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


Heathrow takes vital step towards carbon neutrality – Heathrow

  • Lancashire nature reserve is first peatland restoration chosen by Heathrow as carbon offsetting project
  • Image: HeathrowHeathrow plans for the airport to be carbon neutral by 2020, and eventually for its infrastructure to be zero carbon by 2050
  • Heathrow research into peatland restoration could help UK aviation industry fulfil its international carbon commitments  
  • Terminal 2 becomes one of world’s first terminals run entirely on renewable energy

Image: Heathrow

Heathrow has announced its investment in an unique project in UK aviation: the restoration of UK peatlands to offset carbon emissions.  Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, part of Chat Moss which is a larger area of peat bog land, west of Manchester, it has been subject to commercial peat extraction for over 15 years.   

The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs, forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. By supporting research into the climate benefits of peatland restoration, Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments – an international agreement to deliver carbon neutral growth in aviation from 2020.  This pilot project will also help explore opportunities for peatland to deliver cost effective carbon offsetting alongside a range of other benefits including biodiversity, water quality, and flood protection.


Small Tortoiseshell crashes despite heatwave – Butterfly Conservation

Image: Butterfly ConservationNumbers of one of the UK’s best known garden butterflies have plummeted this summer despite the record-breaking hot weather, results from the Big Butterfly Count have revealed.

The Small Tortoiseshell suffered its worst summer in the history of the Big Butterfly Count with sightings falling by 32% compared to last year.

Image: Butterfly Conservation

Just 23,000 Small Tortoiseshell were counted by participants across the UK during the three-week recording period which coincided with the joint hottest summer on record.

The population of the once common and widespread Small Tortoiseshell has collapsed by 75% since the 1970s and there are now growing concerns amongst scientists for the butterfly’s long-term future.

Reasons for the ongoing decline are being investigated with climate change, pollution and parasites all possible culprits.

The hot, dry weather experienced across the UK this summer should have helped most butterflies, but the Small Tortoiseshell was not the only species to suffer a slump.

Populations of Red Admiral and Comma were well down, 73% and 40% respectively compared to the high numbers seen in the same period last year, and Gatekeeper fell by 54%.

But many other common species were seen in improved numbers in response to the glorious summer weather.

The three white butterflies enjoyed a bumper summer, each recording large increases compared to last year.


Gove calls for 30 per cent of world’s oceans to be protected by 2030 - Defra

UK government makes ambitious call to treble internationally-agreed targets for ocean protection.

Image: DefraImage: Defra

UK calls for third of world’s oceans to be safeguarded by 2030

Current global targets for protected areas to treble under ambitious plans

Marine protection top of agenda at UN General Assembly in New York

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today called for a third of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030.

Globally, less than 10 per cent of the world’s seas are currently designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – one of the most important ways to protect precious sea life and habitats from damaging activity.

Now, the UK is backing ambitious calls to treble internationally-agreed targets for protected areas, meaning 30 per cent of the world’s seas would be safeguarded as MPAs by 2030.

This will build on the UK’s global leadership in protecting the marine environment – with over 200,000 square miles of Britain’s coastline already protected and recent proposals for 41 new Marine Conservation Zones marking the most significant expansion of the ‘Blue Belt’ to date.


Birdcrime Report: RSPB calls on governments to help end the illegal persecution of birds of prey – RSPB

The UK’s birds of prey continue to be at risk according the latest Birdcrime report which has revealed a minimum of 68 confirmed incidents of detected illegal bird of prey persecution in 2017.

Birdcrime 2017 – the only report summarising offences against birds of prey (also known as raptors) in the UK – revealed 48 shooting, 9 poisoning, 3 trapping, 4 nest destruction and 4 other incidents of illegal persecution against raptors. However, evidence suggests these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with many illegal killings going undetected or unreported.

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, female manoeuvering in flight, Geltsdale, Cumbria (RSPB)

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, female manoeuvering in flight, Geltsdale, Cumbria (RSPB)

And it’s not only detection that is a problem. There were just four raptor persecution-related prosecutions in 2017 and only a single conviction.

Among the victims found were both rare species such as hen and marsh harriers, peregrine falcons, and short-eared owls as well as more common species such as red kites and buzzards, putting the ongoing recovery of some of these species at risk.

The report also revealed that more than three quarters (55) of the confirmed incidents took place in England. However, incidents weren’t confined to England, with the report highlighting confirmed case in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “Birds of prey are part of our heritage and inspire us. We should all be able to enjoy seeing these magnificent birds, however illegal activity continues to put species at risk. There are laws in place to protect these birds but they are clearly not being respected or adequately enforced. We need governments across the UK to do more to tackle illegal killing to protect our raptors for us and for future generations to enjoy. ”

For the full copy of Birdcrime 2017 report click here


Common Weed Killer Linked to Bee Deaths – University of Texas at Austin

The world’s most widely used weed killer may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of the beneficial bacteria in their guts and are more Alex Wild/University of Texas at Austinsusceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.

Alex Wild/University of Texas at Austin

Scientists believe this is evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to the decline of honey bees and native bees around the world.

“We need better guidelines for glyphosate use, especially regarding bee exposure, because right now the guidelines assume bees are not harmed by the herbicide,” said Erick Motta, the graduate student who led the research, along with professor Nancy Moran. “Our study shows that’s not true.”

The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (open access)

Because glyphosate interferes with an important enzyme found in plants and microorganisms, but not in animals, it has long been assumed to be nontoxic to animals, including humans and bees. But this latest study shows that by altering a bee’s gut microbiome — the ecosystem of bacteria living in the bee’s digestive tract, including those that protect it from harmful bacteria — glyphosate compromises its ability to fight infection.

The researchers exposed honey bees to glyphosate at levels known to occur in crop fields, yards and roadsides. The researchers painted the bees’ backs with colored dots so they could be tracked and later recaptured. Three days later, they observed that the herbicide significantly reduced healthy gut microbiota. Of eight dominant species of healthy bacteria in the exposed bees, four were found to be less abundant. The hardest hit bacterial species, Snodgrassella alvi, is a critical microbe that helps bees process food and defend against pathogens.


Royal recognition for National Park Authority’s Apprenticeship Scheme – North York Moors National Park Authority

An exceptional apprenticeship scheme in the North York Moors National Park has been honoured with a prestigious 2018 Princess Royal Training Award. The National Park Authority now stands alongside 47 other UK companies - including John Lewis, GSK and the Royal Air Force – that have each been recognised for their outstanding training and development programmes. Representatives from the National Park Authority will receive the Award from HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony in late October.



The North York Moors National Park launched its apprenticeship programme in 2002, with a small team of environmental conservation apprentices. Since this time, the scheme has supported 120 young people to become ‘job ready’, directly addressing local skills shortages through their training and development programme. The Authority now employs 17 apprentices across business administration, tourism and conservation, making up 14% of total staff.

Ian Nicholls, Head of Corporate Services at the National Park Authority said: “We are delighted to be recognised for our commitment to providing outstanding training for young people, something almost every member of Staff at the Authority is involved with in some way.”


Scotland at heart of new global alliance for greener cities – Scottish Wildlife Trust

Image: Scottish Wildlife TrustThe International Union for Conservation of Nature has launched a global initiative which aims to create greener, more liveable cities that will improve the health, well-being and prosperity of people living in urban areas with support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The IUCN Urban Nature Alliance will be hosted by the Trust in Edinburgh.

Image: Scottish Wildlife Trust

“We are now an urban animal for the first time in human history but we are still failing to design our cities in a way which incorporates nature,” says Jonny Hughes, Chair of the new Alliance and Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. “Cities need nature more than ever as we face up to a rapidly changing climate and nothing short of a green design revolution is likely to make this happen. The IUCN Urban Nature Alliance will help drive the change required by developing a standard index against which any city in the world will be able to assess and monitor the health of their green infrastructure, water and other natural capital assets.”

The new Alliance will raise awareness of the value of ecosystems in urban areas, and of how these ecosystems can help address urban challenges including air pollution, flooding and health problems caused by lack of access to quality green spaces. It will also develop a City Nature Index, providing a standardised way for cities to measure the quality of their underlying stock of natural resources – known as ‘natural capital’. This Index will be piloted in five cities, including Edinburgh, and will be available for use by governments, civil society and researchers.

logo: GetOutsideDay 

This Sunday, 30 September is the first ever National GetOutside Day with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK. National GetOutside Day, organised by Ordnance Survey, falls within ukactive's European Week of Sport. It sees a huge range of events taking place across the country in a bid to improve the health of the nation by getting more people, more active, more often.

Regardless of age, ability, gender or religion, National GetOutside Day is about getting the nation moving outside.

The outdoors is free, and the benefits are endless. So, we’re encouraging everyone to put down those screens, step out of their front door with family and friends and have some fun!

Find out what events are taking place near you, visit the website to find out more os.uk/getoutsideday


£8m funding brings nature to Scotland’s cities - Scottish Natural Heritage

(image: Scottish Natural Heritage)From weirs and wetlands, to urban nature reserves, to natural play areas and parks, the search is on for 10 projects that help nature bloom in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland’s towns and cities.

(image: Scottish Natural Heritage)

The call comes as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today announces a further £8m funding, in the latest phase of its ambitious Green Infrastructure Fund.

The Fund - SNH’s largest to date for improving the urban environment in Scotland’s towns and cities – is being delivered in two phases. The first is due to complete in 2019, and will deliver 7 major capital infrastructure projects and 12 community engagement projects, including:

Transformation of a derelict golf course in South Lanarkshire into a new urban park

Outdoor recreational space in the Middlefield community in Aberdeen, with weirs and wetlands helping reduce the town’s flood risk

Creation of a Local Nature Reserve and new water management scheme around the Forth & Clyde Canal in Glasgow, opening up surrounding vacant and derelict sites for regeneration.

SNH announced today it is inviting bids for a share in a further £8m funding from up to 10 major projects. It is expected the successful projects  will support some of Scotland’s more deprived urban communities to make best use of their local environment, help tackle the effects of  climate change, attract business and boost job opportunities.


Environmental charities call for Government not to undermine National Parks with careless words - Campaign to Protect Rural England

An open letter from 19 organisations calls for strong messages from Government to avoid undermining designated landscapes. Environmental charities call for Government not to undermine National Parks with careless words (image: CPRE)The letter which was co-ordinated by Campaign for National Parks and supported by charities including Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust, takes particular issue with the use of a controversial mine to justify further development in areas that are protected for their wildlife, beauty and recreational opportunities.

Environmental charities call for Government not to undermine National Parks with careless words (image: CPRE)

Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, used the example of the Woodsmith Mine in the North York Moors National Park while giving evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee over the summer. The coalition of charities is concerned that the Minister’s evidence did not accurately reflect the negative environmental and landscape impacts of inappropriate development, such as the Woodsmith Mine. 

The letter states: 'Implying that such development has no negative impacts is particularly disappointing at a time when designated landscapes are getting a lot of positive coverage following the launch of the Glover Review of England’s designated landscapes in May. It is also inconsistent with the messages in the 25 Year Environment Plan, which was launched by the Prime Minister in January.'

The BEIS committee was considering a proposed new planning policy for new nuclear disposal infrastructure and their report concluded that designated landscapes should not be ruled out as possible locations, putting at risk National Parks.


Scotland’s wintering wading birds could be losers in climate change - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scotland’s wintering wading birds could be losers in climate change: Redshank (image: SNH)Climate change could be a factor in the decline of Scotland’s wading birds, including redshank, golden plover and lapwing, according to new figures published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today (Thursday).

Scotland’s wintering wading birds could be losers in climate change: Redshank (image: SNH)

The Abundance of Wintering Waterbirds report shows that since counts began in the winter of 1975/76:

  • Wader numbers (14 species) have declined since 1996/97 and in 2015/16 are 21% lower than in 1975/76, the lowest levels on record.
  • Goose numbers, including Barnacle geese have increased to 287%
  • 16 species of ducks and swans numbers increased to 14%.

Simon Foster, SNH’s Trends & Indicator Analyst, said: “Scotland is on the migration route known as the East Atlantic Flyway and many wildfowl and wader species breed in the Arctic and fly here to winter at one of 50 Scottish sites of international importance. “While climate change and food availability are likely causes for the decline, there are some species, where other factors may be at play. More research is needed to better understand these, and develop ways to help improve numbers of waders, including purple sandpipers and turnstone. Changes in the Arctic need to be better understood especially for long distance migratory waders as well as what is happening on their wintering areas. We are working together with international researchers and volunteers to help our wintering waders.”


Wetlands - world’s most valuable ecosystem – disappearing three times faster than forests, warns new report - Ramsar

Wetlands, the most economically valuable and among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, are disappearing three times faster than forests with severe consequences for our future unless urgent action is taken to ensure their survival, warns a new report by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Approximately 35 per cent of the world’s wetlands were lost between 1970-2015 with annual rates of loss accelerating from 2000, according to the first-ever Global Wetland Outlook of the Ramsar Convention, a global treaty ratified by 170 countries to protect wetlands and promote their wise use.  The report shows every region is affected.

Losses have been driven by megatrends such as climate change, population increase, urbanization, particularly of coastal zones and river deltas, and changing consumption patterns that have all fuelled changes to land and water use and to agriculture.

Wetlands, which include lakes, rivers, marshes and peatlands as well as coastal and marine areas such as estuaries, lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs, are currently estimated to cover more than 12.1 million km2, an area greater than Greenland. Between 13-18 per cent of them are on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, which are protected sites.

Wetlands are critical to human and planet life. Directly or indirectly, they provide almost all of the world’s consumption of freshwater. More than one billion people depend on them for a living and 40 per cent of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. They are a vital source for food, raw materials, genetic resources for medicines, and hydropower; they mitigate floods, protect coastlines and build community resilience to disasters, and they play an important role in transport, tourism and the cultural and spiritual well-being of people. Studies show the economic value of services provided by wetlands far exceeds those of terrestrial ecosystems. Inland wetlands, for example, have a total economic value five times higher than tropical forests, the most valuable terrestrial habitat.


Fish and chips: Eels microchipped to track movements of a species on the brink - WWT

Wild eels are being microchipped, similar to the way people microchip their pets, in an attempt by conservationists from WWT to better understand their activity.

Microchip scanner checking an eel at WWT Slimbridge © Neil Aldridge Microchip scanner checking an eel at WWT Slimbridge © Neil Aldridge

The study at Slimbridge in South Gloucester will allow scientists to monitor how eels are using the nature reserve and when they leave to site to return to the sea to breed.

Slimbridge is situated on the banks of the Severn, a very important river system for eels. The study is part of a broader eel conservation project being undertaken by WWT in partnership with Bristol Water. The project aims to improve eel access around the site, and will eventually extend to the wider Severn Vale in an effort to help this globally critically endangered species.

Eels famously travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic to the Sargasso Sea to breed. Their young drift back to Europe, where millions end up in the Severn where they mature in freshwater. Traditionally, eels would live out their lives in the wetlands of the Severn Vale before completing their life cycle by returning to the North Atlantic Ocean. However much of this wetland habitat has been lost or degraded,  and the eels’ movements prevented by pumps and sluices in the waterways.


River Weaver wildlife protected in new wetland habitat - Canal & River Trust

Reed buntings and marsh marigolds are among dozens of species of plants and animals now flourishing in a new protected home on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation near Northwich.

We have created Hartford Wetlands Nature Reserve on the Davenham side of the river, close to the distinctive Blue Bridge which carries the A556 road across the river in north Cheshire.

Trust staff and volunteers from Marshalls Arm, Vale Royal and Crewe Conservation groups have all worked together to construct a public boardwalk, install interpretation and carry out vegetation management at the reserve, which covers an area of several football pitches.  Jointly funded by the Trust and Saltscape Landscape Partnership through the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund, the project will give the public a chance to get up close to frogs, newts, damselflies and other aquatic wildlife who have started to make their home in the new wetland reserve.


Wildlife Therapy Garden Gives MS Patients Space to Enjoy Nature - Avon Wildlife Trust

(image: Avon Wildlife Trust)A wildlife therapy garden overflowing with wildflowers and buzzing with bees and butterflies, officially opens today at the West of England MS Therapy Centre in Bradley Stoke after a six-month partnership between the Centre and Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT), with support and funding from Rolls Royce, Tesco Bags of Help, Daikin Air Conditioning UK, The Mall Fountain Fund, The Douglas Arter Foundation and Wessex Watermark.

(image: Avon Wildlife Trust)

AWT worked with a team of Rolls Royce employees, service users and staff from the MS Therapy Centre, Wessex Water and other corporate groups, local school children and members of the community, to transform neglected, bare ground next to the therapy centre’s car park. After many months of work the site is now a flourishing urban wildlife and therapy garden set to bring enjoyment, improve wellbeing and provide a place for wildlife.


Forest vandalism at Clashindarroch - Forestry Commission Scotland

Forest Enterprise Scotland has called in the police to help trace a vandal who is attempting to sabotage efforts to conserve Scottish Wildcats.

Police Scotland has been advised that a number of catch and release traps – part of an exercise to determine vole population levels in Clashindarroch Forest – had been opened up, emptied and discarded.  This latest act of sabotage follows the theft of camera traps earlier this year.

Kenny Kortland, Species Ecologist with Forest Enterprise Scotland, said; “Vandalism of this sort is clearly against the spirit of the Scotland Outdoor Access Code and, more importantly, is an attempt to disrupt our efforts, as part of Scottish Wildcat Action, to help conserve Scotland’s endangered and dwindling wildcat population. Whoever did this obviously has no interest in saving wildcats - these traps were well hidden so not discovered by accident and it would seem like a deliberate act of sabotage. We would urge anyone with any information about this crime to contact the police.”

Anyone with any information or knowledge of the crime is urged to contact police Scotland on 101 and quote incident reference 1336-25/9/18.


British public asked to listen out for owls - BTO

The British Trust for Ornithology is asking the great British public to participate in a national study of Tawny Owls and their calling behaviour, by listening out for them this autumn and winter. Tawny Owl populations are thought to be in decline and the species has recently been added to the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern.

A new study is urgently needed because Tawny Owl populations are thought to be in decline and BTO researchers wish to understand more about the impacts of urbanisation and light pollution on their populations. Anyone can participate, and members of the public are asked to listen out for calling Tawny Owls from their garden, local park or piece of woodland.

Tawny owl couple (image: Laurence Liddy / BTO)Tawny owl couple (image: Laurence Liddy / BTO)

The Tawny Owl is arguably our best known owl; even if you have never seen one you will probably recognise the 'twit-twoo' call uttered in harmony by a pair of Tawny Owls. The call of the female is an eerie 'kewick' and that of the male in reply is a shivering, 'whoo'. Put together and you get 'kewick-whoo' or put another way, 'twit-twoo'.

http://www.bto.org/owls or email gbw@bto.org for more information. The survey runs from 30 September 2018 – 31 March 2019. You don’t have to commit to listening every week, but you’ll be providing valuable data by recording for as many weeks as you can


No moor burning on upland peat bogs - RSPB

The RSPB is calling on the Government to honour its commitment to end the damaging practice of setting fire to England’s upland peat bogs, especially on grouse moors.

This Monday (1 October) marks the start of the new burning season, which permits land managers to set fire to areas of moorland (a practice known as rotational burning), including peat bogs, to encourage new heather growth and provide favourable conditions for red grouse.  

Upland peat bogs (especially blanket bog) provide a valuable array of public benefits including providing a home for wildlife, countering climate change by locking up carbon, reducing flood risk, purifying drinking water and slowing the spread of wildfire.

However, the majority of upland peat bogs are in a poor state, with only an estimated 4% of them in England in a healthy condition. They have been affected by a range of damaging activities for many years including burning.

Following pressure from the European Commission to end burning on blanket bogs, Natural England is attempting to negotiate the end of rotational burning on blanket bog across over 100 grouse moors. While some shooting estates have already agreed to stop rotational burning on bogs, a number of these have then been given permission by Natural England to continue to use fire to remove heather as part of a wider programme of work to supposedly restore damaged peat bogs.  This so called ‘restoration burning’ is a misnomer: Natural England’s own evidence shows that burning actually damage peat bogs by drying them out, thereby robbing the public of their numerous benefits.

Pat Thompson, RSPB Senior Land Use Policy Officer, said: “It’s a quarter of a century since stubble burning on fields was banned in the UK over environmental and safety concerns. Now it’s time for burning on our precious upland peat bogs to be similarly consigned to history. As the burning season gets underway, we will, along with others, be watching to see if Government commitments to stop rotational burning actually result in less burning.  Our peat bogs are too important for both people and wildlife for us to sit back and let them be damaged any further”.


PCB pollution threatens to wipe out killer whales - ZSL 

More than forty years since the first initiatives were taken to ban the use of PCBs, the chemical pollutants remain a deadly threat to animals at the top of the food chain.

A new study, published in the journal Science today (27 September 2018) shows that the current concentrations of PCBs can lead to the disappearance of half of the world’s populations of killer whales, from the most heavily contaminated areas, within a period of just 30-50 years. 

killer whale underwater (Image: © Audun Rikardsen via ZSL)When killer whales like these hunt small fish like herring, the exposure to PCBs is much less than if they fed on large fish or marine mammals (Image: © Audun Rikardsen via ZSL) 


Killer whales (Orcinus orca) form the last link in a long food chain and are among the mammals with the highest level of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in their tissue. Researchers have measured values as high as 1300 milligrams per kilo in the fatty tissue (blubber) of killer whales. For comparison, a large number of studies show that animals with PCB levels as low as 50 milligrams per kilo of tissue may show signs of infertility and severe impacts on the immune system. 

Together with colleagues from a range of international universities and research institutions, researchers from ZSL and Aarhus University have documented that the number of killer whales is rapidly declining in 10 out of the 19 killer whale populations investigated. The species may disappear entirely from several areas within a few decades.

Dr Paul Jepson from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, co-author and killer whale expert said: “The research suggests that the efforts have not been effective enough to avoid the accumulation of PCBs in high trophic level species that live as long as the killer whale does. There is therefore an urgent need for further initiatives than those under the Stockholm Convention.” 

Access the paper: Jean-Pierre Desforges, et al Predicting global killer whale population collapse from PCB pollution. Science28 Sep 2018 : 1373-1376  DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1953


In response:  Killer whale wipe out warning prompts calls for urgent Government action - Wildlife and Countryside Link

New research from international experts published today in Science magazine shows half of the world’s Orca populations are likely to be wiped out by an invisible chemical pollutant in our oceans

Killer whale wipe out warning prompts calls for urgent Government action

New research from international experts published today in Science magazine shows half of the world’s Orca populations are likely to be wiped out by an invisible chemical pollutant in our oceans. Thirteen UK wildlife charities are calling for action from the UK Government in the Environment Act and at the Stockholm Convention in May 2019 to help prevent further polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) toxic chemical waste entering our oceans and killing our mammals.

Jennifer Lonsdale, Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Whales Group said: ‘This is a global red alert on the state of our oceans. Half of the world’s killer whales may be wiped out because companies created toxic products and did not dispose of them safely. With more than 80% of the world’s stocks of PCBs still in existence the worst of this pollution crisis could be yet to come. Legally-binding targets must be agreed for every country to safely destroy these materials. If the UK Government wants its Environment Act to be world-leading, it must set ambitious targets on PCB disposal and protect against further chemical pollution of our waters.’

The Stockholm Convention put in place a global framework on the use of PCBs, which came into force in 2004. However, the controls it outlined lacked the teeth to prevent further PCB pollution.

There is no clear compliance mechanism in place to ensure all PCB stocks are destroyed by member states by the target date of 2028. Combined with ineffective storage and disposal, this lack of action is resulting in existing stocks slowly and continuously leaking into water sources.

A coalition of wildlife charities, co-ordinated by Wildlife and Countryside Link, are today calling for all countries attending the Stockholm convention in May 2019 to commit to legally binding targets and establishing an operational compliance and enforcement mechanism. Details on what this should include are available in this briefing. The NGOs are urging the UK Government to lead the way by including binding targets on PCBs in the upcoming Environment Act.

Further comments from Humane Society International, IFAW, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) CHEM Trust, and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust can be found here.


Tracking Britain’s rarest lizard - BIAZA

Marwell Wildlife is using tiny radio tags to track the movements of sand lizards reintroduced to the wild.

The Hampshire conservation charity fitted transmitters to 24 sand lizards released at Eelmoor Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest at Farnborough to help understand their movements and habitat use. The tags, attached using veterinary surgical glue and a strip of surgical tape, will fall off after a short period of time or when the lizard sheds its skin and, at just 0.29 grams, each tiny tag is less than five per cent of the body weight of a sand lizard.

Tagged sand lizard (image: Paul Drane, BIAZA)Tagged sand lizard (image: Paul Drane, BIAZA)

The study is being carried out as part of an initiative to re-establish the species at Eelmoor Marsh. Marwell Wildlife and University of Southampton PhD student, Rachel Gardner, said: “Because they blend into the environment and spend time foraging and hiding in dense undergrowth, sand lizards can be incredibly difficult to see. Being able to track them in this way is really exciting - I can’t wait to see how far they go, how quickly, and exactly how they use the habitat.” She added: “Having spent the last year rearing the lizards in captivity, it’s wonderful to finally release them into their natural habitat and apply this novel technology to see how they do.”


Scientific Publications

Marine Pollution Bulletin: Securing a future for seagrass - World Seagrass Association 

Announcing the publication of a World Seagrass Association special journal issue: Securing a future for seagrass, edited by Mike van Keulen, Lina Mtwana Nordlund and Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth in Marine Pollution Bulletin Volume 134, p 1–232 (September 2018).

Twenty six papers presenting contemporary research across the spectrum of seagrass research—see our blog post for more details.


Boakes, E. H., Fuller, R. A. & McGowan, P. J. K. (2018) The extirpation of species outside protected areas. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12608 (Open Access)


Nina J. O’Hanlon & Ruedi G. Nager (2018) Identifying habitat-driven spatial variation in colony size of Herring Gulls Larus argentatus, Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2018.1518970


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