Library of in depth features covering a wide range of subjects across the many different areas of the countryside, conservation, wildlife sectors as well as looking at careers and how to get a job. Many articles are written exclusively for CJS. Some articles were originally sourced for CJS Focus, others have been written exclusively for CJS by our
Featured Charities, you'll also find
profiles of relevant organisations and charities.
There is a wealth of information from across many different areas that has been 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 Articles are listed chronologically so those towards the bottom of the list may be out of date, although we do check content and veracity on a regular basis.
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these may now be out of date and we ask you to proceed with caution if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.
Seed Gathering Season started on 22 September so we find out what the job of seed gathering entails
Based near Shrewsbury but we collect at sites throughout the UK
Employer: Forestart Ltd
The majority of the time in the autumn is spent collecting berries or cones at various locations and then extracting the seed from these berries and cones at our site in Hadnall. The seed then has to be cleaned and prepared for dispatch, storage or stratification. Much time is spent outdoors in all weather.
Dynamic Dunescapes is an ambitious project, rejuvenating some of England & Wales' most important sand dunes for people, communities and wildlife. The concept of dune rejuvenation is still relatively unknown and conventional management remains that dune systems need to be stabilised particularly for flood and coastal protection. To help with understanding these new approaches, and to give guidance to sand dune managers and owners, the Project has developed two online, e-learning courses for both sand dune managers and for citizen scientists and volunteers involved in dune management.
CJS Focus on Careers in Ecology & Biodiversity
in association with with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) Published 20 September 2021
Last month I finished working on a youth engagement project with a local Wildlife Trust. I was working with young people between the ages of 11 and 24, to encourage them to work to improve their local environments. Last summer, towards the end of the first Lockdown, it became apparent that there was a desperate need to help recent graduates. They had all successfully completed their degrees in an environmental discipline, studying hard, and racking up the debt that goes with that. Now, young and enthusiastic, they were desperate to get out there and start working to improve the natural world that they had learnt so much about. But! First the sector expects them to get relevant experience by giving up their time for free.
2021 will see the prestigious Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces presented for the 25th Year.
The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world. Originally developed by the industry in response to declining standards, 2061 parks in the UK currently fly the flag, having achieved the highest benchmark as set out in the award criteria.
Liverpool is a front-runner city in the EU funded, Horizon 2020, URBAN GreenUP project, whose remit is to retrofit a range of nature-based solutions (NBS) across the city and to monitor them for their multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. The project team comprises of the City Council, the University of Liverpool and Mersey Forest and brings together city influence, academic challenge and green infrastructure expertise. Liverpool is partnered by 2 other European cities undertaking similar research and 5 global follower cities who will seek to replicate our NBS success.
The fifth article from our featured charity is a call for the annual photography competition
Following on from the release of our National Parks and the Climate Emergency report this summer, and as we prepare for COP26 in Scotland in November, we wanted to use our annual photography competition as an opportunity to further move people to understand the climate crisis impacting our National Parks and take action to help protect them. We want people to really think about the impact of climate change in our National Parks, while showcasing the immense photography talent we know exists in National Parks up and down England and Wales. Not just established photographers, but the next generation – and those who may not have SLR cameras, but enjoy taking photos on their smartphone.
If you ask a certain generation of urban dweller, they will tell you about dark skies and smog caused by the burning of coal. As we gaze upwards on #WorldCleanAirDay don’t be fooled that the problem is solved. Nor that air pollution is just an urban problem. Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to human health. Every year across the world air pollution kills seven million people – that’s over 19,000 people each day. And this is happening in the UK too, as air pollution causes up to 36,000 annually, which is just the tip of the iceberg of the suffering it causes.
Thanks to Kate and Charles, Rangers from South Downs National Park Authority for their Live Ask the Ranger event in August.
In the talk they both revealed how they got on to the career ladder and what their jobs involve. Various questions were answered including can you get into a paid conservation job straight out of university and how easy it to career change in to conservation.
Having been fascinated with all animals, and particularly wildlife, since childhood, I am lucky to have built a career over the last 18 years with the RSPCA working at West Hatch Wildlife Centre, which aims to rehabilitate sick and injured British wildlife. For me, this work is a great fusion of zoology and veterinary medicine; the position allows me the opportunity to work hands-on with wild animals, while at the same time improving their welfare, learning about the conditions which affect them, and helping the public who have found them in distress.
Did you know the Bat Conservation Trust has been conserving bats in the UK for 30 years?
Bats are unique and play a vital role in our environment, but during the last century bat populations suffered severe declines. Since 1991 the Bat Conservation Trust has run a diverse range of projects to conserve bat populations. Bats are protected by law, and in the UK some species may already be benefitting from the positive effects of conservation.
Louise Wilson is the Director and founder of Conservation K9 Consultancy (CK9C), where she trains and handles specialist detection dogs for a range of conservation purposes, from ecological surveys, research searches to wildlife monitoring for endangered or invasive species. An expert in her field, Louise has a long and varied background in dog training, having trained and handled drugs and explosives detection dogs over the last 18 years. Other wildlife projects have involved dormice, water voles, wolverines, dormouse, wildlife poison, wolves, bear, cheetah, mountain lions, otters, salamanders, great crested newts, frog Carcasses, invasive beetles, lynx, pine martens, hedgehogs, and bat carcasses to name a few.
In December 2020 a scheme was launched that had been many months in the making. Race for Nature’s Recovery is a new employment initiative, pioneered by a group of environmental and youth empowerment organisations. Its aim is to create new roles in the UK’s environmental sector for unemployed 16-24 year olds from predominantly Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Froglife is a national nature conservation organisation with a specific remit to conserve the UKs native reptile and amphibian species and their habitats. We deliver our work through three inter-connected programmes: Transforming Landscapes, Transforming Lives and Transforming Research. Central to our ethos is to encourage as many people as possible to help to conserve our natural environment. We have recently upgraded our Dragon Finder App and thought it a good opportunity to remind all nature conservationists working out in the field to please submit your reptile and amphibian sightings to the App.
A bite to eat in a visitor attraction cafe may be a treat during our individual experiences but their presence is one that we have begun to expect at such destinations. Cafes have long been a means for organisations to diversify their income streams and encourage visitors to sit back, relax and stay longer. Helen Jones, Visitor Engagement Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust highlights that, in addition to their financial potential, a perfectly pitched cafe might just make your destination someone’s perfect cup of tea – with visitors soon coming back for that extra slice again and again!
As the largest new native broadleaf forest in the country, the Heart of England Forest has a significant amount of land to manage to improve its value for biodiversity. CEO Beth Brook explains why the charity has integrated agroforestry into its land management practices. Agroforestry is the practice of mixing forestry and agricultural practices which benefits people, wildlife and the environment. This can mean growing both trees and crops on the same piece of land or allowing animals to wander and feed and shelter in areas of woodland, and assisting with woodland management in return.
Plastic pollution is in the news a lot at the moment and in British rivers it takes two forms; macroplastics and microplastics, but they both cause pollution that persists for many miles and many decades. There is an army of people dealing with this problem, both at the ‘front-line’ collecting plastic from beaches and rivers, and further up the plastic-chain, working with waste producers to control it at source. But the most intransigent plastic pollution problem is the control of tyre-wear particles and pollution from road runoff.
Recent surveys have shown that the majority of the UK public are worried about climate change. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the need to take urgent action, with the impacts already being felt across the world and in the UK. Record-breaking temperatures, rains and droughts are becoming more frequent and devastating. We need to see urgent action taken by world leaders to protect the people, places and nature we love.
Each year The Wildlife Trusts celebrate our marine environment during National Marine Week. From the weird and wonderful microscopic plankton forming the backbone of marine food webs to cold water corals and mighty whales, almost half of the UK’s wildlife is found in our seas.
However, the UK’s seas are not the pristine environments we once thought them to be. Centuries of over-exploitation, development and expansion has led to human activities impacting even the deepest trenches of the oceans. As human populations and marine industries continue to grow, our seas need to be protected and managed to ensure that we do not lose valuable ecosystems.
Our Youth Council is a group of young people aged 13 to 25 years old that live in Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside (LWT). They are passionate about protecting the local environment, inspiring social action and creating positive change. The Council works to build a rich and biodiverse future for our area, where nature's recovery is the priority, because as one Council member stated “Nature's future is our future.”
Activities such as those connected with nature and the natural environment or the arts, or that engage us in exercise or sport, can all help us to maintain and build relationships, to unlock our strengths, to have choice and control and to make constructive and helpful contributions within our community. This is at the heart of social prescribing, which is a way for health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.
When lockdown started, everything else stopped. Meeting friends for a Sunday roast became a thing of the past, gyms closed their doors and restaurants stopped serving. Parks became one of the few leisure activities city dwellers could enjoy as a family and parks welcomed unprecedented numbers of visitors throughout the pandemic - even during the cold winter months. Green spaces offered vital refuges, providing a place to walk, jog, run, play and engage with nature - or quite simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings and make time for quiet reflection.
If you already work in the ‘countryside’ sector, you will probably be aware of the importance of field skills, and the application of these to biological recording. If you are an anxious graduate, applying for every consultancy job going, you will know only too well of the importance of identification skills, and how to use them (and how almost every job advertisement asks for the ability to identify several groups!) – so how do these skills and activities fit in with our rather obscure organisation – the NFBR?
In the fourth article from our featured charity, Campaign for National Parks, we find out about how they think National Parks can tackle climate change
In the year that the UK hosts the G7 summit and COP26, we've released a new ‘National Parks and the Climate Emergency’ report. It looks at what is currently being done to address climate change in National Parks and what more is needed.
There's been a lot of talk about a green recovery recently, which National Parks could, and should, play a leading role in, but they're barely mentioned by government let alone given the support they need to innovate and tackle climate change.
I began pursuing a career in the conservation sector with a route familiar to many – I applied for and achieved an NC & HNC in Countryside Management at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). This was following a keen interest in hill climbing, the outdoors and the Scottish landscape as a whole from a young age. Looking back, my time at SRUC’s Oatridge campus in West Lothian was definitely beneficial, however, on reflection, I don’t feel that I was able to make the absolute most of the experience. Over time, I’ve found I learn best in the field and on the job – my experience as a Modern Apprentice (MA) showed me that.
The pandemic has brought into sharp focus our national differences and our common experiences. The restrictions linked to the health emergency diverging across the different government administrations and the common “staycation” surge of visitors which put enormous pressure on our urban greenspaces and rural locations. Resisting the temptation to lay claim to wisdom and foresight, SCRA (with a good measure of wisdom and foresight), had already commenced a process of political engagement which, during the staycation crisis, helped set a context for the role Rangers could undertake to mitigate these challenges.
Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) is an educational charity created by students and staff at the National Union of Students (NUS) in 2019 in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. We exist to help students to learn, act and lead for sustainability, to support students to be the change that society urgently needs to get us out of the climate crisis and to deliver climate justice.
The Sustainability and Outdoor Education (SEE) project aims to increase outdoor sports participation and enhance the protection of natural landscapes through education on responsible outdoor behaviour. This will be achieved through collaboration between outdoor sports professionals and conservation organisations across Europe.
greenspace scotland engages and empowers young people through the Young Placechangers programme.
The Young Placechangers approach combines greenspace scotland’s experience of working with community groups on placemaking with Youth Scotland’s experience of youth work and supporting young people to take the lead.
Tragically, on average, around 400 people drown around the UK every year and a further 200 take their own lives on our waters. Many of these deaths are preventable.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) Water Safety Team was established in 2020 to focus and target its prevention work in areas that will help people before they get into difficulty in, on and around the waters of the UK and ROI. Working with partners, our fantastic team of staff and over 900 volunteers influence improved safety on and beside the water.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for quite a while, you’ll know that we’re in a bit of a pickle. Interlinked climate, health and ecological emergencies means we have to make huge changes to the way we live. We must reduce the impacts we have on the planet’s natural ecosystems - because carrying on as we are just isn’t an option. The UK’s target is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Is that even possible? Yes, if we invest in protecting our marine ecosystems like seabed sediments, saltmarsh, seagrass, shellfish and kelp habitats. These habitats are the key to the carbon question – here's why.
Colleges and Universities should make the most of opportunities to work closely with industry in order to offer the most relevant and applicable knowledge, skills and techniques - cutting down the requirement for further experience upon graduating. As a new teacher, I will be developing a “graduate profile” in consultation with local employers - to identify what skills, knowledge and behaviours students will need to be successful in their careers, to be updated annually.
A new guide aimed at helping land managers protect hill ground from damage caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has been published by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). How did this come to be?
The Friends of Cotteridge Park was set up in 1997 in response to a threat to “decommission” the park. The aim of the group is to care for and develop the park as a resource for the whole of the community.
Young people are the future of our community; working with them to find ways to make the park their own is key to the work of the Friends of Cotteridge Park.
With the stricter lockdown restrictions of 2020, we discovered our local greenspaces and parks that before we might have walked through, but never truly valued. These spaces became places to escape, to forget, to clear our minds and to look at nature in a different way. A study by the National Youth Agency’s Young Researchers found that young people aged 16-25 years old used local greenspaces to socialise and to relax, spending on average 1 to 5 hours a week in them. We have seen an increased interest from young people on the climate and nature crisis, but some young people find it difficult to bring this action closer to home.
We all see wildflowers as beautiful and great for our well-being. But for the thousands of pollinating insects that share this land with us, wildflowers are vital. But, there’s a problem. Pollinators are finding themselves in isolated oases, walled in by agricultural land, urban landscapes, roads, and gardens. What humans see as neat and tidy; insects see as desert! Imagine trying to travel around Britain without our road and rail network. Or imagine if nine out of every ten miles of road just didn’t exist – life would be impossible!
In 2019 Birmingham won a place on a new initiative to enhance the future of its parks and green spaces. In the first project of its kind in the UK, Future Parks Accelerator (FPA) is designed to help councils find sustainable ways to manage and fund parks and open spaces across entire towns and cities. Our Jobs and Skills Pilot is all about promoting the green sector and the fantastic careers and opportunities it has to offer. We hope once restrictions start to lift that we will get to meet people in person to deliver some interactive events and activities for you to learn more from the professionals working in the green sector.
Derek Crawley is the lead author of the Atlas of the Mammals of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (D Crawley et al 2020). He is the founder member and Chair of the Staffordshire Mammal Group and a verifier of mammal records. Derek reports on what he has been able to do during lockdown.
Elan Links is an innovative Heritage Lottery and partner funded scheme investing nearly £3.4million into the Elan Valley near Rhayader in Powys, Wales. Elan Valley is a very special place with an unique landscape, story and history stretching back over 4,000 years. 26 projects will be delivered between 2018 and 2023 under three themes
2020 will go down in history as one of the most strange and uncertain years. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting when I accepted the role of Creative Director at A Focus on Nature (AFON) in January last year. Associate Director Emily and I, had visions of reaching new people through events and outreach, whilst topping off our time at AFON with a conference. Of course, we quickly realised that we’d need to head back to the drawing board if we wanted to achieve our vision of a more inclusive and diverse AFON.
There are two World Migratory Bird Days, one in May, the other in October. In celebration we thought we would find out what the job of being a bird ringer entails.
Aron Sapsford works for Manx Wildlife Trust at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory on the Isle of Man
Job Responsibilities: Daily census of migratory birds, including ringing. Breeding bird surveys and recording of other fauna & flora. General management of 616 acre nature reserve and hostel accommodation. Majority of time is spent doing bird research and surveys.
An opinion piece from a long term subscriber to CJS Weekly
Weighing up the positives and negatives of volunteering in countryside management can be more complex than one might first imagine. Like so many people who have chosen a career in a sector which can be satisfying, challenging, extremely rewarding (not to mention frustrating, difficult and underfunded) and from the outside hugely desirable – I began my career as a volunteer with my local ‘Friends of’ group. I have fond memories as a school kid carting barrow loads of stone, learning to pull Himalayan Balsam, and practising the art of hammering staples without nailing my own finger to a post!
The UK's gardens are a significant habitat, forming a network of green spaces through towns and cities, and there are measures gardeners can take to nurture wildlife on their own a little piece of the natural world. Most gardeners who produce their own fruit and vegetables will aim to grow a wide variety of crops, so the productive garden is normally diverse; a wide range of vegetables, flowers, trees and bushes, compost heaps and other areas, results in a patchwork of spaces for wildlife – a polyculture.
Song birds are in alarming decline with overall numbers fewer than half, compared to fifty years ago. Extinction remains a real threat for species such as nightingales (down 93%) and willow tits (down 94%) which have been part of our landscape and heritage for centuries. At this time of year, the wonderful songs of the dawn chorus remind us of the remarkable birds we live alongside, but the volume is sadly diminishing. Song birds bring us joy and we are increasingly recognising the positive influence on our wellbeing. But the gravity of losing them from our ecosystem is about much more – it is signalling a crisis and research is providing critical knowledge to tackle this.
Safety for staff working in or near is a major issue for everyone in our sector and robust risk assessments are one of the key ways to reduce the chance of accidents and incident occurring. Mitigation around working with water includes working in teams, good planning, communications on site, time of year, checking weather forecasts, and a final layer of safety should be correct PPE footwear (boots/waders), lifejackets, vinyl gloves, a spare flask with a hot drink and spare clothes etc.
I started a year-long programme of volunteering 3 days a week for the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust shortly after graduating with a BA in International Development. I realised during my degree that it wasn’t going to be particularly relevant to the route I wanted to go down but at that point I was in too deep. Less than keen to sign up for a corporate graduate programme, the idea of a 12-month training role for a sector I was genuinely interested in seemed too good to pass up.
Infinite growth, reckless consumption, eroding soils, concreting over precious habitats. Mental ill health, loneliness, social deprivation. The symptoms are plain for us to see. The solutions? They are also hiding in plain sight. Permaculture teaches a collaboration with land and nature. A concept originating in Australia in the 1970s, it provides a set of tools to add to your toolkit. Design thinking, with practical techniques and wide applications.
Curlews are a familiar and much-loved species in England, whether that be restless flocks at a coastal estuary in winter or displaying birds over a remote upland moor in summer – they really are an integral part of our national landscape and soundscape. However, they are undergoing a catastrophic decline in many areas of the country, with whole breeding colonies quietly fading away and wintering numbers also falling steadily. Until recently this decline was very much under the radar, but recent research highlighting the decline means they are now a conservation priority in the UK.
Britain’s water voles are in trouble. The arrival of non-native American mink and loss of suitable habitat have led to them becoming one of our fastest declining mammals. The key to halting the decline and conserving this species is understanding where water voles currently are, where they are doing well, and crucially, where they have disappeared. With this knowledge, we can better identify threats and target conservation efforts to areas where they are most needed. The main aim of PTES’ National Water Vole Monitoring Programme (NWVMP) is to revisit sites that were originally surveyed in the 1990s. It was the results of these surveys that revealed the extent of the decline; water voles were lost from nearly 90% of sites monitored within just seven years.
Leaving a legacy is something I’m sure most of us would love to do. There is a sense of responsibility to pass something on to the next or future generations – whether that be in the form of advice, treasured possessions or something of financial value.
BASC does much to encourage and educate the next generation – we run a Young Shots programme, our pathways to shooting programme liaises with schools, colleges and higher education institutes and you can often, when the world allows it, find us at countryside shows with much to educate and entertain youngsters. One element of that work is BASC’s Legacy Funded Scholarship Programme. The programme aims to support and encourage those wishing to develop their knowledge in conservation, land management or gamekeeping. It provides financial assistance to applicants where lack of funding obstructs education and future careers.
Most people who are passionate about the natural world and who enjoy going outside, either to their garden, local parks or the wider countryside, usually enjoy identifying what they see to some degree. They might be participating in national recording days, such as the “Big Garden Birdwatch”, or making regular surveys of their local green spaces for Butterfly Conservation. But whatever they do, biological recording can be an incredibly fun and addictive hobby that can take you on a lifelong journey of appreciation or even a related career.
Now that we are in April – officially ‘Stress Awareness Month’ – we look at how being in the outdoors benefits mental as well as physical health.
There are many reasons why people choose careers that enable them to work outdoors. The freedom of not being chained to a desk – having a wide, open space as an ‘office’ – is undoubtedly a popular reason, as are the benefits to physical fitness of being in a non-sedentary job.
The third article from our featured charity Campaign for National Parks
This year’s National Park Week (17-25 April) coincides with another special date - the 70th anniversary since the first National Park, Peak District National Park, was created in the UK on 17 April 1951. It paved the way for the creation of the 15 National Parks here today. The launch of Peak District National Park was closely followed in 1951 by Lake District National Park (9 May), Snowdonia National Park (18 October) and Dartmoor National Park (30 October).
Over the last forty years, Groundwork has seen first-hand the tangible benefits of supporting communities to proactively engage with their local environment. Not only do local places and spaces improve as a result, but people grow as individuals as they start to reap the rewards of what these community spaces can provide. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say eyes have been opened to the importance of access to well-maintained, supported and funded outdoor spaces -and the benefits this can offer.
If you’ve ever struggled with a difficult decision in your life, you’ll know how important the advice, support and guidance from members of your family, or a close personal friend, can be. Often a simple conversation can make things clearer and you’re then able to be more confident and decisive in your actions.
Spring is the season of change, growth and opportunity as the hedgerows explode into life and the skylarks start displaying. This is also the time of year when career seekers will be scouring CJS in search of a seasonal foot-in-the-door. Increasingly, however, that includes not just traditional seasonal contracts and project funded posts, but also “voluntary traineeships”.
It’s not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one and has never been more relevant. A year of lockdowns and an impending recession has impacted our sector and made both politicians and the wider public reassess the value of nature, creating both challenges and opportunities. Volunteering is the heart of the countryside and conservation sector. Volunteering keeps our organisations going, opens doors, is great for health and wellbeing, injects knowledge and skills into our teams. Our long history of natural history volunteering is something we can be proud of in the UK. There are multiple reasons why people may be motivated to volunteer, and career development has always been one of these, but we need to take a long hard look at these “trainee” roles and consider carefully if they are appropriate volunteer opportunities for forward thinking conservation organisations to be recruiting for.
Action for Conservation (AFC) is a UK charity working to empower the next generation of environmental leaders. AFC’s newest Programme Coordinators, Charlotte Nwanodi, Omar Abu-Seer and Sophie Jones, share why it’s important for young people to remain engaged in environmental action as we emerge from the lockdown and how programmes like WildED are helping young people drive a fairer, greener future.
Apprenticeships are an exciting option for people of all ages, backgrounds and experience to get on and off the job training and hands-on experience.
This new level 4 qualification will help individuals wanting to progress within the countryside management profession and employers looking to hire someone new or upskill existing employees. Once complete, apprentices will be qualified in roles such as countryside, community or recreation rangers, reserve or countryside wardens, estate supervisor or estate or park rangers.
How can land managers embrace and work with Friends Groups and community volunteers?
Local green spaces have always been popular and are recognised as a fundamental ingredient necessary for communities to thrive, above all - they bring people together. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted their importance still further and parks and open spaces continue to help us cope with lockdowns and restrictions. The last twelve months have brought a welcome spotlight of appreciation onto our green spaces. Report after report has been published highlighting just what a vital resource they are. Many more local people have discovered the ‘green lungs’ on their doorsteps and are willing to volunteer their time to look after them.
Temperate rainforest, also known as Atlantic or Celtic rainforest, is an incredibly rare habitat, and even thought to be more threatened than tropical rainforest.
Temperate rainforest is also one of the most biodiverse habitats found in the UK. The high humidity and low temperature range create the perfect conditions for moisture-loving lichens and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts); a good example of this kind of habitat could contain over 200 different species of bryophytes, and 100-200 species of lichen.
During the first wave of the pandemic, all formal volunteering stopped. However, the Country Park was busier than ever as local people used the facility for their daily exercise and turned to our social media page on Facebook for up to date information on closures. There was a large amount of goodwill directed towards the Park. The outdoor space and link to nature that it provided our communities with was a lifeline during lockdown.
Launched by a community of current students spread across the United Kingdom, The Open Wilding Project is empowering the next generation of scientists and specialists. Each year, opportunities for student jobs, work experience, research and investigation become more and more difficult, with the sector heavily saturated with part to full time only volunteer opportunities that are inflexible and hard to come by, and employers requiring academic and practical experience, leaving graduates discouraged and eventually abandoning a profession in nature.
The environmental sector is vast, with people invested in some way at many different levels. Those with a passion for the environment but working in a completely different industry, school pupils looking for a guide to their future career, students and graduates, those at the beginning on traineeships - looking for their first entry role, mid-career ecologists and conservationists and those who’ve spent nearly their whole working life in the outdoors. But what do these people look like? What skills and qualities do they have? What makes a conservationist. What, perhaps, even is conservation?
After an absence of 400 years, beavers have returned to Dorset. Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Marketing and Communications Officer, Alex Hennessy explains why they matter and how they shape the landscape.
When we think of natural solutions to the ecological and climate crises, beavers (Castor fiber) are a ‘keystone species’ with huge potential to help nature cope and rebuild. Their unique set of skills can really help shape our landscapes for the better, but they were sadly hunted to extinction here in Britain four centuries ago.
We are all told when we are studying or trying to get into the conservation sector that volunteering and getting practical experience is hugely important, and it is, it’s the reason I now have a job. However, something that is not always recognised is that continuing to volunteer once you are in the sector can be hugely valuable as well. A lot of the roles in the sector are contract based due to funding so you may be in a role that requires you to run the school aspect of a project, so you come out of this role a superstar in running education sessions for school children but the next role that you want to apply for could be more adult based learning or it could be a totally different role altogether. This is where taking up a voluntary role can help, it’s a great way to keep skills up to date and gain new ones that you might not get through employment straight away.
On a spring day in 2020, the Manchester Argus flew on a Manchester moss for the first time in more than 150 years. Not even the Lockdown could prevent this momentous flight of a butterfly that had been driven from many North West wetlands by development and agricultural drainage of peat. Females butterflies had been transplanted from Winmarleigh Moss in Lancashire to Chester Zoo, where they gave birth. Caterpillars were reared at the zoo and their pupae taken to Astley Moss to be released as butterflies.
CJS Focus on Volunteering
in association with National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces with Parks Community UK
Small, country businesses and charities are tapping in to new tech to get their business stories published in national magazines and newspapers – without being faced with expensive PR agency fees. One business benefiting from this, Holt’s in Norfolk, spent under £300 to have a press release written and distributed on their behalf. They never expected the media attention that followed – from Tatler and Town & Country magazines to the Daily Mail and the BBC, the small specialist fine and antique gun auctioneers were the talk of the town.
Now the North York Moors National Park has achieved international recognition for its Dark Skies, we not only need to celebrate them, we also need to work hard to protect them. A key obligation in protecting Dark Skies is to ensure that we not only prevent the spread of additional light pollution through planning guidance but also reduce existing levels. This doesn’t mean asking residents and businesses to turn off all lighting but it does mean encouraging everybody to use light sympathetically and not to waste it.
I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery to my daughters at bedtime. They are 11 & 9 but we enjoy sharing a book so much that I will continue to read to them as long as I can. Written in 1908, lives at the time ran at a slower pace, and people seemed far more connected with nature than they do today. Life would have been much harder back then, but I often think that a simpler existence without the distractions of so many electronic gadgets would be much more pleasant.
The second article from our featured charity Campaign for National Parks
Campaign for National Parks is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and improve National Parks in England and Wales. As well as influencing government policy and supporting members with planning campaigns, it highlights best practice and engages people with the work being carried out in National Parks through a variety of means - including an annual photography competition and an annual awards scheme.
By Carys Evans, Communications and Campaigns Officer for Wildlife Trusts Wales
Having worked in communications and marketing within the conservation sector for the last few years I can safely say that no two days are ever the same! If you’re looking for a non-stop, creative whirlwind of a job then marketing and communications may just be for you!
Providing young people with the opportunity to live and work in their own area is vitally important. This is even more apparent in rural areas such as the Yorkshire Dales where historically, the younger generation has moved away looking for employment. Several schemes are now in place to give young people a chance to take control of their futures – and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s scheme has an 85 per cent success rate in taking people from training into further education or employment.
Slowly but surely, especially over the last 20 years, an inspirational grassroots movement has been arising of people dedicated to improving, caring for, protecting, animating, appreciating and publicising, and taking some ‘ownership’ of their own local green spaces in all kinds of ways. There are now over 7,000 local ‘Friends of’ groups, each collectively contributing and ‘adding value’ to their sites to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their capacity. Most are in urban areas, but some even span entire National Parks such as the Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast.
Founded in 2007, Eco Drama are passionate about making quality theatre and creative learning experiences for children and young people which nurture a sense of curiosity, wonder and care for our natural world and remind us we are part of an amazing living planet. Their work explores how the power of the arts can be used to inspire and support people of all ages to take positive, practical action for the environment.
On 13 January 2021 Richard Dodd from Wildwood Ecology gave an excellent presentation on The Top Five Non-technical Skills That Employers Are Looking For - Identifying and developing the right skillset and mindset for a career as an ecologist. Richards started by giving some background on how he entered the sector and what he now does. Going on to discuss the 5 skills he thinks are important.
I started HighGround Charity in 2013 to help more people achieve Life beyond the military – Outdoors. As we enter our 8th busy year and I look forward to the arrival of Tim our first Rural Employment Manager generously funded by The Royal Foundation, I am so grateful for the support, leadership and encouragement of Ian Elliott our fantastic Chairman of Trustees and the many, many people who have funded, presented and connected to help the people who find HighGround on their journey towards Life beyond the military – Outdoors.
Interest in rewilding has boomed and is at levels never seen before. It has captured the imagination of so many, including landowners looking to reframe their approach to managing their land. The concept of rewilding, however, is still relatively new and is about relinquishing our control to let nature dominate. There are no set outcomes or management prescriptions, and habitats will constantly change when natural processes are given the space to lead the way. At Rewilding Britain, we are developing a new Rewilding Network aimed to provide practical advice and guidance, connect landowners with each other for a joined up approach, and support action on the ground.
Have you heard of the Nature Premium campaign? We are calling for the government to invest in a Nature Premium to fund regular nature experiences for all children. It’s called the Nature Premium to model it on the Sports Premium that ensures at least an hour of PE for primary school children every week. The Nature Premium would provide ring fenced funding for the statutory requirement to make sure that all children spend regular time in nature.
2020 was a year of increased focus on the climate crisis and the need for action to mitigate climate change across all emitting industries, including the farming industry. To support farmers in helping to tackle this challenge, Championing the Farmed Environment and its partners across the agricultural and environmental sectors have launched a new Climate Change Mitigation theme to offer guidance and resources for on-farm action.
Great Britain hosts an estimated 13 million waterbirds in winter. Population estimates of our non-breeding waterbirds are just one output from the UK’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) – along with annual species trends, site totals, protected site trends, low tide distribution maps of estuaries and the UK’s wintering waterbird indicator. All these statistics rely on the fieldwork of around 3,000 counters, coordinated by 140 volunteer Local Organisers and the WeBS team at BTO, on behalf of the WeBS partnership.
Promoting your own career can at times be something of a tortuous and difficult campaign, with many a day spent in a school hall waiting patiently for a single student to stop by. This has never been truer than in promoting careers with plants and It can at times be soul destroying as other careers appear to always attract larger numbers of new entrants, especially where parents are involved and rightly want the best for their impressionable offspring. Such a labour of love in promoting this industry under the collective title of horticulture, has been personally, one of more than 35 years, but I wonder whether horticulture as a career is any better understood amongst those impressionable students now than it was those 35 years ago when I attended my first careers convention as an employer.
2019 was dominated by discussions and action around the ongoing Climate Crisis, with Oxford Languages coining it as its word of the year. Globally, we recognised that the natural environment needed our help it if was to survive. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new word entered our global language: lockdown. Countries around the world went into some form of restricted living to protect themselves from the novel virus, and 9 months later we still find ourselves with some of these restrictions in place as we begin to understand the implications and dangers of the virus. Back in June, The Conservation Volunteers looked at the ways in which our natural environment may be impacted by COVID-19. Our volunteering sessions had been suspended, yet some of our TCV staff still carried on maintaining and caring for the green spaces (following social distancing rules) where so many of us found solace during lockdown.
Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger of Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre and Local Nature Reserve discusses how conservation professionals can support the development of the careers of people coming into our sector. With a look at the nature reserve based, work placement scheme that was rated higher than that of Natwest, Microsoft and Tesco, Brian discussed the evolution of a structured offer that has benefitted over 80 students since 2014.
In Spring 2020 a so-called period of ‘anthropause’ led to reduced air and noise pollution in urban areas which enabled the sound of birdsong to permeate areas usually filled with the sound of traffic. Reports hit the headlines of goats descending from the Great Orme into the town of Llandudno and Harbour Porpoise swimming up the river Severn. Yet, how wildlife was responding was largely constrained to anecdotal records from the few able to be in these areas, including local farmers and land managers. Therefore before the lifting of lockdown measures in early July, Natural Resources Wales, the National Trust and the Snowdonia National Park Authority came together to contract a specialist to undertake surveys across seven sites, to assess exactly what was going on and how nature had responded to these unprecedented events. These surveys would serve as a baseline so that future repetition would allow comparisons to be made.
The Dynamic Dunescapes app makes it easier for volunteers to record data, and for site managers to build long-term environmental data sets across nationwide project.
Environmental monitoring is an essential part of any conservation project. You want to know the health and distribution of the species you’re trying to support, and you need to know whether your actions are helping. The task of generating reliable long-term data sets, then, occupies one of the top spots on the to-do list.
Consultant ecologists face some unique challenges in progressing their careers. We have been exploring some of these challenges in our recent survey and the results are surprising. In this article, we share with you some of our findings. From conversations with friends and peers in a range of ecology roles we noticed patterns in the challenges faced to career progression. We wanted find out if this was unique to our circle or was universal within the sector. So, we set out to gather data (because we love data!) from a broad range of ecologists and employers/managers in the industry.
The Surrey Countryside Partnerships (SCP) provides a countryside management partnership service and has over 35 years of experience, working with the vital support of volunteers, within and for local communities. The SCP team maintain and restore local beautiful countryside areas and their habitats for biodiversity, wildlife, public access and enjoyment by all.
Introducing our 2021 featured charity, Campaign for National Parks
Without Campaign for National Parks, National Parks may not exist here in the UK. It started off in the 1936 as the Standing Committee on National Parks which was instrumental in the creation of the first – and then subsequent – National Parks in England and Wales in the 1950s. It went on to become the Council for National Parks before evolving into Campaign for National Parks (CNP) in 2008.
I have been handling and training detection dogs for 6 years in a variety of disciplines. Breaking down doors with HMRC on dawn raids for illicit tobacco and cash, searching stadia, vehicles and hotels for explosives or surveying wind farms for bat and bird carcasses. I’ve trained dogs that detect animals being smuggled through airports, as well as training the first ever scientifically tested Great Crested Newt (GCN) detection dog. It’s fair to say that my career in dog handling so far has been pretty exciting.
The environmental sector is both a rewarding but challenging sector for young people to enter. The sector also lags behind many others in terms of (especially ethnic) diversity. This is a sorry state of affairs given the vital importance of fostering new generations of environmentalists in a world increasingly ravaged by biodiversity loss and climate change. As young people on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders (TNL) Programme, we felt that change was needed and took it upon ourselves to facilitate it.
Academic qualifications or experience? It’s a big question, and a difficult one to answer.
I still remember trying to break into an ecology career after leaving university 16 years ago – competition was tough, and I seemed to be filling in endless application forms. Now I am the Director of my own ecological consultancy, Caledonian Conservation Ltd. Established 10 years ago, I have recruited for employees several times now, and I can see that the market is even more challenging than when I entered it.
For those people who don’t know us, Clean Up Britain (CLUB) is the only national campaigning organisation that is 100% focused on confronting litter and fly-tipping. It’s incredibly sad to say, but Britain is the most littered country in the western world. CLUB is only interested in finding sustainable and effective behavioural change solutions to the litter epidemic afflicting Britain.
It’s no secret that spending time outdoors is good for your health, it’s great for your well being and is a real boost for your energy levels. But sometimes getting children outdoors to reap some of these rewards can be easier said than done. So, whether you work with them or have your own, the Youth Adventure Trust have put together some top tips for getting children and young people out enjoying the great outdoors
In the final article from featured charity The Mammal Society we learn a bit more about some of the team
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of spending time in nature, on a regular basis, in people's normal every day lives. Local urban greenspaces have been the most popular places for people to visit throughout lockdown and afterwards, with 53% of those surveyed visiting a local park or other place during August. The next most popular was farmland and countryside, with 32%. Forests were third most popular around 30%.
Trees for Cities, Brillianto and Forest Research are hosting a citizen science project to map the canopy cover of the UK’s towns and cities. Help us to build this canopy cover map by measuring the canopy cover in your local area! Canopy cover is the area of ground covered by tree leaves and branches. It’s usually expressed as a percentage and can be used to indicate the extent of urban forests and tree cover within a specified area. It’s a widely adopted metric that is easy to understand, and also gives an indication of the distribution of trees and their associated benefits.
Colour in the Margins is a Back from the Brink project running since 2018. Led by Plantlife in partnership with the RSPB it has been working to secure the future of some of our rarest arable species. The project has targeted the conservation of 13 key species: ten plants and three ground beetles that rely on the farmed environment.
A recent report from the Mammal Society lists hedgehogs on Britain’s IUCN Red List as vulnerable to extinction. Their numbers have declined by as much as 50% in the last 20 years, facing such continued threats as roads and loss of natural habitat. The question is, how have we come to this point and what’s being done to turn it around? Thankfully, an army of Hedgehog Champions is growing across the UK, ready and willing to fight the good fight. One such branch of this army is Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC). HFC is an accreditation scheme funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, providing teams of university staff and students with a toolkit to make hedgehog-friendly changes on campus.
Are you interested in a career in conservation but unsure where to start? For National Mentoring Day A Focus on Nature highlight their mentoring scheme, for 18-30 year olds. A Focus on Nature (AFON) is the UK’s youth nature network, and their aim is to support, inspire and connect young people. Through the mentoring scheme, professionals from the conservation sector provide tailored advice to young people with a passion for nature.
From helping our neighbours to formal volunteering, being involved is good for our individual and collective wellbeing through helping us build and maintain social connections. Our communities also benefit enormously from the time, skills and experience that we bring to organisations and groups. So how can we make sure that the two thirds of people aged over 50 who contribute to their community can continue to do so in ways that work for them as they age and during this time of uncertainty due to COVID-19?
The COVID19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we live our lives now and for the foreseeable future. During the ‘lock down’ parks became the only public open spaces where millions of people could exercise, relax and meet others for the limited periods allowed. At the time these spaces were quite rightly championed by politicians and scientists (including the Prime Minister and each of the devolved nation’s Chief Medical Officers) as key to maintaining people’s physical and mental health as evidenced by numerous studies over many years. Many people used their local parks for the first time during the ‘lock down’ and as restrictions were eased parks became busier than they had ever been previously. Not only has the pandemic changed the relationship between people and their local parks for ever it has underlined the multiple and proven benefits these spaces provide for health and wellbeing as well as the environment.
From as young as I could remember I have always had a passion and love for birds, especially European species. When I was home taught from the age of 6 by my parents until I was 12, the main theme of my education consisted of engaging in nature. We created ponds, butterfly gardens, bird-boxes and, as we had a motor-home, we travelled a lot around the UK visiting nature reserves. However, despite many positives to being a birder, it’s not always easy being an ornithologist, especially if you are a woman, and a young woman at that. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the field, the hobby is largely dominated by white, older men.
Autumnal colours and piles of leaves are starting to dominate London’s parks and green spaces as the season slides out of summer, oblivious of the changes the world has had to make through the Covid-19 pandemic. Parks became and remain a constant. Fields or spaces of tranquillity and near normality. One of the few places where you can imagine nothing has changed. Look closer though and you should notice that there are no groups with more than six people. GoParks.London has more than 4,000 parks and green spaces featured on its interactive map and we know there are others out there not yet registered
One of the benefits of lockdown has been the space it has given us to think about what is important to us. The imposed restrictions have led to creativity and innovation, exploring our local spaces and community, taking better care of ourselves and each other – and in many instances we will want to keep changes we have made in order to be safer, because they have also been a positive and welcomed imposition. For our charity, as we placed a temporary pause on some of our operations, it made space for us to think about the strategic response required to meet the climate challenges we face. If we are to help Scotland build more sustainable communities and a greener country, and make the necessary shift to a green recovery, our work has never been more important.
From the initial campaign to protect the Street Trees of Sheffield, it seemed unlikely that opposing sides would ever reach an agreement. Over the last five years perseverance has unearthed common ground between campaigners, council and contractors, and now a partnership with representatives from all parties has agreed a working strategy to sustain and maintain the city’s network of street trees for the future.
Blanket bog is (in England) an upland peatland habitat, occurring from around 200m upwards, generally on flat or gently sloping ground where drainage is poor. The UK has 13% of the world’s blanket bog, and we estimate Yorkshire holds around 86,377 ha - around 24% of England’s total resource – storing over 38,000 tonnes of carbon. In addition to locking up millennia of carbon, healthy blanket bog helps to slow the flow of water from the uplands into rivers and streams, filters our drinking water and provides habitat for some amazing wildlife. Formed over thousands of years, it has taken just six decades to devastate Yorkshire's peatlands.
Thirty years ago, very few people knew about the unique and hidden underwater world off the Pembrokeshire coast. To most it was just out of sight, out of mind. Now, as the only Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in Wales, Skomer is a very special site that is home to a wide range of marine life. This year, Skomer MCZ celebrates its 30th Anniversary. For those 30 years, it has been a focus of study of underwater life helping us better understand, protect and enhance Wales’ marine environment as well as the creatures living within it.
Landowners and countryside managers in the United Kingdom and Ireland’s outdoors have faced a challenge like no other during 2020. The response to COVID-19 did not come with industry standards, best practice principles and guidelines, international research or case studies. The challenge was magnified by an exponential increase in demand for visits to outdoor spaces and in many cases a reduction of resources due to staff being placed on temporary furlough leave or lack of access to volunteer support.
Open Country, the Yorkshire-based charity for whom I work, gives people with a disability the chance to access and enjoy the countryside by providing a wide variety of outdoor activities, including walking, cycling, nature conservation projects, wildlife study and outings. We also offer a wealth of access publications, advice and training. We were established exactly 30 years ago to examine why so few apparently disabled people visited the countryside. Three decades on, the national picture is much brighter but there remains a substantial amount of work to be done to deliver a truly inclusive countryside.
Back in August 2019, I shared our excitement at London being declared a National Park City and looked forward to a future where Londoners were all busy working together to make the capital greener, healthier and wilder. The pandemic scuppered our first anniversary celebration plans and our Rangers regrouped and emerged with a new plan utilising technology. Physical gatherings gave way to virtual ones. In a way, it has been a levelling experience. Many people can’t attend meetings or find them intimidating. Joining via the safety of an internet connection allowed more people and more diverse people to add their voices and ideas.
Scotland is facing a litter emergency. Annual surveys carried out by Keep Scotland Beautiful have shown that litter levels have been increasing significantly, with 2018 being the worst on record in over a decade. And while the challenging events of the last few months provided an opportunity for all of us to spend more time in our local area helping us to appreciate and value the places we live, it also gave us a unique opportunity to reflect on the declining environmental standards of our communities, to notice the litter and dog fouling that we might otherwise have passed by.
Whilst agriculture is often touted as one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, less attention is paid to environmental and conservation work, which have some vitally important similarities. For example, both industries run a high risk for the most common causes of workplace death: falls from a height, and being struck by a moving vehicle or object. Moreover, workers in these fields are, by their nature, more likely to work alone in remote, hard to access areas that make communication difficult.
For more than 25 years, Heritage Open Days has been an important part of England’s cultural landscape. This year, it is the country’s landscapes and green spaces that are at the heart of the festival. Uncovering the stories, sites, places and people that traditional history has missed or forgotten has always been at the heart of Heritage Open Days, which returns from 11-20 September. This year people are being encouraged to open their gates as well as their doors and discover the country’s extraordinary natural heritage.
The lure of the great outdoors has never been greater. After months of lockdown people are heading to the coast and countryside for outdoor adventures in ever increasing numbers. This has to be a good thing - the much cited mental and physical benefits don’t need reiterating to us outdoor professionals. Hopefully there are additional benefits to come from greater numbers with a love and respect for our environment. However, at the moment that’s hard to appreciate with social media full of images of litter strewn mountains and beaches and the RNLI / Mountain Rescue / H M Coastguard inundated with call-outs to the unprepared and ill-informed. Which brings me to the question which we have been pondering for the last 4 years - how do we communicate safety in a way that people will take notice?
Moth Night is the annual celebration of moths and moth recording. It is organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. The arrival of Moth Night every year (this year from 27 – 29 August) serves as a timely reminder of the joy to be had in moth-ing and also of just how easy it can be to study these amazing creatures.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of our food supply chains as never before. The empty supermarket shelves that marked the early stages of lockdown prompted many of us to recognise the UK’s reliance on imports and just-in-time deliveries for the first time. As we look towards recovery, building a more resilient food system is crucial – and we can make a start in our own backyards.
In the fifth article from featured charity The Mammal Society we find out their latest news.
If you happened to be watching or listening to the news at the end of July you may have heard Mammal Society Chair, Professor Fiona Mathews, discussing the worsening situation for Britain’s at-risk mammal populations. Fiona was interviewed to talk about the publication of the IUCN Red List of those native British mammals which are at risk of extinction.
Today, environmental issues attracts more youth activism than perhaps any other topic. Youth activism is incredibly important in raising awareness and setting agendas, as Greta Thunberg has shown. I’m thankful for the youth-focussed conservation organisations in the UK that I’ve been able to get involved with, as part of my own journey in conservation.
Aside from working to conserve our native reptile and amphibian species, at Froglife we strive to connect disadvantaged groups with nature – those facing barriers to getting outdoors and engaged with wildlife. Since 2018, one particular focus has been providing opportunities for people living with dementia. We run projects in Glasgow, in Somerset, we are setting up another in London in 2020, as well as developing others across the UK.
by Richard Benwell, Chief Executive at Wildlife and Countryside Link
With unemployment expected to double as a result of covid-19, Wildlife & Countryside Link and its partners are proposing a “National Nature Service”: a Government-sponsored employment and training programme, providing paid work in environmental improvement.
Wildcats in Scotland (Felis silvestris silvestris) are one of the UK’s most iconic, and most endangered, species. Once widespread across the UK, estimates now suggest only one hundred individuals may remain, and all in Scotland. In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Cat Specialist Group carried out an independent review of Scotland’s wild living population and confirmed our field data, the wildcat population is not sustainable and should be regarded as non-viable.
Aside from the sheer quantity of plant species recorded across them, road verges are known to cover a stretch of 313,500 miles, totalling an area more than all of our semi-natural, unimproved meadows combined. They represent a significant biodiversity asset, however, poor management employed by local authorities, often going against their legal duty to biodiversity conservation (Natural England & DEFRA, 2014), has meant that our verges are often left in a poor state for wildlife, particularly for plants and invertebrates.
As a ranger, I am often told (during the summer months at least) how lucky I am, normally whilst emptying a dog bin, which often amuses me as anyone else who has emptied a dog bin on a hot, sunny day will testify to - Dog poo and scented dog poo bags! Whose idea was that? Funny how no one communicates that in January when the dew-drop on my nose is frozen and I cannot feel the hammer across my thumb.
2020 will be known as the year when Covid-19 changed our lives, but also for people finally having the time to re-engage with their local environment, and to appreciate nature in their streets. TreeTalk London, a website designed to help explore London’s trees has made simple walking journeys both eye-opening and engaging for its users.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has been celebrating the county’s natural heritage since its founding in 1926, when a group of like-minded individuals came together and raised money to purchase Cley Marshes on the North Norfolk coast. The notion of land purchase solely for the protection of wildlife was revolutionary at the time and in the following decades many counties formed similar Trusts. We are rightly proud that Norfolk has the oldest Wildlife Trust and at more than 35,000 members, is one of the biggest.
Alderney Wildlife Trust and their work on discovering and conserving one of their most important marine habitats!
Eelgrass is a fascinating, truly wondrous, yet, bizarre set of species (aka Zostera species or seagrasses). Despite growing in the shallows of our seas, taxonomically, they are terrestrial plants. As the name suggests, eelgrass appears as long, green blades of grass, poking out of sandy substrates, primarily in sheltered bays and inlets.
Urbanisation is on an upward and exponential trajectory; by 2050 it is estimated that over two-thirds of the world population will live in urban areas. Whilst cities are often places of innovation, economic development and education, they are also particularly prone to the adverse effects of climate change.
World Youth Skills Day this year is taking place in a challenging context. Earth Trust has been able to keep its green spaces open to the public during the lockdown, giving people vital wildlife-rich green spaces to take daily exercise, stay healthy in body and mind, and retain resilience. However, our education programme was halted. Now, as lockdown measures ease, we’re looking at how to restart our activities with children and young people, ensuring they are able to use our amazing green spaces to learn new skills, gain experience of the outdoors and learn how to care for it.
As protected landscapes and the rural economy re-open after lockdown, sustainable communications consultant Mark Sutcliffe explains the importance of clear messaging in managing visitors …and their expectations. The last few months have provided an object lesson in how to – and how not to – execute a coherent and consistent communications strategy. Saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time to the wrong audience is the most obvious risk, but in this era of media saturation, saying nothing can also create problems.
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.
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 marked 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.
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
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.
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 17th July 2021, 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.
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.
It was late February 1959, yet Spring was in the air. Enjoying the day on Box Hill, Surrey, botanist David Bellamy was surprised to find a group of young people ripping up plants in a recently declared Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Discovering they were not vandals but volunteers clearing scrub with ‘The Conservation Corps’, he enthusiastically joined in!
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
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.
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.
CJS Focus on Volunteering: In association with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) 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 Urban Environment: In association with Love Parks 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 Conservation Volunteers Full edition
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 Trees and Hedges: In association with The Tree Council, for National Tree Week
This Focus is an old publication. The articles within this edition have not been verified so please proceed with caution.
CJS Focus on Outdoor Recreation: In association with The Campaign for National Parks 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 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 Wildlife: In association with The Wildlife Trusts 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 Countryside Management: In association with The Scottish Countryside Rangers Association and the Countryside Management Association Full edition
CJS Focus on Volunteering: 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 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 Training: In association with Losehill Hall Full edition