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Investigating impact of human activity on birds - Durham University

Golden Eagle at nest - Chris Gomersall (
Golden Eagle at nest - Chris Gomersall (

Our scientists have shown where bird species would exist in the absence of human activity under research that could provide a new approach to setting conservation priorities.

The researchers looked at how human activities like agriculture, deforestation, and the drainage of wetlands have shaped where bird species are found in Great Britain today.

They used data on the geographical distributions of bird species alongside simulation models to predict where bird species would exist today if the effects of human activities on the landscape were removed.

Bird species

In this scenario there were winners and losers among different bird species due to the impact of humans.

Forty-two per cent of the 183 breeding bird species they looked at were more widely distributed today than they would be in a human-free world, particularly birds associated with farmland habitats.

These species included the Turtle Dove and Grey Partridge, which benefit from open habitats created by farming.

Scientists lay out 10 golden rules for restoring forests - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Tree planting is often portrayed as an easy answer to the climate crisis, but a new review led by RBG Kew and BGCI highlights the issues with large-scale tree planting

Scientists have devised ten golden rules for reforestation around ‘right tree, right place’ principles, to maximise benefits for people and the planet

The research is launched ahead of Kew’s first virtual global conference on reforestation, on 24-26 February 2021 convening voices on all sides of this topic from the business, science, policy, horticulture and environmental sectors

Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) have set out ten ‘golden rules’ for reforestation, published today in an open-access article in the leading journal Global Change Biology. These rules have been set by the experts in response to the damage some large-scale tree planting schemes are seen to be inflicting on the environment and to provide nature-based solutions to protect and restore global forests. The list highlights how forests can be restored with the simultaneous triple benefit of maximising carbon capture to mitigate global warming, recovering ecosystems, and helping people’s livelihoods.

Dr Kate Hardwick, Conservation Partnership Coordinator at RBG Kew and a lead author of the paper says: “Tree planting now dominates political and popular agendas and is often presented as an easy answer to the climate crisis, as well as a way for corporate companies to mitigate their carbon emissions, but sadly, it isn’t as simple as that. When people plant the wrong trees in the wrong place, it can cause considerably more damage than benefits, failing to help people or nature. Our paper sets out to look at these issues and create a framework for people, businesses and policymakers to use for future reforestation projects that can aid both people and the environment.”

Reported in the Telegraph: Boris Johnson’s flagship Environment Bill is to be delayed by at least six months, after ministers ran out of time to pass it in Parliament. - Telegraph

Response from The Wildlife Trusts

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says: “News that the Government’s flagship Environment Bill will suffer yet more delays is deeply troubling. When he introduced the Bill, the Prime Minister said it was ‘the huge star of our legislative programme… a lodestar by which we will guide our country towards a cleaner, and greener future’. The fact that the Government plans to end the Parliamentary session over a year on without having delivered the ‘star’ of the programme will raise questions over its commitment to leaving the environment in a better state for the next generation. Recently, the Prime Minister explicitly committed to taking urgent action to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030 as part of the UN ‘Decade of Action’. But over a year into the decade, very little progress has been made. To make up for lost time, the Government must substantially ramp-up its environmental ambition. This must start with putting a legally-binding target to reverse nature’s decline by 2030 on the face of the Environment Bill when it returns, and proper funding for landscape recovery to deliver it.”


RSPB's reaction to Environment Bill delay: Beccy Speight, the RSPB's Chief Executive, said: “The slow, stop-start nature of the Environment Bill’s passage does not help us take the rapid action needed to tackle the nature and climate emergency. Our only hope is that this delay is used to improve the Bill. Environmental groups including the RSPB have made a series of measured and sensible improvements, such as legally binding targets to turn the tide on the loss of nature, and these should now be seriously considered. These changes would help us get our own house in order at a time when the Prime Minister wants to show international leadership in the run-up to the key global biodiversity and climate summits later this year.”


A Defra blog explains the progress of The Environment Bill so far.

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