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Peak District National Park bird of prey project wins National Lottery support - RSPB

A nature conservation project aimed at reversing the fortunes of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park has received National Lottery support.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded a development grant of £91,900 to a partnership made up of the RSPB, National Trust, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and Peak District National Park Authority. This funding will enable the partnership to progress plans for the Upland Skies project and apply for a full National Lottery grant next year.

Birds of prey should be a common sight on the hills and moors of the Peak District National Park but they are in trouble. For some species - most notably peregrines, goshawks and hen harriers - there is mounting evidence showing that illegal persecution is an important factor affecting these birds. 

For other birds of prey such as merlin and owls, the picture is less clear with declines potentially linked to habitat quality and climate change.

Taking place in Sheffield and the Peak District National Park, Upland Skies will raise public awareness of the threats these birds face and inspire local people and visitors to take action to help increase the numbers of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park. The project will inspire, educate and engage children and young people about this precious wildlife, the landscapes on their doorstep.  Upland Skies will also champion positive land management techniques, which will provide habitats to help birds of prey thrive once again.


Public fears for countryside and environment over devastating Oxford-Cambridge development plan - CPRE

River Ivel in Bedfordshire (image: Derry Brabbs)Three-quarters (74%) of residents living on a corridor between Oxford and Cambridge believe that plans for major new development across the region will lead to damage of the local countryside and environment, according to new public polling published today (21 March) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

River Ivel in Bedfordshire (image: Derry Brabbs)

The poll, which was carried out by research company Survation on the behalf of the countryside charity, interviewed 1,500 residents across five counties (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire) on development proposals known as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. The plans could see one million new homes built across the region by 2050.

A CPRE analysis from last year demonstrated that in order to build the one million new houses, an area of countryside greater than the size of Birmingham would be lost to development. Despite the scale of the development, the government has given the project its backing without a formal public consultation, or weighing up its impact on the countryside, people’s health, and climate change.


The Wildlife Trusts call for more investment in badger vaccination - The Wildlife Trust

The Wildlife Trusts' response to new figures released by the government.

Today the government released figures on the numbers of badgers vaccinated last year, in 2018. Their figures show that 641 were vaccinated – with half of these through the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS), the government-sponsored badger vaccination programme.

There is robust scientific evidence to prove that badger vaccination reduces the transmission of bTB in badgers. Several studies demonstrate that vaccinating badgers reduces the progression, severity and the likelihood that the infection would be passed on, once a badger is infected.

Whilst the data released today indicates progress of sorts, when compared to the numbers of badgers culled in 2018 – at least 32,602 – it represents a very small proportion. Vaccination has the potential to reduce bTB infection prevalence in the badger population, and hence bTB risks to cattle, without the harmful effects associated with culling such as increased prevalence of TB in badgers plus spreading the disease.

Much more needs to be done – and The Wildlife Trusts have demonstrated that badger vaccination is do-able. Twelve Wildlife Trusts across England and Wales conducted badger vaccination programmes between 2011-2015. In this time, we vaccinated more than 1500 badgers. The largest programme is run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust who also hosted training for lay vaccinators carried out by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in 2018.


Survey enables better understanding of pressures on UK’s plant species - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

The dedication of volunteers across the UK is creating an impressive resource on plant communities, thereby assisting scientific investigations into changes to our countryside.

Bluebells are the most frequently-seen wildflower in the woodlands surveyed as part of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme Picture: Beth Newman/PlantlifeBluebells are the most frequently-seen wildflower in the woodlands surveyed as part of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (Picture: Beth Newman/Plantlife)

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme, run by a partnership of organisations including the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, relies on hundreds of people across the country – including walkers, amateur wildlife enthusiasts and mountaineers – recording the different wildflowers they see in their local area. It oversees the UK’s biggest wild plant survey, taking place from the Spring Equinox – which this year is March 20 – to the end of September.

Although the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) was only set up four years ago, the early records collected by members of the public are already helping to improve scientists’ understanding of the environmental pressures on plants and habitats.

The annual survey covers about 30 types of habitat found in the UK, from woodland and hedgerows to blanket bog, flushes, heathland and streams, plus more than 400 species of wildflowers.

Dr Oli Pescott, an ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), says: “The National Plant Monitoring Scheme helps us to detect pressures on habitats and may also allow us to understand how these vary across time and space.

“Early findings are already providing much-needed data on the abundance of wild plants at local levels. We very much hope that, over time, the NPMS will allow us to understand more about how our wild flora is changing in response to pressures such as nitrogen pollution and invasive species.”



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