CJS Logo & link to homepage

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


One story dominated the news on Monday: 

Independent review calls for radical plan for England’s National Parks - defra

Major review calls for biggest shakeup of the running of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty since they were founded 70 years ago.

Honister Pass, Buttermere, Lake District National Park (Obsidain Photography / pixabay)Honister Pass, Buttermere, Lake District National Park (Obsidain Photography / pixabay)

Seventy years after the Act of Parliament that created the first National Parks, a major independent review – led by writer Julian Glover – has called for bold action to reignite the founding spirit of our great National Park movement in order to make them greener, more beautiful and open to everyone.

The review published today (Saturday 21 September) praises the brilliant work which has been done to maintain the beauty of places such as the Lake District, Exmoor and the Dorset coast.

But it warns that new challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and a changing, urban society mean that new approaches are needed to get the most out of England’s most-loved landscapes, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Key recommendations include:

  • a new National Landscapes Service to act as a unified body for England’s 44 national landscapes, including 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs
  • creating a 1,000 strong ranger service to be the “friendly face” of our national parks and help engage schools and communities
  • giving every school pupil the opportunity to spend a night “under the stars” in these special landscapes to help more children to connect with nature
  • new protections, responsibilities, titles and funding for AONBs to help them be greener, more beautiful and more welcoming to the public
  • a transformed approach to recover and enhance nature, working with farmers and conservation groups to reverse years of decline and bring landscapes alive
  • backing for a new National Park in the Chilterns and a new National Forest, taking in areas such as Sherwood Forest, as part of a drive to increase woodland spaces to fight climate change

Julian Glover, who led the review, said: " From the high fells of the Lake District to the wildness of Exmoor, England’s most beautiful places define our country. Today we are setting out a big, bold plan to bring them alive to tackle the crisis in our natural environment and make sure they are there for everyone to enjoy. If we take action, we can make our country healthier, happier, greener, more beautiful and part of all our lives. Seventy years ago this year we created our national parks for a nation that had just won the Second World War. Now it’s time to reignite that mission." 

The recommendations of the Designated Landscapes review will now be considered and responded to by the government in due course.

The 27 recommendations of the review include:

  • new long-term programmes to increase the number of BAME visitors
  • expanding volunteering in our national landscapes
  • better information and signs to guide visitors
  • a ranger service in all our national landscapes, part of a national family
  • consider expanding open access rights in national landscapes
  • a new National Landscapes Housing Association to build affordable homes.
  • new designated landscapes and a new national forest. The review recommended three large AONBs should be considered for National Park status – The Cotswolds, and Dorset. The review would also support the designation of the Forest of Dean as a national landscape. The review also recommended there is a strong case for a new national forest taking in areas such as Sherwood Forest, north of Nottingham and south of Worksop.
  • a new National Landscapes Service to bring the National Parks and AONBs together and set greater ambitions
  • welcoming new landscape approaches in cities and the coast, and a city park competition
  • a new financial model – more money, more secure, more enterprising


cover of Landscape Review reportDownload the Landscapes review: final report in full. 168 page PDF.

In May 2018 the government asked for an independent review into whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose. In particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and whether the definitions and systems in place are still valid.

The review’s final report was published on 21 September 2019. It was led by Julian Glover and supported by an experienced advisory group: Lord Cameron of Dillington, Jim Dixon, Sarah Mukherjee, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Jake Fiennes.

The review’s terms of reference set out what it looked at and how it was carried out.



Ambitious proposals in “biggest shakeup” – findings of the Glover review renew vision for National Parks - Campaign for National Parks 

Major changes to the running of National Parks have been proposed today [Saturday 21 September] in an independent review of England’s designated landscapes led by Julian Glover. Campaign for National Parks has welcomed the ambitious agenda set out in the report. 

Chief Executive, Corinne Pluchino said: “This is an exciting moment for the National Parks where so much has been achieved and it is essential that we do not lose the momentum that has been created by the review. It’s absolutely right to point out the many challenges facing the Parks and to consider how we can renew and refocus their role to meet the needs of the nation today, both as a source of beauty and tranquillity and as places rich in wildlife and natural resources that can also help to address the challenges of climate change. We look forward to studying the report in detail.” Janette Ward, Chair of Campaign for National Parks, said: “We are delighted our campaign to give every school child a chance to experience the extraordinary National Parks for themselves is being recommended today. To sit beneath the starry skies, hear the calls of owls and breathe fresh air is a life changing and enriching experience. We are so glad Julian and his team share this view.”

Corinne commented: “We are delighted that the Glover Review believes that new National Parks can still make a valuable contribution to the nation. However, we believe it is essential that additional resources are made available to fund any new Parks, and that the finances needed to sustain and enhance the existing Parks are not reduced as a result. Our National Parks have to be properly resourced to do their job and supported by our politicians.”

However, the charity warns that the Glover review is only a first step and that the real work begins here.

Corinne added: “This has the potential to be a step-change for our National Parks but this is only the beginning. We will now be closely examining the detail of the proposals and will be working to ensure that the momentum is maintained by the Government in its response. We would urge the Government to use this as a springboard, to take this opportunity to deliver real leadership on countryside issues.”


Peak District National Park Authority statement in response to the publication of the "Landscapes Review" led by Julian Glover 


Environment Secretary welcomes Landscapes Review - defra in the media blog

There was widespread positive coverage on Saturday including in The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The i, The Daily Mail, and The Guardian of the independent Landscapes Review commissioned by Defra into the running of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Environment Secretary also appeared live on Sky News and the Today Programme to talk about the review.


CPRE welcomes Glover Review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, said:" ‘We welcome this vital review into how National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be even better in the future. These astounding landscapes should be experienced and enjoyed by everyone, so we absolutely agree that more must be done to improve access for all. We believe there should be a bold ambition for every child to visit and learn about these places and for people from all walks of life to have the opportunity to visit and fall in love with National Parks and AONBs. Now it is time for Government action to ensure that many of these great recommendations can become a reality. We very much look forward to working together towards a brighter future for National Parks and AONBs.’


Our response to the Glover Review - National Trust

We warmly welcome the Glover Review. As nearly three quarters of our land lies within National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), we share the view that we should be doing all we can to help as many people as possible to access our amazing countryside. The National Trust fully supports the Review’s ambition to break down some of the barriers to access, so that people from all walks of life feel welcome and experience the joy of our natural world.

The National Trust would like to see our protected landscapes deliver more for nature with a stronger focus on the environment, it is great to see that this has been recognised and we are keen to work with National Parks to help them lead the way.


More Government News:

PM launches new action plan to save the natural world - Defra, DFID, Prime Minister's office

PM to launch new biodiversity fund dedicated to saving the world’s most endangered animals.

A new £220 million fund to save endangered animals such as the black rhino, African elephant, snow leopard and Sumatran tiger from extinction will be unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (23 September).

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York the Prime Minister will call for urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity as part of global efforts to tackle the drivers and impact of climate change.

Black rhinoceros (Ron Porter / pixabay)Black rhinoceros (Ron Porter / pixabay)

The Prime Minister will warn that precious habitats and species are disappearing from our planet faster than at any other time in human history. The world’s animal populations have declined by almost two thirds in the last 50 years, and around a million species now face extinction – many within decades.

The UK’s new International Biodiversity Fund will protect these animals and more by backing projects aimed at halting the unprecedented loss of habitats and species and saving those most at risk. The £220 million announced today is the first investment in the Fund, with more funding to be unveiled, and builds on the UK’s world-leading reputation on this agenda.

The fund will also deploy UK expertise around the world to help local communities protect species under threat and preserve their natural habitats, through a significant scale-up of the UK’s Darwin Initiative. Previous Darwin projects have helped save the critically-endangered spoon-billed sandpiper from extinction and rescued hundreds of highly-endangered big-headed turtles from traffickers.

The new UK funding will also be used to create pioneering ‘green corridors’ in global biodiversity hotspots, which aim to prevent the loss of species by protecting and restoring habitats that have been threatened by human activity. This could help 250,000 elephants in the KAZA region of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe migrate safely from one reserve to another along a new ‘elephant corridor’.

The Prime Minister has been clear that biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin and must be addressed in tandem if we’re to protect the planet for future generations. At the UN today he will call for greater global action to address these twin threats.


Other news:

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will become independent on 1 December 2019 - CEH

We are pleased to announce that the UK’s Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, and HM Treasury have approved the case for the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) to become an independent research institute.

CEH will become autonomous from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), launching as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee with charitable status on 1 December this year.

CEH will continue to deliver impartial, world-class environmental science for a wide range of funders and to collaborate with partners across borders, sectors and disciplines. We will maintain the close relationship we have with UKRI and NERC, and remain the main delivery partner for NERC National Capability research for environmental sciences across land, water and air.


Brilliant Butterflies Project – Butterfly Conservation

Croydon to host cutting-edge butterfly habitat restoration project, creating butterfly havens for residents to enjoy.

Over the next two years, Brilliant Butterflies will create new homes for butterflies and insects through the creation and restoration of chalk grassland, a rare and threatened habitat many species thrive in.
London Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Natural History Museum will be working together with volunteers and local communities to create chalk grassland ‘Living Landscapes’ that will come alive with butterflies, wildflowers and insects.
This is also an excellent opportunity for residents to volunteer and work alongside specialist scientists to survey the areas using pioneering environmental DNA analysis technology and capture data about chalk grassland wildlife, as well as learn new skills in conservation, all whilst spending quality time outdoors.
Up to 40 new butterfly havens will be created on and adjacent to existing London Wildlife Trust reserves as well as in community greenspaces in south Croydon and Bromley such as housing estates, parks and road verges; enabling residents to experience a snapshot of chalk grassland habitat, and the diversity of species it supports, in everyday places.
Many butterflies and insects are in serious trouble and the State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report evidenced that 76% of species have declined over the last 40 years. Research by Butterfly Conservation, the University of Kent and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) has since found that this decline is worse in urban than rural areas.


The Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project secures National Lottery support

The Urban Nature Project aims to turn the Natural History Museum’s five-acre outdoor space into an exemplar of urban wildlife research and conservation, and engage the nation with urban biodiversity.

A Bioblitz event taking place at the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden © The Trustees of the Natural History MuseumA Bioblitz event taking place at the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum has received initial support* from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its Urban Nature Project (UNP), an ambitious national programme to inspire communities to take action for urban wildlife through the transformation of the Museum’s gardens and a network of regional and national partnerships.

The UNP aims to turn the Natural History Museum’s five-acre outdoor space into an exemplar of urban wildlife research and conservation and engage the nation with urban biodiversity. It convenes a UK-wide partnership which will tackle challenges facing urban natural heritage,  reconnect people to nature and explore the importance of evolutionary change through time.

Comprising a coalition of museums and wildlife organisations, it will develop the tools and skills urgently needed to understand urban nature and inspire diverse audiences to make a lifelong connection to nature, learn about its value, and take action to protect it.

Development funding of £210,900 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help the Museum progress plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £3,231,900 at a later date.

The Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Development Fiona McWilliams says: “Urbanisation is rising rapidly, significantly squeezing space for wildlife, so it has never been more important to connect people with the nature on their doorstep and help them to enjoy and protect it for future generations. The Urban Nature Project’s national activity programme will inspire and empower people to recognise, understand and protect the nature in towns and cities whilst also providing scientific evidence that conservationists can use to protect urban nature across the UK.”


UK's rarest amphibian given a head start - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation  

The UK’s rarest amphibian is taking a huge leap forward thanks to scientists behind a pioneering breeding programme.

The pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) became extinct in the UK in the 1990s but it was reintroduced to a site in Norfolk between 2005 and 2008 by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC).

Now the wildlife charity has carried out a ground-breaking scheme to increase the animal’s population. 

The ‘head-starting’ project uses a conservation technique for endangered species in which spawn or young tadpoles are raised in captivity and subsequently released into the wild.  This allows a greater proportion to survive the riskiest part of their life-cycle away from predators or losses to other natural causes.

Spawn was collected from the original pool frog site in June 2019.  The resulting tadpoles were reared in laboratory conditions over the summer and released into ponds at Thompson Common, the last-known refuge for pool frogs before their extinction and a site where previous experimental releases have shown promise. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which owns and manages Thompson Common, has created fantastic conditions for pool frogs by restoring ancient ponds. ARC hopes that the programme will succeed in building on the first reintroductions and increase the number of pool frogs living in the wild.


Long-term future of corncrakes in Scotland increasingly uncertain – RSPB

This year’s numbers fall to 870.

The 2019 survey results for corncrakes, one of Scotland’s rarest breeding birds, reinforce the vulnerability of the species RSPB Scotland has warned. Only 870 calling male corncrakes were recorded in the core areas that are annually surveyed this summer, down from 897 in 2018.

The alarmingly low figure means that in the last five years since the 2014 high of 1,282 calling males the population has decreased by over 30 percent. While numbers in the Outer Hebrides have increased overall in 2019 compared to 2018, this has been offset by declines elsewhere including overall across the Inner Hebrides in the same period.

The persistent low numbers over the last five years show that corncrakes are struggling to recover with their long-term survival as a breeding species in Scotland under threat. At the moment, corncrakes are helped largely through agri-environment schemes, where farmers and crofters are paid to ensure that there is good habitat for the birds. The continuation of such agri-environment support for Scotland’s farmers and crofters is vital to ensure the corncrake’s survival in Scotland, and also benefits other species.

RSPB Scotland is developing a new project to help secure the future of these birds in Scotland. Saving Corncrakes through Advocacy, Land management and Education (SCALE) was awarded over £30,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in August 2018 to further develop the project, ahead of applying for a full grant later this year.


The results are in and they’re looking red – Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) has undertaken its eighth annual squirrel monitoring programme.

Red Squirrel. Image by: Steve Wrightson.Once again, over 170 people were involved in this massive citizen science project surveying woodlands and gardens across the north of England between March and May. 86% of surveys were carried out by volunteers.

Red Squirrel. Image by: Steve Wrightson

The surveys involved a mix of trail cameras, feeders in gardens and walks through forests to record squirrels spotted.

In addition, the programme also gathered data from multiple sources: sightings reported by the public, RSNE staff and records submitted by local squirrel groups.

Results were positive overall, with red squirrels recorded in 43% of sites - a 1% rise on last year’s result. Grey squirrels were found in 46% of sites, down 2% compared to 2018.

The team was able to produce a red squirrel distribution map which pinpoints records of reds in 440 2 x 2km squares within the three month period, filling in gaps in distribution.

The surveys take place in ‘red squirrel counties’ across northern England, where wild red squirrels can still be found: in Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, North Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and parts of County Durham.

Surveys are completed within areas where red squirrel conservation is carried out by project teams, such as Red Squirrels Northern England, and by local community red squirrel groups under the banner of Northern Red Squirrels.

A full copy of the report and a summary can be viewed at rsne.org.uk/squirrel-monitoring-programme.


Choices made now are critical for the future of our ocean and cryosphere - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere.

The report reveals the benefits of ambitious and effective adaptation for sustainable development and, conversely, the escalating costs and risks of delayed action.

The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.

Global warming has already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level, due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions. There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.

The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, approved on 24 September 2019 by the 195 IPCC member governments, provides new evidence for the benefits of limiting global warming to the lowest possible level – in line with the goal that governments set themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions limits the scale of ocean and cryosphere changes. Ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them can be preserved.

Reaction: Our response to the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate - National Trust

Phil Dyke, Marine and Coast Specialist for the National Trust, said: “Today’s IPCC report is a stark wake-up call to global leaders on the extraordinary effects of climate change on our oceans and coastlines. We are seeing unprecedented change - from vanishing ice sheets in Greenland to extreme weather events becoming more frequent. Sea levels are rising faster than ever before, millions of people are at risk of being displaced and biodiversity is being damaged beyond repair. The IPCC today warned that the thawing of the Earth’s frozen regions could release billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere as early as 2100, which would be calamitous. Far from being a distant threat, the melting of the Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets is now the main contributor to sea level rise, which when combined with coastal erosion, means swathes of the UK’s beaches and clifftops are being washed away at an increasing rate.”


Holy Grail of moth recording reappears in Britain - Butterfly Conservation

Numerous recent sightings of a moth that became extinct in the UK in the 1960s, suggest that it has recolonised and is now breeding across southern Britain.

Clifden Nonpareil credit Andrew Cooper, Butterfly ConservationThe Clifden Nonpareil, whose name means ‘beyond compare’, is one of the largest and most spectacular moths native to our shores.

Clifden Nonpareil credit Andrew Cooper, Butterfly Conservation

With a wingspan that can reach almost 12cm and a bright blue stripe across its black hindwings (which gives rise to an alternative name of the Blue Underwing), this species has long been regarded as a holy grail among moth enthusiasts.

Immigrant moths from continental Europe appear to have re-established breeding colonies of this impressive insect in recent years, in south coast counties of England.

People are being asked to look for this moth and record any sightings as part of the annual Moth Night, an event run every year by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This year the event celebrates its 20th anniversary.

As part of this coming Moth Night on 26-28 September 2019 dedicated moth recorders and members of the public are being asked to survey moths and to submit their sightings via the website. Public events are also being held across the country to raise awareness of the importance and beauty of moths.


Rare species re-introduced to Delamere Forest - Cheshire Wildlife Trust

A rare plant has recently been re-introduced into our Black Lake Nature Reserve at Delamere Forest after the species only remained at one remnant bog pool at Abbots Moss SSSI.

Lesser Bladderwort (Utricularia minor) is very rare in Cheshire, very sensitive to habitat change and has been lost from many of the peat basins across Cheshire. Black Lake is haven for dragonflies and damselflies, from the impressive hawkers, to delicate darters and the chaser dragonflies.

The plant is a true specialist when it comes to living in harsh environments such as the acidic peat basins where it is usually found. These sites are low in nutrient and to live the plants must adapt. When insects such as zooplankton touch the tiny hairs of the stems they snap shut trapping their prey. These traps close in 0.002 seconds making them one of the fastest living organisms on earth.

Josh Styles from the North West Rare Plant Initiative (NWRPI) who re-introduced the plant on site said: “The one overarching aim of the NWRPI is to secure the prospects of a total of 43 target vascular plant species, declining rapidly/on the brink of extinction in North West England."


Conservation project Back from the Brink is Awards champion - National Lottery Heritage Fund

National Lottery Heritage FundLandmark nature project Back from the Brink has picked up the Best Heritage Project Award in the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.

(image: National Lottery Heritage Fund)

TV nature presenter Steve Backshall was on hand to deliver the good news to the team after they won a public vote to land the prize in the annual search for the most popular projects funded by The National Lottery.

Backshall, the well-loved wildlife presenter of BBC’s Deadly 60, presented the project with their award this week (23 September) at Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire. A short film featuring his visit will be shown on BBC One in November as part of the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.

As the first of its kind, Back from the Brink seeks to save 20 of the UK’s most endangered animals, plants and fungi. This ambitious programme will also benefit more than 200 at-risk species, carried out by 19 projects at more than 40 sites across England.


Safeguarding Lundy’s fragile nature for generations to come - National Trust

A remote island off the Devon coast that has been transformed from farmland to a rich oasis of wildlife will be protected for another 50 years when a new lease between the National Trust and Landmark Trust is signed this autumn.

Lundy Island is now home to a rich array of more than 21,000 seabirds including puffins and Manx shearwater after a concerted effort to eradicate rats on the rocky outpost.

More than 200 breeding Atlantic grey seals also swim off the shores of the island, that was gifted to the National Trust in 1969.

At that time wildlife was struggling, but the charity joined forces with the Landmark Trust, who took over the day-to-day running of the island in the same year.

Since then, both organisations have done an enormous amount of work to protect and enhance Lundy’s wildlife and heritage. 

Successes include the tripling seabird numbers thanks to an ambitious Seabird Recovery Project, set up by the National Trust, RSPB, Natural England and Landmark Trust in 2002 which made the island rat-free to give the dwindling number of seabirds a chance. 

The island will now be protected for another 50 years once a new lease is signed this autumn, marking a new milestone in Lundy’s story. The 50-year lease solidifies each organisation’s commitment to continuing to care for Lundy, ensuring its special character and the experience which so many cherish can continue for the next half century.


Cut less, cut later – Plantlife releases transformative new national road verge guidelines to increase flowers and pollinators

New national guidelines released today (26 September) underline the huge benefits of road verges being cut less and later for wild flowers and the wildlife they underpin. The Plantlife-led guidelines endorsed by highways agencies, industry and wildlife organisations provide a roadmap to fundamentally transform how 313,500 miles of UK road verges are managed.

Tufted Vetch on a road verge (Plantlife)Tufted Vetch on a road verge (Plantlife)

Many verges are currently cut at least four times a year but the guidelines recommend a two-cut management programme that allows flowers to complete their full lifecycle rather than being cut down in their prime before they are able to set seed. The less and later two-cut approach endorsed by these guidelines would replenish the seed bank, restore floral diversity, save councils money and provide pollinator habitat estimated to equal the size of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff AND Edinburgh combined.

Fresh approaches to road verge management are essential considering there has been a 20% drop in floral diversity on road verges since 1990, partly due to poor or inappropriate management. Red clover and lady's bedstraw, two of the six verge wild flowers that support the highest number of invertebrates - are amongst the plants experiencing the most rapid decline with adverse knock-on effects for wildlife. The marsh fritillary butterfly feeds almost exclusively on devil's-bit scabious, so lives or dies according to the prospects of its food plant.

Given a staggering 97% of wildflower meadows have been eradicated in less than a century, grassland road verges are crucial wildlife habitats: they provide safe haven for over 700 species of wild flowers, nearly 45% of our total flora, including 29 of 52 species of wild orchid including rarities such as lizard orchid.

Plantlife’s new best practise guidance for highway authorities, their contractors and community groups has been produced in collaboration with Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, national highways agencies Highways England, Transport Scotland and Welsh Government, industry bodies Skanska and Kier, and wildlife organisations Butterfly Conservation and The Wildlife Trusts. It provides detailed information and case studies on road verge management and fulfils a recommendation in the UK Government’s National Pollinator Strategy.

Download the Road Verge Management Guide here

This fits in nicely with the recent in-depth article 'Life on the Verge' from Devon County Council Ecologist, Tom Whitlock


Basking sharks exhibit different diving behaviour depending on the season, a new study shows - University of Exeter

Tracking the world’s second-largest shark species has revealed that it moves to different depths depending on the time of year.

Basking sharks spend most of the summer months at the ocean’s surface, but dive to deeper depths in winter.

This seasonal variation in behaviour is likely caused by environmental conditions: sharks could be exploring different areas of the ocean to deal with changes in food abundance.

Image courtesy of P.DohertyImage courtesy of P.Doherty

Basking sharks also perform “yo-yo” dives towards late winter and early spring. “Yo-yo” dives are rapid and repeated movements between deep and surface waters.

Whilst performing these dives, several of the studied sharks reached depths of over 1000 m, and two were tracked as far as 1500 m below the surface.

Dr Phil Doherty, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus and lead author of the study, said: “We do not know exactly why the sharks are performing these dives. They may be sampling the water column in efforts to detect prey, or attempting to re-orientate themselves for navigation purposes.”

Dr Doherty and his colleagues from the University of Exeter teamed up with Scottish Natural Heritage, MarAlliance, Manx Basking Shark Watch and Wave Action to study how the movements and diving behaviour of basking sharks change throughout the year.

The team attached satellite tags to 32 of these gentle giants off the coast of Scotland from a boat and monitored their movements. The tags collected data on depth and temperature, along with ambient light levels, which can be used to estimate the sharks’ location each day.

The collected data reveal a seasonal change in diving behaviour, it also showed that basking sharks move to different depths depending on the time of day.

“We found that sharks spent most of the summer near the surface of the water, occupying the top few metres during the day, moving down to depths of 10-25 m at night. But in winter, they did the opposite, spending the majority of time between 50 and 250 m, but more often shallower during the night,” said Dr Doherty.


People Living Near Green Spaces Are at Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome – Barcelona Institute of Global Health

A study analyses for the first time the relation between long-term exposure to residential green spaces and a cluster of conditions that include obesity and hypertension Barcelona, September 26 - Middle-aged and older adults that live in greener neighbourhoods are at lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those living in areas with less green spaces. This is the main conclusion of a new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by ”la Caixa”, which provides further evidence on the health benefits of green spaces. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together and include obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar levels, and abnormal fat levels. It is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes or stroke. To date, a number of studies have analysed the relationship between exposure to green spaces and individual components of metabolic syndrome. In this study, ISGlobal examined the link with metabolic syndrome as a whole, providing an indicator of overall cardiometabolic health, and in the long-term.


Over half of Europe’s endemic trees face extinction - IUCN

Over half (58%) of Europe’s endemic trees are threatened with extinction, according to assessments of the state of the continent’s biodiversity published today by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The introduction of invasive species, unsustainable logging and urban development are key threats causing the decline of tree species such as the horse-chestnut across Europe.

The newly published European Red List of Trees evaluated the conservation status of all 454 tree species native to the continent, and found that two fifths (42%) are regionally threatened with extinction. Among Europe’s endemic trees – those that don’t exist anywhere else on earth – 58% were found to be threatened, and 15% (66 species) assessed as Critically Endangered, or one step away from going extinct. Invasive and problematic native species are the largest threat to European trees. These include pests and diseases but also invasive plants introduced by humans which compete with native tree saplings.

“It is alarming that over half of Europe’s endemic tree species are now threatened with extinction. Trees are essential for life on earth, and European trees in all their diversity are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role. From the EU to regional assemblies and the conservation community, we all need to work together to ensure their survival,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, Head of the IUCN Red List Unit. “Perhaps most importantly, measures for conserving these threatened species, and many other overlooked species highlighted in today’s European Red List assessments, need to be integrated into regular conservation planning and land management.”


FLS peatland restoration gets £3 million boost – Forestry and Land Scotland

Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) ongoing efforts to restore former forestry plantation to peatland has been given a £3 million boost from the Peatland Action Fund and Scottish Government. 

The funding, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage, is drawn from the Scottish Government’s £14 million investment in projects to restore degraded peatlands - a Programme for Government commitment. 

The £3 million will add further momentum to FLS’s 5 five year programme of restoration works which has begun restoration across 2,500 hectares of afforested land, and 3,000 hectares of existing but threatened open peatland.

This year’s work will see a further 785 ha restored across 14 sites across Scotland, and a range of works such s surveys and the construction of roads and bridges to enable larger programmes of restoration work in future.  

Ian McKee, Open Habitat Ecologist with FLS, said “This funding is a great testament to the quality and range of restoration projects that we have undertaken over the past five years as we work towards restoring over 2,500 hectares of former forestry plantation back to Blanket Bog and Lowland Raised Bog. This hugely important work we are doing is helping secure our carbon stores, and change the peatlands from sources of carbon to carbon sinks. Every site we restore adds value to the scale of the contribution we make to our environment, to biodiversity, water quality, and to the people of Scotland.”  

The work is an integral part of Scotland’s contribution to tackling the global climate emergency, and will help further the Scottish Government pledge to make Scotland a net-zero emissions country by 2045.  

Using a range of techniques developed initially by FLS, Scottish Power Renewables and Forest Research, FLS’s restoration work involves removing trees and ‘re-wetting’ sites, as well as smoothing out the ridge and furrow patterning established when sites were originally planted with trees.


Scientific Publications

Victoria E. Lee, Noémie Régli, Guillam E. McIvor and Alex Thornton Social learning about dangerous people by wild jackdaws R. Soc. open sci. (open access) doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191031


Mellado, A. and Zamora, R. (2019), Ecological consequences of parasite host shifts under changing environments: More than a change of partner. J Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.13295


F. X. Macià, M. Menchetti, C. Corbella, J. Grajera & R. Vila (2019) Exploitation of the invasive Asian Hornet Vespa velutina by the European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2019.1660304


Ponti, R. , Arcones, A. , Ferrer, X. and Vieites, D. R. (2019), Seasonal climatic niches diverge in migratory birds. Ibis. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/ibi.12784


CJS is not responsible for content of external sites.  Details believed correct but given without prejudice.

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