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


Green Belt 'being eroded at an alarming rate' – Campaign to Protect Rural England         

460,000 houses being planned for land that will be released from the Green Belt, while the percentage of ‘affordable’ homes built continues to fall

The Green Belt remains under severe pressure, despite government commitments to its protection, according to a new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

CPRE’s annual State of the Green Belt report highlights that there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that will soon be released from the Green Belt. Moving Green Belt boundaries when reviewing local plans makes it easier for local authorities to release land for housing, but is only supposed to take place under ‘exceptional circumstances’. This strategic shrinking of the Green Belt, as a way of getting around its protected status, is as harmful as building on the Green Belt itself.

The report also demonstrates that building on the Green Belt is not solving the affordable housing crisis, and will not do so. Last year 72% of homes built on greenfield land within the Green Belt were unaffordable by the government’s definition. 

Of the 460,000 homes that are planned to be built on land that will be released from the Green Belt, the percentage of unaffordable homes will increase to 78%.

CPRE warns that this release of land looks set to continue, as one third of local authorities with Green Belt land will find themselves with an increase in housing targets, due to a new method for calculating housing demand. The London (Metropolitan) Green Belt will be the biggest casualty.

Tom Fyans, Director of Campaigns and Policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the Green Belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live. The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the Green Belt only serves to entrench the issue. The government is failing in its commitment to protect the Green Belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate. But it is essential, if the Green Belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and Green Belt protection strengthened.’


“Missed opportunity” for Welsh Government to improve public access – Cycling UK

As cyclists celebrate 50 years today (03 August) of being legally allowed to ride on bridleways in the UK, Cycling UK is urging the Welsh Government not to lose momentum in its proposals to improve public access.

  • Charity says Welsh Government is ignoring huge swell of public support for change
  • Cycling UK urges Government to build on legacy of Geraint Thomas
  • UK celebrates 50 years of legal cycling on bridleways today

Enjoying an early morning on one of the bridleways on Snowdon. Photo: Tom Hutton

Enjoying an early morning on one of the bridleways on Snowdon. Photo: Tom Hutton

The right for people to cycle on bridleways was granted by the Countryside Act 1968 when the law commenced on 03 August 1968. These changes were due to campaigning by the Cyclists’ Touring Club, now Cycling UK, and this right to ride has allowed generations all to enjoy the wonders of the UK’s countryside from the saddle. 

This move fifty years ago helped grant cyclists in England and Wales access to just over 20% of all rights of way. However, since 1968 there has been little change, meaning people riding bikes and/or horses are not allowed on 80 per cent of the rights of way network. 

The UK’s rights of way network frequently interchanges between footpaths and bridleways, with often no noticeable change in quality between the two apart from a different signpost. This has clearly created confusion among the nation’s cyclists, as Cycling UK’s report “Rides of Way” discovered 74 per cent of people cycling on the UK’s rights of way network found it “unsuitable”. 

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “While Cycling UK today celebrates our victory 50 years ago of being able to ride on traffic free routes in our countryside, we’re also looking to the future and what else can be improved. There’s a huge sway of public support for change to rights of way in Wales, and it’s a missed opportunity if they continue to sit on the fence on this important issue.”


Heatwave and climate change having negative impact on our soil say experts – University of Manchester

The recent heatwave and drought could be having a deeper, more negative effect on soil than we first realised say scientists.

This could have widespread implications for plants and other vegetation which, in turn, may impact on the wider entire ecosystem.

That’s because organisms in soil are highly diverse and are responsible not only for producing the soil we need to grow crops, but also provide humans with many other benefits, such as cleaning water and regulating greenhouse gas emissions

The new study, led by researchers at The University of Manchester which has been published in Nature Communications, provides new insight into how a drought alters soil at microbial level. It shows that expected changes in climate will affect UK soil and that soil is not as tough as previously thought.

Due to climate change, disturbances such as drought are increasing in intensity and frequency. These extreme weather conditions change vegetation composition and soil moisture, which in turn impacts the soil’s underlying organisms and microbial networks.

By studying how microbes react to severe drought, the study provides a better understanding of how underground soil networks respond to such environmental disturbances.

Lead author, Dr Franciska de Vries, from Manchester’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, explains: “Soils harbour highly diverse microbial communities that are crucial for soil to function as it should. A major challenge is to understand how these complex microbial communities respond to and recover from disturbances, such as climate extremes, which are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change."


Planet at risk of heading towards “Hothouse Earth” state - Stockholm Resilience Centre

Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed

Story highlights

  • Even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions
  • A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today
  • Maximizing the chances of avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores

Global map of potential tipping cascades. The individual tipping elements are color-coded according to estimated thresholds in global average surface temperature (tipping points; 18,43). Arrows show the potential interactions among the tipping elements, based on expert elicitation, which could generate cascades. Note that although the risk for tipping (loss of) the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is proposed at >5 degrees Celsius, some marine-based sectors in East Antarctica may be vulnerable at lower temperatures (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.

A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says.

The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.

"Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks”, that can drive further warming - even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases," says lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre.

"Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system.”

Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1°C above pre-industrial and rising at 0.17°C per decade.


Survey reveals littering is on the increase – Keep Britain Tidy

Today (Monday 6 Aug) we reveal the results of our annual survey of the state of England’s streets and unfortunately it’s not great news, with Image: Keep Britain Tidythe results showing that littering has increased since the survey was last carried out in 2014/15.

Image: Keep Britain Tidy

A total of 7,200 sites across the country were surveyed, with 14% found to be at an unacceptable standard for litter (a 4% increase).

The most commonly littered item is cigarette butts, found on 79% of sites. The following three most littered items, all ‘food and drink on the go’ related, are confectionery packs (found on 60% of sites), soft drink bottles and cans (52%) and fast food related litter (33%).

The top ten most littered items are:

  1. Smoking related litter
  2. Confectionery packs
  3. Soft drink bottles and cans
  4. Fast-food related
  5. Alcoholic drinks bottles and cans
  6. Packaging
  7. Snack packs
  8. Vehicle parts
  9. Discarded food and drink
  10. Clothing

As well as being unsightly, litter is a serious social, economic and environmental issue. It causes harm to communities and wildlife, and in an era where local authorities’ budgets are coming under increasing pressure, costs over £1billion each year to clear up. Yet it is entirely preventable.


Threatened sand dunes given a new lease of LIFE – Natural England

Major sand dune conservation project awarded £4.3 million of funding

Sand dunes at Saltfleetby Lincolnshire (Natural England)Sand dunes at Saltfleetby Lincolnshire (Natural England)

Sand dunes across England are set for a golden future following £4.3 million worth of funding to help restore and protect these at risk habitats.

The funding - awarded to a partnership led by Natural England as part of the European Union’s LIFE programme - will help deliver a major conservation project to explore how to re-establish the natural movement within dunes and create the conditions that some of our rarest wildlife relies upon.

Healthy sand dunes with moving sand are a sanctuary for endangered plants and animals like the natterjack toad, dune gentian and sand lizard. However these habitats are currently being smothered and fixed by a tide of invasive non-native plants turning it into scrubland. Sand dunes are now one of the most at risk habitats in Europe. Only 20,000 hectares remain across England and Wales – an area around half the size of the Isle of Wight.

The DuneLIFE project will help Natural England improve the condition of key sand dune sites in Lincolnshire, Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, Merseyside and Cumbria by tackling the root causes of decline. The scheme will:

Deliver a programme of removal of invasive species to rebalance the natural processes of dune colonisation

Restore sand dunes and dune slacks

Create bare sand patches by turf stripping and sand scraping

Encourage more people to access and enjoy dunes and take part in their conservation

Natural England are working in partnership with Plantlife, National Trust and the Wildlife Trusts to deliver this ambitious and innovative project.


Male birds sing less to females on antidepressants – University of York

During courtship male starlings sing less to females who have been fed dilute concentrations of antidepressants, according to a new study led by the University of York.

Dilute concentrations of Prozac similar to those measured at sewage works appeared to make female starlings less attractive to the opposite sex. Image credit: Liam SmithDilute concentrations of Prozac similar to those measured at sewage works appeared to make female starlings less attractive to the opposite sex. Image credit: Liam Smith

The researchers studied the birds at sewage works where they flock to feed all year round. The worms, maggots and flies at sewage treatment plants have been found to contain many different pharmaceuticals, including Prozac.

The study showed that dilute concentrations of Prozac similar to those measured at sewage works appeared to make female starlings less attractive to the opposite sex. 

Behavioural changes 

In 2016, there were 64.7 million antidepressant items prescribed in the UK. Some of these compounds are stable in the environment and break down slowly once they’ve passed through our bodies and into sewage-treatment systems.

Dr Kathryn Arnold and Sophia Whitlock, from the Environment Department at the University of York, have been studying the effects of environmental levels of fluoxetine (commonly known as Prozac) on starlings for a number of years. They have discovered changes in the behaviour of these starlings that could put birds at risk in the wild.

Sophia Whitlock, researcher on the project, said: “Singing is a key part of courtship for birds, used by males to court favoured females and used by females to choose the highest quality male to father their chicks. Males sang more than twice as often and as long to untreated females compared to females that had been receiving low doses of Prozac.”


Bird Surveyors help to shed new light on changing mammal populations - BTO

The UK’s mammals present particular challenges for monitoring; they live in a wide variety of habitats, vary enormously in size and can be very difficult to see, but Britain’s army of volunteer bird surveyors could come to the rescue.

In a scientific paper, just published in the journal Biological Conservation, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) scientists reveal how and where numbers of nine UK mammal species are changing, using data collected by the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and it makes for interesting reading. Three of the four deer species monitored show increasing abundance across a significant part of their UK ranges, with only Red Deer appearing stable. One of the biggest surprises, however, is the large scale declines in Red Fox populations in the countryside; in central-southern England and Wales between 20% and 50% of foxes have been lost in the last 20 years.
There is no single survey technique that adequately covers all of Britain’s mammals but some mammals are known to cause problems for other species or to cause economic damage, while others are of conservation concern; having a robust assessment of their populations is a priority.
One way to achieve this is to tap into an existing monitoring framework, aimed at different taxa but through which additional data can be collected. This is already done by the volunteers participating in the BBS. This survey, which was launched in 1994 to monitor widespread breeding birds, has since been extended to include mammals. Robust mammal trends are now produced annually, for the UK, for the four individual countries and for nine English regions using data collected by BBS volunteers.

Read the paper here


New ‘suspension bridge’ keeps red squirrels safe in Highlands - Trees for Life

Photobombing red squirrel on Shieldaig road bridge (image: Trees for Life)A specially designed rope bridge slung between trees high over a Highlands road is giving red squirrels a safe crossing. Camera footage has revealed regular use of the bridge by the charismatic species. Conservation charity Trees for Life installed the bridge over a road near Shieldaig last summer, as part of its project to reintroduce red squirrels to the northwest Highlands.

Photobombing red squirrel on Shieldaig road bridge (image: Trees for Life)

Footage collected for more than a year from a camera trap has now revealed squirrels from a flourishing new population at Shieldaig crossing the bridge and exploring their new homes. Together with nearby road signs alerting drivers to the squirrels’ presence, the innovative bridge appears to have had a significant impact in reducing road deaths of the species. “Sadly, road traffic is a major risk for wildlife – including red squirrels. We wanted to take positive action to help the red squirrel population spread into the local woodlands as safely as possible. The combination of bridge and road signs definitely appears to be working well, which is great news,” said Becky Priestley, Trees for Life’s Wildlife Officer. “It’s safer for reds to travel in the tree canopy rather than on the ground, so it’s likely that if they have the option of using a bridge rather than crossing the road, they will take it. We also installed feeders at each end of the bridge to encourage the squirrels to use it.”

Since the bridge and road signs were introduced, there has only been one known red squirrel road death locally, with none reported so far in 2018. In the year prior to the safety measures, there were three reported road deaths of reds in the immediate area, and two others further away on another road.


Forests crucial for limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees - University of Exeter

Trying to tackle climate change by replacing forests with crops for bioenergy power stations that capture carbon dioxide (CO2) could instead increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, scientists say.

Using vast areas of land for biomass crops may be counterproductive (image: University of Exeter)Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) power stations are designed to produce energy and store the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) in bedrock deep underground.

Using vast areas of land for biomass crops may be counterproductive (image: University of Exeter)

But a study led by the University of Exeter suggests that converting large land areas to growing crops as biomass for BECCS would release so much CO2 that protecting and regenerating forests is a better option in many places.

“The vast majority of current IPCC scenarios for how we can limit global warming to less than 2°C include BECCS,” said lead author Dr Anna Harper, from the University of Exeter. “But the land required to grow biomass in these scenarios would be twice the size of India”.

This motivated the research team to look at the wider consequences of such a radical change in global land use. The researchers used a cutting-edge computer model of global vegetation and soil and presented it with scenarios of land-use change consistent with stabilising the climate at less than 1.5oC and 2oC of global warming. The results warn that using BECCS on such a large scale could lead to a net increase of carbon in the atmosphere, especially where the crops are assumed to replace existing forests. Co-author Dr Tom Powell, from the University of Exeter, explained: “In some places BECCS will be effective, but we’ve found that in many places protecting or regenerating forests is much more sensible.”

How well BECCS works depends on factors such as the choice of biomass, the fate of initial above-ground biomass and the fossil-fuel emissions offset in the energy system – so future improvements could make it a better option.


Breeding Roseates re-tern to Wales - RSPB

For the first time in more than a decade, a pair of roseate terns – the UK’s rarest breeding seabird – have fledged one chick from The Skerries, off Anglesey.

Thanks to additional funding from the EU-funded Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project, we’re pleased to announce two roseate tern chicks were born at The Skerries this past summer – with one chick having successfully flown the nest for the first time since 2006. 

The funding provided a two-week extension on the islands’ wardening season, along with newly designed nest boxes being placed strategically around the islands. The wardens also placed lures playing roseate tern calls and hand-made decoys with the aim of attracting passing roseate terns to the colony.

Once widespread across Wales, roseate terns nearly became extinct in the 19th century because their plumage was prized for fashionable hats. Sadly, roseate terns continue to face many challenges, including food shortages, eroding nesting habitat and predation. To address this challenge, 2015 saw the launch of an ambitious five year EU-funded Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project bringing together conservationists from the RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland and North Wales Wildlife Trust on the three breeding colonies (two in Ireland and one in the UK). The project is also focused on creating further roseate tern-friendly sites across the UK and Ireland in the hopes of re-establishing thriving colonies.

Currently in 2018, there are only 116 breeding pairs of Roseate terns in the UK, restricted to just Coquet Island in England. With their incredibly pale plumage with slight rosy flush and long tail streamers, they are considered the most elegant of the five breeding terns to visit our shores. These endangered birds migrate each spring from western Africa to breed at only a handful of colonies in the UK and Ireland


Unprecedented variety of whales and dolphins species recorded around the UK during last week - Sea Watch Foundation

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 volunteer observers looking out for whales and dolphins at Eyemouth Fort, Scotland. Photo credit: St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve.An unprecedented variety of species of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) have been seen around the British Isles in the last week.  Thirteen species and more than 500 sightings have been reported, and sightings continue to stream in.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 volunteer observers looking out for whales and dolphins at Eyemouth Fort, Scotland.

Photo credit: St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve.

“This looks like being the best National Whale & Dolphin Watch event of the last two decades”, reported Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, organiser of this year’s national event for the UK national research charity, Sea Watch Foundation.

The 2018 National Whale and Dolphin Watch event involving thousands of volunteers from all around the British Isles, conducted between 28th July and 5nd August, has revealed striking biodiversity of Britain’s Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises.

This summer has seen a good number of humpback whale sightings all around the UK, with individuals popping up this last week in the North Sea off the Aberdeenshire coast and off Flamborough Head in Yorkshire. This species is making a noticeable come-back after many decades of exploitation in the North Atlantic.

“However, the most extraordinary sighting from this year’s Watch week”, adds Chiara, “was surely the Sowerby’s beaked whale which live stranded in the shallow waters of Belhaven in East Lothian, Scotland, on July 29th. This year also saw the addition of the striped dolphin, which in Britain and Ireland, is very rare, seen occasionally off the Atlantic coasts mainly in the south-west of Ireland. This species of warm temperate seas came to the shore at Pendine in South Wales on July 31st.”


Rare nocturnal birds breeding at RSPB HQ for first time in 45 years - RSPB

Nightjars have returned to breed at The Lodge nature reserve, home to the RSPB’s UK headquarters, for the first time since 1973

The RSPB has announced that nightjars are breeding at The Lodge nature reserve, home of the charity’s UK headquarters for the first time since 1973, 45 years ago.

A single pair of the nocturnal birds has nested and raised chicks on an area of restored heathland on the reserve. Local birdwatcher Neil Bostock was the first to discover the birds on 3 June, when, on a regular walk of the site, he heard the “churring” call of a male nightjar. Later, the male and female birds were seen engaging in mating displays, signally their intent to breed. 

Nightjars nest on the ground, using their cryptic camouflage to stay hidden during the day, and only come out after dark to feed on moths and other flying insects, making them notoriously elusive and difficult to see. This means that while all the signs point to their having a nest and chicks, confirmation that they have successfully reared young, and how many, will have to wait until after they have finished nesting. This has not dampened the mood of team at The Lodge nature reserve though. 

Peter Bradley, Senior Site Manager at The Lodge nature reserve said: “We’re over the moon, not only because these amazing birds have returned to the reserve and appear to be breeding here for the first time in so many years, but that they have chosen to nest on a part of the reserve where we expressly set about recreating the kind of heathland habitat used by nesting nightjars that has historically been lost for this and many other parts of the country. It is a great success story for The Lodge and for everyone who has been involved in the heathland re-creation work here over the last 15 years.”


Heatwave makes flamingos broody for first time in 15 years - WWT

(image: WWT)The rare flock of Andean flamingos at WWT Slimbridge have become foster parents to chicks from their near-relatives, Chilean flamingos, after the hot spell triggered them to lay their first eggs since 2003.

(image: WWT)

The record-breaking temperatures sparked six of the exotic birds to lay nine eggs, but as they were all infertile, the expectant mums and dads were left without chicks to rear. So to fulfil their needs as expectant parents, experts at the Gloucestershire reserve decided to give them Chilean flamingo eggs to hatch and look after as their own.

Aviculture Manager at Slimbridge Mark Roberts said: “It’s a wonderful and welcome surprise that the Andeans have started laying again after nearly two decades. We’ve been encouraging the flock by helping them to build nests but there’s no doubt that the recent heat has had the desired effect. Unfortunately none of the eggs were viable so with the Andeans in full parenting mode we gave them Chilean chicks to bring up as their own. It’s great motivation and enriching for the birds.”


£6 million to explore impact of hazardous chemicals on UK ecosystems - NERC

NERC has awarded £6 million to investigate the effects that potentially hazardous chemicals used by humans are having on UK habitats and wildlife.

(image: NERC)A workshop co-hosted by NERC, including representatives from government, regulation and industry, concluded that vital research needs to be done to understand the impact that new chemicals and combinations of chemicals are having on our ecosystems, and the animals and plants that depend on them.

(image: NERC)

With new chemicals constantly being used in agriculture, industry and everyday life, this research not only hopes to uncover unforeseen effects, but also to devise a new way for testing these impacts that can be applied to all types of ecosystems found in freshwater, at sea and on land. The current standard method of testing determines how toxic individual chemicals are but is unable to look at the combined effects of a mixture of chemicals, which can be quite a different picture.

NERC Associate Director of Research Ned Garnett said: “Healthy and productive terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems are vital to the economy and wellbeing of the UK. They play a key role in areas such as food production, providing clean water, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and supporting sustainable fish stocks, as well as supporting our wildlife. This research will provide new evidence on how chemicals used in farming, industry and everyday life are impacting on these environments.”


Unprecedented fire destroys years of work at Cwmcarn Forest - Natural Resources Wales

Cwmbran (image: NRW)Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is looking at how it can restore large areas of woodland after fires devastated Twmbarlwm in Cwmcarn forest over the last three weeks.

The fires, which started on 13 July, have destroyed up to 250 hectares of woodland, roughly the size of 250 rugby pitches.

This has caused a huge amount of environmental damage and destroyed tens of thousands of newly planted trees, undoing years of work and investment by NRW.

Large areas were being replanted with native broadleaf species and timber-producing conifers following large-scale felling operations to combat the spread of larch disease.

Helicopters, drones, excavators and tractors were all used as part of the multi-agency response that included NRW, South Wales Fire and Rescue (SWFR) and Gwent Police.

NRW staff worked long hours cutting firebreaks around the affected area and supporting firefighters from SWFR who tackled the fire itself.

The fire has now been extinguished and NRW staff continue to monitor smaller smouldering areas of the woodland and have taken actions to prevent ash runoff polluting local streams. 


An “unusually early” seal rescue from the RSPCA has marked the beginning of the season for the animal welfare charity in a busy part of Wales. - RSPCA

In 2017/18, RSPCA officers in the West and South West of Wales rescued in excess of 100 seals, and are bracing themselves for another potentially busy period.

Seal pup Aye-Aye (image: RSPCA)The first seal of the new season has now come into the charity’s care, after the moulted pup was taken in by Welsh Marine Life Rescue, having being found alone on Abereiddy beach last Monday (30 July).

Seal pup Aye-Aye (image: RSPCA)

In 2017/18, the first orphaned seal to arrive at the Taunton-based centre from Wales came on September 9.

Sadly, the poor pup was very nasally congested, and thin for her age. She has now been transferred to specialist wildlife facilities by the RSPCA, at Taunton.

Video footage shows the seal being transported to the specialist centre.

The seal has been affectionately named Aye-Aye, with the RSPCA’s West Hatch Centre this season naming rescued seals after rare species of wildlife. Aye-Aye will now undergo a period of rehabilitation for a planned return to the wild at a later date.

RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Ellie West reiterated the importance of people knowing what to do if they suspect a seal is in danger, adding: “It is the summer holidays – so we’re conscious that people may be coming across seals on beaches. Should somebody find a seal pup that looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, they should monitor it first from a safe distance for 24 hours. If the mother does not return within 24 hours, or you think that the pup is sick or injured – please keep a safe distance and call our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.”


Ash dieback hits Park - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Ash dieback disease has spread “phenomenally quickly” right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park, hitting its most treasured and ancient woodlands, the Park Authority’s Senior Trees and Woodlands Officer, Geoff Garrett, has said.

Infected young ash trees – with branches bare against the summer sky – can be seen on roadsides verges all around the Park, as well as in woodlands, only six years after the first case of ash dieback was confirmed in the UK.  

Ancient semi-natural woodland covers about 1% of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  About 80% of this woodland is made up of ash, making it the iconic tree of the Dales.  

The National Park Authority has responded to the spread of ash dieback by removing ash from all tree-planting schemes.  There is currently no cure for the disease.  

Geoff Garrett said: “Over the next 20 years the disease is going to have a devastating impact, so much so that ash will likely become relatively minor in the landscape.  Mature trees will take decades to die, but young trees are being killed off very quickly. “There is little we can do to tackle the disease itself, but there is a lot we can do to manage the decline of ash trees by making sure that the spaces they leave are filled by other native trees.”

For further information and photos see the blog.


Scientific Publications

Moss, J. L., Doick, K. J., Smith, S. & Shahrestan, M. (2018) Influence of evaporative cooling by urban forests on cooling demand in cities. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2018.07.023


Hill, L., Hemery, G., Hector, A. & Brown, N. (2018) Maintaining ecosystem properties after loss of ash in Great Britain. Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13255


Andrew Speak, Francisco J. Escobedo, Alessio Russo, Stefan Zerbe, An ecosystem service-disservice ratio: Using composite indicators to assess the net benefits of urban trees, Ecological Indicators, Volume 95, Part 1, 2018, Pages 544-553, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.07.048.


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