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Shout out for innovative new children’s video about fish migration - Swansea University

fish migration comic strip (Swansea University)
(Swansea University)

An international team led by Swansea University has come up with a novel way of teaching youngsters about fish migration.

It created a fun comic and music video featuring a lyric poem charting a fish’s journey, which has not only been a hit with youngsters but also fellow academics.

Now a paper detailing the project, which is aimed at children aged from eight to 14, has not only appeared in prestigious online journal People and Nature, it has also been highlighted as one of publisher Wiley’s Research Headlines this month.

Lead author Merryn Thomas is part of the University’s Freshwater Interdisciplinary Research and Engagement Laboratory (FIRE Lab) which explores young peoples’ relationships with freshwater environments.

Migratory fish populations are declining due to pressures including climate change, pollution, and fragmentation caused by dams and other structures, so the team wanted to find an effective way to engage people with what is a hard-to-see and complex environmental topic.

The project saw Dr Thomas and her colleagues Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, Daphne Giannoulatou and Peter Jones working with American cartoonist Ethan Kocak along with Wes Tank and Ryan Sarnowski, of TankThink, a creative production team based in Milwaukee.

The end result is designed to not only entertain and engage but also enrich learning about migratory fishes and aquatic environments.

Dr Thomas said: “We’re very passionate about fresh waters here at FIRE Lab. We wanted to explain about fish migration in an educational and informative way, and think we achieved this through our interdisciplinary collaboration with passionate creatives and academics. We also learned a lot about co-creation along the way, which we hope will be useful for others who are interested in collaborating across boundaries to design inspiring engagement materials for young people about our natural environments.”

High tech tags to give insight into lives of golden eagles in Cairngorms National Park - Cairngorms National Park Authority

Workers tagging a golden eagle chick (Ewan Archer)
Workers tagging a golden eagle chick (Ewan Archer)

Three golden eagle chicks in the Cairngorms National Park have been successfully tagged using the latest innovative technology. Three estates in the Cairngorms National Park – including two in Strathspey – are part of this latest raptor tagging initiative, a partnership project that has been developed and funded by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and NatureScot.

The ‘Celltrack’ tags being used have come from the USA and are among the leading technology in raptor tagging. They will provide a better understanding of the species’ movements, habitat preferences and mortality.

The birds’ movements are tracked in real-time by CNPA staff and partners with transmissions coming in daily, providing a multitude of data that can help better understand the life of juvenile golden eagles, with an inbuilt alert system should mortality occur, whether through natural causes, persecution or other anthropogenic influences. The tags have the ability to detect unusual behaviour and send alerts with accurate locations.

‘Celltrack’ tags make use of an innovative dual communication system with data being sent over the mobile phone network as well as through a network of (ARGOS) satellites. By using this hybrid communication system, the large quantity of location fixes acquired each day can be transmitted over the mobile phone network, with the additional security of satellite communications when birds are out of signal.

Dr Ewan Weston, an independent research ecologist, has been in charge of tagging the golden eagle chicks under licence. He commented: “Having been involved in fitting tags to eagles for 14 years, the technological advances in the tags we use now bring data that was previously unimaginable. The data we receive, feeds into wider research on the species and covers aspects of golden eagle biology and environment, providing an insight into aspects of their lives in incredible detail. This work has included aspects of their dispersal behaviour, interaction with the landscape and developments such as wind farms.”

Annual Mammals on Roads survey returns this August as school holidays start - PTES

Screenshots from the Mammals on Roads app. Credit PTES
Screenshots from the Mammals on Roads app. Credit PTES

Staycationers asked to record roadkill via free app, to help conserve Britain’s mammals

Volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales are being asked to record any sightings of roadkill that they see on Britain’s roads via a free app, to help conservation.

The Mammals on Roads app is part of wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species’ (PTES) annual survey, which starts this August. PTES hopes that as the number of staycations to visit Britain’s coastline, lakes and peaks increase, more people will be able to take part this year.

Now, PTES is asking families, groups of friends and couples travelling on Britain’s roads to download the app and record any sightings of mammals they spot from their car or campervan. The data collected will help conservationists to identify population trends, and importantly, which mammal species are most in need of help and where conservation action is needed.

David Wembridge, Mammal Surveys Coordinator at PTES says: “Nobody likes seeing roadkill, but counting casualties can help conservation. Many of our native mammals are declining in number. We need all the help we can get to find out which species are at risk and try to turn their fate around. Mammals on Roads is one of the few countryside-based wildlife surveys, and it couldn’t be easier to take part. If you have a smartphone, and are travelling as a passenger, we hope you’ll record sightings across the country on trips to different parts of Britain this summer.”

The Mammals on Roads app is free and easy to use. It boasts colourful illustrations of each mammal and has audio descriptions to help guide anyone who’s not sure what they’ve seen. So whether you see an easily recognisable hedgehog, fox or badger, or a trickier-to-spot stoat or weasel, anyone can take part. Mammals on Roads has been running since 2001 and, along with other long-running surveys led by PTES, its data has helped identify the decline in native hedgehogs. Thanks to the many volunteers who take part each year, PTES is building a nationwide picture of how mammal numbers are changing, which is crucial to ensure their long-time survival.

Find other citizen science projects looking for volunteers on the CJS Volunteer Directory here

Proposed Hedgerow Carbon Code could unlock more than £60m income for farmers, as development project receives £81k funding - Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

A ground-breaking project to unlock the environmental potential of hedgerows has been given the go-ahead with a government grant of £81,561. The scheme, being developed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) at its demonstration farm, the Allerton Project, will develop a Hedgerow Carbon Code, which will encourage hedgerow habitat improvements and provide a tool to calculate the carbon capture potential of hedgerows. The project is one of just 27 to receive funds from the £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund.

Hedgerows sequester carbon at twice the rate of woodland because of their three-dimensional structure, and England's hedges already store 9m tonnes of carbon. The proposed Hedgerow Carbon Code will provide an innovative new approach to hedgerows. Similar to the Woodland Carbon Code, the new code will become the quality assurance standard for hedgerows and aims to generate independently verified hedgerow carbon credits.

The code will include a tool which will enable the carbon stored in a hedge to be calculated and verified, incentivising land managers to plant and manage hedgerows – an important part of the government’s new Sustainable Farming Incentive. The tool will also have the potential to be developed further to monitor hedgerow biodiversity for calculating biodiversity credits.

“This award from the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund means our team at the Allerton Project, who are experienced in developing nature-based solutions, can push ahead with this innovative project,” said Dr Alastair Leake, Director of The Allerton Project.

“Developing a Hedgerow Carbon Code has huge national potential to enable farmers to increase the amount of carbon stored in their hedgerows and to trade those carbon credits,” continued Alastair. “Applied across a national scale, there is scope to deliver more than £60m of income to the farming community through carbon credits for hedgerow management and planting.”

Time to scrap fly-tipping - CLA

Coalition's call for tougher penalties to be imposed on fly-tipping culprits

The Country Land & Business Association (CLA), together with over 150 local authorities and 10 professional bodies, is calling on the Sentencing Council to impose tougher fines and sentences for fly tipping culprits.

As part of a proposed review of the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline (2014), the CLA, working in partnership with a range of local authorities and professional bodies covering Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Warwickshire, is calling for tougher action against those who commit this awful crime.

Currently, sentences handed down do not always match the severity of the offence committed or fairly reflect the costs incurred by the public purse. This means that punishment for the offence of fly-tipping does not act as a suitable deterrent.

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