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


National Parks Protectors Fund Launch – UK National Parks

A new partnership between Clif Bar and the UK National Parks will fund a series of major conservation projects taking place across five of the National Parks in 2019, as well as supporting the environmental protection of the remaining ten parks.

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, Barrowburn Cheviots at Sunset (c) Ian GlendinningNorthumberland International Dark Sky Park, Barrowburn Cheviots at Sunset (c) Ian Glendinning

The projects, funded by Clif Bar, range from the installation of a bug hotel bike rack in the Broads National Park, to woodland protection in the New Forest and an anti-light pollution programme in Northumberland National Park.

Clif Bar has a long history of supporting environmental projects in the USA and Canada, but this is the first time the company has lent its support in the UK.

The brand, which sells a range of energy bars to support active lifestyles, is committed to running a different kind of food company and is passionate about protecting the places in which it plays and to the communities in which it lives.

Clif Bar’s support will play a lead role in bolstering the environmental protection programmes of the UK National Parks, which cover 9% of the land area of Great Britain and sustain a huge level of vital habitats and wildlife. The funding will enable the establishment of the ‘National Parks Protectors Fund’ to support important conservation and environmental projects across UK National Parks. Clif Bar will also be donating a range of their energy bars to each National Park.

All 15 of the UK’s National Parks will benefit in 2019, with those not running a special project still receiving a smaller grant to support their choice of conservation work during the year.


The complex fate of Antarctic species in the face of a changing climate – University of Plymouth

Research by the University of Plymouth and the British Antarctic Survey examined how marine invertebrates were being impacted by reduced ocean oxygen

Professor John Spicer collecting intertidal amphipods from South Cove (photo credit: Simon Morley)Professor John Spicer collecting intertidal amphipods from South Cove

(photo credit: Simon Morley)

Oxygen concentrations in both the open ocean and coastal waters have declined by 2-5% since at least the middle of the 20th century.

This is one of the most important changes occurring in an ocean becoming increasingly modified by human activities, with raised water temperatures, carbon dioxide content and nutrient inputs.

Through this, humans are altering the abundances and distributions of marine species but the decline in oxygen could pose a new set of threats to marine life.

Writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, scientists present support for the theory that marine invertebrates with larger body size are generally more sensitive to reductions in oxygen than smaller animals, and so will be more sensitive to future global climate change.

It is widely believed that the occurrence of gigantic species in polar waters is made possible by the fact that there is more oxygen dissolved in ice cold water than in the warmer waters of temperate and tropic regions.

So as our ocean warms and oxygen decreases, it has been suggested that such oxygen limitation will have a greater effect on larger than smaller marine invertebrates and fish.


New road sign to improve road safety and protect animals – Department for Transport

Areas where accident rates are highest could benefit from a new sign which warns of hazards due to animals in the road.

Hundreds of people are injured every year in collisions involving animals in the road, according to the latest Department for Transport figures.

Image: Department for TransportIn 2017, 629 people were injured in accidents involving an animal in the road (excluding horses) and 4 people were killed.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has today (17 June 2019) unveiled a new traffic sign, featuring a hedgehog, which warns road users of hazards due to animals in the road ahead and could be placed in areas where accident rates are highest.

Image: Department for Transport

He is calling on local authorities and animal welfare groups to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign should be located.

The road sign is also designed to reverse the decline in wildlife numbers, in particular, hedgehogs whose population in rural areas has halved since 2000.

Chris Grayling said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at how we can make them safer. Motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are particularly at risk. The new small mammal warning sign should help to reduce the number of people killed and injured, as well as helping our precious small wild mammal population to flourish.”

The small wildlife sign complements other warning signs already used on UK roads, filling a gap between warnings about smaller animals such as migratory toads and wildfowl, and large animals such as deer and livestock.

Jill Nelson, CEO at People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said: “At PTES roadkill has long been a concern, which is why we launched our Mammals on Roads survey. We have also joined forces with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to deliver the Hedgehog Street campaign, meeting with Mr Grayling to express our concerns for hedgehogs on roads and elsewhere. We welcome this focus on road safety and protection for all small mammals.”


Nature fund announced: £1.8m given to biodiversity projects – Scottish Natural Heritage

14 projects across Scotland have been confirmed as the first recipients of Scottish Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund, sharing a total of £1.8 million over a two-year period.  

The projects will take practical steps to improve natural habitats, safeguard plant and animal species and improve biodiversity.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, looking for wading birds on Cramond shoreline, with SNH’s Head of Geodiversity and Biodiversity, Dr Kath Leys (SNH)Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, looking for wading birds on Cramond shoreline, with SNH’s Head of Geodiversity and Biodiversity, Dr Kath Leys (SNH)

Biodiversity is all the different types of animals, plants and other organisms in our natural world. People know that climate change is a big issue but not as many know that nature – and biodiversity loss – is also a global and generational threat to human well-being. However, enhancing our nature is also recognised as being part of the solution to the climate emergency.

The funding will support large-scale projects that aim to deliver rapid change on the ground to help our most at-risk habitats and species, including mammals and birds, connect existing nature reserves and tackle non-native invasive species.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon visited a newly funded project - The Wild Line – in Edinburgh. The Wild Line is a strip of wilderness that edges the land and the sea which has become increasingly narrow due to urban development. To boost nature and resilience to climate change, a network of species rich wildflower meadows to provide habitats for pollinators will be created. On shore retrofitting artificial habitats will enhance sea defences and protect people and nature against sea level rises providing homes for intertidal species, and invasive species, which outcompete native ones, will be removed.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said: “I am delighted that, through the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, the Scottish Government and SNH can support these fantastic projects across the country to safeguard some of our most vulnerable species and habitats, and protect them from invasive species. Their success will play a crucial role in our efforts to improve nature and help Scotland meet its international biodiversity commitments.”


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