CJS News, Headlines from week beginning 10 August 2020

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

Most people living in Scotland want a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic - Scottish Environment LINK

A new poll shows people in Scotland believe the Government should prioritise economic recovery measures that tackle climate change and enhance nature

A new poll released today shows three-quarters of people living in Scotland believe the Scottish Government should prioritise measures for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The poll shows strong public support for measures that improve our quality of life, tackle climate change and enhance nature. It also reveals that 76% of people in Scotland have become more aware of nature in their everyday life during the recent lockdown.

Scottish Environment LINK, a coalition of leading environmental charities, has welcomed the results which demonstrate strong support for green projects, including enhancement of Scotland’s nature through woodland expansion and restoration, peatland restoration and new high quality and accessible green spaces.

The poll results also highlight strong public support for initiatives to deliver nature-friendly farming and enhanced re-use and recycling enterprises, reflecting concerns about access to food and higher levels of plastic pollution that have been raised during lockdown.

The charities are now calling for investment in ‘ready-to-go’ environmental projects to deliver these much-needed improvements to Scotland’s environment while creating new jobs and opportunities for traineeships.

Deborah Long, Chief Officer of Scottish Environment LINK said: “The poll results highlight how important nature has been for the wellbeing of many of us during the recent lockdown, with people spending more time in their local environment. It also shows the great importance the public is placing on an economic recovery to the pandemic to lead us to a fairer, greener Scotland, with greater levels of support for an economic recovery that prioritises green projects. At Scottish Environment LINK we have been working with members to gather information about where rapid investment in on-the-ground projects could lead to better environmental outcomes benefitting us all.”

Some of the projects proposed, where the charities believe rapid investment could lead to vital environmental benefits, include peatland restoration, woodland restoration, new urban green spaces, improving access to healthy food and tackling plastic pollution.

New study from University of Northampton into the social and economic effects of grouse shooting in English moorland communities - Countryside Alliance

The Institute for Logistics Intelligence and Supply Chain Transformation at the University of Northampton has published a new study into the social and economic effects of grouse shooting in English moorland communities.

The study, authored by Prof. Simon Denny and Tracey Latham-Green, found that grouse shooting is part of a complex web of integrated moorland management practices. The study makes clear that it is the activities associated with grouse shooting that underpins those positive economic and social benefits brought to local upland communities, and the wider UK, by integrated moorland management.

It suggests that any policy that seeks to affect any part of this web should carefully consider what its impacts would be on a wide range of economic and social factors, at the start of the policy formation process. Failure to adhere to this approach would risk causing unintended but irreversible social and economic catastrophe to our upland communities.

The direct economic value of grouse shooting in England and Wales is estimated to be £67.7 million per annum.

76% of estate owners surveyed stressed the importance they attributed to carbon sequestration and peat restoration.

The report can be found here.

NRW study confirms Wales’ seas have massive potential for carbon offsetting to tackle the climate emergency - Natural Resources Wales

Carbon in Welsh Seas infographic from NRW
Carbon in Welsh Seas infographic from NRW

A new study commissioned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has revealed the important role our seas and coasts play in offsetting carbon emissions by storing large amounts of carbon to help tackle the climate emergency.

Atmospheric carbon offsetting from woodlands and peatlands habitats are already well known. But, NRW’s new study confirms that marine habitats are important in storing “blue carbon”. According to its findings, each year, the marine environment in Wales locks away carbon amounting to the equivalent annual emissions of 64,800 cars or 115, 600 return flights from Cardiff to the Canary Islands.

It was found that marine habitats including saltmarshes and seagrass beds can place large amounts of carbon into long term storage each year and are as significant carbon stores as Welsh woodlands and forests. With the climate emergency likely to cause serious and irreversible impacts on communities in Wales and further afield, NRW’s study shows marine habitats have a big contribution to make in reducing greenhouse gases, alongside their well-recognised role in adapting to the impacts of the climate emergency.

What is clear from NRW’s study is that, in addition to carbon storage in woodlands and forests, our diverse coast and sea play an important role in carbon storage to help Wales tackle the climate emergency and protect our natural environment for future generations.

Click here to read the report.

More information in NRW's blog post: Wales’ Blue Carbon offsetting and the climate emergency

New research shows pine martens predate on non-native grey squirrels more than native red squirrels - Queen's University Belfast and PTES

New research by Queen’s University Belfast shows that native European pine martens (Martes martes) predate on non-native grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) significantly more than red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris).

The findings, published in Mammalian Biology earlier this year and funded by UK wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), also show that although both squirrel species are on the pine martens’ menu, pine martens predate on grey squirrels exclusively in spring and summer, during the squirrels’ breeding season.

A native pine marten. Credit Dr. Joshua P. Twining.
A native pine marten. Credit Dr. Joshua P. Twining.

As such, it’s now thought pine martens may raid grey squirrel nests (known as ‘dreys’), specifically targeting juveniles and females caring for young. This provides a plausible mechanism for the decline in grey squirrels seen across Ireland and Britain.

The research, led by Dr. Joshua Twining from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, also showed that pine martens do predate on native red squirrels, but at a much lower level. Red squirrels have adapted to live alongside pine martens in the evolutionary landscapes of Europe, thus, red squirrels appear to have a greater awareness of the threat posed by pine martens. Grey squirrels may also be energetically more valuable, and therefore preferable to predators like pine martens as they are larger and are found in higher numbers than red squirrels.

The paper, entitled "The dynamics of pine marten predation on red and grey squirrels", can be accessed here. To find out more about this project, click here, and to find out more about PTES’ internships visit here

Morlais tidal energy project risks future of Anglesey’s marine wildlife - RSPB

RSPB Cymru is raising grave concerns over the proposed Morlais Tidal Energy Demonstration Zone off the coast of Anglesey.

The environmental charity fears that the political and economic pressures to complete the application are pushing this development to take unmanageable risks with our fragile marine environment.

We recognise that there is an urgent need for clean, renewable energy generation as an important part of the decarbonisation of Wales. However, poorly located or ill-designed renewable energy generation projects pose significant risks to our natural environment. As we face a dual climate and nature emergency, we must plan our low Carbon and renewable energy projects in harmony with the natural environment and avoid greater impacts on wildlife.

The Environmental Impact Assessment by Menter Môn states that the development has the potential to cause the loss of 60% of the breeding guillemots and 97% of the breeding razorbills from the sea cliffs at the South Stack nature reserve run by the RSPB – which with 250,000 visitors a year is a key tourist attraction on Anglesey.

RSPB Cymru Director, Katie-jo Luxton said: “If this project is serious about being a test bed for new marine energy generation technologies in an environmentally sensitive way, it must proceed in a step-wise manner, learning from each stage. However, our faith in this approach is jeopardised by Menter Môn seeking blanket, large scale consents. We are calling for the large 240MW scale proposal to be withdrawn and be replaced by a smaller scale initial ‘pilot’ project. A smaller scale permission reduces the risks of environmental damage and maximises learning about new technologies in this highly environmentally sensitive location.”

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