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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


UK government supports global action to fight illegal wildlife trade - defra

There has been progress in key areas in the six months since the UK government staged the largest-ever Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in October 2018 including the launch of education packs.

Schemes to combat poaching and protect species like marine turtles and grey parrots from being illegally traded, are among fourteen new projects set to benefit from a UK government fund to combat wildlife criminals around the globe.

Ministers have today marked Earth Day (22 April) by announcing that the schemes will each receive a share in £4.6 million from the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

The projects set to benefit include:

  • Fauna & Flora International’s project for reducing demand for marine turtle products in Nicaragua
  • ZSL’s work to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade in grey parrots in Cameroon
  • Cracking wildlife smuggling in Madagascar, a project run by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • Strengthening anti-poaching techniques and countering wildlife trafficking in Uganda, a project run by WCS

Sea turtle swimming (image: Randall Ruiz on Unsplash)New education resources for school children around the globe will also be launched on Earth Day. The online packs aim to teach the next generation about the dangers of fuelling the illegal wildlife trade. The UK government has provided £40,000 to create these packs for children in multiple languages.

Sea turtle swimming (image: Randall Ruiz on Unsplash) 

With support from the Department for International Development (DFID), Defra has invested a total of £23 million in the IWT Challenge Fund.  DFID pledged an extra £6 million of UK aid for the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund before the start of the IWT conference in 2018 and further rounds for funding applications will be opened shortly for projects to bid.

Education packs: WWF-UK has produced two packs aimed at primary (KS2) and secondary (KS3) school students. These will be available from today for schools to register to access from the WWF-UK website. Download the pack here.


Major study reveals 46% decline in moth abundance - Scottish Natural Heritage

Moth numbers have declined over the last 25 years while their distribution has increased, new research shows.

Kentish Glory © Tom PrescottKentish Glory © Tom Prescott

A report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and partners finds that moth abundance has fallen by almost 50% over the period, with more species classed as ‘significantly decreasing’ than ‘increasing’.

Eight of the 20 species in most rapid decline are associated with moorland, indicating that the insects may be disproportionately struggling in this habitat.  Of the top 20 most rapidly increasing species, 16 are associated with woodland habitats, suggesting that common woodland moths may be doing well in Scotland.  The research shows that over the same time period, moth occupancy – or the distribution of the insects across Scotland – has increased by about 16%. Climate change is likely to be an important factor behind the trends, driving the range of some species northward with corresponding increases in occupancy.  At the same time warmer, wetter winters driven by climate change have been shown to negatively impact some moths while other species are suffering population declines as a result of detrimental land management and habitat changes.

SNH is working with Butterfly Conservation Scotland, landowners and volunteers on conservation programmes for 21 priority species, with some encouraging signs.

The full report can be read here (PDF).


CPRE joins celebrities and charities to call for action to double the number of school children visiting National Parks

Over 60,000 school children visit the National Parks each year and the government has long promised to increase increase to this number. Celebrities, led by a coalition of five charities, have now demanded urgent action to more than double the number of school children who get to visit the National Parks each year.

In an open letter released this week, sixteen celebrities including TV legends Carol Vorderman and Caroline Quentin, TV naturalists Liz Bonin and Lizzie Daly, the former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, author Bill Bryson, potter and CPRE president Emma Bridgewater and writer Richard Mabey call for the government to take action.

(Image: Jenn Evelyn-Ann/Unsplash)(Image: Jenn Evelyn-Ann/Unsplash)

Actor and president of Campaign for National Parks, Caroline Quentin said: 'In this letter we’ve said very clearly that now is the time to take real action to get more children into the beautiful National Parks. I want school children to be inspired to love nature, adventure and the beauty of the countryside. As anyone who has visited the wilds of Exmoor or the Lake District knows, the National Parks are well placed to do this.'

The charities behind the letter are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Act of Parliament that created National Parks, as some of the original organisations that came together to found them. 70 years on from the legislation, Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Open Spaces Society, Ramblers and the YHA are calling for government action to safeguard their future.

Read the letter here.


General licences for bird control: major changes to licensing requirements - Natural England

Jackdaw (image: Thomas B/pixabay)Natural England is revoking three general licences for controlling certain wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019.

These licences (GL 04/05/06) cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons.

The change follows a legal challenge to the way the licences have been issued, which could mean users who rely on them are not acting lawfully.

Jackdaw (image: Thomas B/pixabay)

Natural England is working at pace to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary. In the meantime, once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to apply for an individual licence.

The action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year.

If you are unsure what you should do on your land, visit the Natural England licensing webpage for more information and advice


Scientific Publications

Timberlake, T. , Vaughan, I. P. and Memmott, J. (2019), Phenology of farmland floral resources reveals seasonal gaps in nectar availability for bumblebees. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13403


Resch, M. C., Schütz, M. , Graf, U. , Wagenaar, R. , van der Putten, W. H. and Risch, A. C. (2019), Does topsoil removal in grassland restoration benefit both soil nematode and plant communities?. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13400


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Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS.