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CJS in Depthlogo: PlantlifeHelp our featured charity Plantlife hunt for flowers…

Join the Great British Wildflower Hunt!  

Wild TeaselDo you love wild flowers? Would you like to know more about them? And help save them for the future? Then check out the Great British Wildflower Hunt, says Plantlife’s Jane Gazzard 

People have less contact with wild flowers than previous generations. There are fewer flowers around us and we seem to have less time to enjoy them. But taking part in the Great British Wildflower Hunt could change all that. It’s a great way to enjoy flowers, whether you’re familiar with them or not. And by letting Plantlife know what you’ve found, you’ll help our work.

Wild teasel  (Dipsacus fullonum)

The mauve flowers appear in a band that gradually 'moves' up the flowerhead as new blooms open and old ones close. You can collect the flowerheads and dry them.

Read the article in full and find out more about the Wildflower Hunt including how to take part.


On with today's news and defra have been busy. 

The Unfrozen Moment - Delivering A Green Brexit - defra

Secretary of State Michael Gove sets out his vision on the future of our natural environment in a speech at WWF's Living Planet Centre

Click through the read the speech in full.


Response: Creating a new gold standard for the environment – the Secretary of State’s keynote speech today - The Wildlife Trusts

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, promised to deliver a “green Brexit” in a keynote speech today and said that leaving the European Union provides a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to reform farming, fisheries and land management.

The Wildlife Trusts welcome the passion and commitment in Mr Gove’s speech – it’s extremely heartening to hear a Secretary of State say that he cares about the environment and wants to make commitments to enhancing it using “gold standard” policies. Particularly welcome are promises to tie future farm support to environmental improvements. 

Over the last 40 years, a staggering 56% of species across the UK have declined. Fifteen percent of species are in danger of disappearing altogether. The need for change is pressing.

Joan Edwards, Director, Public Affairs, The Wildlife Trusts, “It’s encouraging to hear a Secretary of State speaking so positively about improving the environment. This ambition comes at the right time - our country’s wildlife has never been in so much trouble, but there are huge opportunities ahead to improve how we look after our environment. We’re very much look forward to working with Mr Gove and Defra to help strengthen protection and enable recovery for our wildlife, seas and countryside”. 


Resonse: Woodland Trust response as Michael Gove talks about a 'Green Brexit'

Responding to today's speech on the future of the environment by the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove, in which he stated the importance of woodland creation and need for policies and incentives to stimulate it, Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight, said: “Only a month ago we were calling for fresh thinking to arrest the 12,000 hectare shortfall in woodland creation and today’s announcement could herald the change needed. Farm payments which reward environmental protection and enhancement can only nurture more integrated land management, in which trees play a crucial role.  Whether for flood alleviation, improving soil quality or enhancing animal welfare an increase in trees planted, in the right way, can support measures which benefit the public, farming and the economy.  Alongside yesterday’s Defra confirmation of £13m in grants being available this autumn and today’s land management vision presented by the CLA there seems to at last be an appetite to revolutionise our outdated approach to the countryside.”


Response: National Trust response to Michael Gove’s first major speech as Environment Secretary


Response:  The future of the countryside is green - Countryside Alliance

In his speech Mr Gove outlined his vision for the countryside and future ongoing support for farming. He recognised that “seventy per cent of our land is farmed” and our “beautiful landscape has not happened by accident” but is the result of active management. Mr Gove made clear farmers will only get payments for environmental goods and enhancing rural life.

The Countryside Alliance was particularly pleased that Mr Gove recognised the role farmers and land managers play in managing the countryside and the specific need to support upland farmers by protecting the “human ecology”. Upland farming is impossible without subsidy and it provides public benefits which could never be met by the market. This is something we have long been concerned about and recognising the role upland farmers play in managing and maintaining some of our most iconic rural landscapes is vital.


Environment Secretary pledges action on ocean plastics - defra

The Environment Secretary has set out how the government is protecting our oceans.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged action to reduce plastic waste choking our oceans as he set out his ambition for the UK to lead the world in environmental protection.

Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.

As new figures published today (21/7/17) revealed more than nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since the government introduced a 5p charge, an 83 per cent reduction, the Environment Secretary set out further plans to prevent other sources of plastic finding their way into our oceans and seas during a speech entitled ‘Delivering a Green Brexit’ today.

Mr Gove confirmed legislation will be introduced this year to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that are easily swallowed by marine life – in cosmetics and personal care products such as toothpastes and shower gels.

Speaking at WWF UK on Friday morning, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: " Eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat. In October 2015, the government introduced the 5p carrier bag charge. Figures released today show that policy’s enormous success – nine billion fewer carrier bags distributed since the charge was introduced, a fall of 83 per cent. More than £95million raised from the charge has been donated to environmental, educational and other good causes. Last year the government launched a consultation on banning microbeads in personal care products, which have such a devastating effect on marine life. We are responding to that consultation today and we will introduce legislation to implement that ban later this year. But there is more we can do to protect our oceans, so we will explore new methods of reducing the amount of plastic - in particular plastic bottles - entering our seas, improve incentives for reducing waste and litter, and review the penalties available to deal with polluters - all part of a renewed strategy on waste and resources that looks ahead to opportunities outside the EU."


Banning the use of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products - defra Consultation outcome

We want to know what you think about our plans to ban the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads.

We are also looking for evidence of the effect of other sources of microplastics on the marine environment. This will inform future UK actions to protect the marine environment.

Download the summary of responses document (pdf)  


Response: Microbeads ban is great news, but plastics problem is still enormous - Greenpeace

Commenting on the government proposal published today to ban microbeads from personal care and cosmetic products, Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Louisa Casson said: “The UK government has just proposed the strongest ban on microbeads in the world to date. This is great news for our environment and a positive sign of Britain’s global leadership on ocean plastics. It’s crucial that ministers have left the door open to broadening the ban in future"


£13 million fund to increase England's woodland - defra

The next round of the Woodland Creation grant has been confirmed.

A £13 million fund to help landowners plant more trees to protect wildlife, boost the timber sector and reduce flood risk will soon open for applications, Forestry Minister Thérèse Coffey confirmed today (20/7/17).

Farmers, foresters and land managers across the UK will be able to apply for up to £6,800 per hectare to plant, weed and protect more trees when application forms for the next round of the government’s Woodland Creation grant are made available in September.

The fund – part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme – will help plant more than 3 million trees, creating 1,900 hectares of new woodland and contributing to the government’s ambition to plant 11 million trees, with a further one million in towns and cities.

Guidance and application forms will be available in September, with the application window opening in January 2018.

A range of grants are available to support the creation of new woodland and sustainable woodland management, with Forestry Commission online advice available on the application process.


A £10m fund to restore peatland opens for applications - defra

Applications are being welcomed to fund peatland restoration across England

£10 million grant scheme to restore England’s iconic peatlands has officially opened for bids, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey announced today (21/7/17).

In England, peatlands cover 11 per cent of the country and provide a key habitat for birds such as the merlin, dunlin and golden plover. They provide 70 per cent of the country’s drinking water and store more than 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. But it is estimated as much as four fifths of our peatland is in need of restoration.

Funding will be made available for schemes that restore upland and lowland peatlands, create habitats for vulnerable wildlife, reduce flood risk by slowing rain water flow and increase carbon capture.

The government fund is in addition to the £4 million Defra has already allocated to existing Natural England peatland restoration schemes across the country, from Cumbria to Cornwall, which have raised water levels for mosses to thrive and seen rare species replanted.

Bids with the greatest potential for greenhouse gas mitigation and projects that deliver better value for money and maximise environmental benefits will be favoured. The scheme is for capital works and is open to everyone outside central government and their agencies.

Funding will be available for three years from April 2018 as part of Defra’s £100 million of capital funding for direct investment in projects that support the natural environment.

The closing date for applications will be 20 November 2017 and applications will be made via Defra’s e-tendering platform


And also for Scotland: Funding available now to restore Scotland’s peatlands - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today urged land owners, managers, farmers, crofters and estates to apply for funding to help protect precious peatlands.

the Flow Country (image: SNH)The Flow Country (image: SNH)

From Shetland to the Solway more than 20% of Scotland is covered by peat – an area almost the same size as Wales. Peatlands provide multiple benefits when healthy.

Restoring these magnificent peatlands has been made possible thanks to additional Scottish Government funding of £8million which will see another 8000 hectares of damaged peatlands start their road to recovery this year.

The Peatland Action Fund, run by SNH and launched in April, has already had more than £4million of applications but wants further applications before the closing date at the end of October.

Restoration techniques start with ‘rewetting’ of peatland, mostly through ditch blocking. This reconnects peatlands with water catchments, helping to slow river flows and, in some cases, ease downstream flooding. Other restoration techniques being trialled include peat hag re-profiling, re-vegetating bare peat and forest to pre-existing bog recovery.


News from organisations other than defra (it's been another busy day!) 

£1.23 million National Lottery award to support biodiversity training - Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council, FSC, are delighted to have been awarded a National Lottery grant of £1.23 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their exciting new BioLinks project.

biolinks (image: FSC)Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, BioLinks will support, signpost and mentor existing and new natural historians who volunteer their time. This will help them to help them to become more proficient biological recorders. It will provide more taxonomic training for underrepresented species, especially those that are difficult to identify. Species focused on will include beetles, snails, true flies, ants and wasps.

(Image: FSC)

FSC aims to involve existing and new biological recorders in the project, hoping to extend not only the number of active natural history observers but also increase their age range and diversity. Over the five year project BioLinks will work across the West Midlands region and London and South East to engage with 2,500 volunteers, delivering 480 training courses and 33 events.


West Pennine Moors becomes largest protected wildlife site in a decade - Lancashire Wildlife Trust

West Pennine Moors (image: Alan Wright, via Lancashire Wildlife Trust)The West Pennine Moors is the largest new site of special scientific interest (SSSI) notified by Natural England since 2004, covering a total of 76 square kilometres between Chorley, Blackburn, Bolton and Haslingden in Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

West Pennine Moors (image: Alan Wright, via Lancashire Wildlife Trust)

The West Pennine Moors is a fabulous place for all of us. It is about 100 square miles of moorland north of Oldham, Rochdale, Bury and Bolton, and it is surrounded by millions of people.
The moorland and its surrounding woodland is home to a variety of wildlife, including a range of breeding birds and large colonies of black headed gull. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has been amongst those at the forefront of the campaign to create a SSSI.

The Lancashire Wildlife Trusts Head of Conservation, Tim Mitcham said “We are thrilled by this news. The West Pennine Moors are an incredibly important area for nature conservation and to have this level of protection designated is a significant step forward”
Natural England’s Chief Executive, James Cross, said: “This is a significant moment for the protection of wildlife across a wild and beautiful expanse of north-west England. Our upland landscapes provide vital wildlife habitats and clean water, reduce flood risk and bring enjoyment and a sense of well-being to millions of people."



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