CJS News, Headlines from week beginning 8 August 2022

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

Mayor announces £4m funding for a greener, more climate-resilient city - Mayor of London

  • Funding announced following a new report on the economic importance of green infrastructure
  • 19 projects led by boroughs in London and TfL to receive funding in response to the catastrophic effects of climate change
  • The programme will also fund greening projects on London’s main roads to deliver green infrastructure, including rain gardens, tree pits and tree planting

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today awarded £4m as part of his Green and Healthy Streets Fund to deliver vital greening projects on the capital’s roads and public spaces in order to tackle the devastating impacts of climate change.

The Fund supports projects like rain gardens and tree pits which integrate green infrastructure and climate resilience measures into local streets alongside interventions that support the Mayor’s commitment to promoting active travel, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

Rain gardens and tree pits reduce flood risk by absorbing surface water run-off from hard surfaces, while creating a more attractive environment for pedestrians and a habitat for wildlife.

The additional investment will help make local areas more resilient to events like the heatwaves seen in recent weeks, flooding, and other extreme weather. They will also support biodiversity and encourage more Londoners to walk and cycle. Eleven boroughs will receive £2.85m from the Green and Healthy Streets Fund and funding will also be provided to enable the development of strategic green walking routes.

This announcement follows a new report by Vivid Economics commissioned by the GLA which found that investment in such measures would generate benefits worth £11.4m annually and that, in terms of social value, the cost of intervention would be offset in just three years.

These projects will not only help improve London’s resilience to flooding but provide attractive and wildlife-friendly spaces.

The funding will also deliver 10 new pocket parks (small parks accessible to the public) and green spaces and hundreds more street trees to help provide shade, reduce the risk of flooding and combat air pollution in the capital.

Safety risk as feeding wild animals linked to artificial selection of harassment behaviour - University College Dublin

The growing trend of people feeding wild animals poses a serious risk to the well-being of humans and wildlife as new research from University College Dublin finds these feeding interactions could be driving the artificial selection of harassment behaviour in some species.

In a study based on the fallow deer population in Dublin's Phoenix Park, the largest walled park in any European capital and host to roughly 10 million visitors per year, researchers from UCD found that fawns from mothers who consistently begged for food were significantly heavier than those whose mothers rarely approached visitors.

Each of the 134 fawns measured were from the same herds, across the same grazing areas, and all came from mothers who had equal opportunity to interact with people - leaving begging behaviour as the defining difference that could be cause such disparity in birthweight.

The research, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, associates this begging behavioural trait with those animals with bolder personality types, which according to lead author Laura Griffin could potentially cause some animals becoming more aggressive in order to obtain food.

How to help wildlife during the summer holidays - PTES

fox cub on an urban street
(Paul Saunders)

Taking part in surveys and making your garden wildlife friendly can make a real difference

With extreme heat warnings and wildfires dominating the news in recent weeks, it’s easy to forget that local wildlife – from hedgehogs and hares to bats and badgers – may also be struggling with this summer’s harsh conditions.

But, the impact of the changing climate on wildlife numbers is barely known. So, this August, wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is calling for people to take part in wildlife surveys both in their gardens and whilst out and about during the summer holidays, as well as offering some other practical ways to help a variety of species.

“Recording wildlife day to day and year to year is key to conservation,” says David Wembridge, PTES’ Mammal Surveys Coordinator “without that knowledge, we don’t know what’s happening and we can’t act to save wildlife.”

PTES is looking for volunteers across the UK to take part in its two annual wildlife surveys: Living with Mammals and Mammals on Roads, which began on 1st August and run throughout the year.

Huge appetite among Scottish young people to work in rewilding - Trees for Life

Person inspecting young trees
Trainee Daniel Twist (Ashley Coombes)

Rewilding charity Trees for Life has finished a landmark three-year skills development project to help 15 people from diverse backgrounds pursue a career in rewilding.

With more than 1,000 people registering their interest to take part in the ‘Skills for Rewilding’ programme across its three-year run, the pioneering project has revealed a significant demand among Scots to find practical ways to help nature and the climate.

Skills for Rewilding welcomed five people each year to the Trees for Life Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston, west of Loch Ness, where they spent 12 months carrying out hands-on rewilding activities, mentored by Trees for Life experts.

Different traineeships included tree nursery horticulture, deer management, conservation, landscape planning, digital marketing, and community engagement.

To attract a more diverse range of applicants, including those under-represented in the nature restoration field, the project – funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund – provided each trainee with a bursary and on-site accommodation at Dundreggan.

Trees for Life recruited a mix of local young people, women wanting to work in traditionally male-dominated roles, and those looking for a career change.

Paul Greaves from Trees for Life, who managed the project, said: “For each year of Skills for Rewilding, we received hundreds of applications. Participants came from a range of backgrounds and previous jobs, including hospitality, retail and construction. It’s clear that there is a growing public appetite to help nature in Scotland. Nationally, we need more investment in skills development to harness this potential workforce, which will benefit communities, biodiversity and the climate.”

Monocultures or mixed species? Surprising research shows how forests cope with drought - University of Stirling

Scots pines with the sun shining through the branches
Scots pine (Tom Ovenden)

Monocultures of some of the UK’s most economically important conifers may be more resilient to spring drought than mixed species forests, new research has shown.

Although mixed-species forests can be more productive and provide a wider range of social, environmental and economic benefits than those containing a single species, they may not be as resilient to drought, the University of Stirling researchers found.

Using a long-term experimental forest in Ardross, near Inverness in Scotland, they measured the impact of a spring drought in 2012 on monocultures of two species - Sitka spruce and Scots pine - compared to mixtures of the same two species growing together in different proportions.

Scots pine and Sitka spruce are two of the most economically important timber species in the UK, collectively making up 68% of all the UK’s coniferous forest area, with Sitka spruce alone comprising 51%.

PhD researcher Tom Ovenden, of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, who led the study, said: “As expected, we found evidence that Scots pine was more resistant to drought than Sitka spruce. However, to our surprise, monocultures of both species appeared to be more resilient to spring drought than any of the mixtures of the two species that we considered.

And something you don’t see every day

Increase in spider crab gatherings along Cornwall’s coast this summer as extraordinary creatures migrate in their thousands - Cornwall Wildlife Trust

snorkeller swimming down to a group of spider crabs on the sea bed
Snorkeller and spider crabs (Matt Slater)

Cornwall Wildlife Trust debunks myth that spider crabs are venomous and urges members of the public to see the underwater spectacle in action this August.

Beachgoers are being encouraged to look out for large groups of spider crabs along Cornwall’s coastline during the summer holidays amid increasing reports of mass gatherings filmed just metres away from the shore.

The crustaceans have been spotted carpeting the ocean floor at multiple popular tourist destinations in recent weeks.

The spider crab aggregations – or gatherings - used to be rare to see in UK waters, but Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s marine experts have described this summer as being “unusually spectacular” for sightings.

Matt Slater, Marine Conservation Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “I’ve spent my whole career trying to get people to appreciate amazing marine animals like spider crabs. Reports of them being venomous are simply untrue and could damage their reputation. These animals are truly unique and are completely harmless to humans. Despite the many gatherings we’ve seen in places like St Ives, it’s not that common to witness this kind of behaviour. I saw it for the first time in Falmouth last year and it was an unbelievable experience! Please go out, enjoy our coastline responsibly and admire these sensational spider crab displays should you be so lucky to see one.”

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