Library of in depth features previously published in CJS Focus, articles written exclusively for CJS by our
Featured Charities and
profiles of relevant organisations and charities.
There is a wealth of information here across many different areas of the
countryside, conservation, wildlife sectors accumulated over many years.
The first CJS Focus (which was called CJS Special Edition at the time)
was published in November 2004. Articles are listed chronologically.
Click on the article title to read.
Please note that the full CJS Focus edition is a PDF download of the
original publication and therefore contains all the adverts, many of
these may now be out of date and we ask you to proceed with caution if
you're following up any of these.
2020 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most dramatic years our country has faced probably since the Second World War. Post Lockdown we find ourselves in yet another different world. The countryside is open to all and everyone wants a piece of it. Being locked up and told not to travel is something few in this country have ever experienced and now seems the time to get out there, enjoy the open spaces, flock to the beaches, explore those green lanes and take in all that fresh air. It is good for the soul without question. And this is where the population has become divided. For those that work in the countryside, be they farmers, wardens, rangers, game keepers or simply those that just care, have had to face another seemingly country wide pandemic that for many of us is even more apparent than the results of the often fatal coronavirus. Rubbish: litter from day trippers on a scale that again most of us would have deemed unimaginable, has become the norm. It shows a total disregard and lack of care and respect for the beautiful places large numbers of people are now descending upon.
A free smartphone-based ‘nature prescription’ for mental health developed by the team behind the popular walking app Go Jauntly along with researchers at the University of Derby has been launched. The Nature Notes feature has been integrated in the Go Jauntly iOS app, which also enables its users to discover, create and share walking routes. By using Nature Notes, users can now record the good things that they notice in nature.
There are plenty of conversations about ‘tipping points, or bifurcations’ but it is clear, whatever we call it, that as a society we need to take a new road. I believe we need a nation-wide focus on nature, supported by a ‘Marshall Plan’ on green recovery, green jobs and nature based solutions. I’m not just talking of lots of small schemes like the one I was involved in all those years ago, but a broad, well-funded, government-backed job supporting programme to make lasting change; change in the health of nature, health of people and equal access to gainful employment and development.
The health and the breadth of our ecosystems is in steep decline. Species are becoming endangered and extinct at an alarming rate. And at the forefront of our battle with the degradation of nature is the environmental educator. This article is designed to help you to take the first steps towards designing your environmental education programme. Our environmental educators are the roads to a lasting relationship with nature; building connection, understanding and affection for wildlife and biodiversity.
We all have five basic needs: Survival, Belonging, Power/Self-worth, Freedom and Fun. Currently, in day to day life, these needs can be forgotten, disregarded and ignored. ‘Outdoor Wellbeing for Teenagers’ aims to nurture the five basic needs. ‘The Outdoor Wellbeing for Teenagers’ sessions are based on the principles of Forest School, including the aim of encouraging and supporting mental health and wellbeing in teenagers. Within the sessions, we share mental wellbeing tools and offer time to discuss mental health, either as a group or individually.
My aim has always been to help kids, families and schools connect with the coast. I want to help educate, inform and engage in vast beach classrooms where the blue planet and its wonder is the only lesson. The more they know about an intertidal animal or plant, the more personally they feel connected to it. This is great news because we, as humans, care most about the things we feel most connected to.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift in the way many Brits have lived their lives. Lockdown restrictions saw the public confined to their homes for up to 23 hours a day, with exercise and outdoor activities restricted to a bare minimum and within a small radius from an individual’s residence.
Lambing is underway as I write, on our farm in the New Forest. We have a residential centre here, with a range of animals for visitors to interact with: goats, sheep, horses, pigs, ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens. And, to ensure that everyone can taste success, we also have small mammals for animal handling, and to top things off, two tortoises both creaking on in years as they approach their 70th birthdays. Lambing is the best time of the whole year, fraught with the potential risk of a life-threatening situation but still hopeful as each lamb emerges with the promise of spring and the joy of the simple pleasures of animal antics.
Do you know how many different insects we have in the United Kingdom? Just over 24,000 species have been recorded and the Royal Entomological Society will celebrate ‘the little things that run the world’ during National Insect Week #NIW2020 from 22nd to 28th June 2020. This year our activities are online and we encourage the general public and organisations to appreciate insects with our online resources, provide habitats for them in their green spaces and help monitor the species that they find.
If I was to rewind 35 years and ponder my future in conservation and education there are three books that I wish had been written: George Monbiot and Feral, Mark Cocker and Our Place, Isabella Tree and Wilding, and without blowing my own trumpet, Children Learning Outside the Classroom Ch.13 by myself. For me these are wonderful books that bring masses of well referenced material together and anyone studying or thinking of studying conservation and education would glean a great insight.
In the fourth article from featured charity The Mammal Society we find out what they have been up to over the last few months
Since we wrote our last blog for CJS back in March it would be safe to say that life has changed for everyone. Our small team have been working from home since lockdown started and any research/surveys that couldn’t be undertaken during daily exercise ground to a halt. Whilst signs and sightings of mammals could always be recorded using the very portable Mammal Mapper app, anything more complex or off the beaten track had to be put on hold.
2020 is the 125th anniversary of the National Trust, the biggest conservation charity in Europe.
Founded in 1895 to care for historic properties, areas of beautiful countryside and to provide access to green spaces for everyone, the Trust now cares for over 500 places of national significance, including houses, gardens and monuments, and 780 miles of coastline.
Since the 1960s the National Association for Environmental Education (NAEE) has been a key organisation specifically supporting the work of schools and teachers. Starting out as the National Rural Studies Association, our purposes were originally to support the growth and delivery of environmental education activities within the school curriculum. That was at a time when we were just starting to become aware of the environmental issues being caused by how we are living on this planet. NAEE is still run by members and volunteers who care passionately about environmental education.
‘How many of you were ever children? Close your eyes for just a moment and remember where you loved to play. Remember the sounds, the smells, the feelings…’
Chances are some of those places have been built on or ploughed up. People need houses and they need food.
When I ask this question at conferences or training courses many adults call to mind gardens, fields, roads, railway sidings, woodlands and parks. They identify freedom, adventure, mishap and learning how to get along in life as direct outcomes of their playful, often risky, connection with other children and the natural world.
I'm writing this at a time when it's hard to think of anything beyond COVID-19, the measures that are in place to mitigate its spread and the human tragedies playing out across the world. Our schools, nature reserves and field centres have been closed for weeks now, access to natural environments is patchy and inequitable and 'normal' already feels unfamiliar. My 'normal' is working towards a PhD thesis which tries to document what happens when young children and teachers at two schools go outside. I use video and observations to better understand how everything interacts - humans, activities, stories, plants, toys, birds, weather, computer games. What I'm hoping to find out is how any of this relates to care for the natural world and learning for sustainability.
The ocean is the blue heart of our world, absorbing over 90% of the heat and almost a third of carbon dioxide humans have ever created. It is also the lungs of our system, producing well over half of the world’s oxygen. It’s the largest ecosystem on earth, sustaining millions of jobs, providing food to more than a billion people and is worth trillions of dollars to the global economy. Without our ocean, our planet would be pretty much uninhabitable.
After the success of Blue Planet 2 and with mainstream conversation about climate change rising, the UK and beyond have started to think differently about our connection to the ocean. Young people worldwide want to learn more about their planet and what they can do to create a more meaningful connection to it, and in time make different decisions.
The key theme of Bike Week 2020 is health and wellbeing. This was partly inspired by the vital contribution of the health and social care workers who have helped to keep us healthy during the crisis, but also in recognition of the real difference cycling can make to the health of the nation. These effects go beyond the obvious benefits of taking exercise rather than sitting in a car or on a bus. There is the improvement in air quality caused by taking vehicles off the roads: in big cities such as London, two-thirds of car journeys are short enough (under 5km) to be replaced by a 20-minute bike ride.
To care for ourselves we must care for nature. Wellbeing Project Manager at Forestry England, Ellen Devine, reflects on our time in nature during lockdown and invites us all to find our ‘forest moment’ over the coming weeks and months. Our instinctive move towards nature during times of stress is explained by a wealth of research into the physiological and psychological effects of nature. We know that being among trees helps to reduce stress, improves mood, and reduces the possibility of poor mental health.
The Nature Volunteers website helps to help link people interested in volunteering in nature with projects being offered by organisations. The website has two aims - to give people better access to volunteer opportunities in the UK and to help organisations find volunteers to enhance the success of their projects. People wish to volunteer in nature for diverse reasons and Nature Volunteers was set up last year with funding support from the Higher Education Innovation Fund to expand the range of people accessing nature volunteering opportunities.
Many of us know and love sand dunes as beautiful coastal landscapes;
idyllic backdrops to days spent on the beach or the perfect natural
ridges between which to enjoy a sheltered picnic. But dunes are also
important biodiversity hotspots. They are a sanctuary for rare species
which are perfectly adapted to live in their shifting sands, like the
northern dune tiger beetle, natterjack toad, sand lizard and fen orchid. Dynamic Dunescapes is an exciting and ambitious new project,
restoring some of the most important sand dunes in England and Wales for
the benefit of people, communities and wildlife. The project is using
pioneering conservation techniques to rejuvenate dunes and make their
shifting sands the perfect home for our native threatened wildlife
again. From Cornwall to Cumbria, Dynamic Dunescapes will restore nine
key dune areas, covering up to 7,000 hectares of beautiful coastal
Today I had to WhatsApp message my furloughed education colleagues with exciting news – I found a water hog louse in my less than year old mini washing up bowl pond! Many of you will no doubt share my excitement whilst others may well shrug and say ‘well, it’s no [insert charismatic species of choice here]’ but in my work as an outdoor educator I have come to realise the value in observing, learning about and sharing enthusiasm for everyday wildlife encounters, as well as the special ones.
“People need Parks” were the words of the Secretary of State for
Housing, Communities and Local Government at the Downing Street daily
coronavirus briefing. Never before have our nation’s, indeed the
world’s, parks been in such focus. Whilst to some the decision to keep
them open during the pandemic has sparked questions, to others they have
been a lifeline.
Ministers and even the Prime Minister have been talking about the
important role parks and green spaces play in our nation’s health and
When home-educating our children, we can really hone in to what
excites our children, tailoring the activities to suit each child. There
is no right or wrong way, the main aim is for both parent and child to
enjoy the activity, and to be adaptable to change, as what was planned,
might not always turn out how you expect it to!
Here are some basic ideas to get you started, go fly with them!
Many people have never heard of “Rangers” nor have any idea of what
the job is actually about. I’ve heard: “You’re just a litter picker” and
“You just take kids outdoors“; which is true, but there are so many
other aspects that people don’t realise or appreciate. I have
encountered many inspiring people who are rangers, often the type of
person who lives to work and carry out their role above and beyond their
own pay grade. A ranger's work has much unseen importance, such as such
as the protection, conservation management and the interpretation of a
resource, including education and awareness, plus health care, access
for all, all of which provides public enjoyment of Scotland’s outdoors.
May is National Walking Month, a special chance to celebrate the joys of walking and being active. Many of us are appreciating being able to get out for a walk at the
moment. It remains incredibly important to keep active, both for our own
wellbeing and to avoid storing up massive health problems for ourselves
and the NHS in the future.
Walking is one of the most accessible ways to stay active. Just 20
minutes can help improve our wellbeing and connect us with what’s around
CJS Focus on Environmental Education and Outdoor Activities
in association with the Countryside Education Trust
As the UK’s leading gardening charity, the RHS is more committed than
ever to continue to support the nation to get gardening and is now
launching the Grow At Home campaign to help nurture a new generation of
Appetite is definitely increasing. More than a million visits were
recorded to RHS gardening advice pages during the first 10 days of
lockdown. Hundreds of thousands more people are using RHS online advice
than the same time last year. The most popular topics have included
composting (page views up by 500% compared to last year), sowing seeds
outdoors, and dividing perennials.
The search is on to find the UK’s next young nature writer, in a
competition launched by wildlife author Lucy McRobert, in conjunction
with nature authors, journalists, businesses and charities. In an effort
to support the UK’s parents and children as they navigate their way
through the Coronavirus pandemic, homeschooling and social isolation,
the Nature on your Doorstep competition was set up to encourage young
people to connect with wildlife near their homes, whilst also supporting
creativity and English writing skills.
“Are you here to improve the pond?” was the question I was asked by a
member of the public when checking the water chemistry of Queen’s Park
Pond in Glasgow in the summer of 2017. The short answer was no. The long
answer was I was surveying the water quality and freshwater life of 30
ponds in the Glasgow area to get an idea of their quality, and did not
intend to improve any ponds. This is part of a Natural Environmental
Research Council funded project called Hydroscape, led by the University
of Stirling, that looks at connectivity and stressors in freshwaters.
Having travelled over most of the Scottish Highlands over the years
it may come as no surprise that there are certain places that offer me,
as a landscape photographer, a little more than others. The Outer
Hebrides draw me to the vast, open, sandy beaches; Sutherland with its
bleak wilderness back many happy memories. Wester Ross ranks up there
with all of them but it does seem to ‘pip them at the post’ for sheer
Insects are in decline scream the harsh headlines from countless
reports and studies from across the world, some even predict 41% of
insect species could be extinct by 2050 without urgent action now.
Against this backdrop Buglife have launched the No Insectinction
Campaign calling on global decision makers to reverse the declines
through a series of measures. All of which we can also implement
ourselves to a small degree to be part of the necessary global change.
Any visitor crossing Dartmoor in Spring or Summer and seeing herds of
ponies and their foals would find it hard to believe that the
traditional, single colour Native Dartmoor pony is an endangered
species. These semi-feral herds contain ponies of varied shape, colour and
type. All are owned by farmers with moorland grazing rights and all
contribute to the management, heritage and history of the Dartmoor
landscape and to its appeal for tourists.
Holkham National Nature Reserve covers 4100 hectares of the dynamic
North Norfolk coast. It has become famous in recent years for frequently
winning the ‘best beach’ award. With over seven and a half miles of
wide-open sands backed by dune and pinewood it is hardly surprising. The
penultimate weekend of March (a glorious period of sunny weather and
the week before the start of Lockdown) was one more typical of an August
bank holiday. Fast forward two weeks into Lockdown and the contrast
could not be starker. Desolate, devoid of people, no noise other than
that of birds, the roar of the sea and howl of the wind. Utter
tranquillity and nature in the raw.
Across the world, more people live in urban areas than in rural ones.
In the UK, four-fifths of us do. Towns and cities are where most of us
experience nature, and the green spaces within these areas are important
to people and their wild neighbours alike. Wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is
calling on volunteers across the country to record sightings of wild
mammals (or the signs they leave behind, such as footprints or
droppings) they see in their gardens, or from their balconies or
windows, to help conservationists understand how their numbers are
changing and to record the diversity of mammals living in our gardens
and green spaces.
For many years, I have regularly (and probably rather tediously)
expressed concern about the practice of many environmental charities and
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) employing people in unpaid
`voluntary` positions which are clearly full-time jobs. These roles -
variously described as `volunteer internships`, trainees, and even
`voluntary immersive rangers`, often require qualifications and some
experience. They seem to be particularly aimed at young people at the
start of their careers, desperate for a foot on the environmental sector
The National Trust is launching a range of new countryside
apprenticeship schemes this year, which offer paid work, training and
learning and are recognised across the industry. The Trust, Europe’s largest conservation charity, has almost 250,000
hectares of land and 780 miles of coastline in England, Wales and
Northern Ireland in its care. With over half of this having a special nature designation such as
being a priority habitat, nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific
Interest, the need to give the next generation of rangers the skills and
experience they need to look after these special places has never been
more important. This year, the Trust’s 125 anniversary, sees the launch of a range of
new apprenticeships in countryside roles, offering formal training
alongside a paid work experience to develop and grow the rangers of the
Wales Outdoor Learning Week is one of the many events and activities
across the country to have been cancelled or postponed due to the
coronavirus outbreak. The campaign, which was scheduled for 30 March – 5 April 2020, is
held annually by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in partnership with the
Wales Council for Outdoor Learning. Its aim is to highlight practical ways people can connect with
nature, as well as inspiring teachers, learning groups and families
across Wales to embed learning in, learning about and learning for, the
natural environment within school and family life.
It is hoped the events planned for Wales Outdoor Learning Week can go
ahead later this year. In the meantime, Natural Resources Wales will be
sharing daily ‘outdoor learning’ activities and ideas for things to do
at home – whilst adhering to the Government’s social distancing
The impact that COVID-19 will have on our lives is starting to
unfold, showing that there are going to be some uncertain months ahead
of us where there will be many more unknowns than knowns. It is in the
face of times like this however, where the strength of our rural
communities must pull together and act as one. Despite the response to
the virus requiring us to distance ourselves physically from one
another, it is where communities are closest that its impact can be
mitigated the most. We’ve created a hub of information where we can support those within our rural communities by providing them with the information they need during this time.
By 2050, it is estimated that nearly 70% of the global population
will live in urban areas. As such, we need to plan, adapt, and prepare
our urban environments to be fit for purpose for their residents. Urban
centres, by their nature, are predominated by engineered, built, or grey
solutions. Whilst this building and engineering is often remarkable,
evermore technologically advanced, and facilitates our modern ways of
living, it can also bring about a host of unplanned problems.
A growing body of evidence highlights population declines in insects
and other invertebrates. Much of this evidence is summarised by the
recent Action for Insects
report commissioned by a consortium of Wildlife Trusts, and authored by
Dave Goulson. The consequences of insect decline are potentially
catastrophic. Kent Wildlife Trust is leading a National Lottery Heritage
funded project Nature’s Sure Connected, which seeks to develop best practice in landscape-scale monitoring.
Plant health impacts on everyone’s lives socially, economically,
culturally and environmentally. The General Assembly of the United
Nations (UNGA) proclaimed 2020 the International Year of Plant Health
(IYPH), which is a key international recognition of the importance of
plants, one of the most basic and fundamental pillars for life on Earth
as we know it. Failure to ensure plant health as a crucial component of
agriculture, amongst other things, will prevent achieving the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable
Development: feeding the growing global population would be simply
impossible without preserving plant health.
In the third article from featured charity The Mammal Society we find out about the worrying levels of plastic consumed by wild mammals
As you will have seen on programmes such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, plastic in our seas threatens marine ecosystems. However, to date, very little is known about the impacts on terrestrial species. A team from the Mammal Society are setting out to assess the exposure of wild mammals to waste plastics across the UK. By analysing the droppings of some of our most widespread species — squirrels, rabbits, mice, voles, rats, shrews and hedgehogs — they will find out the extent to which these plastics are eaten. The team will also assess the health threats posed by different types of plastic, through both ingestion and entanglement.
In the many years that Countryside Jobs Service (CJS) has been advertising jobs we've seen many changes not least to the voluntary opportunities.
Initially CJS was only published as a paper edition - there was no internet (gasp, horror, I know how did we ever manage?) so space was limited and in other publications very expensive which meant that only the jobs that absolutely had to be advertised appeared in the mainstream, traditional press. Voluntary roles were more usually advertised locally, often by posters on notice boards which would be seen by people visiting the reserve or site and come back to offer a helping hand. Details of longer term placements were circulated through the careers services of schools and colleges. As word spread that CJS offered free advertising many more unpaid vacancies were sent our way. Initially only the full time, long term, (six month or longer) placements but over the years many more roles in many different guises.
Biological recording is the scientific study of the distribution of
living organisms. It involves the collection of biological records that
describe the presence, abundance and ecological associations of
wildlife. These records provide the evidence that underpins our
understanding of nature and are important for evidence-based
Osmotherley Toad Patrol has been operating since 2002 along a 2 km
stretch of minor road to the west of Cod Beck Reservoir, about a 1.5 km to the north of the village. The aim of a toad patrol is to reduce the amphibians casualties as they try to cross a road during their spring breeding migration. In addition to Common Toads, Common Frogs and Newts (in our case Palmate) are also encountered. Numbers of amphibians are forwarded at the end of the season to the charity Froglife who have a “Toads on Roads” project to collate data from across the UK. This enables Froglife to research population trends.
Working to protect our bumblebees requires a good understanding of
what’s happening to all of our species, from the rarest to the most
common. To gather this information, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
established the national bumblebee monitoring scheme; BeeWalk.
Traffic-free paths on the National Cycle Network benefit
over four million people each year. Jim Whiteford, Senior Ecologist at
Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity and the custodian of the
National Cycle Network, highlights the walking and cycling paths on the
Network are also an important green corridor for our flora and fauna.
If you’ve walked or cycled anywhere in the UK, the chances are that you were on the National Cycle Network. The Network, with its little blue signs, spans the length and breadth
of the UK from the Shetland Islands to Land’s End and from East Anglia
to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. It’s a vital part of the
UK’s infrastructure strategy. It’s a national asset.
Inspiring the next generation of conservation volunteers has been
something that The Conservation Volunteers have long been passionate
about. In today’s environmental climate, providing people with the right
skills to protect and preserve the natural environment is more
important than ever.
Traineeships are effectively supporting an increasing number of young people into employment, with 75% of trainees gaining employment, taking up an apprenticeship or going on to further study within the first year of completing the programme.
This year, Social Farms & Gardens are celebrating their 40th
anniversary - marking 40 years of farming, gardening and growing
together by holding a series of events and activities.
Social Farms & Gardens are a UK wide charity on a mission to
improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the
environment through nature-based activities. Our members are at the heart of our work and right now we are
supporting over 1500 groups – with the number growing stronger every
day. They are made up of grass root organisations - from small fruit and
veg plots on urban housing estates to large-scale rural care farms and
we have been proudly supporting their work in transforming lives and
connecting people for 40 years.
The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan published in 2018 set out
its ambition for a healthier, greener future, with action to crack down
on plastic waste pollution, create richer wildlife habitats, improve air
and water quality, and connect more people with nature. This could not
be delivered by government alone, and making 2019 a year of action for
the environment showed how we all have a role to play to ensure we leave
our environment in a better state than we found it. Children and young
people were to be at the heart of the year, and we partnered with the
youth social action charity, Step Up To Serve, to engage the younger
generation in practical action for the environment.
I briefly worked as a volunteer for Sussex Wildlife Trust
Head after being made redundant, which inspired me to look towards a new
career; the ranger there ran an enthusiastic large group of volunteers,
I knew almost immediately this was something I wanted to do. I had an
exuberant love of being outdoors whether coast or
countryside which I wanted to turn into something exciting; I had no
previous ranger experience but that wasn’t going to stop me. Now that I
am a Countryside Ranger for West Sussex County Council,
working with volunteers, either individual or groups, my own experience
of being on the other side of the fence is invaluable.
Ribble Rivers Trust has launched a decade-long campaign to double the
area of woodland across Lancashire to fight climate change, improve air
quality and reduce flooding.
Working with private and public sector supporters together with
community-based groups and conservation charities, the Rivers Trust is
aiming to create 100 kilometres of new or restored woodland alongside
the Rivers Ribble, Lune and Wyre together with their network of
Denbighshire Countryside Service and Denbighshire Housing have
collaborated for the ‘Nature for Health’ project. Originally funded by
Natural Resources Wales since its 2018 launch, this 18-month pilot
project has been granted a year’s extension with help from Denbighshire
Housing and Social Services. Its focus is to improve wellbeing using
social prescribing: healthcare professionals and other organisations can
refer service users to take part in conservation and healthy lifestyle
A star-filled sky is one of nature's most natural wonders but they’re become harder than ever to experience. Luckily the UK’s National Parks remain some of the best places in the
country to see stars because of the low light pollution levels and
clear horizons; the North York Moors is no exception. From a town or
city, you'll be lucky to spot more than a handful of stars but the
further away you get from street lights, the better the view. In the
darkest areas of the National Park you can see up to 2,000 stars at any
one time. But like any of our special landscapes, we need to understand
potential threats to our Dark Skies and consider ways of protecting them
The damaging presence of litter, dog fouling and graffiti in our
communities is hard to ignore. And it is a problem which our data shows
is getting worse in many areas across Scotland. Of all the environmental challenges we are faced with,
removing litter from the equation should be the easiest. We all have it
in us to put the rubbish we are finished with in a bin, to take it home
and recycle it, or not to use the packaging in the first place. We all have the ability to pick up a piece of discarded waste and dispose of it properly.
At a time of year when all respectable hedgehogs should be hibernating, it is vitally important that we should be talking about them.
Hedgehogs are found in most habitats but they are increasingly associated with urban areas, often being observed in gardens and amenity grasslands. They prey mainly on invertebrates, including ground beetles, worms, crane fly larvae and woodlice. Along with farmland birds, hedgehogs are often used as an example of the overall decline of biodiversity in the UK. Populations were estimated to be around 1.5 million in 1995 and have since then declined to 500,000 in 2018 according to our latest population review.
My passion for wildlife started as a toddler, with my family
encouraging me to explore nature: I loved countryside walks and looking
for things like owl pellets, caterpillars and frog spawn. I learn best
by ‘doing’ and that’s very much how I’ve developed over the years.
Several ‘life events’ were crucial in developing my conservation interests including Building a Pond. In 2012 I helped my dad build a garden pond. As it matured, frogs
appeared and every spring my parent’s kitchen was overrun with plastic
tubs which we used to hatch the spawn, before releasing the tadpoles
back into the pond!
Did you know that 18-24 year olds make up less than 0.5% of all charity Trustees,
and the average age of a Trustee in England and Wales is 59 years old?
Despite efforts being made, the charity sector still has a long way to
go! There is clearly appetite for the role, with a survey of under 35
year olds reporting that 85% would consider becoming a Trustee.
Young people are almost invisible in the Public Realm and are a
missing voice in local place consultations. They are frequently
described as a 'problem' by the wider community and the answer to the
perceived threat of young people 'hanging around' is too often to
restrict their access. The programme empowers young people to take the lead in changing places where they live. The residential training weekends, bespoke training sessions and support from the Young Placechangers team are designed to give the young people and the adults that support them the skills and confidence to change the places where they live for the better.
Backyard Nature is giving children and young people the tools they
need to enjoy and protect nature where they live. Launched in July, the
campaign is a response to the UK’s growing nature crisis, with a massive
40% of the nation's species in steep decline.
At the same time, children are spending less time enjoying nature.
Research released by the campaign partners found that 60% of children
want to spend more time outside, but 62% currently spend less than five
hours per week outdoors, not including travelling to school. Over four
fifths (82%) of UK parents say that they are fearful about the future
environmental challenges facing the next generation. Spending time in
nature helps children get to know and love it, which is critical if they
are to grow into the future guardians of the planet.
The Cameron Bespolka Trust was set
up in memory of Cameron. He loved nature. He photographed it, blogged
about it, surveyed it and immersed himself in it. Bird-watching was a
major part of his life. We create and sponsor outdoor events for young
people from every background to help them discover that same passion for
all things wild and natural.
What an opportunity for our charity to reach out to young people at a
time when we are all facing challenges such as climate change,
biodiversity loss and a trend towards increased urban living.
Suggestions have been made that overnight “ ....a night under the stars’
.....school trips would help pupils understand more about the natural
How we live and form links to nature is irreversibly and historically
tied with the landscape. The role that nature has in our day-to-day
lives has been altered by world events, cultural shifts and
urbanisation, with each subsequent generation defining wilderness and
‘nature’ based on the memories tied to their youth. This ‘shifting
baseline syndrome’ means that each generation comes to expect different
things of the countryside, influenced by what we have seen in our
lifetime, stories from our parents and grandparents, and visual
representations of the outdoors.
Each year, the John Muir Trust supports over 1,500 organisations
across the UK to engage 40,000 people of all backgrounds to connect
with, enjoy and care for wild places. It does this through the John Muir
Award – a nationally recognised environmental award scheme.
Sarah McNeill, the John Muir Trust’s John Muir Award Scotland Project Manager, reflects on the role of partnerships.
Funding for parks, allotments and green spaces – just like many other
public services – has decreased significantly in recent years. It’s an
unfortunate trend across many areas of the country. Here in Newcastle upon Tyne, spending reduced by a huge 90% in just
seven years, posing a serious threat to the long-term future of the
city’s open spaces.
Thankfully, Newcastle City Council saw the warning signs and took
significant action to prevent the city’s green spaces suffering further
decline. Working in partnership with the National Trust and National
Lottery Heritage Fund, Newcastle City Council began an extensive
consultation exercise on the future of the city’s parks and allotments,
gathering feedback from park users, local businesses and key
Robin Bowman & Chris Salisbury describe the tactic of using
popular fiction to encourage teens to engage with the natural world.
Half of our generation, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, regularly played and roamed in wild places, compared with just one in ten today. 2014 became the year we could no longer avoid the subject of Nature-deficit disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv to describe the effect changes in modern lifestyles are having on our children, and the starvation that their interaction with the natural environment is causing their wellbeing and health.
Having access to nature benefits children’s mental health, their
wellbeing and their ability to learn. This suggests that outdoor
learning should be an important part of a child’s education, yet despite
mounting evidence, time spent learning outdoors varies significantly in
schools across England. While some schools are fully embracing outdoor
learning opportunities, for other schools it is more difficult.
Our featured charity for 2020 is The Mammal Society which is the only organisation dedicated to the study
and conservation of all mammals of the British Isles. Since 1954, they’ve
been supporting a growing network of experts working with mammals across
the country and abroad, and providing a hub of information and
expertise. They are the national voice for mammals when advising on
conservation policy decisions, with science at the heart of everything they do. In their first article for CJS they detail who they are and what they do.
The Let’s Learn Moor initiative arose from concerns that a gap within
our education system could give rise to a simple lack of understanding
of those who live, work and enjoy our beautiful uplands. The history and
importance of some of Britain’s most stunning and iconic landscapes, is
being slowly lost. Many people living within upland communities across the country,
often have no relationship with their moorland or the people helping to
Action for Conservation was founded five years ago with the aim of empowering young people from diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of environmental leaders. When the organisation was founded we had no idea that the youth-led environmental movement would evolve to what it is today. We were, however, aware of some very troubling statistics. UK wildlife has suffered significant damage over the past 40 years, with over 40% of species now in decline. The environmental sector is also failing to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce; just 0.6% of the workforce identifies as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.
On 4th October 2019, an historic and informative report titled ‘State of Nature 2019’
was published by more than 50 organisations. The report highlights how
we have contributed to wildlife population trends in the UK. This year, the report has been led by young conservationists, like Kabir Kaul, writing
its foreword and presenting it. The report is the third of its kind,
with one published every three years, and it focuses on how human
impacts are affecting the UK’s biodiversity.
Marketing initiatives such as the North Coast 500 route, and
promotion of our stunning remoter landscapes in Scotland by
government-sponsored organisations such as Visit Scotland, have been a
success when measured against economic benefits, but is that the only
Alongside the marketing there has been a reduction in facilities such
as toilets and waste management in order for local authorities to save
money due to tightened budgets.
The Outdoor Partnership is a multi-award winning charity improving
opportunities for thousands of people in Wales to achieve their
potential through outdoor activities. The Outdoor Partnership has been
operating since 2004 bringing public, private and third sector
organisations together to work effectively in the outdoor sector towards
a common mission. The charity was set up because there was an abundance of natural
resources and facilities but few opportunities for and little engagement
with local communities in North West Wales. Outdoor activities were
something visitors and tourists did.
what3words is a new global addressing system that has given every 3m
square in the world a unique 3 word address. Now, people can refer to
any precise location using just three words from the dictionary. For
example, ///officers.barrel.uncouth is the starting point of a popular
walking route from Grosmont to Whitby.
The company was created after co-founder and CEO Chris Sheldrick felt
the struggles of poor addressing in rural areas. Coming from a farming
background, Chris recognised that when it comes to describing where
things are in the countryside, things can get really complicated. Many
places like field entrances, stables and damaged trees have no address
at all, and postcodes tend to cover unhelpfully broad areas.
Millions of pieces of litter are dropped every day in England.
Anyone working in the environment sector will know that littering is not
only unsightly, but has a devastating impact on our native wildlife.
Worryingly, 1 in 5 people admit to dropping litter. A study last year
showed 1 in 4 people ‘carefully litter’, which involves leaving drinks
cans and coffee cups on window ledges or placing rubbish next to full bins.
Many householders and smaller developers may be unaware that local
planning authorities (LPAs) have a
statutory requirement to consider the ecological impact of
development proposals, and to promote biodiversity improvements. Failure
to consider the ecological impact can result in delays and additional
knock-on costs for projects, such as when unforeseen ecological surveys
have to be carried out during particular seasons or becoming caught up
in costly court proceedings due to a failure to address legal
protections on wildlife.
Most of us will never make it to any of these places in our lifetime.
You may not even have heard of Svalbard - it’s a Norwegian archipelago
between mainland Norway and the North Pole where the small human
population lives alongside reindeer and polar bears.
For hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, these far-flung places
are their summer breeding grounds. But each year as the days start to
shorten, these birds begin their journeys across land and sea, arriving
hundreds and even thousands of miles later on the UK’s shores. Here, on
our coastal and inland wetlands, they’ll over-winter and build up their
fat reserves before starting their incredible journey back to their
northern breeding grounds next spring.
When People and the DALES (Diversity, Access, Learning, Environment,
Sustainability), Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s outreach project,
won the Government’s Year of Green Action Award, it was a celebration of
not only ten years hard work but the number of lives the scheme has
Representatives from the programme received the prestigious accolade
in a parliamentary reception attended by Ministers and MPs as well as
leaders from across the environmental sector.
How the human landscape has influenced hedgehog habitats in the UK
Hedgehogs are a generalist species, not just in their feeding habits
but also their choice of habitats. Our only native UK species, the west
European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) can thrive in both
urban and rural environments. As the name suggests, hedgehogs are often
found in and around hedgerows, but other habitats include farming
pastures, woodland edges and more increasingly in gardens. The only
places a hedgehog wouldn’t be found in the UK are some islands, and
upland areas such as mountainsides.
UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA) is a partnership of 37 leading
conservation and forestry organisations, Government agencies and
companies, with links to voluntary red squirrel conservation groups. Our
aims are to work collaboratively to secure and expand red squirrel
populations, and protect tree health, by managing negative impacts from
invasive grey squirrels.
By Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger, Hengistbury Head
Brian discusses some of the hurdles to paid employment in the
conservation sector and investigates why these are in place and how they
can be overcome with the use of better practical experience, course
provision, clearer careers advice along with job descriptions and
Whale Education Month is a project run by ORCA, to encourage students
(and their teachers!), to learn more about the importance of whales and
dolphins, and their conservation, during the month of October. For the
past 3 years, ORCA has developed a series of lesson plans to enthuse and
inspire students about whales and dolphins. Teachers are
encouraged to deliver the ‘Whale Education Month’ materials throughout
October, to coincide with World Animal Day on the 4th October.
However, the materials can be downloaded and used at any time throughout
Road verges are an important wildlife resource and an integral part
of Devon's heritage. When managed properly, road verges provide
ecological networks with an astonishing amount of wildlife - according
to Plantlife, road verges across the UK support over 700 plant species
and nearly 45% of our native flora. They also provide one of the only
opportunities for us to see wildflowers on a daily basis, in our towns
A pilot project in the North Devon Biosphere to help communities
revitalize their roadside verges, and by doing so create a network of
safe havens for wildflowers and endangered pollinators, has been so
successful it has been launched across the whole of Devon county.
As World River’s Day approaches (22 September 2019), it seems fitting
that CJS asked me to write an article about my work on rivers. As part
of the project management team at Five Rivers Environmental Contracting
Ltd. I am at the forefront of seeing the best, but unfortunately also
some of the worst, rivers in our country. You might be shocked to know
that only 14% of water bodies in England are in good ecological status.
As the Land Trust celebrates its 15th birthday, Chief Executive, Euan
Hall, who championed the establishment of the Trust, looks back on
everything they have achieved during that time, and what the charity’s
ambitions are for the future.
When the Land Trust was established in 2004 I don’t think anyone
involved at that time could have predicted the potential of what we
would go on to achieve. We now have 70 sites across England and Scotland
and deliver a huge amount of charitable activity that makes an amazing
contribution to the lives of the people that live or work near one of
2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the Stour Valley Path, a long
distance walking route that stretches over 60 miles (97km), through
Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex. It closely follows the River Stour,
from its source near Newmarket, to where it joins the estuary at
Cattawade, near Manningtree. This meandering, peaceful route will take
you through a landscape of gently rolling hills, quiet woodlands, fresh
riverside pastures and over 20 picturesque towns and villages.
Each year around 100 million of us will experience the incredible
beauty, tranquillity and fun to be had across the 13 National Parks of
England and Wales. Now 70 years old, our National Parks are more
important than ever, providing the space for adventure, space to be
ourselves and to work through our problems. Space that’s so desperately
needed in modern society.
This summer we are celebrating one of the special benefits these
extraordinary landscapes provide. Adventure.
Following in the impressive footsteps of National Parks covering
every type of environment, the UK’s biggest urban jungle is now
recognised for its rich biodiversity, amazing heritage and breadth of
cultures. It may not have the same planning powers or statutory
protection as the existing National Parks, but it is by far the easiest
to get around without a car.
It was 1969 when a small band of people launched Staffordshire
Wildlife Trust with the aim of looking after wildlife and wild places
across the county.
The group was directed by naturalist, author and broadcaster Phil
Drabble (of 'One Man And His Dog' fame), who lived in Abbots Bromley,
and soon after, it purchased its first nature reserve (Loynton Moss). A
management committee was set up alongside the ownership of the reserve,
with one of the trustees, bird expert Frank Gribble acting as leader of
the group, who was awarded an MBE in 1996 for services to nature
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you
care about wildlife and wild places, and want to protect them. Perhaps
you work in conservation, or want to. So how can we best protect the
nature that we care about? Well, one important aspect is making sure
that every conservation action we take is the most effective one
In May 2019, the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) launched a
new social media crime prevention campaign titled Undisturbed calling on
all UK wildlife photographers and drone operators to ensure the welfare
of wild animals while photographing or filming them. The NWCU are
posting a message on their twitter account (@ukwildlifecrime) every
Friday providing advice and information on law and behaviour concerning
a different species. The initiative runs until 1st November.
As digital camera equipment becomes ever more affordable,
photographers are approaching wildlife without knowledge of the animal's
behaviour or the field craft to prevent disturbance. Elsewhere, "honey
pot" wildlife sites can become overcrowded with photographers which may
disrupt, and risk causing detrimental effects to, the animals concerned.
New research from the charity
Fields in Trust has identified that more than 2.5 million people across
Great Britain live more than ten minutes-walk from their nearest park or
green space. The Green Space Index,
is a barometer of publicly accessible park and green space provision,
which, for the first time, uses new Ordnance Survey data to
comprehensively analyse provision across Great Britain.
Sadly, the average commuter is familiar with the sight of a squashed
badger on the side of the road. But, just how common a sight is this? In
2013, Project Splatter
was established to try and answer just that question. The main aim of
the project is to address the fundamental questions of how many animals
(specifically wildlife) are seen as roadkill, and to find out where and
when this occurs. To achieve its aim Project Splatter collates wildlife
roadkill reports from across the UK, using data submitted by members of
the public, termed ‘citizen scientists’.
Every year for nine days in late July, Sea
Watch Foundation look for wildlife enthusiasts and around the UK to
support National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a citizen science project
organized by the Sea Watch Foundation, hoping to
catch a glimpse of whales, dolphins and porpoises visiting the seas
around the British Isles.
By Cherry Bowen, Visitor Centre Assistant, Scottish Wildlife Trust
It was back in May 1969, two months before Neil Armstrong took his
historic first steps on the moon, that the Scottish Wildlife Trust
purchased the stunning 130 acres of scenic, wildlife-rich countryside in
Highland Perthshire that make up Loch of the Lowes.
Today, Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve is
visited by tens of thousands of people every year, who come to see
ospreys, red squirrels, beavers and much more.
On 29th June 2019, fewer people will be sleeping in their beds as,
all across the UK, people will be coming together to have outdoor
adventures, big and small. And we’d love you to join us.
We believe that Britons are spending too much time indoors, which is
adversely affecting our well-being, and that the answer is to encourage
and support each other to get outside. Only a third of children in
Britain spend more than an hour a day outdoors. A quarter of UK adults
are classed as physically inactive, getting fewer than 30 minutes of
moderate exercise a week. Spending time outside has been proven to help
with mental health problems including anxiety and depression as well as
the physical benefits to getting active. Its also fun!
Wild Night Out is a dedicated date in the diary for us all to get
outside to experience nature afresh under the cover of darkness.
CJS readers will no doubt understand that being outdoors can be the
perfect antidote to life’s stresses and strains. At the Youth Adventure
Trust, we have been using the ‘power of the outdoors’ to transform the
lives of vulnerable young people for more than 25 years.
Clean Air Day is an opportunity for environment professionals to
bring the issue of air pollution to the attention of our workplaces and
households. Air pollution affects us all at work, at home and out
and about. It causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low
birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to
mental health issues.
My name is Isla, and I’m 16. Since I was born, I’ve lived part-time
in London and on Gometra - a small island in the inner Hebrides of
Scotland. The whole island is off-grid – no cars, no internet in any of
the homes, no mains electricity – not even washing machines.
I first heard about Extinction Rebellion last year, and in February I
joined the youth group – then 6 strong. The youth group was created
because there was a lack of youth voice in extinction rebellion, and as
our generation has the most to lose to climate and ecological collapse,
and we will inherit whatever the ‘adults’ decide to do now, we need a
large stake in current decision making.
From 13 – 17 May 2019, organisations across Britain are taking part
Invasive Species Week to raise awareness of invasive species and
their impacts on us all. Anyone working in the field is likely to have
encountered invasive species, but may not realise how easily they could
be helping to spread them.
Around 2,000 non-native plants and animals from all over the world
have been introduced to Britain by people, and the number is increasing
each year. Most are harmless but 10-15% have become invasive and have a
negative impact on our environment, cost the British economy over £1.7
billion a year, and can even harm our health and way of life. Once
established they are extremely difficult to manage and the damage they
cause is usually irreversible.
10 years after the inception of Campaign for the Farmed Environment, a
partnership approach to supporting sustainable farming is more important
than ever. For this reason, CFE has relaunched as Championing the Farmed
Environment to renew the agricultural industry’s commitment to promoting
good environmental management through productive farming practice.
Living Streets first came into being in 1929, when Tom Foley set up
what was then known as the Pedestrians Association. In the early days,
they were behind the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. 90
years on and the charity continues the work Tom Foley pioneered and his
ambitious vision. Now their campaigns and projects up and down the UK,
including the world’s biggest Walk to School campaign, help enable and
encourage people of all ages to walk more. The challenges might be
different in 2019 to what they were in 1929, but the charity’s work
remains as important as ever.
In more recent years, their campaigning has seen 20mph speed limits
on residential areas becoming more widespread; more schools closing
their local streets to cars at drop off and pick up times; and the
Scottish Government published a bill to ban pavement parking nationwide.
2019 marks a very special year for the Cleveland Way and allows a
look back on a great 50 years for our local National Trail. The path was
an immediate success, capturing the public’s imagination, and that in
itself led to a big problem of sustainability. The trail quickly
became damaged, especially on the Cleveland Hills sections where it was
joined by the Lyke Wake Walk and Coast to Coast routes. The National
Trail has been finding lots of ways to celebrate and are encouraging
anyone to make their own celebration as well. Amongst the
highlights for the year has been the production of the “Cleveland Way
Collection” booklet, describing 50 great experiences to enjoy along the
It’s a special year for The Open University, celebrating 50 years of
helping OU students and graduates realise their ambitions and fulfil
their potential. One of the UK’s best-loved and respected institutions,
more than 2 million worldwide have studied with us since we began
unlocking this otherwise hidden source of talent in 1969. OU students
and graduates have strengths and skills from life and work as well as
higher studies, so we also help employers connect with this unique
talent pool. Our pioneering distance-learning model means excellent OU
candidates are not only based in major towns and cities, but in a wide
range of locations. This often makes them ideally placed for
As a conservation professional, you cannot fail to be aware of the catastrophic decline in habitats and species globally, the threat posed by climate change and the almost daily media messages that time is running out for us to save our planet. Man-made impacts on the environment have compromised or destroyed whole ecosystems and urgent action is needed by everyone to restore biodiversity and safeguard our future. The purpose of the year is a call to action, for people from all backgrounds, to join together to play their part in protecting and enhancing our environment.
Over 2018 Traverse
worked on a research project exploring young people’s experiences and
attitudes towards taking part in environmental volunteering.
Commissioned by Defra, we heard from over 1,100 young people across
England, through a series of focus groups and a nationally
representative survey of 16-24 years olds. The policy context for this
research is the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and its policies
to encourage more children and young people to connect with the natural
environment and take action to protect and enhance it.
Our forests are gloriously multi-purpose, benefitting people and nature
while providing a crucial natural resource and playing a vital role in
rural economies. Founded in 1919, the Forestry Commission has more than
doubled Britain’s forest cover over the past 100 years. The scope of
activities this year reflects the nature of the organisation. While it
is celebrating its centenary this year by telling stories from the past,
it has one eye firmly on the future, and the next 100 years of forestry.
CJS is delighted to become a corporate supporter of the Network. A collaborative project, above all else, it is a partnership, which involves many of the UK’s wildlife conservation organisations, the government and country agencies, environmental agencies, local environmental records centres and also many voluntary groups.
Our featured charity in
2018 : The Vincent Wildlife Trust
The River Dee in the north-east of Scotland provides an
internationally important habitat for populations of salmon, otters and
freshwater pearl mussels, so has been given Special Area of Conservation
status by the EU, the highest level of environmental recognition
We hear about Jamie Urquhart, a biologist with the River Dee Trust and
what his job entails.
New Nature is a new e-magazine written, edited and produced entirely by
young people. By young conservationists, naturalists, ecologists and, of
course, writers; each inspired in their own way by the natural world.
HighGround is a charity started by Anna Baker Cresswell in 2013 to help
Service Leavers, Reservists and Veterans to find jobs, careers and
vocational opportunities in the land-based sector – outdoor stuff for
CJS Focus on Volunteering: In association with The Scottish Countryside Rangers
Association, the Countryside Management AssociationFull edition This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution. CJS Focus on Water: In association with Canal & River Trust Full edition
This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution.
CJS Focus on Wildlife: In association with The Wildlife Trusts, in celebration of
their centenary year. Full edition
This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution. CJS Focus on Volunteering: In association with The Scottish Countryside Rangers
Association, the Countryside Management Association Full edition
CJS Focus on Wildlife: In association with the Wildlife Trusts. Looking at Wildlife Conservation and Research Full edition This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution.
CJS Focus on Seasonal and Volunteer work: In association with The Scottish Countryside Rangers Association and the Countryside Management Association Full edition
This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution.
CJS Focus on Trees and Hedges: In association with The Tree Council, for National Tree Week and the Permaculture Association for their Year of the TreeFull edition
This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution.
CJS Focus on Coast & Marine Environments: In association with The Marine Biological Association and Marine Conservation Society Full edition
Since we wrote our last blog for CJS back in March it would be safe to say that life has changed for everyone. Our small team have been working from home since lockdown started and any research/surveys that couldn’t be undertaken during daily exercise ground to a halt. Whilst signs and sightings of mammals could always be recorded using the very portable Mammal Mapper app, anything more complex or off the beaten track had to be put on hold.*