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


World is ‘on notice’ as major UN report shows one million species face extinction - United Nations

A hard-hitting report into the impact of humans on nature shows that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action, UN biodiversity experts said on Monday (6 May).

Speaking in Paris at the launch of the Global Assessment study – the first such report since 2005 – UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world “on notice”.

“Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know,” the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said. “We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations.”

otter (Karen Arnold / pixabay)Highlighting the universal importance of biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – Ms. Azoulay said that protecting it “is as vital as fighting climate change”.

One in four species at risk of extinction

On at-risk fauna and flora, the study asserts that human activities “threaten more species now than ever before” – a finding based on the fact that around 25 per cent of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable.

This suggests that around one million species “already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss”. Without such measures there will be a “further acceleration” in the global rate of species extinction, which is already “at least tens to hundreds of times higher, than it has averaged over the past 10 million years”, the report states.

Crop security threatened long-term

In addition, many crop wild relatives that are needed for long-term food security “lack effective protection”, the report insists, while the status of wild relatives of domesticated mammals and birds “is worsening”.

Marine pollution ‘has increased tenfold since 1980’

On the issue of pollution, although global trends are mixed, air, water and soil pollution have continued to increase in some areas, the report insists. “Marine plastic pollution in particular has increased tenfold since 1980, affecting at least 267 species”, it says, including 86 per cent of marine turtles, 44 per cent of seabirds and 43 per cent of marine mammals.

The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is also the first of its kind to examine and include indigenous and local knowledge, issues and priorities, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services  (IPBES) said in a statement, noting that its mission is to strengthen policy-making for the sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.


IPBES Global Assessment Preview accessible here. 

Introducing IPBES' 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

First global biodiversity assessment since 2005  


Response from RSPB Scotland

A new UN report, compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, suggests around a million species worldwide now face extinction within decades.

Commenting on this Isobel Mercer, Senior Land Use Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland said: “This new report makes clear that global ecological breakdown is happening right now, and underlines the need to governments to take action before it is too late. 56% of species in the UK have declined since 1970. RSPB Scotland wants to see nature’s recovery made a priority by government, and for Scotland to play a leading role in the transformative global change needed. We welcome the First Minister’s recent acknowledgement of a climate emergency and the growing public awareness of the ongoing climate crisis. 

Response from SNH: Major report on state of nature published

Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “This is a major step forward in understanding the state of nature globally, clearly showing how nature and climate change are inseparable. A greater collective endeavour to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 is vital.  The IPBES report shows that the pressures on nature are increasing. We know that the loss of species and ecosystems is a global and generational threat to human well-being.  The Report also highlights that it is not too late, and that decisive action now to protect and restore nature can help to reverse the loss of biodiversity. It is also clear that enhancing and protecting our nature is part of the solution to the climate emergency. 

Response: WWF Statement on IPBES report release

Global Assessment report on state of nature offers irrefutable evidence of nature loss emphasizing the urgent need for transformative change

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) launched a landmark Global Assessment Report providing persuasive evidence on the rapid deterioration of nature and its contributions to people across the world. The report which overlaps with the G7 environment ministers meeting in Metz, Paris, is a wake-up call to policy makers and businesses to take decisive action stressing on an urgent need for a new deal for nature and people by 2020.

The 1,800-page scientific study is the first comprehensive snapshot of the state of the world’s biodiversity since 2005 with evidence provided by 400 world’s leading experts from across 50 countries. Echoing many of the findings of WWF’s Living Planet Report published in 2018, it paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, wildlife population declines, habitat loss and depletion of ecosystem services crucial for our sustenance and economic development. 

Response from James Hutton Institute: Nature’s dangerous decline ‘unprecedented’: IPBES report

Dr Helaina Black, leader of the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences group, commented: “All countries around the world have shared responsibility for maintaining and exacerbating biodiversity losses, but for very different reasons. We are tackling a crisis that was started many generations ago and which has only increased in severity through the decades as agricultural production intensified, native habitat clearing expanded and industrial pollution increased.

“This makes the challenge of tackling biodiversity loss two-fold – what can we do now to stop further losses from current practices and what can be done to restore habitats degraded by what has happened in the past. Equally the crises that we face with biodiversity and climate change are inseparable. The causes are the same and the solutions need to be shared – they are all about the actions of people.” 

BES response to the IPBES biodiversity report: This matters

The British Ecological Society welcomes the publication of a definitive assessment of the state of nature published today by IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Professor Richard Bardgett, President of the British Ecological Society, said: “The report lays out the scale and magnitude of the crisis we are facing. The weight of evidence of species and habitat loss, the breadth of expertise, and the number of countries agreeing the text makes the IPBES assessment impossible to ignore. The IPBES report makes it abundantly clear what will happen to the natural world if we continue as we are. This matters – not only for conserving the nature we see around us, but also for maintaining and increasing our own wellbeing and prosperity. Biodiversity and thriving ecosystems are critical for sustaining the natural resources on which our economy depends."



An overwhelming majority of Europeans are concerned about the loss of biodiversity and support stronger EU action to protect nature - European Commission (pdf)

According to a new survey, Europeans are increasingly concerned about the state of the natural world. In an overwhelming consensus, 96 % of the more than 27.000 interviewed citizens said that we have a responsibility to protect nature and that this is also essential for tackling climate change. 

The Eurobarometer survey reveals awareness is generally increasing on the meaning of biodiversity, its importance, threats and measures to protect it. Citizens' opinions are in line with the goals of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 that aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem service, and with the objectives of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, that form the backbone of the EU's policy to protect nature. The Eurobarometer survey comes ahead of the first global assessment of the state of nature and humanity's place in it, launched by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) later today.

The main elements of the new Biodiversity Eurobarometer survey include:

  • Familiarity with the term “biodiversity” has increased, with over 70% of Europeans saying they have heard of it.
  • The biggest perceived threats to biodiversity are air, soil and water pollution, man-made disasters and climate change.
  • Intensive farming, intensive forestry and over-fishing – by far the most important drivers of biodiversity loss – are increasingly but not yet fully recognized as major threats to biodiversity.
  • Since the last Eurobarometer on biodiversity in 2015, citizens' understanding of the importance of biodiversity for humans has increased.
  • Most Europeans are unwilling to trade damage or destruction to nature in protected areas for economic development.
  • Most citizens see the EU as a legitimate level to take action on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

See the Eurobarometer survey here.


The rest of today's news

Call for evidence on decision to revoke general licences for the management of certain wild birds - defra / Natural England

Defra launches call for evidence on impact of Natural England’s decision to revoke three general licences for the management of certain wild birds.  

The chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, and Environment Secretary have exchanged letters this morning on General Licencing decision making powers.

The Environment Secretary has set out that he considers it appropriate to take over ultimate decision making powers for general licences, recognising the scale of interest and concern that has been generated by the decision to revoke and because of the intensity and urgency of the present situation.

Defra has today (4 May) initiated a formal evidence gathering exercise in order to capture information from all concerned parties about the impact that the recent withdrawal of the three general licences (GL04, GL05 & GL06) on 25 April has had on the ground. In particular we want to gain a clear understanding of the implications for the protection of wild birds, and the impacts on crops, livestock, wildlife, disease, human health and safety and wider nature conservation efforts.

defra / Natural England Open consultation: Use of general licences for the management of certain wild birds: a call for evidence

Consultation description: We are seeking views from all concerned parties about the impact of the recent withdrawal of the three general licences (GL04, GL05 and GL06) on 25 April 2019. In particular we want a clear understanding of the implications for the protection of wild birds, and the impacts on crops, livestock, wildlife, disease, human health and safety and wider nature conservation efforts.

The evidence gathered from this, along with the information that Defra and Natural England have already received since 25 April, will inform our future approach in order to get back to a satisfactory situation.

The closing date for providing views and evidence is 5pm on Monday 13 May 2019. (next week - so act quickly)


Dormouse habitat connected in Wensleydale - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Nearly half a mile of hedgerows has been planted in Wensleydale to help expand the territory of one of the UK’s most endangered mammals, the hazel dormouse.

The new hedgerows create a ‘highway’ for dormice to move between areas of woodland.   Dormice had become extinct in Yorkshire and much of the country, but after reintroductions in 2008 and 2016 have regained a foothold in mid-Wensleydale.

The hedgerow planting (a total of 750 metres) was part of a three-year project – now entering its last year – supported by grants of £75,000 from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and nearly £48,000 from Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The project contributes to the new National Park Management Plan 2019-2024 objective C2 ‘to achieve…increasing populations for 90% of priority species’.

Ian White, Dormouse and Training Officer at PTES says: “Dormice have declined in the UK by 38% since the year 2000 due mainly to a lack of woodland management and a loss of hedgerows. The project to restore hazel dormice to Wensleydale, where we know they were a hundred years ago, has been a great success. Hedge planting and better woodland management should help to ensure they can remain in this area of Yorkshire for at least the next hundred years.”

For pictures and the full story please see our latest blog.


Conservation campaign works to save cricket’s summer song - South Downs National Park

The South Downs remains the last bastion in the UK for the iconic Field Cricket, whose “cheep, cheep, cheep” is the quintessential sound of summer.

Now conservation groups have joined forces to save one of England’s most threatened species from extinction.

A task force, working under special licence, have been carefully capturing and then transferring small numbers of male and female pairs to new heathland sites, an extremely special habitat that is even rarer than the rainforest.

There are currently six colonies across heathland sites in Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire and it is hoped that the rehoming efforts will allow new colonies to thrive at other protected locations.

It’s a far cry from 30 years ago when the species was isolated to just one site of 100 field crickets in West Sussex. Despite a remarkable comeback largely thanks to volunteers – working in association with local landowners, the Natural England Species Recovery Project, London Zoo, the RSPB  and the Back from the Brink project – the Field Cricket remains one of the most threatened insects in the UK and setting up new colonies is vital for its long-term survival.

Two translocation days took place as volunteers and staff from partner organisations carried out “tickling”, a delicate exercise where the creatures are tempted to leave their burrows and can be carefully captured. 

The rehoming exercise was successful and scientists will now be carefully monitoring the progress of new colonies.


Ash dieback is predicted to cost £15 billion in Britain - Woodland Trust 

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford, Fera Science, Sylva Foundation and the Woodland Trust has calculated the true economic cost of ash dieback – and the predictions, published today in Current Biology, are staggering:

The total cost of ash dieback to the UK is estimated to be £15 billion

Half of this (£7 billion) will be over the next 10 years

The total cost is 50 times larger than the annual value of trade in live plants to and from Britain, which is the most important route by which invasive plant diseases enter the country

There are 47 other known tree pests and diseases that could arrive in Britain and which may cost an additional £1 billion or more

Ash dieback is expected to kill up to 99% of Britain's ash trees (Photo: Phil Lockwood/WTML)The predicted costs arise from clearing up dead and dying trees and in lost benefits provided by trees, e.g. water and air purification and carbon sequestration. The loss of these services is expected to be the biggest cost to society, while millions of ash trees also line Britain’s roads and urban areas, and clearing up dangerous trees will cost billions of pounds.

Ash dieback is expected to kill up to 99% of Britain's ash trees (Photo: Phil Lockwood/WTML)

The scientists say that the total cost could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native trees, but curing or halting the disease is not possible. They advise that the government’s focus now has to be on preventing introductions of other non-native diseases to protect our remaining tree species.


  • A nationwide replanting scheme could reduce the overall cost by £2.5 billion, by ensuring that lost ecosystem services are replaced
  • Greater focus on and investment in biosecurity and sourcing of safe plant material is needed to keep new diseases out
  • Introduce far tighter controls on imports of all live plants for planting, as this is the largest pathway through which tree diseases are introduced


Estuary wildlife of the River Tees gets increased protection - Natural England

Natural England has confirmed Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast as a new Site of Special Scientific Interest to protect the wildlife of the Tees Estuary.

Natural England is celebrating the decades of work by industry and nature conservationists to restore the wildlife of the Tees Estuary by confirming the notification of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

One of the iconic habour (or common) seals from Seal Sands.Today’s announcement will ensure that the amazing wildlife of the Tees Estuary has a secure future and will make a strong contribution to the ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas around England.

The Tees Estuary is a unique environment where industrial facilities share the landscape with a wide range of coastal habitats which teem with wildlife.

There were previously seven SSSIs protecting parts of the Tees Estuary, which have now been merged and expanded into a single, landscape-scale SSSI, totaling nearly 3000 hectares (or 12 square miles). The newly enlarged SSSI will provide clarity for developers and other stakeholders regarding the environmental assets of the site, thereby contributing to sustainable development of this key area for the national economy.

One of the iconic habour (or common) seals from Seal Sands.

The extensions have more than doubled the area of SSSI in the Tees Estuary. Additional areas of sand-dune, saltmarsh, mudflat, grassland, lagoons and estuarial waters are protected, along with the populations of breeding and wintering birds, the iconic population of harbour seals and sand-dune invertebrates.

Given its location close to the urban centres of Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar, the importance of this area for people is integral to our work with partners. The designation will ensure that local communities continue to have this amazing natural resource available as part of their daily lives.


Farne Island puffins to be monitored annually in an attempt to stop the global decline in numbers - National Trust

The National Trust is changing its five-yearly puffin census on the Farne Islands to an annual count amid fears climate change is having an adverse effect on sources of food and puffin numbers.

After 50 years of carrying out the survey, the conservation charity has decided to monitor the threatened seabirds more closely due to a downward trend in global numbers and worries about the reduction in quality and abundance of its preferred food source, the sandeel, and more frequent storms.

puffinAtlantic puffins have traditionally done well on the Farnes thanks to the work of the rangers, increasing protection of the marine areas around the islands, a lack of ground predators and the availability of suitable nesting areas.  

The 2018 results revealed that puffin numbers are currently stable, increasing by around nine percent since 2013, from 39,962 to 43,956 pairs of birds.

But the international picture for Atlantic puffins, with huge drops in numbers in more northerly populations due to a shortage of their preferred food source, sandeels, is one of decline.

Tom Hendry, one of the 11-strong National Trust ranger team on the Farne Islands says: “Sandeel populations in the North Sea are being affected by two things; overfishing and climate change - with rising sea temperatures.  These factors are driving the good quality plankton which sandeels feed on further north, resulting in a poorer quality of plankton in this area for sandeels to feed upon. The risk is that these pressures together with overfishing will eventually ‘squeeze’ the Farnes population, with more and more birds having to travel further for rich feeding grounds.  This means they’re more vulnerable to the increasing frequency of winter storms, whilst out at sea.”


Beekeepers Gather Outside Ministries Across Europe to Demand Bee Friendly Pesticide Standards Ahead of EU Vote on World Bee Day - Buglife

EU residents fear that member states will undermine the ban on bee-killing neonicotinoids by opening door to harmful pesticides.

Tomorrow beekeepers and environmental groups will gather outside agriculture ministries across Europe to hand in a petition signed by over 220,000 SumOfUs members, demanding that the European Commission finally makes pesticide testing bee-friendly. These creative and visual events, led by groups and individuals working directly with embattled bees, aim to draw the attention of decision makers and compel them to listen to citizens all across Europe. The events are taking place in Berlin, Bucharest, Paris, Sofia, The Hague, London, Rome, Dublin, and Riga.

Invertebrate conservation charity Buglife will be taking the lead on the London hand-in to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Great new(t)s for North Wales - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Great crested newts are returning to a corner of north-east Wales, thanks to a partnership between ARC and the housing developer Redrow.

Surveys across six ponds at the 0.8ha White Lion Nature Reserve at Penymynydd in Flintshire show a six-fold increase in our most protected newt between 2014 and 2019.

While the total so far is small – seven newts five years ago rising to 30 at the last count – North Wales Officer Mandy Cartwright says the signs are positive.

“The newer ponds are maturing nicely and the newt population is increasing steadily,” said Mandy. “We are delighted to join our partners Redrow in celebrating the success of this development for wildlife, the environment and local people.”

Redrow’s 85-home Heritage Park development just over the Welsh border enabled the partnership, providing ARC as a charity with sustainable income to preserve native wildlife species and their habitats.


Eggs-citement at Bassenthwaite as new female osprey appears to have eggs - RSPB

Following an uncertain start to the season, the famous Bassenthwaite ospreys have delighted staff, volunteers and visitors at the Lake District Osprey Project (LDOP), as the new female is showing signs of having laid eggs.

The bird has been seen shuffling around on the nest – behaviour which is an encouraging sign that she laid at least one egg, giving hope for a successful 2019 season, following disappointment in 2018.  

Becky Read from the LDOP said: “Last year we had an interesting time as our regular female of five years, known as ‘KL’ sadly didn’t return to Bassenthwaite Lake. Our usual male, known as ‘Unring’ (due to the fact he hasn’t got an identifying leg ring) came back but was without a mate. Several female ospreys showed an interest, and he mated with one female in particular, but unfortunately no eggs were laid. This year, Unring has returned for his seventh season and it was unclear whether he would find a partner. We were delighted when he was joined by a new, unringed female and the pair have spent the past two weeks mating. With this new female being an unknown osprey, we had no idea whether the pair would produce any eggs this season, so we’re thrilled that we have seen her displaying shuffling behaviour at the nest, which is a positive indicator that she is sitting on at least one egg. We’re hoping it is the start of another successful breeding season for the popular ospreys of Bassenthwaite and we will be watching eagle-eyed, as the drama unfolds.”

Ospreys use sticks to build nests that are about the size of a double bed and these are commonly made on special tree-top platforms which are installed to encourage breeding. A number of these osprey platforms have been erected in locations around Bassenthwaite Lake and it is the female osprey who chooses the site. The new female has chosen to use a different nest platform to the one used by the previous female ‘KL.’


National Bat Monitoring Programme Annual Report 2018 - Bat Conservation Trust

The latest results of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) with data up to the end of September 2018 are now available. Download the report here.

Last year nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteer citizen scientists carried out NBMP surveys at a total of 1,907 sites across the UK. The survey results allow BCT to estimate population trends for 11 out of the 17 species of bat which breed in the UK. Unfortunately, at present we are not able to produce population trends for some of the rarer and more habitat-specialist bat species such as barbastelle or Bechstein’s bat as they are difficult to monitor or rarely encountered.

Results of the NBMP show that from the baseline year of monitoring (1999 for most species) to 2018, GB populations of the 11 species of bat surveyed appear to be stable or increasing. A few results need treating with some caution and there are regional and/or country differences. Species considered to have increased in Great Britain since the baseline year of monitoring are greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat, Natterer’s bat and common pipistrelle, all of which often use buildings to roosts in.

Even though these are encouraging results, these trends reflect relatively recent changes in bat populations. It is generally believed that during the early 20th century there were significant declines in bat populations. Possible drivers of the historical declines include agricultural intensification, loss of roosting and foraging habitat, persecution, pesticides including the use of toxic timber treatment chemicals within roosts, water quality, declines in invertebrate prey groups, development and land-use change and climate change.


The search is on for the most spectacular trees - Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is searching for the most loved, visually stunning tree, with the most fascinating story, for Tree of the Year 2019.

Tree of the Year 2018 Nellie's Tree (Photo: Rob Grange / WTML) Now in its sixth year, Tree of the Year highlights and celebrates special trees across the UK. A tree may be a village’s oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region’s identity, or a landmark in the nation’s story.

Tree of the Year 2018 Nellie's Tree (Photo: Rob Grange / WTML)

If it’s phenomenal-looking too, then that’s even better! Any individual, group or organisation can nominate a tree and share its story at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear/ from 7 May 2019 until 19 July 2019. The entries will then be shortlisted by a panel of independent experts before facing a public vote.

It could be a majestic, knobbly, knotted centuries-old oak planted at the time of the War of the Roses, that’s endured the ravages of time. It might be a mighty beech tree grown from a seed planted by a child in the field behind their house. Whatever the species, whatever the story, it’s what sets it apart from the rest the Trust wants to hear.

Last year’s English winner, Nellie’s Tree - three beech trees grafted together into the shape of the letter ‘N’ – from Aberford near Leeds, stole hearts with its century-old story of love and courtship. Nellie’s Tree went on to represent the UK in the European contest based in Brussels.


Scotland announces all-in DRS as MCS urges Gove and Welsh Government to follow suit - Marine Conservation Society

Environmental campaigners, including MCS, have today welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of the scope of Scotland’s deposit return system (DRS). Ministers have confirmed that glass, cans and some plastic containers will be covered, but other plastics and materials such as tetrapaks and pouches are not to be included initially. The deposit will be set at 20p for all containers, and retailers of all sizes will be paid by the system to accept returns.

(Image: Marine Conservation Society)(Image: Marine Conservation Society)

Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation Scotland said: “Our beach litter data highlights a shocking amount of glass items found on Scotland’s beaches, an average of 78 pieces for every 100m of beach surveyed during the Great British Beach Clean 2018. We are very pleased with today’s announcement that the system will include glass, along with some plastics and aluminium, and all sizes of those drinks containers.  Scotland is now ahead of the game and and the rest of the UK must follow to ensure we have the best systems in place across these islands to increase recycling and help reduce the tide of glass and plastic bottles and cans blighting our shores.”

MCS CEO, Sandy Luk, has now urged Michael Gove to follow the example set by Scotland today in designing an ambitious all-inclusive money-back recycling system for bottles and cans. “The rest of the UK must follow the Scottish Government’s lead to ensure we have the best systems in place across the UK. We need to have compatible schemes so that there is no confusion among consumers and so that we can increase recycling and help reduce the tide of glass and plastic bottles and cans blighting our shores and seas.”


Darwin Initiative: £8 million in twenty-fifth funding round for international conservation projects - defra

The latest round of funding from the government's Darwin Initiative has been awarded to 32 new projects.

Wild tulips, food security and coastal and forest habitat conservation are at the heart of the 32 new international conservation projects set to be awarded a share of £8.2 million from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative.

Recent reports on international nature have put the issue of species loss high on the nation’s agenda. Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report showed nearly a million species are in danger of extinction and the Darwin Initiative is part of the UK government’s response to this emerging issue.  This latest round of funding, the twenty-fifth since the birth of the Darwin Initiative in 1992, is putting an emphasis on nature and health and providing security of food supply to rural communities in some of the most remote parts of the globe.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: "Nature matters, and the Darwin Initiative continues to support hundreds of projects that restore and enhance wildlife and nature. These schemes are helping nature and our wider environment, delivering clean air and water, sustainable food supplies, and recovery and resilience to natural disasters.  That is why I am delighted to announce another £8 million of funding for these crucial projects. Our government is taking action at home and abroad to ensure we are the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it."


SOS for sea-life - UK Marine Strategy shows spectacular failure to protect our seas - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Conservation and environment groups are highlighting the spectacular failure of UK Governments to deliver on their collective promises to keep our seas healthy and biologically diverse shown in the revised UK Marine Strategy

Conservation and environment groups are highlighting the spectacular failure of UK Governments to deliver on their collective promises to keep our seas healthy and biologically diverse shown in the revised UK Marine Strategy (published late yesterday, 9 May). Conservation experts are calling on Governments across the UK to radically up the ambition and plans outlined in the proposals in order to tackle the current ocean emergency.
Harbour Seal (Keith Luke / Unsplash)The new UK Marine Strategy shows that to date the UK has only succeeded on 4 out of 15 indicators needed for healthy oceans. Yet despite this failure and dire warnings of biodiversity declines on land and sea by the UN this week this key UK framework, which aims to help ensure marine ecosystems recover to a healthy condition, is worryingly weak.

Harbour Seal (Keith Luke / Unsplash)

Environmentalists are warning that without a step-change in approach we risk losing not only iconic nature, but also the benefits that a healthy marine environment provides for people.

Conservationists are urging the Governments across the UK to up their ambition on the targets and timelines for helping our seas to recover, and effectively resource the delivery of the UK Marine Strategy, including compliance, enforcement and monitoring. Specific actions needed include:

  • Increased protection for wildlife: through a well-managed network of UK Marine Protected Areas (see EAC criticism yesterday of the current network), ambitious conservation strategies, for vulnerable species and habitats, and robust measures to protect against invasive non-native species;
  • Delivering recovery and restoration: through a highly ambitious conservation programme, including helping restore carbon rich ecosystems to help limit climate change;
  • Ensuring sustainable fishing and aquaculture: through an exacting UK Fisheries Bill, and potential new UK devolved fisheries legislation, that builds on and improves existing EU environmental standards and effective secondary legislation on the reduction and elimination of bycatch;
  • Reducing pollution of our seas: through a wide range of measures to slash waste at the source, boost recycling, phase out the most harmful products, and tackle complex chemical pollution;
  • Cutting ocean noise pollution: through a comprehensive strategy working with countries that share our seas;
  • Delivering an effective marine planning system by 2021: that robustly considers the man made impact on our seas and the interaction between land and sea.


Read more and take part in the consultation:

Defra Open consultation  - Updating the UK marine strategy part one (2019)

Summary: Seeking views on our updated UK marine strategy and the targets to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) in UK seas.
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 20 June 2019

Consultation description: We want to know what you think about the updated UK marine strategy (part one). In particular, if you think we have:

  • accurately assessed the state of UK marine waters
  • identified the right criteria to monitor progress towards GES
  • proposed effective targets to achieve and maintain GES for UK seas

The proposed objectives, targets and indicators will be used for the next 6 years. 

More here. 


Climate change responsible for severe infectious disease in UK frogs - ZSL Institute of Zoology

Compelling research reveals fatal spread of Ranavirus will increase if carbon emissions are not reduced.

Climate change has already increased the spread and severity of a fatal disease caused by Ranavirus that infects common frogs (Rana temporaria) in the UK, according to research led by ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, UCL and Queen Mary University of London published today (10/5) in Global Change Biology. 

Common frog (image: ©Lewis-Campbell-ZSL)Common frog (image: ©Lewis-Campbell-ZSL)

Historic trends in mass-mortality events attributed to the disease were found to match the pattern of increased temperatures recorded over recent decades, with disease outbreaks predicted to become more severe, more widespread and occurring over a greater proportion of the year within the next few decades, if carbon emissions continue at their current rate.

The findings help explain the seasonality of the disease, with incidence peaking during the hottest months of the summer, showing that climate change could see outbreaks becoming more frequent from April to October. Disease outbreaks in the spring could result in the deaths of large numbers of tadpoles, which could have repercussions for population survival. Up to now, Ranavirus disease has been largely restricted to England, but as average monthly temperatures increase to exceed 16°C in more areas over longer periods, as predicted by the IPCC’s high carbon-emission model, the disease is likely to spread across most of the UK in the next 50 years. 

Read the study: S. J. Price, W. T. M. Leung, C. Owen, R. Puschendorf, C. Sergeant, A. A. Cunningham, F. Balloux, T. W. J. Garner, R. A. Nichols (2019). Effects of historic and projected climate change on the range and impacts of an emerging wildlife disease. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14651 (open access)


Scientific Publications 

O'Hara, CC, Villaseñor-Derbez, JC, Ralph, GM, Halpern, BS. Mapping status and conservation of global at‐risk marine biodiversity. Conservation Letters. 2019;e12651. doi:10.1111/conl.12651 (open access)


Brown, CJ, Jupiter, SD, Albert, S, et al. A guide to modelling priorities for managing land-based impacts on coastal ecosystems. J Appl Ecol. 2019; 56: 1106– 1116. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13331 (free access)


Pollard, CRJ, Redpath, S, Bussière, LF, et al. The impact of uncertainty on cooperation intent in a conservation conflict. J Appl Ecol. 2019; 56: 1278– 1288. Doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13361 (free access)


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