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POLICY: Latest Green Space Index highlights importance of parks and green spaces - Fields in Trust

(image: Fields in Trust)
(image: Fields in Trust)

Our nation's local parks and green spaces have played a critical role recently as places for us all to get outdoors, exercise and to meet loved ones safely during the COVID-19 lockdown. The latest findings from our annual Green Space Index, however, highlight the need to revaluing these spaces and protect them in perpetuity to ensure we never lose these cherished community assets.

Despite local green spaces being of such value to us all right now, the 2020 release of the Green Space Index finds that 2.7 million people across Great Britain do not have access to such a space within a ten-minute walk of where they live. Working with our colleagues at the Co-op, we estimate that this figure could rise by a further 170,000 people in the next five years, as a result of changes in population alone.

Headline findings

The Green Space Index was first published last year and is our annual barometer of publicly accessible park and green space provision. The key results in 2020 also find that there are 215,194 hectares of provision across Britain, but that only 5.9% of this is legally protected with Fields in Trust.

Five English regions fall below a minimum standard of green space provision, as measured by our GSI Score, with a further two only just at the benchmark. Whilst Scotland and Wales both exceed the standard, changes in population will bring them closer to the minimum over the coming two decades.

No Insectinction - Buglife

Today Buglife launch ‘No Insectinction – how to solve the insect declines crisis’ a measured response to the ever growing reports of global insect declines. Buglife are launching the No Insectinction campaign to outline the action required to arrest the declines in, and stabilise populations of the small things that enable our planet to function.

Recent studies paint a grim picture of the decline of insects across the planet. It is becoming increasingly clear that our planet’s ecological balance is breaking and there is an urgent need for an intense global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends. Allowing the insect eradication crisis to become a catastrophe is not a rational option for anyone.

The No Insectinction campaign has three central planks:

  • Room for insects to thrive – we need to make space for wildlife and reconnect the wild parts of our landscapes
  • Safe spaces for insects – we must free our land and freshwaters from pollutants and invasive species
  • Friendlier relationship with insects – We need to act now to stop insectinction. However, the scale and quality of that action is still limited by our lack of understanding and awareness.

Craig Macadam, Buglife’s Director of Conservation and lead writer of the report commented. “We believe that there should be sustainable populations of all insects; ‘No Insectinction’ is Buglife’s response to the current crisis – a prescription for healing our planet, by restoring our depleted and devastated insect populations (and other invertebrates such as earthworms, spiders and snails). We call upon governments and decision makers around the world to take decisive action to tackle this ecological crisis. Small steps can have a huge impact if they all fall at the same time. We can stop, and reverse the declines in our insects, but only if everyone pulls together to do their bit.”

Read the featured article from Buglife written exclusively for CJS In-Depth in April here

Illegal gravel removal puts river wildlife at risk - Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Farming Connect have joined forces to remind landowners not to remove gravel from streams and rivers, following an increase in the number of incidents reported across Wales.

In-river works, such as gravel removal or alteration of a channel, can be an offence unless the work is carried out under an appropriate permit or consent.

These operations cause damage to wildlife, including aquatic invertebrates, fish spawning grounds and nesting birds.

It also risks spreading seeds/ fragments from invasive non-native species such as Japanese Knotweed to other locations and can result in damage to neighbouring property through increased erosion or deposition.

Removing gravel from rivers is only permitted under certain circumstances and where it is demonstrated to be absolutely necessary to do so. For example, to alleviate flood risk from nearby properties.

Public urged to report sightings of tree pest Oak Processionary Moth - Forestry Commission

As Oak Processionary Moth season begins, the Forestry Commission reminds people to be aware of the pest and report sightings

The public is being urged to report sightings of the tree pest Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars.

Oak Processionary Moth was first identified in London in 2006 and has since spread to some surrounding counties. The caterpillars and their nests contain hairs which can cause itchy rashes, eye and throat irritations, and should not be touched under any circumstances at any time. The greatest risk period is May to July when the caterpillars emerge and feed before pupating into adult moths.

OPM caterpillars feed on oak leaves and can increase trees’ vulnerability to attack by other pests and diseases, making them less able to withstand adverse weather conditions such as drought and floods. A government programme is in place to limit their spread from areas where they are present.

The pest is established in London and surrounding areas but the majority of the country is designated a Protected Zone, which means it is free from the pest.

The Forestry Commission, working in partnership with others, have an annual programme in place to tackle the pest, with an ongoing programme of surveillance, treatment and research.

Lead nature agency publishes beaver licensing statistics - Scottish Natural Heritage

Copyright SNH/Lorne Gill
Copyright SNH/Lorne Gill

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today published a report on the challenging balance to be made between protecting beavers in Scotland and helping to prevent serious damage to some farmers’ land.

Beavers are ecosystem engineers. They provide huge benefits to people and nature, improving water quality and flow, and creating new habitats that foster many other species. However, their actions can sometimes cause serious impacts for land managers such as flooding of fields and crops. In some circumstances it may be necessary to manage beavers and their dams under special licences issued by SNH.

Beavers became a European Protected Species on 1 May 2019. SNH reports that between 1st May and 31st December 2019, it issued 45 species licences which permitted either lethal control or dam removal. These were granted when there was no other effective solution to prevent serious agricultural damage. Five of the licences permitted dam removal or manipulation only. All licences were issued for the purpose of preventing serious damage to agriculture and all but one of these (97.5%) were issued on land classified by Scottish Government as Prime Agricultural Land. Evidence of serious damage included waterlogged fields and crops, as well as erosion on riverbanks and embankments.

One additional licence was granted to allow an experienced ecologist to live-trap beavers from sites where lethal control may otherwise have been employed. SNH also refused 33% of licence requests.

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