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


Cutting edge technology to provide new insight into lives of Scotland’s Golden Eagles – Cairngorms National Park Authority

An innovative new type of satellite tag has been designed to provide a boost to understanding raptor movements and behaviour, as well as help understand the fate of birds which die in the Cairngorms National Park and more widely across Scotland.

(c) Lorne Gill/SNH(c) Lorne Gill/SNH

Over the next 18 months some young Golden Eagles in and around the Cairngorms National Park will be fitted with a novel ‘Raptor Tracker’ tag, as part of a trial which will provide key information on movements and behaviour, such as whether a bird is feeding or resting. Most importantly, it will provide an instant fix on any birds which die.

Tags in current use are limited in what information they can provide on the exact location of any bird which dies.  This new tag uses the ‘geostationary Iridium’ satellite network and ensures that signal information is always available.  Crucially, it has been developed with multiple sensors;  these immediately send a ‘distress’ signal, with an exact location, back to base if unusual behaviour is detected. This early warning system has the added benefit of helping to rapidly identify and recover birds which have died.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This is great news for improving our understanding of eagle behaviours, and in the fight against wildlife crime. The tags should make a real difference in deterring would-be criminals, as well as playing a key role in establishing exactly what happened, should any of these magnificent birds of prey disappear or die in unusual circumstances.”


Scotland’s natural capital worth £273 billion – Scottish Government

An Experimental Statistics Publication for Scotland.

A comprehensive assessment has been carried out for the first time of the monetary value of Scotland’s natural capital.

The assessment has discovered that in 2015 the asset value of Scottish natural capital was an estimated £273 billion.

This figure equates to 34% of the total UK asset valuation for natural capital.

A quarter of the asset value was attributable to items not directly captured in gross domestic product, namely carbon sequestration, pollutant removal and recreation.

The assessment includes information on ten ecosystem services: agricultural biomass, fish capture, timber, water abstraction, mineral production, oil and gas production, renewable energy generation, carbon sequestration, air pollutant removal, and recreation.

Accounting for natural capital is important as many of the most valuable services it provides are intangible. This means that they are often not captured in conventional measures of economic activity.

Other results include:

  • Fish capture in Scottish waters rose by over two-thirds between 2003 and 2016.
  • Scottish timber production nearly doubled from 1997 to 2017.
  • During 2017 water abstraction for public water supply in Scotland fell to its lowest level in the series history, partly due to less leakage.
  • In 2017 oil and gas production in Scotland more than halved from 1998 levels.
  • In 2017 five times as much energy was produced from renewable sources in Scotland than was produced in 2000.
  • Between 2009 and 2017 annual outdoor recreation time spent per person was 56 hours (65%) higher in Scotland than the UK average.
  • Average spend per visit on outdoor recreation in Scotland was £1.14 between 2009 and 2017, 43% lower than the UK (£1.99).

Response: Trust welcomes publication of natural capital accounts – Scottish Wildlife Trust

The value of Scotland’s natural environment has been estimated for the first time. © Mark Hamblin / 2020 VisionThe value of Scotland’s natural environment has been estimated for the first time. © Mark Hamblin / 2020 Vision

The Trust has welcomed the publication by the Scottish Government and the Office of National Statistics of estimates of the quantity and value of ten services being supplied by Scottish natural capital.

Our Chief Executive Jonny Hughes said: “The Scottish Government and Office for National Statistics should be congratulated on this important piece of work. We now have detailed information that will help the Scottish Government deliver on its commitment to protect and enhance our natural capital, and meet international obligations including the Sustainable Development Goals. This new data provides useful insights into how everyone in Scotland benefits from our natural assets, including forests, wetlands and green spaces. For the first time we can see that even the partial value of natural capital in Scotland is more than £270 billion – a third of the UK’s total. A quarter of this value is found in non-material benefits that are not captured in traditional economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product.”


Overland migration of Arctic Terns revealed – Newcastle University

Data from a landmark study of the world’s longest migrating seabird reveals how overland migration is an integral part of their amazing journey.

Image: Newcastle UniversityImage: Newcastle University

Analysing the data from electronic tags retrieved from 47 Arctic Terns, the Newcastle University-led team has been able to characterise in unprecedented detail the route and stop-off points during this record-breaking bird’s 90,000 km annual migration.

This includes:

  • An 8,000km, 24-day, non-stop flight over the Indian Ocean, feeding on the move
  • An overland detour from the Farne Irelands to the Irish Sea and over Ireland to the Atlantic
  • A short stay on the New Zealand coast before completing the final leg of their journey
  • A stop-off at Llangorse Lake, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, during their return journey in the Spring

47 tags retrieved

Led by scientists at Newcastle University in collaboration with BBC’s Springwatch, 53 adult birds nesting on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast were fitted with geolocators over a three year period.

Weighing just over 100 g the Arctic Tern has the longest migration of any bird, travelling all the way to Antarctica for the winter and back to the Farnes, which are owned and managed by the National Trust, to breed in the spring.

So far, 47 tags have been retrieved and the research team, led by Dr Chris Redfern of Newcastle University, are starting to analyse the data.

“Technology is revealing details of the movement and behaviour of these amazing birds in unprecedented detail,” says Dr Redfern, whose initial findings in collaboration with Dr Richard Bevan are published today (25 March) in the academic journal Ibis. “Arctic Terns feed on surface fish and other marine animals so it has always been assumed they would migrate via a coastal route, down the North Sea and through the English Channel. But instead our data has shown their regular route is to travel overland across the UK to the Irish Sea and some are going even further crossing Ireland to the North Atlantic.”

Access the Paper: ‘Overland movement and migration phenology in relation to breeding of Arctic Terns, Sterna paradisaea’ Chris Redfern and Richard Bevan. Ibis DOI: DOI:10.1111/ibi.12723


Phase-out single-use plastics by 2025 not 2042 – Wildlife and Countryside Link

19 organisations are calling on Government to phase-out single-use plastics by 2025 not 2042 to stop 4,000 billion more single-use plastic items being thrown away.

The Government must phase-out all non-essential single-use plastics by 2025 to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution, say 19 leading environment charities, coordinated by Wildlife and Countryside Link. This could save more than 4,000 billion pieces of unnecessary single-use plastic waste being consumed in the UK between 2026 - 2042, helping to slash the ‘toxic plastic soup’ ending up in our oceans, rivers and countryside.
In a joint report published today (22 March), 19 organisations concerned with the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and wildlife, are calling for a wholesale transition away from single-use plastic. This, they say, must be an urgent priority if the government truly wants to fulfil its pledge to be a global leader in tackling plastic pollution.
Dr Sue Kinsey of Marine Conservation Society said: ‘Plastic pollution is an environmental emergency and Government needs to treat it as such. The damage our ‘throwaway’ culture has done to our seas is clear. We urgently need to reduce the amount of plastic we produce and use if we’re to lead the way in turning the plastic tide. This is essential to create a genuine circular economy system in the UK where ‘waste’ is valued as a resource and used time and time again rather than polluting our countryside, coasts and seas.’
A full copy of the embargoed report is available here.


Found: Europe’s largest collection of ancient oak trees… and it’s in Oxfordshire! – Woodland Trust

Ancient oak in Blenheim's grounds (Photo: Blenheim Palace)Conservation charity the Woodland Trust is challenging people across the UK to find and map ancient trees, after its Ancient Tree Inventory project helped confirm the biggest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe.

Ancient oak in Blenheim's grounds (Photo: Blenheim Palace)

Staff at Blenheim Park have been surveying oak trees for several years, and have recorded an astonishing 291 living oak trees with a girth of at least 5m. 220 of these veterans stand in High Park, a fragile Site of Special Scientific Interest which is currently closed to the public. 71 can be seen elsewhere in Blenheim Park. This data – collected primarily by Kew’s oak researcher Aljos Farjon – has been compared with other records on the Woodland Trust’s ancient tree inventory, revealing that the collection ranks highest across all of Europe.

It is vital that ancient trees are mapped; ancient and veteran trees were recently given the same protection as built heritage under the National Planning Policy Framework – but if they are left unidentified, they cannot be protected.

Anyone can search for and record trees on the inventory – which has been running for over a decade. There are already 160,000 trees listed, but thousands more to add.

Kylie Harrison-Mellor, citizen science officer for the Woodland Trust, said: “Ancient and veteran trees are the fattest, knobbliest, and most fascinating specimens of trees. They have countless stories to tell and support huge networks of native flora and fauna. They were recently given better protection under the National Planning Policy Framework... but unless we know where they are, we can’t campaign against their damage and destruction. By recording with the ancient tree inventory, members of the public can take an active part in defending some of our most valuable habitats. We know there are thousands out there we haven’t found yet – who knows, there could still be a bigger collection of ancients waiting to be discovered.”


Results Day: Records smashed in 2019 Big Farmland Bird Count – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

A fantastic effort from farmers have helped secure a best-ever year for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

Results show 1,400 people – a 40% increase on last year – recorded 140 species over 1 million acres in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) initiative which took place between February 8th to 17th.

Encouragingly, a total of 30 red-listed species were recorded, with 5 appearing in the most-commonly seen species list. These included fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, yellowhammers and song thrushes, with the first four seen by over 30% of the farms taking part.

The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks. A total of 148,661 were found, making up nearly 50% of the total number of birds recorded.

“It’s brilliant to see an increase in the number of participants,” said Jim Egan, who has co-ordinated the count for the past six years. “I’m particularly pleased by the way the facilitation funds and farmer clusters have worked together to embrace this across a landscape scale. The fact that in, many cases, farmers and birders have worked together and inspired each other shows the power of sharing our skills and knowledge.  A huge congratulations to everyone involved.”

To view the results in full, visit www.bfbc.org.uk/2019results


Caged flowers could save rare bee in one of its last strongholds – Bumblebee Conservation Trust

A first-of-its kind project offering hope for one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees has been launched on the Peak District moors near Sheffield this month, with support from the National Lottery.

Picture: Sally Cuckney, Project Manager and Rebecca Wood (Ass Warden Eastern Moors Partenership)Picture: Sally Cuckney, Project Manager and Rebecca Wood (Ass Warden Eastern Moors Partenership)

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Eastern Moors Partnership – a joint initiative between the National Trust and the RSPB – aim to boost populations of the threatened Bilberry bumblebee by planting 1,000 bilberry plants inside specially designed grazing-proof metal cages on Hathersage Moor.

Bilberry is a vital food source for the declining bumblebee. It flowers in the spring and early summer, before heathers and other moorland plants, and is essential for the bees and their larvae as the nests are established.

Sally Cuckney, Pollinating the Peak Project Manager for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “Grazing animals such as sheep and deer find tender young bilberry plants especially tasty, and their constant browsing stunts the plants’ growth. That’s bad news for the Bilberry bumblebee. If grazing is reduced, bilberry does much better. This hands-on project is the first attempt to help Bilberry bumblebees and bilberry plants survive and thrive together like this.”

This month, bilberry has been planted across 60 acres of Hathersage Moor, then protected by cages built by Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Eastern Moors volunteers and youth rangers.


Did someone say cheese? – The Mammal Society

Woodmouse shut that door by Roy Rimmer Small mammal wins biggest prize in this year’s Mammal Photographer of the Year competition

The results of the Mammal Society’s annual photography competition are in. The winner of Mammal Photographer of the Year 2019 is Roy Rimmer from Lancashire with his atmospheric photograph “Woodmouse Shut that Door”.

Woodmouse shut that door by Roy Rimmer

Roy explains how he managed to capture the perfect shot “…I baited the entrance of the shed door and placed one flash outside the entrance to replicate the moonlight and one flash inside the entrance which I diffused just enough in order to keep a rim light. I struggled for several nights to get the mice in the right place so I decided to smear chocolate near the bottom of the door. This encouraged the mice to stand for a while whilst it licked the bait giving me the opportunity to create the image.”

MPOY judge, nature and conservation photographer Peter Cairns said of the winning photograph “This image stood out for me as soon as I set eyes on it. It’s great to see an under-represented species so creatively captured. The lighting is spot on and, perhaps more importantly, there’s a story delivered with a splash of humour.”


Widespread losses among pollinating insects in Britain – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Many insect pollinator species are disappearing from areas of Great Britain, a new study has found.

The research, led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, measured the presence of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species across the country, from 1980 to 2013. It showed one third of species experienced declines in terms of areas in which they were found, while one tenth increased. For the remainder of species, their distribution was either stable or the trend was inconclusive.

A positive but unexpected finding of the study was the increase in key bee species responsible for pollinating flowering crops, such as oil-seed rape. This could be in response to the large increases of mass-flowering crops grown during the study period and government-subsidised schemes that encourage farmers to plant more of the wildflowers they feed on.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, also showed that on average, the geographic range of bee and hoverfly species declined by a quarter. This is equivalent to a net loss of 11 species from each 1km square.

Overall losses were more notable for pollinator species found in northern Britain. This may be a result of climate change, with species that prefer cooler temperatures reducing their geographical spread in response to less climatically suitable landscapes.

Access the paper: Gary D. Powney, Claire Carvell, Mike Edwards, Roger K. A. Morris, Helen E. Roy, Ben A. Woodcock and Nick J. B. Isaac. 2019. Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain. Nature Communications (open access). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08974-9


Minsmere’s status as “most important bird reserve in the UK” at risk from Sizewell C - RSPB

Award set for renewal on condition that Sizewell C will not be detrimental to flagship RSPB nature reserve

Minsmere nature reserve’s status as one of Europe’s most important areas for nature and biodiversity could be at risk if EDF fails to adequately mitigate adverse impacts from Sizewell C, the RSPB has revealed.

The renewal of Minsmere’s European Diploma for Protected Areas has been approved in draft on the condition that “the construction of the new reactor will not be at the detriment of the Minsmere Reserve.”

The European Diploma for Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It recognises natural and semi-natural areas and landscapes of exceptional European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity and which are managed in an exemplary way.

Minsmere is one of only five sites in the UK to have been awarded the European Diploma. The others are Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Fair Isle National Scenic Area, Peak District National Park, and Purbeck Heritage Coast. The Council of Europe’s website describes Minsmere as “the most important bird reserve in the United Kingdom.”

The RSPB’s flagship nature reserve on the Suffolk Coast was first recognised with the award in 1979. Earlier that decade the extinction of the marsh harrier as a breeding bird in the UK had been prevented thanks to a single pair nesting at Minsmere in 1971.


Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad strike out for a wilder future - The Wildlife Trusts

Stars speak up for wildlife in new film trailer hitting cinemas this weekend

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for a wilder future and for nature’s recovery in the UK. The conservationist and actors have starring roles in a new The Wind in the Willows film trailer which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back before it’s too late, so that we can all enjoy a wilder future.

The film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture – many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up. Toad hangs a picture of a puffin entangled in plastic on the wall in Toad Hall. “Farewell old friend” he says.

Watch the trailer and help us create a Wilder Future.

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over a hundred years ago. Since then, many of the UK’s wild places and the plants and animals that depend on them have been lost. For example: 97% of lowland meadows and the beautiful wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds that they supported have disappeared; 80% of our beautiful purple heathlands have vanished – with their blaeberries, sand lizards and the stunning nocturnal birds, nightjars. Rivers are in deep trouble too: only 20% are considered as healthy and 13% of freshwater and wetland species in Great Britain are threatened with extinction.


Stone-curlews still vulnerable even after decades of recovery - RSPB

The RSPB has warned that the East Anglian population of one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds, the stone-curlew, remains vulnerable despite decades of recovery.

Numbers of the rare migratory wading bird nesting in the East have fallen in recent years after reaching a peak of around 290 breeding pairs in 2012.

Last year, possibly as few as 202 pairs are thought to have nested in the East of England. The majority – around 165 pairs – in the Brecks, with a small number of birds breeding in other parts of the region, including the Suffolk Coast close to RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.

Tim Cowan, RSPB Eastern England stone-curlew project manager, said: “The fall in breeding numbers of stone-curlew in the last six years is a troubling trend. To lose up to 30% of the breeding pairs is a major setback to decades-long conservation efforts.

“The weather played a significant part in 2013, when a late cold snap sadly wiped out a lot of birds that had arrived back early from migration, but more worrying is the failure of the population to recover from that bad winter. The fact that a one-off weather event like this can leave the population still struggling to bounce back years later highlights the precarious situation the UK’s stone-curlews are still in.”


Earth Hour 2019: A Single Hour to Inspire a Movement to Protect Our Planet - WWF

This Saturday, March 30 at 8:30 PM local time, individuals, businesses and cities around the world will switch off their lights for one hour to celebrate Earth Hour and recommit to protecting the planet.

From the Sydney Opera House to the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower, thousands of iconic landmarks will join millions of people to show their support for the fight against climate change and the conservation of the natural world.

Earth Hour comes at a critical juncture in the history of the planet and humanity. From devastating wildfires to unprecedented hurricanes, the negative impacts of accelerating climate change exact a terrible economic and human toll.

“By going dark for Earth Hour, we can show steadfast commitment to protecting our families, our communities and our planet from the dangerous effects of a warming world,” said Lou Leonard, senior vice president, climate and energy, World Wildlife Fund. “The impacts of climate change are already all around us. The rising demand for energy, food and water means this problem is only going to worsen - unless we act now.”

Meanwhile, the planet’s rich biodiversity - the vast web of life that connects the health of oceans, rivers, and forests to the prosperity of communities and nations - is threatened. Wildlife populations monitored by WWF’s Living Planet Report have experienced an average decline of 60 percent in less than a single person’s lifetime, and many unique and precious species are at risk of vanishing forever.


New strategic licensing for developers in Cheshire to better protect great crested newts - Natural England

An innovative approach by Natural England to protect great crested newts and support sustainable development was today (28 March) launched in Cheshire.

Developers in Cheshire can now apply for a licence under District Level Licensing for great crested newts. This follows our announcement of a nationwide roll-out of great crested newts District Level licensing in 2017, which was officially launched in Kent last month. District Level Licensing is now available across 23 local planning authority areas, including in Woking and the South Midlands.

Whilst great crested newts are found throughout lowland England, the species needs suitable ponds to thrive. Although strictly protected by law, great crested newt populations continue to decline - over the last century there has been a dramatic decline in ponds within the UK. Approximately 50 per cent of ponds in the UK have been lost, and 80 per cent of current ponds are in a poor state leading to large declines in great crested newt populations.

The previous licensing system was focused on preventing harm to great crested newts on individual development sites rather than addressing the wider health of newt populations. Through District Level Licensing, developers can invest in mitigating the impact of a development by restoring and creating offsite compensatory ponds in areas of the county suitable for newts, rather than the species being squeezed in around the margins of a development. Importantly, this means the species benefits from an overall increase in breeding grounds to better support their populations over time.


Humane trapping standards: March 2019 update - defra

The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards has come into force and will now apply across England, Scotland and Wales.  

A number of animal species in Great Britain will be better protected from today as new international humane trapping standards regulations come into force.

The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) seeks to improve the welfare of fur-bearing animals trapped for their pelts as well as for conservation and pest control purposes.

It sets out clearly-defined minimum trap humaneness standards and trap testing procedures, creating an internationally recognised benchmark for trap welfare.

The government supports this objective and shares the British public’s high regard for animal welfare.

Since the consultation closed in July 2018 the government has moved to implement the AIHTS via the Humane Trapping Standards Regulations 2019 and from Thursday 28 March a number of species will be protected from any trap or snare under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

A licence will now be required to trap any of these species: otter, badger, beaver, pine marten

Any trap used under the authority of a licence must be certified as meeting the international trap humaneness standards and suitable for the humane live capture of the above species. 


Single-use plastics ban across EU member states by 2021 - Marine Conservation Society

A ban on a whole range of single-use plastic items will come into force by 2021 following a vote approving a new, wide ranging law in the European parliament 

Among those items set to be banned are single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks), plastic plates, straws, cotton bud and balloon sticks. Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups are also included in the list.

Plastic straws found on beachclean © Natasha Ewins / MCSPlastic straws found on beachclean © Natasha Ewins / MCS

According to the European Commission, more than 80% of marine litter is plastics. The products covered by this new law constitute 70% of all marine litter items. Almost 30% of the litter found during the MCS Great British Beach Clean last September came from the public – including these items, whilst almost 50% of litter was ‘non-sourced’ - that’s stuff that’s too small to be identified but much of which will almost certainly have originally started life as many of the items on this list.

Dr Laura Foster, MCS Head of Clean Seas, says it’s great news to see the overwhelming approval by the parliament on the single use plastic directive: “The directive was a direct result of the monitoring of beach litter over a number of years which clearly showed that measures needed to be taken to tackle it. It also highlights the value of the data collected by our volunteers and how this can result in huge changes.”

Member states will also have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030. 


New edition of good practice guide to prevent diffuse pollution in forests - Forestry Commission Scotland

A 2nd edition of a hugely popular on-the-ground guide for forest workers has been released, to help protect Scotland’s rivers and streams from pollution.

The pocket sized booklet called ‘Know the Rules’ conveys straightforward messages for all those who work in forests to protect water quality. It is accompanied by a 2nd edition of the ‘Keep your Distance’ vehicle sticker.

These useful reminders aim to get operators to raise the bar on how forestry operations are planned, communicated and managed in order to minimise diffuse pollution risk and protect the water environment. The key message is prevention rather than cure.

The straightforward messages remind all forest workers about minimum legal and UK Forestry Standard requirements, which all those working in forests should comply with.

Download the guides free here: www.forestrywaterscotland.com 


New study models the proposed reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx to Scotland - University of Stirling media release circulated by Bangor University 

Experts have used an innovative approach to model the proposed reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx to Scotland.

Researchers used state-of-the-art tools to help identify the most suitable location for lynx reintroduction in Scotland – and how this choice might affect the size of a population and its expansion over subsequent decades. Significantly, they believe their model will inform and enhance decision-making around large carnivore reintroductions worldwide.

The Eurasian Lynx.: Magnus Johansson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]The Eurasian Lynx.: Magnus Johansson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

The work was led by Tom Ovenden who said: “Reintroducing large carnivores is often complicated and expensive, meaning that getting things right first time is extremely important. Therefore, advances in modelling approaches, as utilised during our study, are extremely valuable. Our research considered several proposed reintroduction sites, showing how these models can be used as a safe and relatively inexpensive way of assessing the suitability of reintroduction proposals and providing the evidence required to inform decision-making at an early stage. Recent advances in both ecological theory and modelling approaches have made the incorporation of individual species’ complex behaviours in novel environments more realistic. We applied this approach to the potential reintroduction of Eurasian lynx in Scotland – and demonstrated the power of this new, sophisticated model. Our research demonstrates the potential of this approach to be applied elsewhere to help improve reintroduction success in large carnivores, from the safety of a modelling environment.”

The results showed that Scotland possesses sufficient, connected habitat to offer a realistic chance of population establishment and that some sites are more suitable than others.

Access the paper:  Thomas S. Ovenden, Stephen C.F. Palmer, Justin M.J. Travis, John R. Healey, Improving reintroduction success in large carnivores through individual-based modelling: How to reintroduce Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) to Scotland, Biological Conservation, Volume 234, 2019, Pages 140-153, ISSN 0006-3207, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.03.035.


Mass amphibian extinctions globally caused by fungal disease - The Australian National University

An international study led by ANU has found a fungal disease has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions, over the past 50 years.

The disease, which eats away at the skin of amphibians, has completely wiped out some species, while causing more sporadic deaths among other species. Amphibians, which live part of their life in water and the other part on land, mainly consist of frogs, toads and salamanders.

The deadly disease, chytridiomycosis, is present in more than 60 countries - the worst affected parts of the world are Australia, Central America and South America.

Lead researcher Dr Ben Scheele said the team found that chytridiomycosis is responsible for the greatest loss of biodiversity due to a disease.  Dr Scheele said improved biosecurity and wildlife trade regulation were urgently needed to prevent any more extinctions around the world. "We've got to do everything possible to stop future pandemics, by having better control over wildlife trade around the world."  Dr Scheele said the team's work identified that many species were still at high risk of extinction over the next 10-20 years from chytridiomycosis due to ongoing declines. "Knowing what species are at risk can help target future research to develop conservation actions to prevent extinctions."

The study is published in Science and was supported by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programe


Rare snail’s profile boosted and communities engaged with freshwater life through successful ‘Marvellous Mud Snails’ project - Buglife

Marvellous Mud Snails, a Heritage Fund - funded community engagement project by Buglife Scotland, concludes two successful years on 31st March.  A rare freshwater species, the Pond mud snail (Omphiscola glabra), has been the focus of the project.

 Pond mud snails (Scott Shanks / Buglife) Pond mud snails (Scott Shanks / Buglife)

Over the course of the project, Marvellous Mud Snails has directly engaged with over 2,130 people through public events, talks, school sessions, habitat creation days and workshops across Central Scotland. 350 pupils from 9 schools were involved in a schools learning programme with the project, the majority of which also took part in a captive breeding programme by looking after Pond mud snails in their classrooms. Feedback from the sessions highlighted that children strongly valued the opportunity to observe and interact with live specimens, enhancing their learning experience and understanding of the natural world. 

Joanna Lindsay, Buglife Scotland Conservation Officer said: “Marvellous Mud Snails has been a fantastic project which has allowed people to connect with their local environment and discover the wondrous world of freshwater life, all while contributing to the conservation of a rare and threatened species in Scotland. Raising awareness of the small things and how they are equally, if not more, important than bigger, more charismatic species is a core part of our work at Buglife and Marvellous Mud Snails has been an excellent example of this.”


Scientific Publications

Andreas Lang, Franz Kallhardt, Marina S. Lee, Jacqueline Loos, Mikael A. Molander, Iulia Muntean, Lars B. Pettersson, László Rákosy, Constantí Stefanescu, Antoine Messéan, Monitoring environmental effects on farmland Lepidoptera: Does necessary sampling effort vary between different bio-geographic regions in Europe?, Ecological Indicators, Volume 102, 2019, Pages 791-800, ISSN 1470-160X, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.03.035.


Ziter, C., Pederson, E. J., Kucharik, C. J. & Turner, M. G. Scale-dependent interactions between tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces reduce daytime urban heat during summer. PNAS. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817561116


Dayer, A. A. et al. Observations at backyard bird feeders influence the emotions and actions of people that feed birds (open access) People & Nature. DOI: 10.1002/pan3.17


Pettorelli, M. W., Barlow, J., Cadotte, M. W., Lucas, K., Newton, E., Nuñez, M. A. & Stephens, P. A.  Applied ecologists in a landscape of fear (open access) Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13382


Holmes ND, Spatz DR, Oppel S, Tershy B, Croll DA, et al. (2019) Globally important islands where eradicating invasive mammals will benefit highly threatened vertebrates (open access). PLOS ONE 14(3): e0212128. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212128

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