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Game management doesn’t disturb endangered species, GWCT study finds – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

SPECIES of conservation concern, including rare woodland plants and butterflies, are not negatively affected by game management, a new study has found.

Ecologists from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), a leading research charity in Fordingbridge, discovered the findings in The effect of game management on the conservation value of woodland rides.

They surveyed 139 woods across two regions - southern and eastern. Sites in the southern region were in Hampshire and South Wessex, while sites were located in the Anglian Plain, Breckland, Suffolk coast and Heaths natural areas in the eastern region.

Approximately half of these woods were actively managed for game, while the other half hadn’t been for the past 25 years.

In each wood, they measured the amount and size of the ride habitat, selected the widest ride in the wood, assessed the level of disturbance from footfall or vehicles, and recorded the percentage cover of different plant groups and the number of plant species.

They then took these measurements at different locations within the ride (central, ride side and wood edge) to see the effects of game management varied between on these different locations and counted the number of species in the shrub community. Finally, they surveyed the butterfly community of the ride. These measurements were used to compare the ride habitat between game and non-game woods.

Findings showed the overall amount of ride habitat was not greater in woods managed for game, but the rides present were 20% wider and more open.

Lucy Capstick, a research ecologist at GWCT and lead author on the paper, said: “Overall, game management did not have a consistently negative effect on species of conservation concern, with the abundance of butterflies and richness of ancient woodland indicator species unaffected by game management.”

To read the paper in full, click here

 

Mid & East Antrim sees red as new squirrels make coastal country park home - Mid & East Antrim Borough Council

Carnfunnock Country Park is to become a haven for red squirrels as the furry friends are reintroduced in a bid to boost numbers across Northern Ireland.

Image: Mid and East Antrim Borough CouncilImage: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Despite being present in Ireland for more than 10,000 years, red squirrels have declined dramatically due to loss of habitat and diseases spread by the invasive grey squirrel.

But a local environmental group alongside Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and Cairndhu Golf Club are hoping to change this by reintroducing the animals with a special immersive, woodland enclosure at Carnfunnock Country Park on the famous Antrim Coast.

Ballygally Biodiversity Group have been working tirelessly for the past four years to not only raise awareness around the issues facing reds, but to get involved in this special breeding programme by Belfast Zoo and to secure this stunning location for the release.

Joe Dowdall from the group hopes this project will bring a resurgence of reds back to this part of County Antrim: “We are delighted to release these animals here at Carnfunnock Country Park. People have fond memories of walking through this same woodland as kids and enjoying watching red squirrels, and hopefully now the future generations to come can also experience this as the population reinstates itself here. We have already seen success in Glenarm where the first pilot scheme was introduced and this is just another step forward in our mission to ensure the conservation of this beautiful, native species.

 

Do nature shows deceive us into thinking our planet is fine? – Bangor University

Research into recent BBC and Netflix nature documentaries suggests that while they increasingly mention threats faced by the natural world, they rarely show the full extent of human-caused environmental destruction

There is overwhelming scientific consensus that nature is being severely affected by humans, the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, and that this has serious impacts. Nature documentaries have sometimes been criticised for failing to show the true extent of this environmental loss. A new study found that while recent high-profile nature documentaries talk more about the threats facing the inspiring natural wonders portrayed, nature is still mostly visually depicted as pristine and untouched, potentially resulting in a sense of complacency among viewers.

Researchers from Bangor University, University of Kent, Newcastle University and University of Oxford analysed Netflix’s Our Planet alongside BBC’s Dynasties, Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II to determine the frequency of words that mention environmental threats and conservation successes. Promotional material for the Netflix series Our Planet highlights its focus on revealing the key issues that urgently threaten the existence of natural wonders and wildlife spectacles. While the series does indeed talk more about threats (and the potential effectiveness of conservation actions to address these threats) than the previous BBC offerings analysed, the researchers note that visually the series is very similar to these BBC documentaries. The rapid conversion of habitats across the planet and the impacts of humans almost everywhere is hardly shown.

 

It’s time for some Acorn Antics! – Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is asking education and learning groups to get outside and collect acorns.

The annual Acorn Antics project helps NRW plant more trees which have been grown from local seeds.

Image: Natural Resources WalesImage: Natural Resources Wales

It also gives young people the opportunity to learn about, and connect with, the natural environment in Wales.

Ffion Hughes, Specialist Advisor: Education, Learning & Skills, Natural Resources Wales said: “Re-planting trees in the area they were found as acorns means they are better suited to the local conditions and provide the greatest benefit to local wildlife. The project also gives people the chance to get outside and learn about our natural environment, while helping to protect it at the same time. Once again, we’re teaming up with schools and education groups to develop activities that can teach learners about the environment while they are collecting acorns.”

Seed collections can be organised by all sorts of education and learning groups such as, schools, Brownies, Scouts or Young Farmers.

People can also get involved by donating acorns to their local group or inviting them to collect acorns from their land.

Ffion continued: “Oak trees provide a home for wildlife and help reduce the effects of climate change by taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - they can also help reduce flood risk and create great places for people to relax and enjoy the outdoors. We hope that lots of groups will want to get outside, raise some money, and help ensure there will be plenty of Welsh oaks for the future.”

 

Further British Wildlife Photography Awards winners.

To mark its tenth anniversary and help raise awareness about our coast; its incredible biodiversity and the threats it is facing BWPA have expanded the Coast and Marine category to include British and Irish Coastlines within four separate categories; Wales, Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland & the Coast of Ireland.

We'll be publishing a selection of the winning images through the week.

 

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