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


Hive of activity to raise awareness of Bees' Needs - Defra

Bees' Needs Week is back for the third year running from 9 - 15 July

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove will attend the launch of Bees’ Needs Week today on Carnaby Street, which has been renamed ‘Carnabee Street’ to raise awareness of the campaign.

Defra has partnered with Carnaby London, the leading West End shopping and dining destination to kick off the week of bee and pollinator action from government, conservation groups, industry and retailers to raise awareness of the campaign and the ways people can help save the bees.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Bees and other pollinators are vital contributors to the beauty of our landscapes, our economy and our £100 billion food industry. It is inspiring to see such a wide range of organisations celebrating these essential creatures for this unique Bees’ Needs campaign - showing us that all of us can play a part and help pollinators to thrive.”


Lifeline for plunging wildlife as important hay meadows saved in the Peak District – National Trust

View across the new farmland acquired by the National Trust in the White Peak (National Trust / Michael Scott)

View across the new farmland acquired by the National Trust in the White Peak (National Trust / Michael Scott)

The National Trust has purchased 186 hectares (460 acres) of wildflower-rich farmland in the Peak District - securing a potential lifeline for plunging butterfly and bee populations.

As Britain marks National Meadows Day, the conservation charity reveals details of a £2.15million deal to secure the equivalent of 260 football pitches worth of wildflower-rich hay meadows and wildlife rich grassland.

The £2.15 million purchase is the largest farm land acquisition by the charity since it bought Trevose Head in Cornwall in 2016. 

The Trust was able to raise the money for the land in the heart of the White Peak thanks to legacies left to the Trust by generous supporters.  It will now work with partners to join up 1,342 hectares (3,316 acres) of nature friendly landscape.

The 80 hectares (198 acres) at High Fields at Stoney Middleton and the 106 hectare (262 acre) farm at Greensides near Buxton are home to the most diverse range of grasses and flowers, plus an enormous range of insects and invertebrates, small mammals and birds, creating an eco-system that supports a complete food web.

These types of species rich grassland need protecting because of the massive decline between the 1930s and 1980s when 97 per cent were lost due to the intensification of farming.  This decrease has continued in areas like the Peak District, despite its National Park status.  


Japanese knotweed - not such a knotty problem? – University of Leeds

Ecologists can find no evidence Japanese knotweed causes significant structural damage.

Image: University of LeedsImage: University of Leeds

Automatically refusing mortgages on properties where Japanese knotweed is found is out of proportion to the risk posed by this invasive species, new research has found.

Ecologists from global infrastructure services firm AECOM and the University of Leeds have carried out the most extensive research to date.

They assessed the potential of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) to cause structural damage compared to other plants. 

Japanese knotweed is a notorious non-native species in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe and North America. 

Now recognised as one of the most problematic weeds in the UK and Ireland, it is known to have a range of negative environmental impacts.

In the UK, Japanese knotweed is widely believed to pose a significant risk of damage to buildings that are within seven metres of the above-ground portions of the plant – the so-called ‘seven metre rule’ – due to its underground shoots, known as rhizomes. 

When identified in homebuyers’ surveys, mortgage lenders often require evidence that a treatment programme is in place to control Japanese knotweed, entailing significant expense for sellers.

The stigma associated with the plant means that property values can be affected, even after action is taken to control it.

As well as setting out to test the accuracy of the seven metre rule, researchers examined the risk from multiple lines of evidence. All reached the same conclusion. 

The research involved: 

  • looking for evidence of the perceived threat in previous research literature; 
  • surveying invasive species control contractors and property surveyors;
  • assessing 68 residential properties where Japanese knotweed was found and examined data collected when knotweed was removed by excavation from an additional 81 sites.


It’s official - spending time outside is good for you - University of East Anglia

Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

A new report published today (6 July) reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.

Populations with higher levels of greenspace exposure are also more likely to report good overall health – according to global data involving more than 290 million people.

Image: University of East AngliaImage: University of East Anglia

Lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.

The research team studied data from 20 countries including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan – where Shinrin yoku or ‘forest bathing’ is already a popular practice.

‘Green space’ was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban greenspaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.

The team analysed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure.

“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration. People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a physiological marker of stress. This is really important because in the UK, 11.7 million working days are lost annually due to stress, depression or anxiety. Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan – with participants spending time in the forest either sitting or lying down, or just walking around. Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea!”


Long term use of some pesticides is killing off dung beetle populations – University of Bristol

New research led by scientists at the University of Bristol has uncovered that long-term use of some pesticides to treat cattle for parasites is Image: University of Bristolhaving a significantly detrimental effect on the dung beetle population.

Image: University of Bristol

Researchers studied 24 cattle farms across south west England and found that farms that used certain pesticides had fewer species of dung beetle.

Dr Bryony Sands, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the research, said: “Dung beetles recycle dung pats on pastures, bringing the nutrients back into the soil and ensuring the pastures are fertile. Damage to dung beetle populations is therefore concerning, and could result in economic loss for farmers.”

This is the first landscape-scale study to show that long-term use of the pesticides has negative impacts on dung beetle populations on farms.

Professor Richard Wall, a co-author on the study, first discovered 30 years ago that pesticide residues in dung could kill these important beetles.

Dr Sands added: “It is now clear that long-term use of these pesticides could cause declines in beetle biodiversity on a large scale.”

The study, published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, also found that pesticides known as synthetic pyrethroids were less damaging to dung beetles than macrocyclic lactone pesticides.

These are generally thought of as a safer alternative for farmers who want to protect biodiversity on their farms.

Dr Sands said: “Although these chemicals do appear to be less damaging, farms that used them still had a smaller proportion of certain dung beetles, which are very important in removing dung from pastures by burying it.

Read the paper: ‘Sustained parasiticides use in cattle farming affects dung beetle functional assemblages’ by B. Sands and R. Wall in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.


Birds flock back to ‘mink free’ Hebrides – Scottish Natural Heritage

Terns, waders, divers and ducks are ‘flocking back’ to their native Outer Hebrides, following the success of a complex and challenging 17-year programme to eradicate the American mink and its devastating effect on native wildlife.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham said: “The successful removal of non-native mink from the Hebrides is a significant achievement, and is the result of the sustained commitment and effort of all the staff involved.

Mink project Tern chick (SNH)Mink project Tern chick (SNH)

“I am delighted that we are already seeing positive results, bringing the return of the seabirds and wading birds which the islands are world-famous for. This will provide a real boost for nature tourism in the Hebrides.”

Mike Cantlay, Chair of Scottish Natural heritage said: “We are delighted that all the hard work has been successful for the nature of the Hebrides. Mink – an invasive non-native species - prey on ground nesting birds and fish. With major funding from the EU Life programme, at the project’s height a team of just 12 core Scottish Natural Heritage staff worked as teams of trappers to remove mink, and help bring back native birds to one of the remotest, wildest landscapes anywhere in Scotland.”

At 3,050km2 - an area twice the size of Fife - the remote Hebridean location meant significant challenges for the project to overcome. Hundreds of islands contribute to a coastline of approximately 2,500km -15% of Scotland’s total. Over 7,500 freshwater lochs - around 24% of Scotland’s total – helped invasive mink grow to dense populations rarely reached in their native North America.

Scottish Natural Heritage Area Manager for Argyll and the Outer Hebrides, David Maclennan said: “Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to the beauty and variety of our nature. But the Hebridean Mink Project shows that we can take on invasive species – and win. It is fantastic to start welcoming back our native species. A range of factors are likely to be at play, but local people are telling us that a mink free Outer Hebrides is having a hugely positive effect on wildlife and the economy.”  


Search for salmon – Scottish Government

New research to improve monitoring of wild salmon stocks.

Young salmon populations will be mapped out through the first-ever national electrofishing survey, which will provide a statistically robust  measure of their numbers across Scottish rivers.

Between July and September biologists and volunteers will carry out electrofishing as a method of capturing and counting fish at more than 800 randomly selected sites across 27 regions. Electrofishing uses equipment with electricity flowing through it, to capture the fish, and will be carried out by trained teams without injuring the young salmon.

The project - jointly funded by the Scottish Government, SEPA and SNH - will provide an accurate estimate of numbers of young salmon in Scottish rivers, while also providing fisheries trusts and boards with valuable information to supplement extensive local surveys, which many have conducted for decades.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We are already assessing the populations of adult salmon but this new national survey is a significant milestone, which will help us estimate the numbers of young salmon in our rivers.”


New proposals to support Welsh farmers unveiled – Welsh Government

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has today launched a consultation on a new Land Management Programme to support Welsh farmers post-Brexit, replacing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The latest Welsh Government Brexit paper, Brexit and our Land, proposes two new large and flexible schemes to replace Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Glastir and other parts of the Rural Development Programme.

The programme will consist of the following two schemes:

  • The Economic Resilience Scheme will provide targeted investment to land managers and their supply chains.  It will provide investment to increase competitiveness and make improvements in resilience and productivity for high-quality food production.
  • The Public Goods Scheme will provide a new income stream to land managers delivering public goods from the land.  It will enable them to help address challenges such as climate change mitigation, habitat loss, poor air and water quality.

All land managers will have the opportunity to benefit from the new schemes, not just those currently receiving CAP.  However, people will need to do things differently in return for this support.


Krill fishing companies back call to protect Antarctic Ocean – Greenpeace

Cambridge, UK – A Greenpeace campaign to protect the Antarctic Ocean, backed by 1.7 million people globally, has received the unprecedented support of the vast majority of krill fishing companies operating in Antarctic waters. The move was announced at Greenpeace’s Antarctic 360° event in Cambridge, UK, attended by scientists and Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, who joined Greenpeace’s expedition to the Antarctic in January 2018.

This major announcement from a group of the largest krill fishing companies will see nearly all krill companies operating in the Antarctic voluntarily stop fishing in huge areas around the Antarctic Peninsula, including ‘buffer zones’ around breeding colonies of penguins, to protect Antarctic wildlife. Krill is a small crustacean which is a keystone species in the Antarctic food web, eaten by penguins, seals, whales and other marine life.

The companies have also pledged to support the scientific and political process for the creation of a network of large-scale marine protected areas in the Antarctic, including areas in which they currently operate. The companies are all members of the Association of Responsible Krill harvesting companies (ARK), and represent 85% of the krill fishing industry in the Antarctic.


England's lucky omen? It’s our tern now – rare sea bird visits Farne Islands for first time since 1966 – National Trust

A rare seabird is being billed as a World Cup lucky omen today (10 July) after being spotted for the first time since 1966 – just as England’s footballers bid to repeat the nation’s heroics of that same year.

Image: National TrustThe sooty tern, usually only found in the tropical seas of the Seychelles, was spotted by National Trust rangers 3,500 miles from home just days before the nation's semi-final showdown with Croatia.

Image: National Trust

The bird - coined "Gareth" in tribute to England manager Southgate - was seen on the remote Farne Islands off Northumberland where the conservation charity monitors over 90,000 pairs of nesting sea birds including four species of tern, puffins, razorbills, gulls and guillemots. 
Birds are attracted to the islands due to the good sources of food, lack of ground predators and the availability of suitable nesting areas.  The islands also offer a safe stopover point for migratory birds.

Although a common sight in the South Atlantic and on tropical islands across the equator the sooty tern is rarely spotted in the UK, with just 26 confirmed sitings in the British Isles with the last recorded siting off the coast of North Wales in 2005.


Impact of natural greenhouse emissions on Paris targets revealed – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Global fossil fuel emissions would have to be reduced by as much as 20% more than previous estimates to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, because of natural greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands and permafrost, new research has found.

The additional reductions are equivalent to 5-6 years of carbon emissions from human activities at current rates, according to a new paper led by the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement aims to keep “the global average temperature increase to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”.

The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience today [9th July], uses a novel form of climate model where a specified temperature target is used to calculate the compatible fossil fuel emissions.

The model simulations estimate the natural wetland and permafrost response to climate change, including their greenhouse gas emissions, and the implications for human fossil-fuel emissions.

Natural wetlands are very wet regions where the soils emit methane, which is also a greenhouse gas. The methane emissions are larger in warmer soils, so they will increase in a warmer climate.

Permafrost regions are those which are permanently frozen. Under a warming climate permafrost regions begin to thaw and as a result the soils begin to emit carbon dioxide, and in some cases methane, into the atmosphere.


“Empty promises, missed opportunities and increased destruction” – Woodland Trust tells MPs HS2 must step up its game - Woodland Trust

HS2 will destroy more than 10 hectares of ancient woodland on Phase 2. (Photo: WTML)Loss of ancient woods and trees will hit new heights today (11 July) unless a group of MPs orders HS2 Ltd to urgently upgrade its plans.

HS2 will destroy more than 10 hectares of ancient woodland on Phase 2. (Photo: WTML)

Some 23 per cent more destructive than the first phase from London to Birmingham, the next 40 mile stretch of the project from the West Midlands to Crewe, will see 10.2 hectares of ancient woodland lost. Veteran trees, hundreds of years old, are also threatened.

The Trust will today give evidence to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill Select Committee.

Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “There have been huge failings on the part of HS2 Ltd and we expect the select committee to address these. No veteran trees should be lost for short-term works to help build the scheme, such as temporary roundabouts, haul routes and even the provisional moving of a bridle way. How little do we value nature if we’re not even going to fully commit to protecting our most important old trees? Tree planting is also an important consideration. All trees used to compensate for ancient woodland lost should be sourced and grown in the UK. At the moment HS2 Ltd might well source the seeds from elsewhere in Europe which could pose a risk of disease. We source the millions of the trees we plant each year from the UK, so why shouldn’t a major infrastructure project like HS2? It both supports UK growers and is sensible for biosecurity reasons too. Despite all the warm words we are hearing from government about protecting ancient woods and trees, in reality it’s not being delivered on the ground. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the level of destruction on Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe is now as bad as ever."


Bowie joins the Cuckoo class of 2018 - BTO

As part of its hugely successful Cuckoo project the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has just launched 10 new birds, bringing the number of Cuckoos that are currently being tracked to 14; one of which has been named Bowie by wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham.

Bowie the Cuckoo, named after one of Chris’s favourite musicians David Bowie, was tagged on Tuesday 22 May, 2018 in Bolderwood, New Forest, Hampshire. On 12 June his tag transmitted outside of the UK for the first time and showed that he had left the New Forest and was in France, just to the south of Orleans; Bowie’s migration journey had commenced. He is currently north of Montlucon in central France and around 600km from his tagging site.
The project was launched in 2011 to help identify what might be driving the decline of this species in the UK, we have lost almost three-quarters of our breeding Cuckoos since 1990. This project has revealed the life histories of individual Cuckoos to scientists and the public alike, for the first time, uncovering the migration routes taken and possible causes behind the decline.
Since the beginning of the project, 80 cuckoos have been fitted with state of the art satellite tags and have revealed where British Cuckoos travel to for the winter months, and the journey that these birds take to get to their final destination. It’s now known that the winter months are spent in the Congo rainforest, arriving in September and leaving via West Africa in February. Heading south the birds use one of two different routes; either through Spain or Italy, yet all winter in the same part of Central Africa - a migration pattern that was new to science when uncovered by this project. At the moment it is uncertain which route Bowie will take; but the route chosen may well determine his chances of survival.
The survival rates for the two routes are very different with those migrating via Spain surviving less well. To date all of the Cuckoos that have gone through Spain have come from England, where Cuckoos are declining at a rapid rate. All of the Cuckoos tagged in Wales and Scotland have taken the Italian route; in Scotland numbers are increasing, whilst in Wales numbers are mostly stable.


A boon for bees as Environment Agency trials pollinator project - Environment Agency

The project seeks to create more habitat for mining bees - like this one - as well as bumblebees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators (image: Environment Agency) The project seeks to provide and protect valuable habitat for bees

The beloved bumblebee is one of dozens of species set to benefit from an Environment Agency project to improve habitat for pollinators.

A pioneering pilot scheme in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire sees Environment Agency teams adapting their routine work in a bid to boost biodiversity.

The project seeks to create more habitat for mining bees - like this one - as well as bumblebees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators

(image: Environment Agency)

The teams, who maintain thousands of kilometres of river and reservoir banks that serve as flood defences, have been experimenting with the frequency and timings of maintenance work, like grass-cutting, on the banks to see what best preserves the wildflowers and herbs bees need.

They have also compared the results of removing the grass-clippings or leaving them in situ – and have found that removing them helps plants like clover, ox-eye daisies, dandelions and buttercups flourish.  Tapping into expert guidance from a consultant botanist and entomologist, the trial aims to increase the native bee population including bufftail, solitary, carpenter, mining and leaf-cutting bees, as well as butterflies, moths, and other pollinators.

This season marks the third year of the 5 year pilot – and also marks the third annual Bees Needs Week, an initiative by government, conservation groups, industry and retailers to raise awareness of simple things anyone can do to support pollinators, like growing more flowers and leaving patches of their garden to grow wild.


National Lottery cash reviving run-down Gothic cemeteries as public greenspaces and wildlife havens - Heritage Lottery Fund

Historic cemeteries are usually associated with bereavement or gothic horror. However, today Victorian cemeteries across the UK are being revived as places for local communities to relax, unwind and enjoy the natural environment, thanks to National Lottery investment.

The investment has helped revive mausoleums, chapels, tombs, graves and the biodiversity of historic cemeteries across the UK, creating places for local communities to relax, unwind and enjoy nature.

New grants totalling £6.2million has helped Sheffield General Cemetery Park; Belfast City Cemetery; and Sir Joseph Paxton’s London Road Cemetery, Coventry.

Brompton Cemetery, which is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’, will be the first to reopen in July, following National Lottery investment.

Sheffield General Cemetery Park; Belfast City Cemetery; and London Road Cemetery, Coventry have been awarded more than £6.2m of National Lottery cash to be revived and restored for the benefit of their local communities. The improvements will see historic layouts reinstated; mausoleums, chapels, tombs, graves and sculptures will be restored; the past and present traditions of death and bereavement will be better understood by new visitors; and native wildlife and habitats will be protected and encouraged thorough planting and better horticultural management. The result will be three welcoming greenspaces that will not only benefit local communities but local wildlife.


White beak sedge not seen for a century - Lancashire Wildlife Trust

White beak sedge by Mark ChampionA plant has been found on Astley Moss, 150 years since it was last recorded there. The white beak sedge has surprised officers from the Wildlife Trust.

White beak sedge by Mark Champion

And by coincidence, it was found as the Great Manchester Wetlands Partnership have been reintroducing white beak sedge to Risley Moss.

Wigan Reserves Manager Mark Champion said: “Following the reintroduction of white beak sedge onto Risley Moss around a month or so ago, I today had a visit with flora expert Josh Styles to Astley Moss to assess suitability for reintroduction for a suite of species formerly recorded there. One of these species was actually white beak sedge. To our absolute amazement, we stumbled upon two plants of white beak sedge amongst the population of round-leaved sundew. These plants, bar the reintroduced population at Risley are the first seen in the county for around 150 odd years. We are overjoyed at this discovery, which shows the re-wetting work by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and it partners at Natural England is starting to pay dividends now as the habitat is improving and the rarer species a colonising. We concluded that the population was regenerated by native Astley stock from the seedbank, which lies under the soil. Although we did not see any more than these plants, it is probable that white beak sedge may exist on other, less accessible parts of Astley Moss.”


Geological Records Reveal Sea-Level Rise Threatens UK Salt Marshes, Study Says - Rutgers University

Sea-level rise will endanger valuable salt marshes across the United Kingdom by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, according to an international study co-authored by a Rutgers University–New Brunswick professor.

Moreover, salt marshes in southern and eastern England face a high risk of loss by 2040, according to the study published online today in Nature Communications.

The study is the first to estimate salt-marsh vulnerability using the geological record of past losses in response to sea-level change.

An international team of scientists, led by former Rutgers-New Brunswick Professor Benjamin Horton – now acting chair and a professor at the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University – found that rising sea levels in the past led to increased waterlogging of the salt marshes in the region, killing the vegetation that protects them from erosion. The study is based on data from 800 salt-marsh soil cores. Tidal marshes rank among Earth’s most vulnerable ecosystems.

“By 2100, if we continue upon a high-emissions trajectory, essentially all British salt marshes will face a high risk of loss. Reducing emissions significantly increase the odds that salt marshes will survive,” said study co-author Robert E. Kopp, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers–New Brunswick and director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Kopp led the development of the study’s sea-level rise projections.

Read the paper: Benjamin P. Horton, Ian Shennan, Sarah L. Bradley, Niamh Cahill, Matthew Kirwan, Robert E. Kopp & Timothy A. Shaw Predicting marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise using Holocene relative sea-level data Nature Communications 9, Article number: 2687 (2018)


New Dragonfly Species for Britain - British Dragonfly Society

Yellow spotted Emerald photo by Andrew Easton.A Yellow-spotted Emerald Dragonfly has been seen for the first time ever in Britain.

Yellow-spotted Emerald photo by Andrew Easton.

The dazzling insect was recently photographed at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Carlton Marshes nature reserve, by local wildlife enthusiast Andrew Easton, and was later identified by natural history writer James Lowen. Andrew states: “I didn't have a Dragonfly identification book with me to work out which particular species of Emerald Dragonfly it was, so I decided to tweet out one of the pictures I had just taken and see what suggestions came back. It was a huge surprise to receive the news that it appeared to be a species never seen in the UK before.”

The Yellow-spotted Emerald (Somatochlora flavomaculata) can be identified by its metallic, dark emerald coloration and the yellow triangular patterning that mark the sides of its body. The species is native to the fens, and other wetlands, of continental Europe, with populations from northern France to the eastern-most edges of their distribution in Siberia and Mongolia.

Similar to Butterflies, some Dragonfly species are known to be able to travel long distances. While Yellow-spotted Emerald is not known for migrating long distances it is thought that prolonged easterly winds during the spring and summer may have helped transport it overseas. Records show that the appearance of non-native Dragonfly species in Britain is increasing.


Invasive plants adapt to new environments, study finds – University of Stirling

Invasive plants have the ability to adapt to new environments – and even behave like a native species, according to University of Stirling research.

A study has found that the behaviour of invasive plants changes over time – meaning plants of the same species act differently if they arrive in their new environment at separate times.

Scientists studied the characteristics of monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus), which first arrived in the UK from North America 200 years ago. They compared the behaviour of monkeyflowers long-established in Scotland with those introduced recently for the purposes of the experiment.

Significantly, they found that the long-established plants were bigger and produced more flowers and more clones than those recently introduced. In comparison, the study showed that the genes of plants recently introduced are not well-adapted to deal with the UK environment.

Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the work alongside PhD student Pauline Pantoja.

“Our study shows that invasive plants – in this case, the monkeyflower – become increasingly adapted to new environments thanks to natural selection,” he explained.

“If we compare monkeyflowers that have been here for the last 200 years with those from North America today, they are completely different plants. It appears that, over time, the plants seem to become natives of their new home. In other words, these results suggest that invasive populations of plants are better suited to live in their new home than new arrivals from the native range.”


Parents have 'no time' to take kids to the park – Keep Britain Tidy

Image: Keep Britain TidyTo mark the launch of #LoveParks Week today, we are calling on parents across the UK to make time to visit their local green space with their child, as research shows a whopping 75% of children would like to spend more time outdoors.

Image: Keep Britain Tidy

The research reveals that children in Britain visit outdoor spaces an average of three times a week, with four out of five parents (80%) admitting they would like their child to spend more time outside.

When it comes to barriers to children spending time outdoors, the top reason given by parents was that they don’t have time to take their children to the park.

As a result, classic outdoor skills children often learn in the park could be on the decline, with the research indicating that over a third (34%) of children have never learnt to ride a bike, and almost half (49%) have never climbed a tree.


'Glow in the dark’ path lights the way for active travel in Bridgend – Sustrans

A pioneering new ‘glow in the dark’ path installed in Bridgend forms part of a network connecting homes, schools and local businesses.

Image: SustransImage: Sustrans

The 300 metre path, which runs through the Woodlands playing fields to link up Brook Vale with Llwyn Gwern, has a photo-luminescent resin surface that harnesses UV light during the day so that it can emit a gentle light to help make the route visible in the dark. From Llwyn Gwern, the traffic-free route continues through to Pencoed Comprehensive School and Croesty Primary School, forming part of a wider scheme to improve active travel access in Pencoed which has been funded from the Welsh Government’s Safe Routes in Communities programme.

The initial idea for a path through the fields came from a young pupil at Croesty Primary School. Head teacher Martin Kaye said: “Our pupils always enjoy the opportunity to travel on two wheels so are keen participants in the Active Journeys programme which is delivered in our school by Sustrans and Bridgend County Borough Council.”

The scheme has been developed by Bridgend County Borough Council in partnership with Sustrans, the schools and the local community access group, with support from Redrow and Halo Leisure. Hailing the new path as a shining example of how to encourage residents to choose more active forms of travel over cars.


Minister acknowledges moorland management’s role in helping prevent wildfires - BASC

BASC has joined other rural organisations in welcoming the government’s recognition of the role of controlled heather burning in responsible moorland management to minimise the risk of uncontrollable wildfires.

Image: BASCIn response to a written parliamentary question from Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick upon Tweed, the Defra Minister, Dr Thérèse Coffey, noted that burning in accordance with the law and the Heather and Grass Burning Code can help to reduce fire risk. The government also recognises the work being done by moor owners and managers – working with government in restoring peatland.

Image: BASC

BASC, the Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation have urged Defra to ensure that lessons are learnt from the devastating moorland fires of this summer to ensure that there is consistent and responsible management across all heather moorland.

Controlled burning is a vital part of any management – it reduces the fuel load and encourages healthy heather which benefits wildlife without damaging the underlying peat. Also welcome is the government’s restatement of its commitment to the restoration of our blanket bogs, which is also vital to ensuring greater resilience of moorland to uncontrolled wildfires.


Scientific Publication

Siviter H, Koricheva J, Brown MJF, Leadbeater E. Quantifying the impact of pesticides on learning and memory in bees. J Appl Ecol. 2018;00:1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13193


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