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


Field Notes: Drumming up an appetite for nature - John Muir Trust

Our Scotland Education Manager Rebecca Logsdon reports on a collaboration that’s helping teachers and their pupils engage with nature

Listening to 30 teachers bash stones on a dead tree trunk on a chilly afternoon in the woods sounded like a large collection of woodpeckers at work (how apt that the collective noun is a drumming of woodpeckers). Everyone was engaged in the ancient Japanese art of ‘Hapa Zome’ – creating natural leaf prints on a cloth by pounding it with a stone – just one of many creative activities that took place during the Literacy & Nature sessions we supported across the Highlands in March.

Over 100 participants – including early years practitioners, primary and secondary school teachers, additional support needs staff, rangers and partners – had been invited through the Highland Council’s RAiSE (Raising Aspirations in Science Education) programme.

The Trust was asked to collaborate in delivering Literacy & Nature training based on Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ illustrated collection of nature poems The Lost Words and The Lost Words Explorer’s Guide. Our aim was to support outdoor learning, science and literacy in Highland schools - with the ultimate goal of reconnecting children with nature.

Further information

Find out more about the John Muir Trust’s  The Lost Words collaboration and Highland RAiSE.


Butterflies bounce back in heatwave summer - Butterfly Conservation

UK butterflies bounced back in 2018 following a string of poor years, thanks in part to last year’s heatwave summer, a study has revealed.

Maculinea arion Large Blue Underside SFrance 2009-07-18

More than two-thirds of UK butterfly species (39 of 57) were seen in higher numbers than in 2017, with two of the UK’s rarest, the Large Blue and Black Hairstreak, recording their best years since records began.

Large Blue Butterfly (image: PJC&Co [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])

But despite the upturn, 2018 was still only an average year for the UK’s butterflies. Around two thirds of species (36 of 57) show an apparent decline since records began 43 years ago with 21 of these showing significant long-term declines, the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) led by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) revealed.

Numbers of the threatened Large Blue rose by 58% from 2017 levels and the endangered Black Hairstreak was up by more than 900%. 

Both species benefitted from warm and sunny weather when they were flying in the early summer, whilst the cold spell in February and March may have also helped by improving survival of caterpillars and chrysalises.

The hot spring and summer weather was not ideal for all species. Some grassland butterflies struggled, not helped by drought conditions drying out caterpillar food plants. The Gatekeeper dropped by 20% from 2017 levels and the Small Skipper and Essex Skipper were down by 24% and 32% respectively.

It was also a surprisingly poor year for some garden favourites. The Small Tortoiseshell slumped by 38% compared to the previous year and the Peacock was down 25%, whilst the migratory Red Admiral crashed by 75% after a good year in 2017.


Invasive Species inquiry launched - Environmental Audit Committee 

The Environmental Audit Committee launches a new inquiry to consider the impact and threat to biosecurity from invasive species. The UK is witnessing a rise in the introduction of non-native species with damaging effects from invasive species estimated to cost almost £2 billion a year.  

Signal Crayfish (image: David Pérez (DPC)/Wikimedia Commons, License cc-by-sa-4.0)Signal Crayfish (image: David Pérez (DPC)/Wikimedia Commons, License cc-by-sa-4.0)

The inquiry will focus on the impact and management of non-native species that have a detrimental effect on native biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as public health, with threats posed by predatory behaviour, competition or by transmitting disease. It will also consider the threat of invasive species to the UK’s overseas territories.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said: “Climate change means that invasive species are migrating to the UK where we’re witnessing a dramatic rise in range and numbers. These are plants, fish and insects that pose a threat to our indigenous wildlife and human health, and are already costing our economy almost £2 billion a year.  We want to identify the scale of the problem and assess how well prepared we are to cope with it, particularly with the possibility of a new era of regulation outside the EU. We hope our inquiry will send out an alert to those most likely to come into contact with invasive species whether in farming, canoeing, fishing, walking, or even in their back garden. Identifying and recording sightings or clearing invasive species is important to reduce the impact on our native environment.”

More information and details of the inquiry plus how to submit written evidence here.


Project to Rid National Park of Non-Native Invasive Species - Exmoor National Park

A major scheme to clear Exmoor’s waterways of harmful invasive species has been launched following a grant of £185,000 through a Water Environment Grant (WEG), which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Defra.

The new Exmoor Non-Native Invasives Species (ENNIS) project - a partnership between Exmoor National Park Authority, Environment Agency, National Trust, Natural England and Nicky Green Associates - will allow work to control invasives in the National Park to be radically scaled up and extended to new species, through the procurement of a dedicated project officer for two years along with new equipment and volunteer training.

Expansion of Japanese Knotweed (6053155927)Many of Exmoor’s streams and rivers are internationally important wildlife sites, home to otters, salmon, brown trout, dipper and kingfisher, as well as mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies that provide a vital link in the food chain. But non-native invasive species are a major threat to sensitive habitats throughout the UK, costing the British economy an estimated £1.7 billion a year according to the GB non-native species secretariat.

Japanese Knoweed (CC license)

Exmoor National Park has been pioneering in its efforts to tackle the problem, leading a ten-year collaboration that has cleared an area the size of six Wembley football pitches of two of Britain’s most invasive weeds – Japanese and Himalayan Knotweed.

But with the plant still present across Exmoor’s main river systems along with other invasives, like montbretia, Himalayan balsam, skunk cabbage and signal crayfish, a major effort is still needed to achieve sustained results.


The Broads Authority supports students to become ‘citizen scientists’ - The Broads Authority

The Broads Authority has just launched its citizen science programme which is part of the Broads Authority’s role as lead partner in the European funded project CANAPE (Creating A New Approach to Peatland Ecosystems).

The citizen science programme enables science students and the public to go out into the field, collect data and learn about the role peat has played and continues to play in relation to the geology and ecology of the Broads wetlands. Even more importantly with global warming as one of today’s biggest concerns this approach will raise awareness of peats ability to act as a major carbon sink and therefore the need to conserve rather than drain these peat-based wetlands.

Senior Ecologist for the Broads Authority, Andrea Kelly, said of the project:

“Caring for our Peatland Ecosystems correctly can be the difference between enormous carbon release or storage. Good peat management is about keeping the peat wet and undrained. The Broads stores the equivalent amount of carbon to that emitted by one of the world’s largest power stations. The work we’re doing with students is vital because the more we understand about the composition of the earth the more that we can do to protect it.”  

To learn more about the work of the students and to have the chance to get involved yourself, take part in the “Peat Discovery Zone” at How Hill National Nature Reserve on 31 July and 2, 6 and 8 July.


Growing the benefits from nature - Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park 

Protecting and enhancing trees and woodlands of the National Park can help deliver a wide range of benefits for Scotland. 

This is one of the key messages highlighted in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority’s draft Trees and Woodlands Strategy, which is now out for public consultation. 

East shore Loch Lomond (credit Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority)East shore Loch Lomond (credit Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority)

The National Park’s Trees and Woodland Strategy, which will act as the main guidance to help inform forestry proposals in the National Park over the next 20 years, sets out a clear vision for trees, woodlands and forests of the National Park to flourish and to expand where appropriate. 

The strategy will guide woodland enhancement and creation within the National Park to help meet important local and national targets including delivery of outcomes listed in Scotland’s Forestry Strategy and the National Park Partnership Plan. It highlights the importance of expanding native woodlands in the National Park, improving woodland condition and biodiversity, protecting and enhancing the National Park’s Special Landscape Qualities and promoting cooperative woodland management as part of an integrated land management approach.  

Simon Jones, Director of Conservation and Visitor Operations at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said: “The forests, woodlands and trees of the National Park can and do deliver a wide range of benefits from nature. Not only are they rich homes for wildlife but they produce oxygen and timber, provide jobs and offer an array of recreation opportunities." He continued, "I would encourage anyone with an interest in trees and woodlands to get involved with this consultation and have their say to help us to shape the future of forestry within the National Park.” 

To read the draft Trees and Woodland strategy and respond to the consultation go to www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/treesandwoodlands 


Audit highlights young people's environmental work - John Muir Trust

John Muir Award impact report celebrates 29,848 days of youth social action for Scotland’s nature

The Trust has carried out a year-long monitoring exercise auditing the amount and type of activity carried out by young people to meet the Conserve Challenge of the John Muir Award.

We found that nearly 20,000 young people from across Scotland contributed on average over 10 hours to environmental action during 2018 through achieving their John Muir Award – this is valued at over £750,000.

Thirty per cent of activity was carried out by young people experiencing disadvantage, and participation was closely split between males (52 per cent) and females (48 per cent).

Young people planted nearly 13,000 trees, collected over 5,000 bags of rubbish, and maintained over 8km of footpaths. They gathered valuable data through citizen science surveys, started or joined environmental campaigns, and minimised their own impact on wild places.

Find the report, along with further research and feedback on our dedicated Young people and nature webpages.


Vital benefits of Scotland’s nature now increasing year on year - Scottish Natural Heritage

The values of Scotland’s plants, wildlife, air, water, and land – known as natural capital – are now officially increasing for the first time, and delivering stronger benefits to people and businesses across Scotland than in the previous two decades. 

Loch Katrine from Ben A'an in the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve. ©Lorne Gill/SNHLoch Katrine from Ben A'an in the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve. (image: © Lorne Gill/SNH) 

Scotland’s Natural Capital Asset Index (NCAI) assesses the quality and quantity of our land-based habitats and their contributions to human wellbeing.

This year’s study shows that the quality of all habitat types is improving, including places such as heathlands – our most widespread habitats – and peatlands, which have the greatest potential to contribute to human wellbeing, by storing significant volumes of carbon and helping combat climate change.

Scotland’s woodlands are also now expanding annually, with broadleaved woodland habitat 40% larger than in 2000, and woodland bird numbers increasing by 25% over the same period.

Welcoming the update, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland became the first country in the world to publish a detailed report which monitors annual changes in its natural capital and it is encouraging to see that the contribution nature makes to our society has continued to improve since the index first launched in 2011.

Research shows that more than 75% of businesses now recognise the huge importance of Scotland’s natural capital to their operations. 


Volunteer Bird Watch Survey shows effects of temperatures on Eurasian Jay population - University of Southampton 

Research led by the University of Southampton has used data collected by volunteer bird watchers to study how the importance of wildlife habitat management depends on changing temperatures for British birds.

The team studied data from the British Trust for Ornithology’s “Bird Atlas 2007 – 11” on the abundance of the Eurasian jay over the whole of Great Britain. The University of Southampton researchers focused on jays for this trial as they are a species of bird known to frequent a mixture of different natural environments.

The University researchers gathered this data and combined with satellite imagery of Great Britain to get a complete picture of the habitats in which there was an abundance of jays and how the changing climates affected their numbers.

The success of the trial means that this method of studying wildlife numbers could be an effective way to look at the impact climate change has on habitats for other species.

The findings are published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution,


Professionalism has Crucial Role in Managing and Protecting Trees Worldwide - Institute of Chartered Foresters
The United Kingdom has a crucial role to play in the management and protection of trees worldwide, with professional foresters and arboriculturists taking the lead, the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) national conference heard today (Wednesday 10 April).
Pests and diseases, along with increased stress on trees associated with extreme weather events linked to climate change, are causing what delegates were told amounts to ‘appalling damage’ and there is a need for collaboration between professional foresters around the globe.
Speaking in a pre-recorded video message played to delegates at the conference in the Examination Schools, Oxford, The Prince of Wales said that he has witnessed at first-hand the tragic and incalculable loss of larch and sweet chestnut trees to Phytophthora ramorum as well as ash dieback.  In his message, The Prince of Wales also said it is crucial that the Institute embraces a global perspective and its focus on developing the younger generation of professional foresters will play an essential role in the future.
ICF Executive Director Shireen Chambers has been involved in developing an International Network of Professional Forestry Associations and the Institute as a whole works with foresters and arboriculturists across the UK to develop their professional knowledge in all areas of research and practice.  She said: “In an age when professionalism is not always respected, it is important to acknowledge that we cannot sit back, assuming our standards are present on a global level. We need to take the lead and ensure that skills and experience matter. At the conference many of the sessions over two days are being chaired by young professionals as the ICF wants to highlight the number of young people choosing forestry and arboriculture as a career and help them to feel part of a community. This will ensure a young and skilled workforce is available to help meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

Link to video address from the Prince of Wales (on youtube)


Driven grouse shooting may provide net conservation benefit to Scotland’s mountain hare population,  according to latest GWCT study - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

New analyses conducted by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), and published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, conclude “it is likely that driven grouse shooting provides a net conservation benefit to Scotland’s mountain hare population”.

The study examined mountain hare counts over a 16-year period from 2001 to 2017, these being undertaken concurrently with annual spring grouse counts within 76 sample blocks across Highland, Grampian and Tayside. Pointing dogs were used to search blocks of moorland for grouse, with mountain hares observed being recorded to calculate an index of their density. The study period has enabled GWCT to describe different intensities of cyclic hare population change between regions.

The study confirmed previously reported positive associations between management for driven grouse shooting and hares, predator control being considered a major factor in determining mountain hare abundance. Studies by others have shown that foxes can account for up to 90 per cent of hare mortality, and reductions of generalist predators such as foxes and stoats by gamekeepers probably improve hare survival, while strip burning to promote new heather growth may help hare diet. 

he article published in European Journal of Wildlife Research Spatial and temporal variation in mountain hare (Lepus timidus) abundance in relation to red grouse (lagopus lagopus scotica) management in Scotland is available online here.

A read-only version of the article can be found here. 


LI launches new biosecurity toolkit for landscape consultants - The Landscape Institute

Developed in partnership with SGD, BALI and APL, the toolkit aims to embed biosecurity best practice in every stage of a landscape project 

The Landscape Institute (LI) has published a new plant health and biosecurity toolkit to help landscape professionals tackle the pests and diseases that threaten our landscapes.

Plant health and biosecurity issues present a major threat to ecosystem resilience. And with the uncertainty in the UK’s trading future with the EU, it is crucial that those in the landscape sector implement biosecurity principles at every stage of their work. 

However, pests and diseases can be very damaging in areas where they have few natural control measures or predators. In 30 years, Dutch elm disease has killed some 60 million British elms, and its effects persist today. More recent examples include ash dieback, oak processionary moth, sweet chestnut blight and Massaria disease of plane trees. These new pests and diseases have economic, social and environmental effects.Plant pests and diseases are a normal characteristic of the environment. They usually exist in equilibrium with their hosts, which naturally limits their spread. At a landscape scale, some pests and diseases can be even be beneficial in terms of habitat creation and the carbon cycle.

Landscape consultants now have the opportunity to offer a solution to this industry-wide problem. Landscape architects, garden designers and contractors all specify plants and materials in their work. The LI’s new biosecurity toolkit sets out clear guidance for each stage of a project, defining the processes to be adopted and promoting best practice across the industry.

Read the new Biosecurity Toolkit for Landscape Consultants here.


Sheep join battle against plant invaders in Macduff - Scottish Natural Heritage

A new woolly weapon is being deployed in the battle against Giant hogweed in Macduff this week as part of trial works by the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI).

The flock of two dozen sheep will be introduced into a strip of woodland, upriver of the Macduff distillery, which is overrun with the invasive Giant hogweed plant.  Reaching heights of 2-3m, Giant hogweed not only causes harm to our native wildlife by dominating sites and shading out native vegetation, but its sap is harmful to people and can cause serious and painful burns on contact with the skin.

Giant Hogweed (image: © Lorne Gill/SNH)Giant Hogweed (image: © Lorne Gill/SNH) 

The established method of controlling Giant hogweed is to use a chemical, but in such dense infestations as the Macduff site, and where the plants are interspersed within trees, it makes treatment difficult.  However, following an encouraging ongoing trial by the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Rivers Charitable Trust, which began in 2013, grazing by sheep is being further investigated as a viable alternative. The sheep suffer no ill-effects from the toxic sap and develop a taste for the plant, happily grazing it alongside other vegetation. 

Project Manager Callum Sinclair explained: “The project is tackling several key invasive non-native plant species commonly found along river banks namely Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.  One of our aims is to develop sustainable methods of managing invasive species, if the sheep prove to be successful at eradicating giant hogweed this could be a huge step forward for the management of the species across Scotland.


Tracking the sources of plastic pollution - University of Birmingham

Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is now widely recognised as a major global challenge – but we still know very little about how these plastics are actually reaching the sea.

A new global initiative, led by the University of Birmingham shows how focussing on rivers and river mouths can yield vital clues about how we might manage this plastic crisis.

The 100 Plastic Rivers Project is engaging with scientists in more than 60 locations worldwide to sample water and sediment in rivers. The aim is to better understand how plastics are transported and transformed in rivers and how they accumulate in river sediments, where they create a long-lasting pollution legacy.

First results of the project will be presented at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), held in Vienna, Austria, from 7-12 April 2019. They show a complex picture, with a huge diversity in types and sources of plastic in selected river estuaries in the UK and France.

Professor Stefan Krause, of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, explains: “Even if we all stopped using plastic right now, there would still be decades, if not centuries-worth of plastics being washed down rivers and into our seas. We’re getting more and more aware of the problems this is causing in our oceans, but we are now only starting to look at where these plastics are coming from, and how they’re accumulating in our river systems. We need to understand this before we can really begin to understand the scale of the risk that we’re facing.”

The 100 Plastic Rivers programme analyses both primary microplastics, such as micro-beads used in cosmetics, and secondary microplastics – from larger plastic items that have broken down in the environment or fibres from clothing.


‘Think Global, Plant Local’ to tackle climate change - Confor

The UK Government has been urged to ‘Think Global, Plant Local’ to start tackling the damaging effects of climate change.

Independent advisers have told the Government that planting trees and building with wood is a “simple, low-cost option” to remove large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere - a message also highlighted by Sir David Attenborough in his latest TV series. 

However, the UK Government is still way behind its own modest targets of planting 11 million trees in England in the five years to 2022. 

Now Confor has laid down a challenge by setting ambitious new targets for the four UK nations - a total of 40,000 hectares (about 100,000 acres) of new planting every year by 2030. 

“Climate change is the biggest challenge for us all and politicians must raise their game - not set a low bar and then fail to get over it,” said Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor. “Tree planting rates in England and Wales are currently woeful but with political will, we can turn that around and ‘Think Global, Plant Local’ to help tackle the appalling impact of climate change.  We are working closely with the UK Government to push up planting rates."

The annual 2030 targets set by Confor - as it launches its ‘Think Global, Plant Local’ campaign today - include 18,000 hectares for Scotland, which is currently planting around 10,000 hectares, more than 80 per cent of total UK planting. 

The other 2030 targets are 10,000 hectares in England (currently planting between 1500 and 2000 hectares), and 9000 in Wales and 3000 in Northern Ireland, which are both planting only around 200 hectares annually. 

Full table of stepped targets for each of the UK nations here (pdf)  

Response: Rural Affairs Secretary welcomes Confor calls for increase to planting targets - Scottish Forestry 

Rural Affairs Secretary, Fergus Ewing today welcomed Confor’s 'Think Global, Plant Local' campaign.

Mr Ewing said; “I welcome this industry support for increased levels of tree planting in Scotland. Scotland’s new Forestry Strategy (1 April 2019) identifies as a priority for action over the next ten years the expansion of forest and woodland area, integrated with other land use objectives. This will help to further reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, drive sustainable economic growth in the forestry and other land-use sectors, enhance Scotland’s biodiversity and increase the positive contribution of urban forests and woodland’s in Scotland’s towns and cities. We are already leading the UK in tree planting – and have already committed to furthering this success. I look forward to working with the forestry and land-use sectors to identify opportunities for further cooperation in achieving these ambitious goals.”


Olympic find at Cramond clean - Marine Conservation Society

Volunteer beach cleaners collected over 400 items of rubbish at the MCS spring beach clean and litter survey at Cramond beach

1988 Coke Can (image: MCS)The 31 volunteers, who braved the rain and wind to take part, picked up rubbish weighing over nine kilos from a 100m stretch of the beach. Over half of the litter was made of plastic, whilst 33% of the rubbish was stuff that had been incorrectly flushed down the toilet – known as sewage related debris (SRD) - with over 100 wet wipes recorded during the 100m survey.

After the 100m survey was completed, volunteers picking up a further 86 kilos of rubbish from the beach, with many shocked at the number of wet wipes that were found entangled in the seaweed.

1988 Coke Can (image: MCS)

One of the most startling finds was a Coca Cola can from 1988 – supporting the Olympics, held that year in Seoul, South Korea.

“This really unusual find shows that when it comes to litter there is no ‘away’ and we need to ensure that anything we are using today is not being picked up by volunteers in 30 or more years’ time,“ says Catherine Gemmell.


NERC invests £1.3 million to engage the UK public on big issues in environmental science

An innovative project that will see researchers collaborate with diverse communities on issues in environmental science has been awarded £1·3 million through NERC's Engaging Environments programme. The award is NERC's largest single investment in public engagement, with project partners pledging a further £235,000 of in-kind contributions.

Poster of a vision for science for all. (Copyright More Than Minutes)Poster of a vision for science for all. (Copyright More Than Minutes)

The NERC Community for Engaging Environments project aims to engage a broad range of audiences, including those typically less represented in public engagement activities. The project takes an innovative approach that combines community development, storytelling and citizen science, enabling diverse communities to have a meaningful stake in discussing and tackling environmental science issues such as climate change and pollution. It aims to create lasting change in public engagement practice by providing learning opportunities while shaping future activities to equip NERC's research community and diverse communities with essential skills in public leadership. 

Download the full size poster (pdf) here.


National Trail celebrates 50th anniversary with new wheels, thanks to support from ultrarunners - North York Moors National Park

Support from the Hardmoors Race Series has allowed Cleveland Way Managers to purchase a brand new vehicle to help maintain one of the nation’s favourite National Trails.

Organised by ultrarunning enthusiasts Jon and Shirley Steele, the Hardmoors Race Series encompasses more than 20 different events and challenges, including the iconic 110-mile race of the full Cleveland Way National Trail. For the last three years, the Series has donated £1 per race entry to support maintenance and management of the Cleveland Way, and this has now allowed for the purchase of the brand new vehicle for the Trail’s Maintenance Ranger, Andrew Carter.

Malcolm Hodgson, the National Trail Officer for the Cleveland Way, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to have the support of the Hardmoors Race Series, and the fact we’ve been able to purchase this much-needed vehicle just in time for our 50th anniversary celebrations in May, really tops off what’s already a very exciting start to the year.”

The Cleveland Way, which stretches from Helmsley to Saltburn, then back down the coast to Filey, became only the second National Trail in Britain when it was launched on 24 May, 1969. It now provides both adventure and serenity to thousands of visitors every year, meaning the upkeep of its paths, bridges and gateways requires considerable input from both the Trail’s dedicated Rangers and the volunteers and apprentices working with the North York Moors National Park.

Malcolm Hodgson continues: “The new vehicle will help ensure we keep the Trail in top condition, which in turn benefits the ultrarunners who helped fund it, so we’re all winners.”


Rare lichen is living legacy of World War II commando training - Woodland Trust

Scientists have discovered rare 'fire' lichen growing on the stumps of trees destroyed by flames in the Scottish Highlands during World War II. 

The lichen only grows on charred conifer trees and has been recorded at just three other locations in the UK (Photo: Andy Acton)The Carbonicola anthracophila was discovered by scientists surveying Loch Arkaig Pine Forest near Spean Bridge.  The lichen only grows on charred conifer trees and has been recorded at just three other locations in the UK:  Glen Affric, Glen Quoich and Glen Strathfarrar. 

British Commandos and Allied Special Forces including the Free French trained at Loch Arkaig during WWII.  During exercises with live ammunition in 1942 forest fire raged across the hillside. Scots pines cooked in their own resin were preserved and still stand like ghost trees across the hillside.  Seventy-seven years on the 'fire' lichen is a living legacy of that blaze. 

The lichen only grows on charred conifer trees and has been recorded at just three other locations in the UK (Photo: Andy Acton)

The lichen survey was commissioned by experts Andy Acton and Brian Coppins to help inform long-term conservation management at the site.   The four-day survey found around 150 different species. In their report the experts said they had only scratched the surface of what the forest might hold.  The Carbonicola anthracophila was found on just two tree stumps.

Andy Acton said: “It was the first time I had seen this particular species so it was particularly exciting for me, but Brian referred to it as a ‘mega tick’ so he was clearly excited too.  Brian found it first then the hunt was on for more, and I went on to find it on another stump.”


Aberdeen named European Forest City for 2019 - The James Hutton Institute

The four great forests around Aberdeen provide crucial environmental, social and economic benefits to its citizens"

In urbanised European societies, the role of forests in providing commodities, welfare, health and other social benefits is easily forgotten. But not in Aberdeen: the Granite City has been awarded the title of European Forest City for 2019 by the European Forest Institute (EFI) and is set to celebrate the versatility, significance and social impact of its forests throughout the year.

Forests support the sustainability of critical resources like water and soil, and play a key role in adaptation and mitigation to climate change. They cover 35% of the pan-European landscape, hosting an important share of biodiversity and providing products and services which support the resilience of rural areas and the wellbeing of urban ones.

The city was officially presented with the title by EFI Director, Dr Marc Palahí, at an event held at the James Hutton Institute in Craigiebuckler. Dr Palahí said: “The award was established to recognise cities committed to forests and trees as well as to forest research and education. Aberdeen deserves this award for many different reasons. First and most obvious because of the city relationship with forests and trees. The four great forests around Aberdeen provide crucial environmental, social and economic benefits to its citizens. In addition, the city council has taken important actions regarding the tree coverage of the city; maintaining existing trees and plating new ones, for instance within the project ‘a tree for every citizen’. In a digital era, when cities are investing heavily in sophisticated technologies and digitalisation, we should remember that nature is the ultimate sophistication.”


Scientific Publications 

Adrien Taccoen, Christian Piedallu, Ingrid Seynave, Vincent Perez, Anne Gégout-Petit, Louis-Michel Nageleisen, Jean-Daniel Bontemps and Jean-Claude Gégout Background mortality drivers of European tree species: climate change matters  Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Volume 286, Issue 1900 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0386 (open access) 


Thijs P. M. Fijen, Jeroen A. Scheper, Bastiaen Boekelo, Ivo Raemakers and David Kleijn. Effects of landscape complexity on pollinators are moderated by pollinators' association with mass-flowering crops Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Volume 286, Issue 1900 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0387 (open access) 


Bond, A. J., O'Connor, P. J. and Cavagnaro, T. R. (2019), Remnant woodland biodiversity gains under ten years of revealed-price incentive payments. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13397


Pierre Chopin, Göran Bergkvist, Laure Hossard, Modelling biodiversity change in agricultural landscape scenarios - A review and prospects for future research, Biological Conservation, Volume 235, 2019, Pages 1-17, ISSN 0006-3207, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.03.046.


Yuan Wang, David J. Kotze, Kati Vierikko, Jari Niemelä, What makes urban greenspace unique – relationships between citizens’ perceptions on unique urban nature, biodiversity and environmental factors, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 2019, ISSN 1618-8667, doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2019.04.005.


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