged by the expansion westwards into the Colne Valley.

It was only in March this year that the Trust officially opened Huckerby's Meadows, a new nature reserve situated just metres from Heathrow's existing northern runway, with support from the airport's operator.

A third runway at Heathrow means:

  • Building on 906 hectares (2,238 acres) of land, including 432 hectares (1,067 acres) of Green Belt land;
  • Taking land within three sites of nature conservation importance, including the Lower Colne Site of Metropolitan Importance;
  • Losing 35 hectares (86 acres) of woodland;
  • Affecting 13km of river;
  • Threatening a population of pennyroyal, a Nationally Scarce relative of mint.

There are 39 wildlife sites within 5km of the proposal, including the South West London Water Bodies Special Protection Area (SPA) - supporting  internationally important numbers of over-wintering gadwall and tufted duck - and two Trust nature reserves; Huckerby’s Meadows and Frays Island & Mabey’s Meadow. There will be significant implications for potential birdstrike at the SPA site.


You talking to me? Scientists try to unravel the mystery of ‘animal conversations’ - University of York

African elephants like to rumble, naked mole rats trade soft chirps, while fireflies alternate flashes in courtship dialogues. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of ‘animal conversations’.

(image: University of York)An international team of academics undertook a large-scale review of research into turn-taking behaviour in animal communication, analysing hundreds of animal studies.

(image: University of York)

Turn-taking, the orderly exchange of communicative signals, is a hallmark of human conversation and has been shown to be largely universal across human cultures.

The review, a collaboration between the Universities of York and Sheffield, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, reveals that this most human of abilities is actually remarkably widespread across the animal kingdom.

While research on turn-taking behavior is abundant, beginning more than 50 years ago with studies of the vocal interactions of birds, the literature is currently fragmented, making rigorous cross-species comparisons impossible.

Researchers who study turn-taking behaviors in songbirds, for example, speak of “duets” whereas those who study some species of monkeys note their “antiphonal calls”.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of turn-taking behavior across all species, humans included, is its fine timing.

In some species of songbird, for example, the latency between notes produced by two different birds is less than 50 milliseconds.


Land Trust pay tribute to contribution of volunteers as they complete 10,000 days on site - The Land Trust

Land Trust volunteers completed over 10,000 days on the charity’s sites in 2017/18 and played a key role in helping the organisation deliver its charitable objectives the charity announced today.

In 2017/18 over 4,000 volunteers took part in activities on Land Trust sites, meaning that on average each volunteer gives up at least two and half days of their time a year.

The Land Trust announced the amazing figures on the final day of 2018’s National Volunteers Week which pays tribute to the incredible work carried out by volunteers across the country.

Alan Carter, Director of Portfolio management for the Land Trust, said: “Volunteers play an absolutely vital role in local communities and the Land Trust is fortunate enough to be able to draw upon a vast network of people at our sites across the country. While the Land Trust benefits hugely from the work they carry out, we also work extremely hard to ensure that volunteers get back as much as they put in. This could be in the form of some professional training or qualification to help them with the work they carry out on our sites or in the mental and physical benefits they get from spending time outdoors in green space.”

Volunteers play a key role at all 64 of the Land Trust’s sites across the country, taking part in a wide range of activities including wildflower planting, shrub clearance, den building and recording and welcoming visitors.


World-leading 'Blue Belt’ expands as new marine protections revealed - defra

On World Oceans Day, government launches consultation to protect rare sea life and threatened marine habitats around English coast.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove will today set out plans to create more than 40 new Marine Conservation Zones across the UK – safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas to date.  The proposed protections – announced on World Oceans Day - will cover an area almost eight times the size of Greater London.  The new sites will reach right the way across England’s coastline – from the South West to Berwick on the Scottish border, with two sites in Northern Irish offshore waters.

No new activities deemed damaging – such as dredging, or significant coastal or offshore development – will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to be restored over time.  Rare or threatened marine habitats and species which will be protected include the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed.

Some 50 zones have already been designated around England as part of the UK’s ambitious Blue Belt programme, including the first tranche of 27 zones designated in 2013, followed by the second tranche of 23 sites in 2016.  This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of the consultation, which will last for a period of six weeks. It will cover approximately 11,700 square km, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.

Marine Conservation Zones are just one type of the many Marine Protected Areas in place around the UK to conserve rare, threatened and nationally important habitats and species for future generations. Marine Protected Areas currently cover a total of 209,000 square km.  If approved, the new tranche will take the total figure to around 220, 000 square km – meaning two fifths of the UK coast would be protected.

At the same time, the Prime Minister will be making a call for urgent global action to protect the world’s oceans from plastics and other harmful waste.  Speaking at the G7 summit in Canada, she will implore other world leaders to follow the UK lead in working with business, industry and Non-Governmental Organisations to find innovative and effective solutions to this issue.

She will say that without joined-up, global action, we cannot effectively tackle this shared environmental challenge.


Marine Conservation Zones: third tranche of designations - defra consultations

Seeking views on plans to designate 41 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK and views on proposed new features to be added to 12 existing MCZs.
This consultation closes at: 11:45pm on 20 July 2018

Take part in the consultation.  


New data collected by citizens: Cigarette butts and filters the most common pieces of litter on Europe’s beaches - European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released new data about litter found on Europe’s beaches. Based on nearly 700,000 collected items, disposable plastics are the biggest contributor to marine litter, with cigarette butts and filters being the most commonly found individual items. The new data has been collected by volunteers using the EEA’s Marine LitterWatch mobile app.

A new EEA analysis on marine litter showcases data collected by volunteer groups at beaches across Europe’s four regional seas — the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the North-East Atlantic Ocean.

Using the EEA’s Marine LitterWatch mobile app, volunteer groups collected litter data at 1,627 beach clean-up events between 2014 and 2017. The EEA has been responsible for controlling the quality of the data and analysing the results.

Based on the new data, the most common items found on beaches include cigarette butts and filters, pieces of plastics and polystyrene, fragments of glass and ceramics, plastic cups and lids, cotton bud sticks, shopping bags, crisp packets, strings and cords, and drink bottles. As for materials, disposable plastics are by far the biggest contributor to marine litter across all four regional seas.

Read the analysis.


Hen Harriers Breed in Bowland - RSPB 

Rare hen harrier chicks have hatched in Bowland for the first time since 2015.

RSPB wardens discovered two hen harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate, Lancashire, in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them. 

Bowland Hen Harrier chicks (image: M Demain / RSPB images)Bowland Hen Harrier chicks (image: M Demain / RSPB images)

 A single male hen harrier is responsible for both of the nests and he is currently taking food regularly to them. 

Bowland used to be known as England’s last remaining stronghold for breeding hen harriers. But, until this year, hen harriers hadn’t bred successfully there since 2015 when a single chick fledged. 

Nature conservationists now hope that the arrival of the eight chicks may mark a reversal in the fortunes for the hen harrier in Bowland. The RSPB is working in partnership with United Utilities and their tenants to give hen harriers the best chance to breed successfully.

James Bray, the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, said: “It is fantastic news that hen harriers are breeding once again on the United Utilities Bowland Estate after two barren years. It’s an incredibly nerve-wracking time for all involved in protecting these birds, especially for the team that have been constantly monitoring the birds since they arrived on the estate in April. The male hen harrier is doing a fantastic job of keeping the chicks in both nests well fed and we’re doing all that we can to ensure that they fledge safely.” 

Camouflaged plants use the same tricks as animals - University of Exeter

Plants use many of the same methods as animals to camouflage themselves, a new study shows.

Research on plant camouflage is limited compared to the wealth of knowledge about how animals conceal themselves.

But a review by scientists from the University of Exeter and the Kunming Institute of Botany (Chinese Academy of Sciences) found plants use a host of techniques long known to be used by animals.

These include blending with the background, “disruptive colouration” (using high-contrast markings to break up the perceived shape of an object) and “masquerade” (looking like an unimportant object predators might ignore, such as a stone).

“It is clear that plants do more than entice pollinators and photosynthesise with their colours – they hide in plain sight from enemies too,” said Professor Martin Stevens, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall. “From ‘decoration’, where they accumulate things like dust or sand on their surface, to disruptive coloration, they use many of the same methods as animals to camouflage themselves. We now need to discover just how important a role camouflage has in the ecology and evolution of plants.”

“These plants are a wonderful example of how camouflage can be adapted for different habitats,” said first author Dr Yang Niu, of the Kunming Institute of Botany (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Exeter. “Different populations of this species look different in different places." 


Volunteers halt alien invasion - Scottish Natural Heritage

Volunteers across the North East of Scotland turned out in force during national Volunteer Week to help put a stop to the spread of alien invasive species while working with the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI).

The Initiative, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was set up to tackle one of the countryside’s biggest problems – invasive non-native (alien) species.

Project Manager, Callum Sinclair explains; “Invasive non-native species are those that have been introduced to Scotland and are spreading and causing harm to our environment, native wildlife or people. They are a big threat to the nature of Scotland and so it’s crucial we address the problem.

SISI project, volunteers from Chivas Brothers (image: Ewen Weatherspoon)SISI project, volunteers from Chivas Brothers (image: Ewen Weatherspoon)

“We can’t deal with this threat on our own, so our project is working with volunteers and local communities to put in place sustainable, long-term control for the worst offending plants and for the invasive American mink. This is a really ambitious project working at a huge scale. It encompasses over a third of Scotland and the success of it hangs on the support and dedication of networks of volunteers working with us and our local fishery trust partners.”

Luckily, many people already have a passion and love for their countryside, just like the staff from Chivas Brothers, who decided that they wanted to do something to make a difference in the environment and spent a day volunteering with the project.

Gordon Buist, Production Director at Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard said “We're delighted to be partnering with the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative for our 'Responsib’ALL day.' We've had a fantastic day removing an invasive species, Himalayan balsam, from the banks of the river Deveron. It's really rewarding to make a contribution to an important environmental project, and we look forward to a continued partnership in the future.” 


Scientific publications

Durrant J, Botha LM, Green MP, Jones TM. Artificial light at night prolongs juvenile development time in the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus. J Exp Zool (Mol Dev Evol). 2018;1–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/jez.b.22810


Rees, M. J. et al (2018) Accounting for habitat structural complexity improves the assessment of performance in no-take marine reserves. Biological Conservation https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2018.04.040


Cecily E. D. Goodwin, Andrew J. Suggitt, Jonathan Bennie, Matthew J. Silk, James P. Duffy, Nida Al‐Fulaij, Sallie Bailey, David J. Hodgson, Robbie A. McDonald Climate, landscape, habitat, and woodland management associations with hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius population status Mammal Review   


CJS is not responsible for content of external sites.  Details believed correct but given without prejudice.

Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS.