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CJS Professional

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Countryside Jobs Service Professional - The leading monthly for countryside staff across the UK

Published on the second Thursday every month

CJS is endorsed by the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association and the Countryside Management Association

Please remember: If you are interested in a particular advert or item please contact the advertiser, not CJS, and remember to tell them you saw their advert in CJS Professional.

Featured Charity: Mammal Society

Find out more about our featured charity here.

Including how to join and donate.

Contents:

Click the headers to browse each section, or click on each item (or the [more] button)

 

Jobs

Title

Employer

Location (basis / contract details)

Assistant Warden, Rhinns of Islay Reserves

RSPB

Loch Gruinart, Isle of Islay (Full time, Permanent)

Biodiversity Officer

Powys County Council

Work Base: The Gwalia, Llandrindod Wells / Agile (35 hours, Fixed term until 21/03/2022)

Project Manager

Adur & Worthing Councils

Lancing (37hpw)

Conservation Officer - Morecambe Bay and Cumbria

RSPB

Lancashire (part-time, 22.5 hpw, permanent)

Senior or Principal Arboriculture Consultant

Thomson Environmental Consultants

Guildford, Surrey - will also consider Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds or Manchester

Reserves Officer (Northants)

Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire

Northampton (Full time: 37.5hpw)

Livestock Assistant (Northants)

Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire

Northampton (Full time: 37.5hpw, fixed term for 2 years)

Ecologist

Echoes Ecology Ltd

Based in Polmont near Falkirk, working throughout Scotland (Full time)

 

Volunteers

Kent Wildlife Trust: High Downs Project Volunteer Trainee Warden

Fixed Term of 11 months.  This is an unpaid voluntary position. Reasonable travel and other authorised expenses may be claimed.  Based at: KWT Reserve Park Gate Down, nr Canterbury [more]

 

CJS Information and other articles

An important announcement from CJS: We're planning a longer break at Christmas than usual to take some time to process this most peculiar of years and to recharge ready for whatever comes next. [more]

 

Over the past few months we've welcomed so many new readers to the CJS family that our readership information is now out of date.  To ensure that we continue to source and publish the right information and best jobs for you we're asking everyone to complete a short survey, should only take you a few minutes. For every survey competed we'll sponsor either plants with Plantlife or birds with the Wildlife Trusts - your choice. And one survey will get a membership package to featured charity The Mammal Society. [more - or take the survey now]

 

Some good news from CJS:  Following the success of our bounceback offers we've further simplified the regular advertising options offering even better value for our highly rated targeted advertising putting you in touch with a network of the very best professionals from across the spectrum of countryside, ecology, wildlife and environment conservation. [more]

 

We're running regular Facebook Live sessions, details:

What is your thing?

This is one of the questions Simon Roper asks to make you, as a career changer or new entrant, think about what you can focus on. It may be plants, it may be badgers, it can be anything. Find out more and watch a recording of Simon's Facebook Live session. [more]

 

How can conservation professionals support developing careers. Join Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger of Hengistbury Head, on Friday 4th December at 4pm for a Facebook Live Session on CJS Jobs, to discuss this in more detail. [more]

 

One to share: Placements available on the SOS-UK scheme, called Race for Nature. [more]

 

In the final article from this year's Featured Charity: We meet some of the Mammal Society Team

As we get close to the end of the year we thought it might make a change to put the spotlight on a few members of the Mammal Society team. [more]

 

Features and In Depth Articles

Contributing to our communities is good for us and good for our communities too.

The Centre for Ageing Better has worked in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to explore how to enable more people aged 50 and over to contribute to their communities. [more]

Hedgehogs at threat: Why we’re losing the nation’s favourite mammal and how universities are helping.  By Jo Wilkinson, Hedgehog Friendly Campus
A recent report from the Mammal Society lists hedgehogs on Britain’s IUCN Red List as vulnerable to extinction. Their numbers have declined by as much as 50% in the last 20 years, facing such continued threats as roads and loss of natural habitat. The question is, how have we come to this point and what’s being done to turn it around? [more]

Colouring in the margins: Discovering the arable habitat and resources to help.

Colour in the Margins is a Back from the Brink project running since 2018. Led by Plantlife in partnership with the RSPB it has been working to secure the future of some of our rarest arable species. The project has targeted the conservation of 13 key species: ten plants and three ground beetles that rely on the farmed environment. [more]

Coronavirus, lockdown and the benefits of being in nature by Miles King is CEO of People Need Nature

The Coronavirus known as Covid19 has changed our lives during 2020. And this has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people spending time outside, often locally, near their homes. How do we know? [more

National Mentoring Day – Finding a Mentor in the Conservation Sector By Emily Seccombe

Are you interested in a career in conservation but unsure where to start? On National Mentoring Day (27th October) and we gave A Focus on Nature an opportunity to highlight their mentoring scheme, for 18-30 year olds. [more]

Getting into Ecological Consultancy: Degree vs Experience  By Chris Cathrine of Caledonian Conservation Ltd.

Academic qualifications or experience? It’s a big question, and a difficult one to answer. [more]

The Ramblers – helping everyone enjoy walking in winter. The Ramblers are launching a Walk in Winter campaign to encourage people to walk safely near them to enjoy the uplifting boost of walking in nature - on their own, with family or friends, or their dog, using the online Ramblers Routes collection of walks. [more]

Litter picking is not a sustainable solution for the countryside - we need systemic change to clean up trashed Britain. For those people who don’t know us, Clean Up Britain (CLUB) is the only national campaigning organisation that is 100% focused on confronting litter and fly-tipping. We’re a Community Interest Company, and Jeremy Paxman is our Patron. It’s incredibly sad to say, but Britain is the most littered country in the western world. [more]

Can you help us to map tree canopy cover for urban areas across the UK?  Trees for Cities, Brillianto and Forest Research are hosting a citizen science project to map the canopy cover of the UK’s towns and cities. Help us to build this canopy cover map by measuring the canopy cover in your local area! [more]

Bridging the Gap: barriers and solutions for young people entering the environmental sector  By Sam Buckton

As young people on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders (TNL) Programme, we felt that change was needed and took it upon ourselves to facilitate it. [more]

 

CJS Focus

CJS Focus will become more career orientated in 2021 and the most popular edition each year is the one on volunteering. So that's where we're starting again with CJS on Volunteering to be published in February 2021.

 

News

All the month's news including Tree of the Year, the latest developments in gamebird release and licensing discussions, the impacts of lockdown conotniue to be felt but there are hopes for a green recovery as the importance of greensapces is acknowledged with the first nature prescriptions being issued in Edinburgh, and the cutest spider you've ever seen has been rediscovered in Surrey.

 

Training

Recently added online courses and webinars plus calendar of face to face courses running in January 2021.

Tree Council keeping nation #TreelyConnected through online arts and culture events for National Tree Week: 28 November to 6 December 

With many of us getting to know our local treescapes like never before during this challenging year, we are realising that our trees need us – and we need them - more than ever. [more]

 

Grants and sources of funding

Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant

Grants for individuals (£200-£2000) to give people the opportunity to seek out life-changing experiences in wild places of the world in ways which will benefit both the person, and the wild places themselves

  


 Advertise in CJS, information here.  Rates here. Information for CJS Weekly and CJS Professional.

CJS Newsletters and updates:

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CJS Professional: 12 November 2020
  

Jobs: view all online jobs here

 

logo: RSPBRSPB

Assistant Warden, Rhinns of Islay Reserves

Reference number: A1251120

Location: Loch Gruinart, Isle of Islay
Salary: Starting at £21,718 to £24,293 per annum

Hours: Full time
Contract: Permanent

We are looking for someone with a passion for wildlife and outdoor work to join our small reserves team on the Isle of Islay. You will work across multiple sites on the Rhinns of Islay to deliver estate and habitat management objectives, surveys, monitoring and occasional livestock and visitor work. You should be hard-working and able to work as part of a team which includes residential volunteers.

This is a unique post on a unique island; it will be challenging but also rewarding. You will have experience of working or volunteering on a nature reserve and have good wildlife identification skills. Most of our sites here are working farms and experience of handling livestock will be an advantage. A full driving licence is essential due to the remote nature of the sites.

For more information and to apply click here.

Closing date: 4 December 2020
Interview date: 14 December 2020


Logo: Powys County CouncilPowys County Council

Biodiversity Officer

£25,481 to £27,041 per annum pro rata

35 hours, Fixed term until 21/03/2022

Work Base: The Gwalia, Llandrindod Wells / Agile

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual with a good working knowledge of biodiversity for a fixed term post of 35 hours per week as part of the LNP Cymru All Wales biodiversity project. The successful candidate will need to be able engage a range of stakeholders in local activity that can help enable a long-term, sustainable difference to nature recovery across Powys. The post covers the whole of Powys outside of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The successful candidate will need to make site visits within the county.

Closing date: 22/11/2020

For more information and to apply visit our website.


Logo: Adur & Worthing CouncilsAdur & Worthing Councils

Project Manager

Salary: From £39,880 to £43,857 per annum

Scale / Band: Grade 8

Hours: 37 hours per week

Place of work: Parks & Foreshore Offices, Commerce Way, Lancing

An exciting opportunity has arisen for an experienced Project Manager within our award winning Parks and Foreshore section to lead on the management and coordination of project delivery of a variety of high profile improvement projects across Adur and Worthing, including: Highdown Gardens National Lottery Heritage Fund project, the £3million Brooklands Park Masterplan redevelopment and a variety of climate emergency response and adaptation projects across our parks portfolio.

You will be a dynamic individual able to manage all aspects of the projects in your portfolio including co-ordination with funders, stakeholders and elected members including the production of project plans, schedules and project finances exercising strict budgetary control with both Capital and revenue funds and oversee the procurement, letting and direct management of contracts to achieve agreed project objectives.

The successful candidate will manage all stakeholder consultation and engagement processes throughout the duration of the projects in order to inform the successful delivery of high quality outcomes. You will be able to work with multiple stakeholders, creating new networking opportunities and be a focal point of contact for these projects both internally and externally.

It is essential that you are an excellent communicator and be able to work across multiple channels and oversees the development and production of public communications including working closely with the Council’s communications team to keep funders, stakeholders and the public up to date with project progress.

Does this sound like you? For an informal discussion about this post, contact Philippa Reece, Parks and Foreshore Manager at Philippa.reece@adur-worthing.gov.uk

To apply please click here 

Closing date: Sunday 29th November

Interviews: Wednesday 9th December


logo: RSPBRSPB

Conservation Officer - Morecambe Bay and Cumbria

Reference: A1111020
Location: Lancashire
Salary: £26,212 to £29,320 Per Annum Pro Rata
Hours: Part time, 22.5 Hours Per Week
Contract: Permanent

We are seeking a part-time Conservation Officer to work across our Morecambe Bay & Ribble and Lake District Priority Landscapes. The successful applicant will be responsible for helping to deliver the work of RSPB's conservation teams within the North West and Northeast and Cumbria operational areas, to ensure delivery of the relevant outcomes of RSPB's Saving Nature Strategy.

Conservation Officers have a key role in hands-on land management advisory work, managing and delivering projects, in association with RSPB colleagues. This includes those led by RSPB and RSPB's delivery in wider partnerships, particularly within priority landscapes. The role has an important external element, building positive relationships with key partners and stakeholders so that our collective policies and messages are understood and furthered within and out with Cumbria.

The role will help to deliver a work programme focused on the relevant priority landscapes, species and habitats. This will be achieved by deploying the appropriate conservation tools to ensure we achieve our conservation objectives. This may include land management advice, site safeguard casework, species recovery, conservation projects and engagement in land use policy.

The post-holder will help to monitor and report on the work plan and to develop further work plans and/or project ideas. They will also be expected to contribute operational experience to RSPB's policy and advocacy work and contribute to the delivery of RSPB funding and communications objectives, particularly through communicating our conservation message

The area around Morecambe Bay is one of the UK's most important biodiversity hotspots. The diverse geology and landscape features and coastal and climatic influences have created an extraordinary diversity of habitats, which are home to internationally significant populations of birds, flora and invertebrates. The key habitats of importance include:

The transitions between these habitats contributes to the area's outstanding diversity, as within a short distance it is possible to move from inter-tidal habitat to saltmarsh to terrestrial habitats such as unimproved grasslands, heath, swamp, fen, mire, woodland and scrub.
Closing date: 25 November 2020

Apply here


Logo: Thomson Environmental ConsultantsThomson Environmental Consultants

Senior or Principal Arboriculture Consultant

Guildford, Surrey - will also consider Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds or Manchester

The role

Do you love trees and working outside? Are you hard working, enthusiastic and well organised? Due to business growth, we are looking for a Senior or Principal Arboriculture Consultant to join our team. Ideally you will be based from our head office in Guildford, but we will consider applicants who are within 1 hour’s commute of our other offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds or Manchester, with the potential for remote working.

You will be joining a small dynamic team, so will be expected to be involved in many aspects of the business – from site surveys, reporting and face-to-face client interaction. This is a great opportunity to gain the experience, skills and knowledge needed to impress high-end clients.

Our work is national, so you may need to travel to different sites and stay away from home on occasions.

You will ideally be immediately available and have

   ●   a qualification to QCF Level 4 in arboriculture (or above)   ●   membership of the Arboricultural Association or other related, professional body   ●   relevant tree survey experience within a consultancy or other commercial environment   ●   experience of undertaking tree hazard/condition surveys using Visual Tree Assessment (VTA) and development surveys in accordance with BS5837:2012   ●   have excellent written and verbal communication skills; be able to produce meticulous and accurate technical reports as well as communicate confidently with clients and stakeholders   ●   be computer literate with experience of using MS office, GIS systems and tree survey software   ●   be organised with proven ability to multi-task   ●   be able and willing to travel and stay away from home   ●   have a full UK driving licence and use of a car   ●   have a positive outlook and a strong desire to succeed.

About us

Thomson Environmental Consultants are experts in environmental compliance. Our specialist teams have been advising our clients across various sectors, on how to achieve their objectives and meet required environmental compliance since 2004. We cover a breadth of specialisms and are always pragmatic with our advice. With offices in Guildford, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds or Manchester, our teams assist with ecological advice, surveys and assessments, habitat design and creation, ecological contracting, invasive species management, freshwater and marine consultancy, arboriculture surveys, report and consultancy and contracting, data management and mapping and last, but not least, marine laboratory services (invertebrates, fish and sediment analyses).

You’ll be joining a happy, friendly workplace, guided by our values of Respect, Integrity, Support and Excellence and enjoy all the benefits we have to offer, including;

   ●   5 weeks annual leave per year (pro rata)   ●   private pension contributions    ●   collaborative and supportive culture    ●   flexible working   ●   fantastic on-the-job training   ●   opportunities for career progression   ●   regular social events, including a Summer and Christmas party!   ●   paid mileage, travel & subsistence, whilst away from home   ●   discounted gym membership (subject to location)   ●   free parking (site dependent)   ●   cycle to work scheme  ●   discounted outdoor clothing   ●   fully stocked kitchen, including unlimited supply of biscuits, with the odd cake thrown in for good measure!

What can you expect from life at Thomson? Read some of our employee testimonials:

Working at Thomson has provided me with the opportunity to grow on both a personal and professional level. Thomson believes in investing in its employees through internal and external training, and as a result I have been able to obtain multiple species licences during my time here. The regional teams provide continual support to each other, and in my experience, everybody is always generous in sharing their knowledge and working together to continue the success of the company.

Lauren H

Thomson offers its staff a great culture in which to thrive. With an open door policy, supportive team environment and flexible working, it creates a happy and productive workplace. Our CEO is always keen to explore new ventures, making Thomson an exciting place to work and let’s not forget our amazing staff parties organised by our very own social team!

Finance Team

I have been at Thomson seven years now and love it! I started in a very junior role and since then have continually been given the chance to prove myself, take on new roles and develop a career I really enjoy with great people!

Tom O

This is a permanent position based at any of our regional offices including our head office on the picturesque Surrey Research Park in Guildford. We are ideally looking for someone who is immediately available and lives within commuting distance of one of our regional offices.

Please apply as soon as possible with your CV and a convincing covering letter outlining your suitability for the role (max 500 words) to recruitment@thomsonec.com


Logo: Wildlife Trust BCNWildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire

Reserves Officer (Northants)

Full Time: 37.5hrs per week

Location: Northampton

Salary: £20,110 per annum

We are seeking a Reserves Officer to assist with the day-to-day running of reserves in Northamptonshire, through practical work, volunteer tasks, management planning and monitoring.

The Reserves officer will work with the Senior Reserves Officer (Northants) and other staff to deliver and co-ordinate reserve management in line with agreed management plans in combination with secured funding grants. The role will work with Northants reserves staff, key volunteers and wardens in order to deliver practical reserve management across the Northamptonshire nature reserves in accordance with management plans and H&S guidelines. The role also involves liaising with visitors and the local community and contributing to a range of on site and outreach community engagement activities.

Closing Date: 22nd November 2020 (midnight) Interview date: 9th December 2020

For more information and to apply, please visit; http://www.wildlifebcn.org/jobs


Logo: Wildlife Trust BCNWildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire

Livestock Assistant (Northants)

Full Time: 37.5hrs per week

Fixed Term for 2 years

Location: Northampton

Salary: £20,110 per annum

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire are seeking a Livestock Assistant to help co-ordinate and implement the grazing of Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves in Northamptonshire.

The Livestock Assistant will assist with the care and welfare of the Wildlife Trusts livestock in Northamptonshire, assisting with the management of the Trusts’ flying flock of rare breed sheep and cattle to a high welfare standard and ensuring that appropriate records are kept up to date. They will liaise with graziers of our reserves to ensure welfare is of a high standard and that graziers understand the Wildlife Trusts aims and objectives, as well as recruiting, supporting and encouraging volunteers to help with the monitoring and management of livestock.

Closing Date: 22nd November 2020 (midnight) Interview date: 1st December 2020

For more information and to apply, please visit; http://www.wildlifebcn.org/jobs


Logo: Echoes Ecology LtdEchoes Ecology Ltd

Ecologist

Position: Full-time Ecologist

Location: Based in Polmont near Falkirk, working throughout Scotland

Salary: £22,000 - £24,000 dependent on experience + benefits

Echoes Ecology Ltd are seeking an Ecologist to join our small but busy ecology team. Established in 2006, we have a strong reputation for excellence in protected species surveying, mitigation and compensation, and habitat management. We work in numerous sectors for a wide range of clients and our projects are exciting and variable. The successful candidate’s role would include field surveying and reporting. During the summer (May to September) you will be expected to work antisocial hours to assist with bat surveys, and throughout the year you may be required to work away from home.

Essential Criteria:

   ●   Experience of working in ecological consultancy   ●   Accomplished botanical skills and experience of carrying out PEAs   ●   Membership of CIEEM at Associate level or above   ●   Strong reporting skills   ●   Excellent communicative, team-working and organisational skills   ●   Full driving licence

Desirable Criteria:

   ●   Degree qualification in a relevant subject   ●   One or more protected species licences from NatureScot   ●   CSCS card

Working within our business you will qualify for contributory pension, private medical insurance, life assurance cover, access to training opportunities and use of company vehicles for all work-related travel. You will receive 24 days holiday plus eight days of public holiday per annum.

If you feel that you have the right qualities and experience to join our team then email your CV and cover letter explaining why you are a suitable candidate for this role to Laura Carter-Davis (Managing Director) laura.davis@echoesecology.co.uk.

Agency enquiries will not be considered.

For more details about Echoes Ecology please refer to our website: www.echoesecology.co.uk

Closing Date: 06.12.2020

Interviews: week commencing 13.12.2020

Start Date: 11.01.2021


 

 

Volunteers.

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Volunteers: 20 adverts for voluntary posts addedwihtin the last month - see all of these online at: https://www.countryside-jobs.com/volunteers/intro

 

Logo: Kent Wildlife TrustKent Wildlife Trust

High Downs Project Volunteer Trainee Warden

Fixed Term of 11 months

Closing Date: Midday on Monday 30th November 2020

Interview Date: Monday 14th December 2020

Salary: This is an unpaid voluntary position. Reasonable travel and other authorised expenses may be claimed.

Based at: KWT Reserve Park Gate Down, nr Canterbury

Globally and nationally wildlife is in steep decline. We appear to be reaching critical tipping points around the loss of biodiversity as well as around climate change, both being interlinked. Human society cannot prosper without wildlife and healthy ecosystems.

Kent’s wildlife needs to be restored to much higher levels. We can no longer allow common things to become rare. We can only do this by restoring large-scale habitat from degraded land. Doing this will contribute to solving global problems. But we won’t be able to do this unless we publicly aspire to a higher level of impact and show that we can deliver this.

The Job: The High Downs Volunteer Trainee Warden will be responsible for assisting in the day-to-day management of the core sites of important conservation interest within the High Downs Project Area belonging to the Kent Wildlife Trust: Park Gate Down, Yockletts Bank, Spong Wood and Quilters Wood.

The post-holder will also assist with and promote conservation work on partnership sites belonging to Forestry Commission, Stelling Minnis Charitable Trust and other landowners as opportunities arise.

Supervised by the High Downs Project Officer and the Ashford and Dover Area Warden, there may be times where some work is carried out without direct supervision.

The High Downs Trainee Warden will help with managing conservation volunteers, ensuring the highest health and safety standards at all times.

You: You will demonstrate an aptitude and enthusiasm for practical wildlife conservation work. A relevant environmental qualification is desirable, but NOT essential. The post comes with an extensive package of training opportunities and represents an ideal apprenticeship for those seeking a career in nature conservation.

Contact details:

For an application pack, visit our website www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

For an informal discussion please contact the High Downs Project Officer, Mark Tuson on 07500 057920 / mark.tuson@kentwildlife.org.uk or Ian Rickards on 07889 737839 / ian.rickards@kentwildlife.org.uk

The Kent Wildlife Trust Group is Wild About Inclusion. To us, this means inspiring, empowering and engaging people from all backgrounds, cultures, identities and abilities, to change the natural world for the better.

It also means cultivating inclusive workspaces that are free from discrimination, where differences are celebrated, everyone can be themselves and flourish, just like nature!

 


CJS Focus Change in focus for CJS Focus!

 

CJS Focus will become more career orientated in 2021 and the most popular edition each year is the one on volunteering. So that's where we're starting again with CJS on Volunteering to be published in February 2021.  All things being equal it will be out on Monday 22 February.  If you have any suggestions for subjects to be considered, case studies to publish, project tools to promote or a volunteers group to praise please contact Amy in her Focus Co-ordinator role with your suggestions or to enquire about this edition. 

 

 

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CJS Announcements and articles of interest.

 

Lockdown, tiers and early closing.

I'm sure you'll agree it's been a most peculiar year and it's not over yet.

We're all facing uncertain times and are still navigating our way through the constantly changing situation as best we can, just about snowy Christmas tree with star on topcoping with everything created by living through a global pandemic.  For everyone it's creating high levels of stress and generalised anxiety.  Having worked nonstop since mid-March, missing holidays and days off as well as putting in some incredibly long hours we have made the decision to give ourselves the opportunity to decompress, to take time out with our families and for a few weeks to close the CJS office door.  If you have a copy of our 2020 calendar you'll see that the office is showing as open until 23 December; however, we're taking an extra week's Christmas break this year, we have decided to close the office at 4pm on Tuesday 15 December re-opening on Monday 4 January.   An additional seven days is not much but it will have a huge positive impact on the physical and mental health of the team allowing us to return in 2021 ready to carry on providing you with the quality content and excellent standard of service that makes CJS what it is.

You can see our journey through the pandemic and lockdown on the Situation with CJS and the Coronavirus outbreak pages.


Over the past few months we've welcomed so many new readers to the CJS family that our readership information is now out of date.  To ensure that we continue to source and publish the right information and best jobs for you we're asking everyone to complete this survey. Tell us what sort of job you're looking for and just as importantly those that are of no interest, we're also asking for some basic details about you so that we can continue to tell advertisers how wonderful you are and why they should advertise with CJS, free ads are just not enough for some. It's all tick boxes with two spaces for longer replies: to send us a testimonial and your suggestions or comments if you wish, therefore it shouldn't take you long, only a few minutes (unless you decide to write us an essay!) but it will make a difference. Take the survey here.

logo: The Mammal Society

Every completed survey will go towards sponsoring plants with former featured charity Plantlife or birds with the Wildlife Trusts, the more surveys we receive more the plants and birds we'll sponsor, however you may only send in your responses once - I know we're meanies like that! So don't forget to pick your charity - it's the very last question.

As an added incentive one reply drawn at random will receive a membership package to this year's featured charity The Mammal Society.
Mammal Society members are a fantastic bunch of people and the Society is proud to have them as supporters! As a Mammal Society member you will receive:

  • reduced ticket prices for our workshops, training and conferences
  • updates on mammals and research via our magazine Mammal News
  • our regular e-bulletin to keep you further up to date
  • the opportunity to purchase our scientific periodical Mammal Review
  • access to our trap loan scheme
  • access to knowledge of ongoing mammal projects in your area

As well as the above our members are the first to receive details of discounts and offers from some of our retail supporters.
Find out more about them on their website and read the articles they're written for us throughout 2020.

Take the survey now, click here. Many thanks for your time and assistance, it is much appreciated.


Some good news from CJS!

How are you holding up? During this most unusual of times we all appreciate hearing something good for a change!

Following the success of our bounceback offers we've further simplified the regular advertising options offering even better value for our highly rated targeted advertising putting you in touch with a network of the very best professionals from across the spectrum of countryside, ecology, wildlife and environment conservation. 

 

There are now three listing options

  1. Basic text of 200 words is £75

  2. Standard Listing of 400 words and one logo is £125.

  3. Unlimited is as the name suggests unlimited text and logos £175

Add CJS Professional to any of these for £10.

In recognition of changing recruitment policies adverts are now online for up to SIX weeks, two weeks longer than before.

 

And don't forget FREE - Standard Free Linage is available in CJS Weekly; 150 words edited under six headings to fit the in-house style (not online).

 

There are four promotional options too; ranging from Job of the Day to a full social media promotional package, prices range from £10 to £75. More details on these here.

 

Download our new rates card here.

And a full media pack complete with reader profiles is available here.

 

If you have any questions please contact us and a member of the CJS Team will be happy to help.

 


logo: AMBIOSWhat is your thing?

This is one of the questions Simon Roper asks to make you, as a career changer or new entrant, think about what you can focus on. It may be plants, it may be badgers, it can be anything.

Even if you don’t go on to work with your thing it will give you the chance to investigate, and then show the curiosity and skills you’ve learnt by investigating your thing. In time your experiences will lead to very useful examples for interview.   

What did you do to further your career in nature conservation during lockdown? Get ready for that one at interview – and if you have been investigating your thing and engaging with a growth mindset you will have an answer.

Some great suggestions of how to provide more rather than less on job applications and within interviews.

Simon and the Team at Ambios run lots of webinars and training sessions and are very willing to help you achieve your goals in life.

Watch the video on Facebook here.

 


 

How can conservation professionals support developing careers?

Join Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger of Hengistbury Head, on Friday 4th December at 4pm for a Facebook Live Session on CJS Jobs, where he will be discussing how conservation professionals can support the development of the careers of people coming into our sector. With a look at the nature reserve based, work placement scheme that was rated higher than that of Natwest, Microsoft and Tesco, Brian will discuss the evolution of a structured offer that has benefitted over 80 students since 2014. This talk is aimed at those people working within the conservation sector who are in a position to influence the careers of others, and also to those coming into the sector who want to hear about the benefits of a placement programme on the workforce in general and to the organisations who are interested in running them – and how we have adapted this to a world where social distancing limits in-person experiences. Brian estimates the talk to last for around one hour, with time for questions afterwards.

The Session will be on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CJSJobs/)


Please share: Placements available on the SOS-UK scheme, called Race for Nature.

SOS-UK have submitted their first round Kickstarter application to DWP which covered 87 placements at 32 environmental and conservation organisations. The SOS-UK scheme, called Race for Nature, is run in partnership with Action for Conservation, Generation Success and Voyage Youth and is focused on encouraging and supporting BAME young people to be Kickstarters. Their partnership is now running a second round of applications with a deadline of Friday 20 November 2020. Placements must be of six month duration and can start anytime during 2021. Government will reimburse the payroll, national insurance and any auto-enrolment pension costs for 25 hours a week at minimum wage, although the Race for Nature partnership requires you to pay a living wage. As a Kickstart gateway organisation you can access placements through them meaning you do not have to meet the minimum 30 placements yourself. There is more information on their programme, including the living wage commitments, at https://sustainability.nus.org.uk/kickstart.

Please direct any questions to Laura Kravac laura@actionforconservation.org or Jamie Agombar jamie.agombar@sos-uk.org.


In the final article from this year's Featured Charity: We meet some of the Mammal Society Team

Logo: The Mammal Society

As we get close to the end of the year we thought it might make a change to put the spotlight on a few members of the Mammal Society team.

Throughout the pandemic we have all been working from home and, like anyone who enjoys being part of a team, we are all really looking forward to being able to meet up in person again soon.

Frazer Coomber next to a tree with a camera trap on it (The Mammal Society)
Frazer Coomber (The Mammal Society)

Frazer Coomber is our Science Officer. 

Frazer joined the Mammal Society in February 2018 as a post-doctoral research officer. He completed his PhD at the University of Genoa where he studied the impact of shipping traffic on Cuvier’s beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Frazer is passionate about all mammals and is interested in the effect of human disturbance on their ecology.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Mammal Society team? What I most enjoy most is the knowledge that the work I conduct is actively used to provide robust evidence towards promoting the conservation of the species I know and love. It's great to know that the things I do can be used to make a difference!

Favourite British mammal? This is a hard question to answer! I have always loved whales and dolphins and I might have to go for Risso’s or white beaked dolphins!

What one thing could people do to help protect Britain's mammals? There are many things that people could do to help British wildlife but from my perspective we can’t protect what we don’t know, so reporting animal sightings I consider important. These records help us and others to understand where animals are, how many there are and how these metrics change.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to work in mammal conservation? I would recommend getting involved with as many projects and surveys as possible, building up an experience base through volunteer and work placements provides valuable skills and connections. Failing that, study maths and get into programming!

Favourite meal of the day? I love a good roast dinner with all the vegetable trimmings, prawn cocktail starter with a banoffee pie to finish!

Beth Smith joined Mammal Society in October 2018 as Data & Information Officer. 

Beth Smith in a snow covered wood (The Mammal Society)
Beth Smith (The Mammal Society)

She left the role last year to pursue a PhD at Nottingham Trent University, but is still sticking by us as our Student Representative. In this role Beth is coordinating the University Mammal Challenge (UMAC) and organising the Mammal Society Student Conference.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Mammal Society team? Typical reasons such as working with kind, like-minded individuals and helping to conserve Britain's mammals all spring to mind, but for me, as Student Representative, it's the satisfaction of helping students like myself to get involved with mammal conservation and to give hard-working students a platform to show off their research and get noticed.

What is your favourite British mammal? Honestly, I can't choose between the red fox and harvest mouse. Every time I see a harvest mouse it just blows my mind how tiny yet cool they are with their prehensile tails, but then I will never not be excited at spotting a tenth urban fox when walking home from the pub in London!

What one thing could people do to help protect Britain's mammals? This is one that people don't tend to think of straight away and for a lot of people it really is something that's within their control so I'm going to say "drive less". Also, slow down when you are driving and, especially at night, be vigilant and pay attention to the road verges. I know not everyone can just stop using their car but where there's an option to walk or cycle, why not take it once in a while? You'll also get some fresh air and some exercise whilst reducing the number of road-killed animals every year. We all know it's better for the environment too, so a bit of an all-rounder really!

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to work in mammal conservation? If you're at the early stages then just get as much experience as possible. Look up local Mammal Groups, wildlife groups or even ecological consultancies, reach out to local universities or colleges that might have research you could get involved in, join in with Mammal Society projects and competitions. The more people you help and network with, the more likely you are to hear of opportunities and be offered roles in mammal conservation.

Favourite meal of the day? Finally, an easy question! Definitely breakfast, I always wake up really hungry and find it so satisfying to mooch around the kitchen and decide if I'm in the mood for a big bowl of cereal, some hearty porridge, scrambled eggs or a croissant. I guess I'm a bit of a generalist in that sense, like an urban fox looking for an easy meal! So on that basis, my ideal breakfast is weather, mood and activity-dependent. If it's a cold morning and I've got lots to do that day then I'll be opting for a big bowl of porridge with some honey and fruit.

Charlie Le Marquand in the forefront with valley landscape behind (The Mammal Society)
Charlie Le Marquand (The Mammal Society)

Charlie Le Marquand is the Mammal Society’s Data and Information Officer. 

After completing her BSc in Zoology at Swansea University, Charlie gained an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London and joined the Mammal Society as data and information officer in October 2019. Her research has included investigating the distribution of hedgehogs on the island of Guernsey using footprint tunnels and citizen science, looking at habitat usage of foxes in urban parks using camera traps and modelling how urbanisation as a land-use change affects local biodiversity.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Mammal Society team? It's difficult to pick a top reason! Getting to work and communicate with so many people who are also passionate about Britain's mammals is high up there. I also really enjoy the learning aspect, between information from our experts and the interesting questions we get in from supporters I learn more and more about our mammals every day.

Favourite British mammal? It's hard to single one out and it's very close but the one that comes top for me is the red fox. I didn't see one in person until I was 20 because in Guernsey, where I grew up, we don't have them. I saw my first fox on a very wet, dark, night in Swansea when a photographer friend took me out with him and I was so excited when one trotted out of the darkness. Since then I've seen a few more and it still takes my breath away when I see one wandering the streets of Brighton.

What one thing could people do to help protect Britain's mammals? I would say, make any space you have control of as wildlife friendly as you can. Whether it's a garden, a driveway or a balcony there are some really cool ideas out there for things you can do to make even small spaces attractive to wildlife. A lot of threatened mammals are suffering from loss of habitat, as are other groups of animals and just think of how much space we take up in housing across the UK. Things like mowing less, leaving wood and leaf piles and having a small pond can really help both the mammals themselves and also their food sources. We have some more suggestions from some of our mammal experts on our YouTube Channel here

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to work in mammal conservation? Be proactive. Get involved with groups in your area and volunteer as much as you can. There are so many local experts out there and working with organisations in your area, such as one of our Local Mammal Groups is a great way to meet and learn from them, while supporting your area's mammals at the same time.

Favourite meal? Dinner would be my favourite. Breakfast and lunch everyone is doing different things but I like that dinner time is the meal when everyone tends to sit down at the same time, whether at home with family, or away living with friends. Then you can have a good chat about your days and talk about the movie you're all going to watch or the boardgame you'll play together after you're done! I'm probably not so bothered by the actual food as long as it tastes good!

During the lockdown(s) most of the team have been able to get out and use our Mammal Mapper app more often. It is a great way of recording what we see when we’re traipsing around the countryside and has been really useful to be able to compare notes on what we’ve spotted in different areas of Britain. If you’d like to get involved in recording mammals why not download the Mammal Mapper app today. To find out more visit our website at www.mammal.org.

 

We look forward to introducing you to our new featured charity next month.

 

Features and In Depth Articles.

 

Contributing to our communities is good for us and good for our communities too.

Logo: Centre for Ageing Better

“Volunteering has been life-changing for me – if it wasn’t for getting involved, I would have been in a very bad way. As it is, I’ve been really supported and it’s been wonderful.”

Kent Coast Volunteering quote

Gorse Hill Community Allotments (Centre for Ageing Better)
Gorse Hill Community Allotments (Centre for Ageing Better)

From helping our neighbours to formal volunteering, being involved is good for our individual and collective wellbeing through helping us build and maintain social connections. Our communities also benefit enormously from the time, skills and experience that we bring to organisations and groups. So how can we make sure that the two thirds of people aged over 50 who contribute to their community can continue to do so in ways that work for them as they age and during this time of uncertainty due to COVID-19?

The Centre for Ageing Better has worked in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to explore how to enable more people aged 50 and over to contribute to their communities. Our review of community contributions in later life found that age is less relevant to people’s experience of contributing than their circumstances; those who are least healthy and least wealthy are the most likely to benefit from participation but the least likely to do it. The review also identified that many people face practical, structural and emotional barriers to taking part. Again, few of these are specific to over 50s but as people experience challenges often associated with ageing (for example the onset of health conditions, bereavement, caring responsibilities etc.) the barriers may become more difficult to overcome.

In 2019, we ran a joint grant programme with DCMS to test out a framework for age-friendly and inclusive approaches to volunteering proposed in the review. The focus was on those who are most at risk of missing out, and this framework supports organisations to enable a more diverse range of people in later life to make a contribution and helps them to support people to overcome barriers to participation. Our funded projects developed and shared new ways of working including: being flexible and responsive to help manage transitions that many people face as they age; supporting people to use the skills they have developed (as well as having the chance to learn new ones); and providing opportunities to socialise alongside contributing.

Community Allotment (Centre for Ageing Better)
Community Allotment (Centre for Ageing Better)

Age-friendly and inclusive approaches are not just a ‘nice to have’, they are key to ensuring there are enough volunteers for organisations to continue their work in future. The UK’s population is undergoing a massive age shift. In less than 20 years, one in four people will be over 65. We are also becoming more diverse, with more people living with long-term conditions, working and possibly also caring for longer. Without changing approaches to community participation and volunteering, a growing number of people will be at risk of missing out on the wellbeing benefits that taking part in communities brings. In addition, without action to attract and retain a more diverse pool of participants and volunteers, organisations may find their capacity depleted. The current ‘civic core’ of highly engaged individuals, who are mainly healthier, wealthier and white, may not be able to sustain its contributions in future as more people work and care for longer.

One of our funded projects, Growing Connections, brought together eight community gardens across London to share knowledge, experience and learn from one another by visiting each other’s gardens and holding a series of sharing workshops. Through that process they developed a self-assessment tool and a guide to inspire other growing spaces or nature projects to work towards providing volunteering and visiting opportunities that are open to all ages and people from all backgrounds and abilities.

Growing Connections also found that these age-friendly and inclusive approaches resonate strongly as they set to re-open their gardens after the COVID-19 national lockdown and re-engage with volunteers. While some older people were able to continue their roles during lockdown, many were asked, or felt they needed to step away. This had serious implications both for individuals and for the organisations with whom they worked. But all our funded projects have told us that being flexible, focusing on the needs and wants of volunteers, and providing the chance to connect and be sociable have been key to ensuring that they are ready and able to help their over 50s volunteers to re-engage safely and with confidence where they can.

In this new and uncertain world, it’s more important than ever for organisations to make their volunteering offer flexible and inclusive. By adopting this approach, both organisations and individuals can continue to benefit even as their circumstances change.

A new short practical guide on volunteering has been published 

The guide will help voluntary organisations mobilise and engage a more diverse range of over 50s volunteers, including those who typically face barriers to getting involved in their communities
Access the guide here


Hedgehogs at threat: Why we’re losing the nation’s favourite mammal and how universities are helping.

Logo: Hedgehog Friendly Campus

By Jo Wilkinson, Hedgehog Friendly Campus

A recent report from the Mammal Society lists hedgehogs on Britain’s IUCN Red List as vulnerable to extinction. Their numbers have declined by as much as 50% in the last 20 years, facing such continued threats as roads and loss of natural habitat. The question is, how have we come to this point and what’s being done to turn it around?

Image: Hedgehog Friendly Campus hedgehog

The wild hedgehog is engrained in British culture, from books to movies, adverts to Christmas cards. They often top the polls for the nation’s favourite mammal and it’s very easy to see why. Hedgehogs are unmistakeably characteristic, being Britain’s only spiny mammal. In response to the threat of danger, hedgehogs use their back muscles to curl into an impregnable ball – a fascinating defence mechanism against potential predators.

Hedgehogs are incredibly secretive creatures. Being small and nocturnal, their busy night-time schedule is generally hidden from our view. They were considered a symbol of rebirth by the ancient Egyptians, emerging from months of sleep-like hibernation in the spring. Their ability to mate and give birth when covered in sharp spines also stimulates intrigue, giving rise to the famed joke “How do hedgehogs mate? Very carefully!”.

The West European hedgehog is now vulnerable to extinction in Britain (BHPS)
The West European hedgehog is now vulnerable to extinction in Britain (BHPS)

Although at first glance the hedgehog appears shrouded in mystery, we now know a great deal about hedgehogs, due to early and continuing studies into their behaviour and ecology. Unfortunately, these studies show that human actions have major impacts on hedgehogs, at both the individual and population level.

The hedgehog, once a common garden occurrence, is declining at an alarming rate in the UK, with 50% declines in rural areas and 30% declines in urban regions. Threats include loss of natural habitat due to intensive agriculture and urbanisation, with never-ending fields of monocrops and swathes of concrete paving in place of native hedgerows, scrub and woodland. Habitat loss means less natural food, exacerbated by our habitual use of pesticides and herbicides. In turn, less natural food increases pressure from competing species. We’re chopping up the landscape with deadly roads, creating physical barriers to movement for hedgehogs, who can travel up to 2 kilometres in a single night in search of resources. Likely, the last time you saw a hedgehog was flat on the side of the road, the most recent in a long line of road-kill victims. Thanks to human actions, they’re now listed as vulnerable to extinction on Britain’s IUCN Red List, just one short step behind the likes of the Red Squirrel.

Hedgehog Friendly Campus provides resources and training so that teams can get involved in hedgehog surveys on campus (Hedgehog Friendly Campus)
Hedgehog Friendly Campus provides resources and training so that teams can get involved in hedgehog surveys on campus (Hedgehog Friendly Campus)

We wait to see how and if the new Red List categorisation may lead to increased protection for the hedgehog and their habitat. A recent British Hedgehog Preservation Society petition calls on the Government to move hedgehogs to schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), affording them greater protections. Only time will tell if hedgehogs will legally require the same protection and care afforded to bats, great crested newts and red squirrels. In the meantime, it’s down to our good will and discretion.

Thankfully, an army of Hedgehog Champions is growing across the UK, ready and willing to fight the good fight. One such branch of this army is Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC). HFC is an accreditation scheme funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, providing teams of university staff and students with a toolkit to make hedgehog-friendly changes on campus. It provides the resources, knowledge and understanding to make a real difference and, with almost 80 of the roughly 130 universities across the UK already registered, this revolution is growing fast and strong.

Staff and students at the University of Sheffield undertake regular litter picks in the local area to prevent hedgehogs getting caught up and hurt (Hedgehog Friendly Campus)
Staff and students at the University of Sheffield undertake regular litter picks in the local area to prevent hedgehogs getting caught up and hurt (Hedgehog Friendly Campus)

With teams able to choose from activities such as litter picks and wildflower planting, hedgehog surveys and hedgehog-friendly building (to name a few), the accreditation suits urban and rural campuses. The campaign provides workshops and webinars, as well as physical resources, to help you help hedgehogs at your university.

The Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign has seen some fantastic activities across the UK, including the installation of hedgehog crossing signs, modules on hedgehog ecology and first aid, rescue and rehabilitation operations and habitat creation. The campaign also trains Grounds and Landscape teams to “Think Hedgehog”. It’s a great start, but now we need more.

In the future, the campaign could be expanded, allowing colleges, schools, local authority councils and even businesses to get involved. For the moment the project’s aims are to get all universities registered to help hedgehogs in the UK, and is actively recruiting students and staff at their respective campuses. To join the fight, go to hedgehogfriendlycampus.co.uk to register and email info@hedgehogfriendlycampus.co.uk for more information.

Follow Hedgehog Friendly Campus:

Facebook @hedgehogfriendlycampus

Twitter @hogfriendly

Instagram @hogfriendly

 

 


Colouring in the margins: Discovering the arable habitat and resources to help.

Logo: Back from the Brink

Colour in the Margins is a Back from the Brink project running since 2018. Led by Plantlife in partnership with the RSPB it has been working to secure the future of some of our rarest arable species. The project has targeted the conservation of 13 key species: ten plants and three ground beetles that rely on the farmed environment.

Small-flowered Catchfly at Windmill Farm © H Gibbons
Small-flowered Catchfly at Windmill Farm © H Gibbons

Arable farmland (land that has been cultivated or prepared for growing crops) is vital for the wildflowers and animals that have co-existed with us since the dawn of agriculture – and you may or may not know, that arable plants are the fastest declining suite of plants in the UK. Many species that were once widespread across the UK’s arable farmland are now restricted to localised patches. With the intensification of farming practices, changes in agricultural land use, to more pastoral farming systems and development pressure around urban areas, we have lost important arable habitat and seen the decline of many species which depend on it.

Harvest Mouse © Ben Andrew
Harvest Mouse © Ben Andrew

Making room for wildlife within the margins of our productive land will reward us with a rich patchwork that is buzzing with life. By nurturing land for arable plants we can create areas teeming with pollinators which will in turn increase crop production and provide a reservoir of invertebrates that could facilitate integrated pest control. Sensitively managed arable land can provide a vital food source for small mammals, bats and beetles as well as important nesting habitat for many declining farmland birds. If we can create and secure habitat for species that live on arable farmland, we can make a real difference to their conservation on a global scale.

Mosey in the Margins information sheet (Zoe Morrall)
Mosey in the Margins (Zoe Morrall)

The project has been working with landowners and farmers to improve the way in which this land is managed, as well as with members of the public to enthuse and inspire them to care of this habitat. We have worked with over 130 farms and sites in Devon, Cornwall, Kent, Somerset and Wiltshire to help secure the future of some rare species – from changing management to reintroducing species to suitable areas. Some of our successes include reintroduction of Small-flowered Catchfly, Pheasant Eye and Corn Buttercup.

So, have you ever gone for a walk on a footpath or through a field near you, looked at some of the plants that line the path and wondered what they are? Well, whether you are an amateur botanist or experienced ecologist, we have some resources that may help.

Common Poppy © Tim Pankhurst
Common Poppy © Tim Pankhurst

Through our work, we have created a huge number of resources which are freely available to anyone who has an interest in plants and who would like to learn more about this interesting, unique habitat.

Logo: Heritage Fund

Species crib sheets focus on the primary species we have been working on throughout this project and you can use these to find out more information on them, from management to distribution and survey methods to lifecycle information. You can see the full list by following this link and scrolling down to the downloads section - https://naturebftb.co.uk/the-projects/colour-in-the-margins/

Logo: RSPB

We also have crib sheets to help with identifying arable plants and species that are closely related to them which are also downloadable on the link. They cover all identifying features including roots, leaves, seeds and fruits, flowering periods and size – we have them for Buttercups, Carrots, Cornsalads, Mints, Poppies and Speedwells. These are great if you want to brush up on your ID, or if you are working as an ecologist or advisor and would like to know identifying features without the sometimes-complicated keys for use in the field.

Logo: Plantlife

There is also a range of habitat management guides that have been put together to help you better understand changes you can make to help encourage and improve the habitat for arable plants and the species that are dependent on them. If you are after something a little more beginner botanist friendly, we have our brilliant Mosey in the Margins guide as well as a Discovering Arable Habitat worksheet – linked to the curriculum and perfect for parents and teachers.

All of these resources are available as downloadable version here - https://naturebftb.co.uk/the-projects/colour-in-the-margins/ (scroll down to the yellow bar half way down that says “downloads” or you can request hard copy versions of any resource by emailing zoe.morrall@plantlife.org.uk

You can find out more about the project and how you can get involved by visiting the Back from the Brink website and clicking on the Colour in the Margins Project page: naturebftb.co.uk.

Colour in the Margins is part of the Back from the Brink programme, funded by the National Lottery, and led by Plantlife in partnership with the RSPB.   


Coronavirus, lockdown and the benefits of being in nature.

Logo: People Need Nature
Dorchester Market under lockdown ©Miles King
Dorchester Market under lockdown ©Miles King

The Coronavirus known as Covid19 has changed our lives during 2020. Something as simple as a trip to the shops or meeting up with friends and family now demands that we acquaint ourselves with the latest set of rules and regulations, which have become so complicated that a check by postcode is now needed. Jobs are under threat or being lost across the board, with the charity sector particularly badly affected. Schools, colleges and universities struggle on this autumn, after the total shutdown earlier in the year. In addition, farmers have had to cope with some of the most difficult conditions in living memory, with record floods over the winter, turning into a remarkably warm, dry spring and early summer, before record rainfall returned to ruin many a harvest. Overseas holidays have also been abandoned, forcing many people to spend their breaks in the UK, with all manner of interesting consequences. Many people have been working from home since March, and the need to get away from the laptop on the kitchen table means many more local walks. And this has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people spending time outside, often locally, near their homes. How do we know?

Natural England, the Government's Agency charged with championing nature, has a long-running survey which asks a random selection of people what visits into nature they have been doing recently. Originally called MENE (monitor of engagement with the natural environment) this has recently evolved into a similar, albeit cheaper project called People and Nature. The People and Nature project has just released its latest data exploring how lockdown changed people's visiting behaviour and has shown a clear increase in the number of people spending time in nature during August 2020.

The survey found that 45% of people had increased time spent in nature since the beginning of lockdown and nearly a third said they were noticing more nature when outside. 35% said they were visiting local green spaces more than they had before covid arrived, and only 11% said they had not made any visits to local greenspaces in August.

People in Meadow ©Bob Gibbons
People in Meadow ©Bob Gibbons

Local urban greenspaces have been the most popular places for people to visit throughout lockdown and afterwards, with 53% of those surveyed visiting a local park or other place during August. The next most popular was farmland and countryside, with 32%. Forests were third most popular around 30%. People reported that the most popular activity when visiting was walking (including dog-walking), with wildlife-watching coming second (23% of respondents). Picnics became much more popular during August. Those who did not visit were most likely to be worried about catching (or spreading) coronavirus, while bad weather also put people off.

Do regular visits to green places actually do anything for people's wellbeing or mental health? All the evidence is that they do, but respondents to the survey confirmed that they felt it made a big difference.

"The large majority of adults in England (89%) agreed that green and natural spaces should be good places for mental health and wellbeing.."

while 83% "agreed that ‘being in nature makes me very happy’ and 61% reported that they ‘feel part of nature’.

39% felt "nature and wildlife is more important than ever to my wellbeing", down slightly from 42% in August.

Wildflower meadows with mown paths improve access ©Miles King
Wildflower meadows with mown paths improve access ©Miles King

All of these figures are for adults and the survey noted that results for children should be treated with caution due to a low sample size. Nevertheless there were indications that children were spending roughly the same time outside in nature during August than previous months. But this is still a shockingly low figure - only 17% of adults reported their children were spending time outside in nature every day, with 10% reporting their children spent no time outside in nature either in the previous month or ever.

There is also a big disparity between access to nature among different sections of society. As an earlier People and Nature survey showed, wealth plays a big part in someone's access to nature - 44% of people living in households below the poverty line visited a green space in the previous fortnight, compared with 70% in households earning £50,000 or more. And this figure is the same when looking at indices of multiple deprivation (IMD), with 45% of those living in the poorest decile (10%) making a visit, compared with 68% from the richest decile. More people living in areas falling within the poorest decile reported making no visits to nature in the preceding fortnight, than reported making a visit. Adults from ethnic minority groups are also less likely to make visits with 51% reporting a visit compared with 60% of white British adults - and very similar figure arises for older people, with 51% of adults over 65% making a visit in the previous fortnight, compared with 62% of 16-39 year olds. The poor, the marginalized and older people are not reaping the benefits of time in nature, compared with the more wealthy, white people and younger members of society.

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of spending time in nature, on a regular basis, in people's normal every day lives. This isn't special remarkable nature that might be found on a National Nature Reserve, or on top of a mountain in the Cairngorms, or vast spectacular flocks of overwintering wildfowl and waders on a remote coast. This is every day nature, wood pigeons, Red Admirals... common flowers, even dare I say Grey Squirrels.

That's not to say we can't do more, much more, to bring more nature into places where people live. There is simply a big deficit in the amount of green space available for people to visit in some parts of the country. And there are big cultural barriers preventing some sections of society from using and benefiting from them. There is also a great deal of "green desert", gang-mown amenity grassland in parks, devoid of any nature interest or benefit. This can easily be converted into wildflower meadow or other flowery habitats. It's just a question of will.

Miles King is CEO of People Need Nature, a charity which works to promote the value of nature as a source of solace, awe, joy and inspiration.


National Mentoring Day – Finding a Mentor in the Conservation Sector.

Logo: A Focus on Nature

By Emily Seccombe

AFON Mentor and Founder, Stephen Moss, speaking at the Now for Nature conference 2019 (Steph Brown Photography)
AFON Mentor and Founder, Stephen Moss, speaking at the Now for Nature conference 2019 (Steph Brown Photography)

Are you interested in a career in conservation but unsure where to start? 27 October was National Mentoring Day and CJS has given us this opportunity to highlight the A Focus on Nature mentoring scheme, for 18-30 year olds. A Focus on Nature (AFON) is the UK’s youth nature network, and our aim is to support, inspire and connect young people. Through the mentoring scheme, professionals from the conservation sector provide tailored advice to young people with a passion for nature.

A Focus on Nature volunteers at BirdFair 2019 (A Focus on Nature)
A Focus on Nature volunteers at BirdFair 2019 (A Focus on Nature)

Trying to start a career in conservation can feel quite daunting. There aren’t many graduate schemes and advice can be hard to find unless you know someone personally who has worked in the sector. School or university careers advisors might not know much about the career paths available in the environmental sector. This is why the AFON mentoring scheme was set up – to provide career support and advice to young people interested in wildlife photography, nature writing, environmental policy, ecological recording, outdoors education or practical habitat management. We hope to tackle the isolation that can be felt by young people hoping to get into the sector. We support over 50 mentees through the scheme every year and are open to new applications all year round. In 2021, we are planning on expanding the number of people we support through the launch of a careers advice hub on our webpage – watch this space!

How does the scheme work?

We have a fantastic range of mentors, all successful professionals, who volunteer their time to support young people. Those who are interested submit an application detailing their interests and requesting which mentors they’d like to have support from. All mentees receive an advice booklet, which contains top tips from across our board of mentors. Mentors and mentees work together and discuss how the mentee can be supported to achieve their goals.

The scheme is open to anyone aged 18-30 who has an interest in nature and conservation and wants advice. Thanks to the voluntary time of the mentors and AFON committee, the mentoring scheme is completely free. We want the scheme to be as inclusive as we can to make our support accessible, so you can sign up as a mentee irrespective of your background, level of experience or education.

A group of young people at the A Focus on Nature Now for Nature Conference 2019 (Steph Brown Photography)
A group of young people at the A Focus on Nature Now for Nature Conference 2019 (Steph Brown Photography)

Who are the mentors?

From authors to rangers to educators, all our fantastic mentors have great experience in the wildlife sector. Our mentors recognise how hard it is to get into the sector and want to support young naturalists and conservationists. The panel come from many of the leading conservation organisations in the UK including the National Trust, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, as well as successful freelancers. We’re very grateful to our mentors for volunteering their time and expertise to support young people.

We are currently looking to increase the diversity of our mentoring panel. Specifically, we are looking for women working in conservation science, and Black, Asian or minority ethnic conservationists. We hope through this we will make the mentoring scheme more reflective of the young people we hope to support and improve representation of the diversity of people working in conservation.

What do mentees and mentors make of the scheme?

“The AFON mentor scheme provides opportunities that I wish had been available to me when I was starting out in my conservation career. As a mentor it is also very rewarding as you are not only sharing experience, but learning from the inspiring young people who you are paired with too.” - Catriona Corfield, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the RSPB, AFON Mentor

“I had a fantastic phone call with [my mentor] who offered me fantastic advice, and helped me narrow down my general enquiries into more specific ones. He's very approachable and offered up help in the future as well. “ – AFON Mentee

“Talking to someone who followed a similar career path to me has given me reassurance that I can change paths and it's okay to feel uncertain about continuing in academia.” – AFON Mentee

Want to get involved?

Check out our website www.afocusonnature.org/mentors to find the application form, mentoring guidelines and the bios of our wonderful mentors. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Emily Seccombe at mentors@afocusonnature.org


Getting into Ecological Consultancy: Degree vs Experience.

Logo: Caledonian Conservation Ltd

By Chris Cathrine

Slow-worm held in gloved hand at rail works site © Caledonian Conservation Ltd
Slow-worm at rail works site © Caledonian Conservation Ltd

Academic qualifications or experience? It’s a big question, and a difficult one to answer.

I still remember trying to break into an ecology career after leaving university 16 years ago – competition was tough, and I seemed to be filling in endless application forms. Now I am the Director of my own ecological consultancy, Caledonian Conservation Ltd. Established 10 years ago, I have recruited for employees several times now, and I can see that the market is even more challenging than when I entered it. Caledonian Conservation Ltd has a great staff retention rate – being a small company we all need to be flexible and pitch in, helping each other out. That requires a specific person – if the fit is wrong, it can unbalance the entire team.

Chris Cathrine (Director) Bugvac Invertebrate Survey © Caledonian Conservation Ltd
Chris Cathrine (Director) Bugvac Invertebrate Survey © Caledonian Conservation Ltd

From having been involved in recruitment at other consultancies earlier in my career, and attending university career days alongside larger multi-disciplinary consultancies, I am aware that what I look for in an employee often differs from other organisations. I’ve heard representatives from larger consultancies emphasise the importance of attaining a Masters degree before they will consider applicants for graduate roles. I don’t have a Masters degree myself – I stopped after achieving my Honours degree, as I really didn’t enjoy academia. However, I have built up a wealth of experience (through my own interests and volunteering), which started before university, and am now a respected authority in a number of fields. I’ve since published papers and been contracted to write technical guidance by government agencies and charities. I am a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and was honoured when I was recently invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. It is probably unsurprising, therefore, that I am more interested in people’s experience and enthusiasm than in their academic qualifications (although the two can definitely go together). Basically, I hope that my example is encouraging to those budding ecologists who excel in understanding their subject, but are perhaps less academically minded.

Scottish primrose © Caledonian Conservation Ltd
Scottish primrose © Caledonian Conservation Ltd

So, degree vs experience? If you’re looking to work for a company like Caledonian Conservation Ltd, I would suggest weighting your effort towards experience, although at least an Honours degree can be helpful (but I have employed excellent people lacking even this level of qualification based on their experience). There’s a limit to how far you can go in terms of career progression in a small company, but the diversity of work can be extremely interesting and rewarding – I know that variety is one of the things my employees enjoy the most, alongside the shared ethos, and camaraderie. If you’re hoping to forge a career with big consultancy, with clear progression, then academic qualifications may initially be the area you choose to focus on, but gaining experience will still put you ahead of competitors – particularly if you manage to gain protected species survey licences (e.g. bats, great crested newts, Schedule 1 birds etc). And it is really important that you do set yourself apart – when I recruit, I usually receive about 200 applications for any single job, and most tend to meet the essential criteria, so in that situation I am looking for those who have something more to offer. Membership of our professional body, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and other societies can be a great advantage.

Claudia Gebhardt (Principal Ecologist) Great Crested Newt Surveys © Caledonian Conservation Ltd
Claudia Gebhardt (Principal Ecologist) Great Crested Newt Surveys © Caledonian Conservation Ltd

Experience in ecology is great, and definitely something all employers will be looking for to a greater or lesser extent. However, I also value other forms of experience – someone who has done a career change often has a lot of useful skills to bring to ecological consultancy, as well as a different perspective which can be extremely useful when tackling complex challenges. Communication and other people skills are very important when it comes to talking to clients and stakeholders, producing reports, or being an Ecological or Environmental Clerk of Works – the person who helps construction or other contractors to undertake their work without breach of wildlife or environmental law. As an employer it is difficult to gauge which applicants will bring these skills, and previous work or some forms of volunteering can be a good indicator. I know my work in retail customer services helped me develop a lot of conflict management skills which I apply as an ecological consultant today!

Another area which is difficult to assess based on applications is whether the applicant really will be willing to work anti-social hours, in remote locations, and safely. If there are examples of this in work or voluntary experience, it gives confidence before asking to interview. Similarly, a First Aid qualification is encouraging, particularly an outdoors one.

I would also encourage people to be honest in applications. On some occasions applicants have been invited to interview where it comes out they really do not have the skills or level of experience they had written on their application, and that’s stressful for them, and wastes everyone’s time. Recognising your limitations and knowing when to ask for help is a strength in my view.

Tailoring your application to the employer is really important. A larger company is likely to have a more rigid application process where it will be looking for set criteria, whereas a small company like Caledonian Conservation Ltd may be giving more thought to the whole person, and how they will fit in a small team. If you’re at an earlier stage, it may be worth considering what sort of ecology career you are aiming for, and then choosing to focus on academic qualifications or on gaining experience more. Ultimately, there’s no simple answer!

Chris Cathrine, Director of Caledonian Conservation Ltd

www.caledonianconservation.co.uk

chris.cathrine@caledonianconservation.co.uk

07789 771166


logo: The RamblersThe Ramblers – helping everyone enjoy walking in winter.

 

people walking on cast path at the foot of a cliffThe Ramblers are launching a Walk in Winter campaign to encourage people to walk safely near them to enjoy the uplifting boost of walking in nature - on their own, with family or friends, or their dog, using the online Ramblers Routes collection of walks.

Millions of us have found comfort in walking and nature this year, and being able to walk to in nature-filled green spaces close to where we live has proved more important to us than ever following the COVID-19 lockdown. Recent research for the Ramblers by YouGov found that 78% of people said they intended to walk more than they did before when lockdown restrictions have ended. 

In the meantime, whilst the days are getting shorter, winter walking can be a great way to blow away the cobwebs, enjoy some magical seasonal surroundings or take a break from preparations for the coming festive season. The Walk In Winter campaign is running to encourage and support everyone to find their feet and enjoy the mood-boosting, uplifting joys of getting out walking in winter. 

If you’d like to get out walking locally with family, friends or a canine companion, why not check out Ramblers Routes? It’s an easy-to-search collection of well over 3,000 walks across Britain: it's available online and via our app. 

All walks of under three miles in the Ramblers Routes collection are freely available for anyone to access. The rest of the collection is fully available to Ramblers members; an annual membership costs very little, and there are concessionary rates available: membership could make a great festive gift for a loved one, or why not treat yourself?  

 

Get out walking with the children

Once you’ve introduced children to walking the hard part can be keeping them interested. Exercising the family dog is a simple way to add something different to a walk but there are plenty of other easy – and free – ways to make a walk special. 


Games of I-spy, collecting objects, treasure hunts or even fancy dress can help liven up walks for disinterested children. You could also consider incorporating local attractions or adding a picnic to your walk so they have something extra to look forward to. 

 

legs and feet on a muddy footpathHere are three easy ways you can look after your mental health this winter season:  

1. Go on a mindful walk  

We often rush in everyday life and forget to fully experience the present. Being mindful means noticing what is around you, reflecting on how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about. Walking is a perfect moment to be more mindful and take in everything you are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and tasting along the way. Focus on your breathing and take in the fresh air around you.  

2. Get outdoors at regular intervals  

Even if you can’t go on a long hike, make sure to step outside regularly during the festive season. Walk to a nearby park or do a round of the garden. There’s nothing like being in green spaces for clearing your head and helping you feel calmer. Make sure to suggest a family walk too – subject to local pandemic lockdown restrictions.  

3. Walk and talk  

Walking and talking come very naturally together and walking with others can make us feel more connected to each other. Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to talk it through with someone else. It’s also often easier to talk when you’re not sitting still. So, why not grab a friend or neighbour during the festivities and head out for a ramble! (Subject to local pandemic lockdown restrictions. 

One of the most important things to remember for winter walking is always wear the correct clothing and footwear for the weather and conditions underfoot. 

Happy winter walking! 

Find out more at https://www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking.aspx

 


Litter picking is not a sustainable solution for the countryside - we need systemic change to clean up trashed Britain

Logo: Clean Up Britain
Jeremy Paxman, Patron of Clean Up Britain, talking to 500+ people at the national waste conference at the NEC (Credit: Sybil Ruscoe)
Jeremy Paxman, Patron of Clean Up Britain, talking to 500+ people at the national waste conference at the NEC (Credit: Sybil Ruscoe)

For those people who don’t know us, Clean Up Britain (CLUB) is the only national campaigning organisation that is 100% focused on confronting litter and fly-tipping. We’re a Community Interest Company, and Jeremy Paxman is our Patron. It’s incredibly sad to say, but Britain is the most littered country in the western world.

CLUB is only interested in finding sustainable and effective behavioural change solutions to the litter epidemic afflicting Britain.

Of course, that’s easy to say, but very difficult to achieve. In reality, changing the behaviour of the 20m people in Britain who litter is the only answer. There are hundreds of thousands of very community-spirited people who pick up litter. In the short term, this is great, but it’s also a bit like mopping-up while the taps are still running…. the litter will just keep coming again and again, for ever. Our campaign is about turning the taps off, permanently.

It’s also about getting the government to address the numerous systemic and dysfunctional aspects of the way central and local government function in relation to litter. We ask for - and receive - no funding from government, so we can criticise them on the many things they continue to get wrong in the war on waste…

The infographic below outlines the key things we believe need to happen to ‘clean up Britain’.

Infographic - how to clean up Britain

We’ve recently launched a campaign called ‘Don’t Trash Our Future’ which is calling on the government to increase fines for littering from the current level of £150 (maximum) to £1,000. In addition, we want the government to make it mandatory for every Council to have to enforce the law against littering. At present, 70%+ don’t do it. Quite simply, in relation to litter, Britain is a lawless land. Over 50,000 people have already signed our petition at donttrashourfuture.co.uk

Currently, our other two main campaign objectives are outlined below.

A lobbying campaign to insert a crucial amendment into the Environment Bill

The Environment Bill is currently proceeding through Parliament. According to DEFRA, the Environment Bill will help deliver the government’s commitment to the “most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”.

The problem lies in DEFRA’s artificially contrived definition of the ‘natural environment’ – which would exclude roads, pavements, lay-bys and slip-roads. This means that the new Office of Environmental Responsibility (OER) – which is established in the Bill – won’t have the powers to assess whether local Councils all over the country (and Highways England) are fulfilling their legal responsibilities to ensure they keep their land clear of litter.

Currently, every Council in Britain is failing in its legal duties relating to litter clearance and, as the Bill is currently drafted, the OER will not be empowered to hold them accountable. A deliberate and critical omission by the government.

The action we’re taking

We’re actively lobbying members of the House of Commons Standing Committee who are scrutinising the Bill. It’s essential that we get the Bill amended. If it’s not, there will be no statutory body who has the remit and power to monitor Council efforts to clean up their local area, and punish them if they fail to do so.

Campaigning for McDonald’s to be legally forced to do much more to educate their customers

McDonald’s have over 1200 restaurants in the UK, many of them drive-thru takeaways.

Huge numbers of their customers litter their fast-food packaging – the evidence is strewn all over the country, even reaching rural lanes miles away from where it was bought. Yet McDonald’s do next to nothing to educate their customers on the impact of litter.

McDonald’s have applied for permission to build a drive-thru restaurant, close to Junction 15 of the M40 motorway, on the outskirts of Warwick in the West Midlands. This is our opportunity to set a new precedent on planning conditions attached to this type of development.

The action we’re taking

Clean Up Britain is running a sustained media and political lobbying campaign, putting pressure on Warwick District Council to impose three additional planning conditions that must be met by McDonald’s before they are granted permission to build.

Logo: Green Champions Award

These conditions relate to anti-litter messaging in and around the restaurant and drive-thru and, innovatively, the installation of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to link a customer’s food and drink packaging to their car registration number plate – which would be printed on their takeaway packaging and receipt.

Success would set a very important national precedent, and enable us to extend our campaigning for fast-food restaurants to take more responsibility for the damaging environmental impacts of their business.

Finally, last week we launched the Green Champions Award, which we’re delivering along with four leading industry partners.

Quite simply, we're asking - and helping - organisations to achieve the highest standards of environmental behaviour in the way they operate.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we're all even more aware of the fragile nature of our global eco-system. There is now an acute need for organisations and individuals alike to embrace more sustainable behaviour. That’s what the award is all about. More information about this is on our website.

Clean Up Britain works in a very collaborative way, and with many different partners. Our mission is very straightforward (at least in theory!)…. to reverse the rampant litter culture we have in this country, and use all the behavioural tools we have in our armoury to achieve this success. Please do come and join us!

John Read, Founder www.cleanupbritain.org


Can you help us to map tree canopy cover for urban areas across the UK?

Logo: Forest Research
Tree canopy cover is a useful metric in describing urban forest extent (Kate Sparrow, 2020)
Tree canopy cover is a useful metric in describing urban forest extent (Kate Sparrow, 2020)

Trees for Cities, Brillianto and Forest Research are hosting a citizen science project to map the canopy cover of the UK’s towns and cities. Help us to build this canopy cover map by measuring the canopy cover in your local area!

Canopy cover is the area of ground covered by tree leaves and branches. It’s usually expressed as a percentage and can be used to indicate the extent of urban forests and tree cover within a specified area. It’s a widely adopted metric that is easy to understand, and also gives an indication of the distribution of trees and their associated benefits.

The results of the project are displayed on the webmap and are publicly accessible.  (Forest Research, 2020)
The results of the project are displayed on the webmap and are publicly accessible. (Forest Research, 2020)

Urban trees provide a multitude of benefits to people and the environment. These ‘ecosystem services’ include storing and sequestering carbon, filtering air pollution, reducing surface water run-off and enhancing the aesthetic of our built environment. As such, it’s important to ensure that there are enough trees to continuously provide these benefits. By understanding the variation in canopy cover, this can aid in developing a strategic approach to tree planting within our towns and cities.

Logo: Brillianto
Logo: Trees for Cities

To help us map canopy cover, you’ll need to make use of a free online tool called i-Tree Canopy. On our website you’ll find a step by step guide which will take you through the process. All in all, the canopy cover assessment should take around 45 minutes, and will be much quicker than this once you get your eye in! We’ll then need you to send us your results via email, and once received we’ll upload them to the webmap.

Currently, average urban canopy cover is approximately 16%, and over 50% of all urban electoral wards have been completed, including cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol! This is amazing progress in such a short period of time, but we would absolutely love to complete the rest of the UK! So far, we’ve had over 180 participants in the project including tree officers, tree wardens and other voluntary groups too. However, you don’t have to be a tree specialist to get involved, and we’ve had participants as young as 8 get stuck into assessing canopy cover!

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, click here where you’ll also find our user guide if you would like to have a go at doing an assessment.

To view the results collected so far, please take a look at the webmap at the following address: http://forestry.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d8c253ab17e1412586d9774d1a09fa07


Bridging the Gap: barriers and solutions for young people entering the environmental sector.

Logo: Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

By Sam Buckton

Ribblehead Viaduct by Tim Hill (Pixabay)
Ribblehead Viaduct by Tim Hill (Pixabay)

The environmental sector is both a rewarding but challenging sector for young people to enter. The sector also lags behind many others in terms of (especially ethnic) diversity. This is a sorry state of affairs given the vital importance of fostering new generations of environmentalists in a world increasingly ravaged by biodiversity loss and climate change. As young people on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders (TNL) Programme, we felt that change was needed and took it upon ourselves to facilitate it.

Mya-Rose Craig, a.k.a. Birdgirl (right), with participants on one of her Black2Nature nature camps for inner-city Visible Ethnic Minority (VME) teenagers. (Mya-Rose Craig)
Mya-Rose Craig, a.k.a. Birdgirl (right), with participants on one of her Black2Nature nature camps for inner-city Visible Ethnic Minority (VME) teenagers. (Mya-Rose Craig)

During the final year of the programme (2019/20), in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided to organise a survey and online youth conference to address the barriers faced by young people and those from minority backgrounds wanting to enter the environmental sector, and discuss some possible solutions.

We sent an online survey to environmental sector organisations (ESOs) in summer 2020, asking (amongst other things) about the representation of young and/or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees in their organisation; if they valued young people in the workforce and why; what qualifications and experience are typically required for entry-level jobs; what opportunities they had for young people; and what barriers they thought faced young people wanting to enter the sector. We also organised and delivered a conference (the ‘Bridging the Gap conference’) on Zoom on International Youth Day 2020 (12 August), bringing together young people interested in entering the environmental sector and ESO representatives. The conference included discussions in breakout rooms along with presentations from two inspiring young environmentalists, Mya-Rose Craig (a.k.a. Birdgirl) and Joshua Styles, as well as Stephanie Lynch of Groundwork UK.

Fifty-five different ESOs responded to our survey. We found many of the results interesting and not necessarily what we would have expected. The main results are summarised in the table below.

Summary of survey results

The responses to our question about barriers facing young people entering the environmental sector were remarkable – they were often lengthy, impassioned, detailed, eloquent and inspiring. We got the sense that ESOs cared strongly about the problems young people face, valued young people in the sector and were keen to remedy the situation. ESOs’ comments on barriers and solutions were incorporated into ‘Bridging the Gap cards’, aimed at ESOs and young people, containing summaries of problems and ideas for overcoming them. These cards are provided as individual documents separate from the main report.

Participants on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders programme (plus staff) doing some socially distanced scything at Askham Bog in September 2020. Photo: George Hoey
Participants on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders programme (plus staff) doing some socially distanced scything at Askham Bog in September 2020. Photo: George Hoey

At the Bridging the Gap conference, which received enthusiastically positive feedback from attendees, issues of diversity within the environmental sector were discussed along with general barriers and solutions for young people entering the sector. Points from these discussions were recorded on Trello boards during the conference and subsequently incorporated into the Bridging the Gap cards. A recording of the conference (minus breakout room discussions) can be viewed here

Our main recommendations arising from the ESO survey are for ESOs to continue striving to increase the (especially ethnic) diversity of their workforce, and to recognise the value that young people can bring to their organisation as an extra incentive to provide more opportunities for young people entering the environmental sector. Other recommendations arising from the survey and conference, including campaign ideas and advice for young people, can be found in the Bridging the Gap cards. We plan to re-survey ESOs in the future to assess whether longer-term impacts have been achieved, including an increase in the number of opportunities available to young people in the environmental sector, the number of young people and people from minority backgrounds in ESOs, and the number of partnerships between ESOs and educational institutions.

Logo: Our Bright Future (Heritage Lottery Funded)

The Bridging the Gap project has been a brilliant demonstration of young people working together to bring about positive change. We think that a young voice is an essential component of any organisation. This is why opportunities such as the TNL programme – which gave 16- to 24-year-olds hands-on conservation experience and the chance to design and lead projects to inspire other young people about conservation – are so important in the environmental sector. We are hugely grateful to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for supporting us during the programme and hope that the Trust along with other ESOs continue to foster a strong youth voice as they face the challenges of the future.

The link to the folder containing all documents is here

 


News.

We collate together news from across the internet; sent out in real time via twitter and each day we pick a handful of stories of interest which are included on the Headlines page, the daily email update and here grouped according to subject.

 

Click on the headline to read more.

 

Ecology and Biodiversity 

Alien species to increase by 36% worldwide by 2050 - University College London

The number of alien (non-native) species, particularly insects, arthropods and birds, is expected to increase globally by 36% by the middle of this century, compared to 2005, finds new research by an international team involving UCL.

Published in Global Change Biology, the study also predicts the arrival of around 2,500 new alien species in Europe, which translates to an increase of 64% for the continent over the 45-year period.

two egyptian geese
Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) originally from Africa and now established in Central and Western Europe. (Credit: Professor Tim Blackburn, UCL)

The research team led by the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre hope it should be possible to reduce this number with stricter biosecurity regulations.

Alien species are those that humans have moved around the world to places where they do not naturally occur. More than 35,000 such species had been recorded by 2005 (the date of the most recent comprehensive global catalogue). Some of these aliens can go on to become invasive, with damaging impacts to ecosystems and economies. Alien species are one of the main drivers of extinctions of animals and plants.

Co-author Professor Tim Blackburn (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research and the Institute of Zoology, ZSL) said: “Our study predicts that alien species will continue to be added to ecosystems at high rates through the next few decades, which is concerning as this could contribute to harmful biodiversity change and extinction.

“But we are not helpless bystanders: with a concerted global effort to combat this, it should be possible to slow down or reverse this trend.”

The study identifies high levels of variation between regions. The largest increase is expected in Europe, where the number of alien species will increase by 64% by the middle of the century. Additional alien hotspots are predicted to include temperate latitudes of Asia, North America, and South America. The lowest relative increase in alien species is expected in Australia.

Europe will also see the largest increase in absolute numbers of alien species, with around 2,500 new aliens predicted.

Read the paper: Seebens, H, Bacher, S, Blackburn, TM, et al. Projecting the continental accumulation of alien species through to 2050. Glob Change Biol. 2020; 00: 1– 13. doi: 10.1111/gcb.15333 (open access)

 

Nationally important wildflower grasslands get increased protection - Natural England

Marbled White butterfly on a wildflower. Credit: Natural England
Marbled White butterfly on a wildflower. Credit: Natural England

Important flower-rich grasslands in Luton gain national protection through SSSI designation.

Two nationally rare flower-rich grasslands have gained national protection in recognition of their national importance for wildlife, Natural England has announced today (14 October).

Dallow Downs & Winsdon Hill (DD&WH), a chalk grassland on the western outskirts of Luton, and Cowslip Meadow, a flower-rich meadow located in a residential area to the north of Luton, have gained national status as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Over 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s with flower-rich grassland now only covering a mere 1% of the UK’s land area. Today’s move will see around 48 hectares of land receive strong legal protection on account of the rich array of wildflower-rich grassland and rare plant interest, including the nationally rare great pignut plant which has a stronghold on these sites.

The sites also have an array of woodland which is home to warblers and plants such as dog’s mercury and yellow archangel during the spring, and wetlands hosting species such as slow worm, water vole, and southern marsh orchid. The chalk grasslands hold a rich assemblage of invertebrates including the marbled white butterfly, which can be seen feeding on the abundant knapweed and scabious flowers in mid-summer. Cowslip Meadow hosts a number of water bodies, scrub and grassland which provide an oasis for a range of birdlife, and DD&WH offers a perfect viewpoint to see red kites flying high over the town.

 

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020 published - JNCC

The 2020 update of the UK Biodiversity indicators was published on Thursday 15 October.

This is the 13th update of the UK Biodiversity Indicators. First published in 2007, the UK Biodiversity Indicators were produced to provide a measure for reporting on international goals and targets. The indicators have been published almost annually since then, and during that time have been refined and revised to ensure they continue to be based on the most robust and reliable available data, and that they remain relevant to changes to the international goals and drivers.

Indicators are useful tools for summarising and communicating broad trends. The UK Biodiversity Indicators are dependent on a wide variety of data, provided by government, research bodies, and the voluntary sector – in total nearly 100 organisations are involved. The presentation and assessment of the indicators is verified by the data providers, and the production and editing of the indicators is overseen by government statisticians.

The UK Biodiversity Indicators set comprises 24 indicators and 52 measures. In the 2020 update, 23 of the 42 measures assessed over the long term show an improvement, compared to 18 of the 39 measures that are assessed over the short term. Fourteen measures show a decline in the long term, and eight a decline in the short term. Measures that improved or deteriorated in the long term have not necessarily continued to improve or deteriorate respectively in the short term.

The full set of UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020 is now available online, along with a summary booklet.

 

Latest evaluation shows Europe's nature in serious, continuing decline - European Environment Agency

Unsustainable farming and forestry, urban sprawl and pollution are the top pressures to blame for a drastic decline in Europe’s biodiversity, threatening the survival of thousands of animal species and habitats. Moreover, European Union (EU) nature directives and other environmental laws still lack implementation by Member States. Most protected habitats and species are not in good conservation status and much more must be done to reverse the situation, according to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) ‘State of nature in the EU’ report, published today.

A majority of EU wide protected species, such as the Saker Falcon and the Danube Salmon, and habitats from grasslands to dunes across Europe, face an uncertain future unless more is urgently done to reverse the situation, according to the EEA report “State of nature in the EU — Results from reporting under the nature directives 2013-2018 ”. The EEA report is published simultaneously with the European Commission’s State of Nature report, informing about the progress made in reaching the aims of the EU’s nature legislation.

The EEA report shows positive developments in conservation efforts. Both the number and area of sites protected under the Natura 2000 network have increased over the last 6 years and the EU met the global targets with around 18 % of its land area and nearly 10 % of marine area protected.

However, the overall progress is not enough to achieve the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Most protected habitats and species have either a poor or a bad conservation status and many of them continue to decline, according to the EEA assessment. Of the three main groups studied, habitats and birds lag particularly far behind while the group of non-bird species nearly met its target.

Access the report here

 

New research shows trees on poultry farms are providing havens for wildlife - Woodland Trust

Picture of David Brass holding a hen in woodland - Credit Phil Formby Woodland Trust
David Brass - Credit Phil Formby Woodland Trust

Trees planted on poultry farms in Cumbria are providing benefits for biodiversity, new research for the Woodland Trust shows.

The trees had originally been integrated on to ranges owned by or supplying Penrith-based The Lakes Free Range Egg Company to improve the health and welfare of the hens, boosting both the quality and quantity of eggs and making the farms more productive, but they have also become havens for wildlife.

Over the last five years biodiversity surveys have been carried out in spring and summer on nine ranges that supply The Lakes Free Range Egg Company (LFREC). Three had established trees on them of more than eight years old, three had trees between four and seven years old and three had only had trees planted in the last two years.

The aim of the research, which was carried out for the Woodland Trust by Paul Arkle and Seumus Eaves of Cumbrian Farm Environmental Partnership with the ongoing support of LFREC CEO David Brass and his wife Helen, was to assess what wildlife used this treed habitat and how farmers could further enhance its value.

Read the research briefing here

Government warned nature targets will be missed without more investment - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Environmental groups welcome the launch of Natural England’s Nature Recovery Network partnership today, but warn that the Government’s flagship Nature Recovery Network commitment will face critical delay or failure without additional funding.

Government funding for green recovery projects is almost 10X oversubscribed reveal new figures
The top nature charities in the country are today warning the government that a lack of investment in nature could mean delay and default on key environmental targets, including 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitat as part of a Nature Recovery Network.
In an open letter sent to the Chancellor today, environment groups say that £1bn capital investment is needed in green projects to set nature on a path to recovery on land and at sea.
The warning comes as a Parliamentary Question from Ruth Jones MP, revealed that Defra’s £40m Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which aims to kick-start environmental renewal and create green jobs, is oversubscribed by almost £330m. Shovel-ready green projects requiring £368million of funding were submitted to the fund, almost ten times the amount of funding available.
The groups say that increasing the funding available to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund would deliver wildlife-rich habitat in every corner of the country in the next financial year. They warn that Government promises of a green recovery need to be backed up by real investment.
Natural England is today launching its Nature Recovery Network Delivery partnership. This collaboration of government, industry and environment groups aims to jointly deliver a connected and expanded network of green spaces across the country. This would help to restore nature, tackle climate change and improve people’s well-being.
Environment groups are a key part of delivering the network, but with funding having dried up in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis many of their projects which would feed into this network are unlikely to be able to go ahead.

 

Land and Countryside Management

Stark warning to several water companies as environmental performance fails to improve - defra / Environment Agency

Environmental performance report shows more action and investment is needed by several water companies that are failing to protect the environment

The Environment Agency has today (2 October) released its annual report on the environmental performance of England’s water and sewerage companies, showing that four out of nine companies are falling short of expected standards.

The annual report rates each company in England from 1 star to 4 star, based on a range of measures including serious pollution incidents, pollution per km of sewer pipes and compliance with permits.

It found that:

While the number of serious water quality pollution incidents from water company sewerage and clean water assets has plateaued – with a slight improvement to 52 compared to 56 in 2018 – the total number of pollution incidents has increased.

In light of these results, both the Environment Secretary George Eustice and the Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, will be holding meetings with all underperforming companies to discuss improving their poor performance.

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd said: "We cannot transform water quality in the way we all want if water companies’ environmental performance continues to backslide. Severn Trent and Wessex Water show high performance is possible, and United Utilities were the best performing for serious pollution incidents, but the evidence suggests that the rest of the sector isn’t listening.  I will be meeting water company chairs in the coming weeks to make it clear that we expect much more. This includes developing, publishing and implementing specific plans by the end of this year to reduce pollution incidents. We will closely follow the delivery of these plans and will apply tough regulation to ensure companies stick by them."

The full report is available on .gov.uk

 

New Forest National Park Authority responds to Government’s proposed new planning reforms - New Forest National Park Authority

The New Forest National Park Authority has responded to the Government’s Planning for the Future White Paper which proposes radical changes to the planning system throughout England.

In August the Government launched a consultation on wide-ranging and fundamental planning reforms across the country. Members of the New Forest NPA responded this week, after considering the submission at the Authority Meeting on 15 October.

In its response to the proposed Planning for the Future: White Paper, the NPA said its main concerns centred on the lack of any mention of planning in National Parks and how the new planning system would apply to areas of environmental significance such as the New Forest, which currently have the highest protection.

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Gavin Parker said: ‘We would not want to see any of the existing protections given to National Parks weakened further and would hope the Government takes the opportunity to strengthen existing safeguards aligned to the emerging Agriculture and Environment Bills, as well as the Government’s 25 year plan for the environment.

‘We have raised concerns about proposals which would allow more types of development without needing planning permission. We’re also concerned that the proposed changes appear to make it harder for local people to engage with the planning system, both at the strategic plan-making stage and in considering applications for new development.

‘We accept that the current planning system is not a perfect one. There are aspects of the proposed reforms that we would welcome, including a greater emphasis on better designed buildings and simplifying processes, providing these are not at the expense of undermining existing protections that currently apply in the New Forest.’

The White Paper also proposes introducing more enforcement powers and sanctions to address intentional unauthorised development, to consider higher fines, and ways of supporting necessary enforcement activity.

 

Environment Agency submits final plans for Otter Valley project - Environment Agency

A ground-breaking project to help the lower Otter Valley adapt to climate change and create an internationally important wildlife reserve has been submitted to planners.

If approved, the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) will reconnect the River Otter to its historic floodplain and return the lower Otter Valley to a more natural condition. The scheme will create 55 hectares of mudflats, saltmarsh and other valuable estuarine habitats.

LORP is a partnership between the Environment Agency, local landowner Clinton Devon Estates and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust that currently manages the estuary.

The Environment Agency has submitted plans to East Devon District Council on behalf of LORP as the £15 million project enters its final phase. Success rests on the project gaining planning approval. A marine licence application has also been submitted to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). If successful, work will start next year and be completed by spring 2023.

The Lower Otter project is largely funded by the European Interreg programme through an initiative called Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts (PACCo). It is partnered with a similar project in the Saâne Valley in Normandy, France. Both schemes aim to demonstrate that early adaptation to climate change brings greater benefits than a delayed response or inaction. If successful, the adaptation model for these two projects will be rolled out to other locations in the UK and France.

   

Nature Means Business - Nature Friendly Farming Network

Nature means Business report cover

NFFN have published their latest report: Nature Means Business: Establishing the Balance Between Food Production and Improving Nature which you can view here.

This report brings together evidence and farmer stories that present the business case for farming in harmony with nature. We urge policy makers and the farming industry to use this evidence to help them make real commitments and take practical actions to support sustainable, climate and nature friendly agriculture.

This evidence is backed up by personal stories from five nature-friendly farmers across the UK, who highlight the nature-friendly changes they have made to their farms and how this has made their businesses more resilient and profitable.

Read the report here.

Crucial moment for the Agriculture Bill threatens the recovery of nature - The Wildlife Trusts

Last night’s vote (12 October) on the Agriculture Bill in the House of Commons saw MPs vote against an amendment previously passed in the Lords to #SaveOurStandards, despite a rebellion of 14 Conservative MPs.

This gives the clearest signal yet that the Government do not intend to uphold their election manifesto commitment to not compromise the UK’s high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in trade negotiations.

The Agriculture Bill will ping-pong between the Commons and the Lords over the next week.

This is bad news for consumers, British farmers and for nature’s recovery in the UK. It’s not just about the threat of chlorinated chicken. Lowering food standards affects wildlife’s ability to thrive in this country because the US, Australia and India allow chemicals to be used on farms that are banned in the UK. In order to compete, British farmers will end up having to go down the same route. This will seriously affect nature across the British countryside at a time when wildlife has already suffered huge declines.

If last night’s vote is sustained, it will result in a ‘race to the bottom’ in welfare and environmental practices and there’s every likelihood that many British farmers will start to use the chemicals used by these countries – but which are banned in the EU because of their impact on insect populations.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says: “The Agriculture Bill should be at the heart of ensuring that nature can recover in this country. We live in one of the most nature-depleted places on the planet and it’s vital that British farmers be encouraged to adopt nature-friendly farming across agricultural land which covers nearly three-quarters of the UK. It is not too late for the Government to enshrine their manifesto commitment to uphold high environmental standards in law.”

   

Country set to go green as UK announces a record 2061 Awards - Green Flag Awards

If the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much we value our local parks and green spaces.

All year round, an army of unsung dedicated parks staff and volunteers look after these treasured spaces and tonight, landmarks across the country, including the White Cliffs of Dover, the London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Salford’s MediaCityUK, will be going green to celebrate this year’s Green Flag Award-winning parks and green spaces and to say a massive ‘thank you’ to the thousands of people who work tirelessly to give us some fantastic places to escape to.

Buildings, band stands and even a windmill will be lit up as part of the celebrations marking the announcement of the 2020 Green Flag Awards, the international quality mark for parks and green spaces.

From world-famous London parks to small community spaces, canals to cemeteries, more than 2,000 sites across the country will be raising their flags today.

The announcement, normally made in July, was delayed this year due to Covid-19 and while staff and volunteers dealt with challenges that went along with huge numbers of additional visitors.

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

This year, a total of 2061 places have achieved the Green Flag Award, having been assessed by an army of more than 1,000 volunteer judges. Among the winners are Sunderland City Council’s Mowbray Park and Jubilee Park managed by Canary Wharf Management Ltd

In addition, 109 of the winners have also achieved the much-coveted Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the management of their historic features. The Accreditation is supported by Historic England.

 

Government under increasing pressure to ban burning on England’s peatlands - RSPB

One year on from saying they would ban burning on peatlands, the Government is still prevaricating.

Today, a group of England’s leading environmental organisations is calling on the Government to do the right thing for people and nature by making good on its repeated promise to ban the practice of deliberate burning on the nation’s valuable peatlands.

Plantlife, CPRE - the countryside charity, Friends of the Earth, National Trust, RSPB, Wildlife and Countryside Link, the Wildlife Trusts and the Soil Association are calling for a burning ban.

The coalition points out that exactly one year ago today plans were announced by the UK Government to introduce a law to ban burning on peatlands.

Rebecca Pow MP, minister at the Department for the Environment, has said that: “The Government is committed to ceasing rotational burning on blanket bog…The Government will set out its further plans to restore and protect peat in the England Peat Strategy.”

Yet, the organisations say that no such ban has been brought forward and the government’s long-awaited England Peat Strategy is still not forthcoming.

The latest available data (from Natural England in 2010) suggests that up to 260,000 tonnes of CO2 may be released every year from rotational burning on peatlands. Removing this source of CO2 pollution would be equivalent to taking more than 175,000 cars off the road

The coalition also highlights the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect 30% of the UK’s land for nature by 2030, including 400,000 hectares of new land in England. He did this, saying that: “We must act now – right now. We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate.”

 

Success for South of Scotland’s biggest community buyout - John Muir Trust

Langholm community’s “impossible dream” set to come true, with the help of John Muir Trust members and supporters.

The South of Scotland’s largest community buyout is set to go ahead following one of the most ambitious community fundraising campaigns ever seen, with the community of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway raising the final funds needed in the nick of time.

A landmark community buyout agreement of £3.8 million for over 5,000 acres of land has been reached between local charity The Langholm Initiative and Buccleuch Estates – paving the way for the creation of a huge new nature reserve to help tackle climate change, restore nature, and support community regeneration.

The Trust’s Head of Policy and Land Management, Mike Daniels, said, “The John Muir Trust is delighted that the Langholm community have achieved their aim. Our members and supporters played a significant role in supporting the community financially right from the start, helping to create the momentum that has generated this fantastic outcome. Empowering communities to repair and rewild their natural assets is part of the DNA of the John Muir Trust, and we look forward to engaging with the people of Langholm on the next stage of their inspiring journey.”

Margaret Pool, Chair of The Langholm Initiative, said: “This is an amazing result for Langholm which will live long in the memory. Our community has a strong cultural connection to this land, which has never been sold before, and securing it for generations to come means so much to so many. Huge thanks to Buccleuch for their positive engagement.”

The purchase – to be finalised by January 2021 – will lead to the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, with globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers. The project will also support community regeneration, including through plans for the community to capitalise on new nature-based tourism opportunities. Discussions will continue over the remaining 5,300 acres of land the community has expressed an interest in buying.

Wild Purbeck partnership recognised as a shining example of nature recovery in new national initiative - Dorset AONB

The Dorset AONB Team are pleased to see the launch of an England-wide initiative that will recover nature across the length and breadth of the country and help everybody access and enjoy it.

Purbeck heaths (c) Michael Brown
Purbeck heaths (c) Michael Brown

The Nature Recovery Network (NRN) Delivery Partnership, led by Natural England, will bring together representatives from over 600 organisations to drive forward the restoration of protected sites and landscapes and help provide at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife rich habitat across England. The Network will link together our very best nature-rich places, restore landscapes in towns and the countryside and create new habitats for everybody to enjoy. It is the biggest initiative to restore nature ever to be launched in England.

As well as making sure our existing protected sites are in the best possible condition, the Nature Recovery Network programme will recover threatened animal and plant species and create and connect new green and blue spaces such as wetlands, ponds, meadows, woodlands, and peatlands. These restored habitats will help address climate change through capturing carbon, while improving the quality of our air, water, and soil, and provide natural flood protection. They will also provide us all with places to enjoy and connect with nature and help to improve our health and wellbeing.

   

New environmental intelligence tool will help protect Cornwall’s wildlife and landscape - University of Exeter

Lagas in action (Image: University of Exeter)
Lagas in action (Image: University of Exeter)

A new environmental intelligence tool for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will help protect the region’s precious wildlife and landscape.

Lagas, Cornish for eye, is an online hub of environmental intelligence using the latest technology in sensor networks, mapping software and live wildlife cameras positioned within the premises of partner businesses.

The project, which brings together cutting-edge University of Exeter research alongside the work of Cornwall Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, makes a wide range of environmental data publicly available and fully accessible that can then inform decision-making processes.

Lagas is headed up by the Tevi programme, part of the University of Exeter’s Institute of Cornish Studies.

The project is already live, with launch events to herald the arrival of the site now well underway.

Sessions have been provided by Dr Stephen Lowe and Dr Ed Glücksman of Tevi, alongside Dr Jonathan Mosedale of the SWEEP project.

Tevi has been able to provide sessions to Cornwall Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust in the use of Lagas.

Commenting on how Lagas will inform decisions on natural capital assets, Philippa Hoskin, from the Environmental Growth Team at Cornwall Council, said: “The Lagas natural capital tool provides invaluable new information which will be used by Cornwall Council staff when making decisions on planning, nature protection and recovery.The work of the Tevi team in delivering this environmental intelligence platform will positively impact nature protection and regeneration, and will encourage environmental growth for years to come.”

 

Coastal and Marine 

Crucial work to revitalise the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes - Natural Resources Wales

A major conservation project to revitalise sand dunes across Wales will soon turn its attention to Merthyr Mawr where important work to safeguard the precious dune habitat will begin.

Sands of LIFE, a project led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), will restore over 2,400 hectares of sand dunes, across four Special Areas of Conservation, on 10 separate Welsh sites. The project will run until December 2022.

The project’s work at Merthyr Mawr will involve creating a notch in dunes along the beach, stripping vegetation from the tops of dunes and scraping and lowering the levels of some dune slacks. This work will encourage bare sand habitat that is so crucial to the survival of some of Wales’ rarest plants and insects.

Sands of LIFE will also mow areas of the dunes. This will allow low-growing dune plants to flourish whilst also supporting pollinators and other invertebrates and give a much-needed boost to rabbit populations.

Over the last 80 years, open sand has largely disappeared from Wales’ dunes, replaced by dense grass and scrub. The dunes have become stable and fixed, and rare wildlife has declined. This change has been caused by factors such as the introduction of non-native plants, lack of traditional grazing, a declining rabbit population and air pollution.

Laura Bowen, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer South, said: “Merthyr Mawr’s amazing sand dunes may look like wild, natural places, but we still need to carry out some intervention work to stop them from becoming overgrown with dense grasses and scrub that cause rare dune wildlife to suffer. This vital work will encourage bare sand habitat that is a crucial component of our project’s aim to revitalise sand dunes across Wales. Whilst conducting work on our behalf, all contractors will be following the current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.”

 

Marine Management Organisation seeks evidence and views on new protections for English marine sites - Marine Management Organisation

Call for evidence launches on proposals to better safeguard marine habitats. Key offshore habitats such as Dogger Bank could benefit from enhanced protections

England’s seas and marine wildlife could benefit from better protection and management as the Marine Management Organisation launches a call for evidence on proposals for managing five of England’s Marine Protected Areas.

The sites which could be further protected include The Canyons, a deep-sea habitat which harbours cold water corals, and Dogger Bank, the largest shallow sandbank in British waters, which are home to species such as sand eels, the favourite food of puffins and porpoises.

The Government plans to use the powers in the Fisheries Bill to put any new measures in place after the UK leaves the transition period.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said: The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our waters - but we know there is more to do to allow our seas to fully recover. Leaving the EU means we can introduce stronger measures and the Fisheries Bill proposes new powers to better manage and control our Marine Protected Areas. This call for evidence represents the next step in that journey, ensuring our marine life can recover and thrive.”

To date around 40% of England’s seas have been designated for protection and management measures have already been introduced in many inshore sites, through byelaws introduced by both Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.

 

Beaches can survive sea-level rises if they have space to move - University of Plymouth

Scientists from the University are among a team that has dismissed suggestions half the world’s beaches could become extinct this century

An international team of coastal scientists has dismissed suggestions that half the world’s beaches could become extinct over the course of the 21st century.

The claim was made by European researchers in a paper published in Nature Climate Change in March 2020 (Sandy coastlines under threat of erosion by Vousdoukas et al).

However, academics from the UK, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the USA have re-examined the data and methodology that underpinned the original study and say they strongly disagree with its conclusion.

They have now published a rebuttal to the article in the same journal, and concluded that with the global data and numerical methods available today it is impossible to make such global and wide-reaching predictions.

Critical to their disagreement with the original paper’s conclusions is the fact that they say there is potential for beaches to migrate landwards as sea level rises and shorelines retreat.

The key notion behind that is that if beaches have space to move into under the influence of rising sea levels – referred to as accommodation space – they will retain their overall shape and form but in a more landward position.

The new research says that beaches backed by hard coastal cliffs and engineering structures, such as seawalls, are indeed likely to disappear in the future due to sea-level rise as these beaches are unable to migrate landward. They will first experience ‘coastal squeeze’ resulting in a decrease in width, and will eventually drown.

 

Arboriculture, Forestry and Woodland

National Trust suffers worst year on record for ash dieback due to weather and lockdown - National Trust

Ash trees in Fishpool Valley (National Trust Images)
Ash trees in Fishpool Valley (National Trust Images)

Historic trees and woodland which provided inspiration for the likes of Beatrix Potter and John Constable face extinction due to a surge in ash dieback driven in part by the climate crisis, the National Trust has warned.
Spring was one of the warmest and driest on record and placed a huge amount of stress on trees, which has left them more susceptible to disease.
The national lockdown also meant teams of rangers that would ordinarily have carried out felling and maintenance work to ensure tree safety were unable to do the work.
This has created a “perfect storm”, and left rangers playing catch up in terms of tree felling, which is diverting resources from other much-needed conservation work.
Locations where felling will take place include the Lake District and South East; locations that provided inspiration for Beatrix Potter’s much-loved children’s books, as well as 18th to 19th century romantic artist John Constable.
The eventual loss of the native ash tree is also a “catastrophe for nature”, which will have a devastating impact on homes for wildlife and biodiversity, much of which will be displaced as a result.
One of the worst affected areas include the Cotswolds, with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty facing the felling of more than 7,000 trees in the coming year.
Ash dieback is caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It originated in Asia and spread due to the movement of plants as part of the global trade. The fungus spreads quickly as its spores are windborne.

It is expected that it will cost the charity - which needs to save around £100million each year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic - millions of pounds this year alone.
The trust is keen to thank members and visitors for their ongoing support, which is more important than ever, and today, makes an appeal to the public to replace lost woodland by donating to the Everyone Needs Nature campaign via the website.
It is also calling for the issue to be written into the government’s recently published England Tree Strategy, which sets out national commitments around tree planting and woodland creation.
National tree and woodland advisor Luke Barley said: “Ash dieback is a catastrophe for nature. Our landscapes and woodlands are irrevocably changing before our eyes, and this year’s combination of a dry spring and late frost may have dramatically sped up the spread and severity of ash dieback. Ash trees like those at Beatrix Potter’s Troutbeck Park Farm are some of our most culturally significant trees and have stood for hundreds of years but will now be lost forever.”

 

Europe’s smallest and rarest fern turns up in the west of Ireland – from the tropical cloud-forest? - Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

Scientists from Ireland and Britain are scratching their heads over the recent discovery in Killarney, County Kerry, of a tiny cloud-forest fern which had never been recorded before in Europe and whose nearest relatives are in the neotropics.

Irish-based botanist Dr Rory Hodd, who spotted the new fern in a remote upland valley, far from the nearest road, said “It’s rare to discover a new native plant species in Britain and Ireland – one that we think arrived ‘under its own steam’, not imported by humans - but it’s frankly amazing to discover a genus that’s completely new to Europe! This new fern, which doesn’t even have an English name yet, is the only representative of its sub-family and the nearest other populations we know about are on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - and in a different bioclimatic region.”

Dr Hodd was plant-hunting in a remote part of the Killarney National Park in County Kerry, Southwest Ireland - one of Europe’s few remaining fragments of temperate rainforest – when he discovered a few specimens of the fern growing on humid rocks. He collected and pressed a specimen and sent it to Dr. Fred Rumsey at the Natural History Museum, London, who, working with American colleagues who are experts on these plants, identified the tiny fern as Stenogrammitis myosuroides, part of a distinctive group of ferns known as the Grammitids, rare ferns that usually grow on trees in the tropics.

Dr Rumsey said “The nearest occurrences we have for these Grammitid ferns is mid-Atlantic, in the Azores, where there are two exceedingly rare species which have recently been listed as Critically Endangered. Prior to Dr Hodd’s discovery, S. myosuroides was only known to occur in the montane cloud forests of Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic”.

 

Essex and Suffolk landowners urged to plant to protect the local landscape - Woodland Trust

Ash dieback has been confirmed in every county in England and represents a significant threat to the Eastern Claylands. Credit: Joe Bates / WTML
Ash dieback has been confirmed in every county in England and represents a significant threat to the Eastern Claylands. Credit: Joe Bates / WTML

The Woodland Trust is urging farmers and landowners in the Eastern Claylands to join the fight to protect the landscape from the increasing effects of ash dieback and other pests and diseases by planting trees.

This is the third year that the charity is offering fully subsidised packs of 50 saplings to local landowners. The packs contain oak, hornbeam, field maple, wild cherry and crab apple - species which have been carefully selected to best replace trees lost to disease.

More than half the trees in the Eastern Claylands, which covers large parts of Essex and Suffolk, are found outside of woodlands in hedgerows along roadsides and on farmland. Ash is the second most common species in the area after oak.

Ash dieback has been confirmed in every county in England and represents a significant threat to the Eastern Claylands. Combined with the effects of acute oak decline and pollution, this might mean up to two million trees disappearing from the landscape over the next 10-15 years.

Outreach adviser for the Woodland Trust Edwin van Ek said: “Ash dieback is a real threat to our landscape. There are signs of it everywhere. Our tree packs give landowners the opportunity to pre-empt any losses while also providing a host of other benefits, such as improving resilience to climate change and offering havens for wildlife. Trees are also a great way of making land more productive, whether that be by attracting pollinators, improving drainage or soil stability, or providing shelter for livestock and crops.”

 

It’s been a bumper year for fruits and nuts say Forestry England experts - Forestry England

This autumn is a bumper year for acorns and fruits across much of the nation’s forests. Our oak trees have been producing a large crop of acorns this year, all because of one of nature’s mysterious events known as ‘masting’.

A bumper seed year is known as a ‘mast year’; a natural phenomenon where some tree species produce very large crops of seeds in some years, compared to very few seeds in others.

It’s not known exactly why mast years happen, however they have been linked to various causes over the years, including weather and climatic conditions.

Andrew Smith, Director of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum says: “We experienced a warm and dry spring, which are the perfect conditions for flowers to ‘set’ seeds. This, along with no late frost meant that flowers and young fruit survived into summer. The warm and moist summer has meant the nuts, fruits and berries have filled out well and are continuing to ripen nicely. Part of the fascination of experiencing a mast year is that we don’t completely understand the complex blend of factors that give rise to them and allow plants and trees to co-ordinate the production of so much fruit and seed. Weather and climate can certainly affect fruit and seed production in trees, however we also see certain trees go through cycles of mast years. For oak trees it’s usually every four years”

It's not just acorns that have experienced a bumper year, at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum trees such as hawthorn, Hupeh crab apple and mountain ash along with others have also seen a bumper year for fruits.

 

England's 2020 Tree of the Year winner revealed - Woodland Trust

The Happy Man Tree is England's 2020 Tree of the Year winner. Credit: Tessa Chan / WTML
The Happy Man Tree is England's 2020 Tree of the Year winner. Credit: Tessa Chan / WTML

A Hackney plane tree has been crowned England’s Tree of the Year for 2020, after the public voted overwhelmingly in its favour.

But not all votes have gone the Happy Man Tree’s way. Last month, it was decided that the tree will be felled before the year is out to make way for redevelopment.

Now in its seventh year, the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year contest aims to showcase the UK’s favourite trees to help show their value and need for protection. It is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which gives a £1,000 care award to the winning trees.

The Happy Man Tree is a street tree outside the now demolished Happy Man public house in Woodberry Grove, just off Seven Sisters Road. It was nominated for the contest by members of the public during spring’s lockdown and shortlisted for the public vote.

Adam Cormack, head of campaigning for the Woodland Trust said: “The local community has made a powerful case to retain the tree, adopting the slogan #noticethistree. We did notice, and so did thousands more. In too many places we see well-loved mature trees lost to development rather than designed in to plans from the start. When this happens it’s a lose-lose situation. The tree itself is lost and people lose something that made their lives better. This is not a simple case of good and bad. The redevelopment is to provide important social housing and Hackney Borough Council has been doing some great work to increase green spaces including setting a borough-wide target to increase tree cover. But, given the developer’s own admission that this tree could have been retained if plans were amended earlier in the consultation process, we must call this out for being a poor decision. And sadly one we see too often. Efforts to create new homes and better places to live must start with protecting existing trees, and their avoidable loss must always be prevented. Planting new trees, while needed, will take years to have the same impact on absorbing carbon and cleaning air.”

 

Once lonely rowan named Scotland’s Tree of the Year - Woodland Trust

"The Survivor" at Carrifran is Scotland's 2020 Tree of the Year winner. Credit: Aidan Maccormick / scotlandbigpicture.com / WTML
"The Survivor" at Carrifran is Scotland's 2020 Tree of the Year winner. Credit: Aidan Maccormick / scotlandbigpicture.com / WTML

A once lone rowan surrounded by new native woodland has been named Scotland's Tree of the Year 2020.

"The Survivor" at Carrifran near Moffat became a potent emblem for the restoration group fundraising to buy the valley twenty years ago.

"Where one tree survives, a million trees will grow," became Carrifran Wildwood's mission statement as Borders Forest Trust took ownership of the land on Millennium Day, 1 January 2000. That mission has been accomplished and the once bare valley is now full of native trees. The lone survivor is lonely no more and stands as a wonderful symbol of what can be achieved by an ambitious local group.
The competition, run by Woodland Trust Scotland, is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The winning tree will receive a trophy plus a care package worth £1000 which can be spent on works to benefit its health, interpretation signage or community celebration.

Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans said: "We are facing a climate emergency and a biodiversity crisis. One of the most obvious responses is to get more trees in our landscape. Trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere and provide a home for wildlife. So it is fantastic that Borders Forest Trust has shown what can be achieved at Carrifran Wildwood. This tree itself is quite ordinary but it represents something extraordinary.”

 

Country Sports

Countryside organisations urge Government to back new ‘blueprint’ for future of shooting - British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Leading countryside organisations have today (Friday October 9) urged the Government to support a new blueprint for the shooting sector which aims to deliver a ‘game changing’ benefit for the environment.
The guidelines provide the most comprehensive framework to date for the creation, management and restoration of habitat for wildlife.
The blueprint has been adopted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Countryside Alliance, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the British Game Alliance, the Country Land and Business Association and the Game Farmers’ Association, representing thousands of members of the shooting community.
The ‘Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management’ have been developed by scientists at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and are designed to complement the Government’s 25-year environmental plan.
The countryside organisations have today written to the Environment Secretary George Eustice urging the Government to endorse the guidelines which provide a framework for the future of shooting.
The GWCT’s Principle of Gamebird Management in the UK are available here

 

The RSPB announces call for new regulation of gamebird shooting - RSPB

The RSPB is calling for new regulation and better enforcement of existing laws for the most intensive forms of gamebird shooting in the UK, driven grouse shooting and the practice of releasing tens of millions of non-native pheasants and partridges into the countryside each year.

At its AGM today, (Saturday 10th) the RSPB’s Chair of Council, Kevin Cox, announced the results of the organisation’s review on gamebird shooting and associated land management, concluding that there is a need for urgent reform.

Long held concerns over the illegal killing of birds of prey, the use of poisonous lead ammunition, the burning of vegetation on peatlands (some of our most important carbon stores) and the release of 57 million gamebirds (non-native pheasants and red-legged partridges) into the countryside each year, prompted the move.

The review found that self-regulation by the shooting community had failed to address the environmental impacts anywhere near adequately and as a result the RSPB is taking a tougher stance on these most intense forms of shooting.

The RSPB’s director of conservation, Martin Harper said, “We are facing a climate and ecological emergency, and it’s down to all us, from individuals to big business, to play our part in addressing the causes and helping to revive our countryside. As a result of growing evidence and an increasing membership and public concern about the environmental harm of intensive forms of shooting, our trustees asked the RSPB to conduct a review of the two most intensive forms of gamebird shooting in the UK, namely “driven” grouse shooting, and large-scale rear and release of gamebirds, to make sure our policies were fit for purpose. This has involved updating our existing policy on “driven” grouse shooting, and developing an entirely new policy for large scale gamebird releases. Having examined the evidence, we believe that for driven grouse shooting the most effective way to deliver improvement is through the introduction of a system of licensing which sets minimum environmental standards for shoots. Failure to comply with the license would result in losing the right to shoot. But change must come soon, if effective reform isn’t achieved within five years our trustees are clear that we will pursue a ban.”

In response

RSPB must give shooting due credit if dialogue is to succeed - BASC

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, considers the RSPB’s announcement today about its year-long review of shooting.

At last year’s AGM, the RSPB said it would review its policy on shooting and today it announced its verdict.

Their response to the review marks a substantial shift, to a much more aggressive set of ‘conservation’ policies, with actions and deadlines for shooting which it says will lead to them calling for bans or greater regulation if not met.

The RSPB says they are redoubling their efforts for licensing for driven grouse shoots in the hope they can be held accountable to environmental standards or loose the right to operate. The charity also says it wants to stop the illegal persecution of birds of prey in and around land associated with grouse shooting, the use of lead ammunition and the management practice of burning. If this fails, when they review their policy in 2025, they’ll call for a ban on driven grouse shooting.

BASC has a clear position that we are opposed to shoot licencing because we believe shooting is already regulated appropriately and to go further than that would represent a disproportionate burden to shoots. There is also no evidence it would work.

But in many other ways, BASC and other responsible rural organisations may not be too far away from what the RSPB wants to see.

We are all entirely opposed to raptor persecution. We have publicly and forcefully said as much on many occasions, not least of which was the announcement of our ‘zero tolerance’ position on raptor persecution.

We work hard with police and government – as well as the shooting community – as we all strive to bring it to an end. And we have seen some success. We’ve had a record-breaking year of breeding hen harriers across England and significant increases in breeding birds of prey in the Peak District. Positive progress is being made.

 

Well-run shoots can make a positive contribution to local habitats and wildlife, says new research on gamebird releasing - Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)

Pheasant Woods (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust)
Pheasant Woods (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust)

With increased debate on how the countryside is managed, the impact of releasing gamebirds on local habitats and wildlife has been in the spotlight. A new paper by Dr Rufus Sage, head of lowland research at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) provides a summary review of the available evidence and concludes that, in general, the ecological positives and negatives of gamebird releasing are approximately balanced. If, however, shoots adhere to best practice guidelines, several of the possible negative effects can be removed, tipping the balance so that the shoot overall can be beneficial for the local countryside and wildlife.

The paper is peer-reviewed and has been published online in the long-running journal Wildlife Biology. It follows a recent report into this topic published by Natural England, and another by the RSPB.

“After thoroughly reviewing the evidence that exists on the effects of releasing pheasants and red-legged partridge, we found that the positives and negatives are almost equal,” says Dr Sage. “The evidence suggests that a well-run shoot that is guided by best practice and abides by the law can make a positive contribution to local habitats and wildlife.”

The paper quantifies the effect of gamebird releasing on different aspects of the environment allowing a better understanding of whether aspects of releasing are potentially ecologically ‘good’ or ‘bad’. “It uses the scientific literature itself to identify topics and then categorises them as positive, neutral or negative but doesn’t weight or rank them based on an assessment of importance, which inevitably introduces an element of subjectivity.”

On the positive side, habitat management for gamebirds can result in more songbirds in game woods, as well as more shrubby plants attracting bees and butterflies at their edges. Woodland is more likely to be planted or retained where gamebirds are part of the landholding, and this woodland is often better managed. In and very close to release pens, the pheasants themselves can have direct negative effects on plants, the soil and invertebrate communities. But there was little evidence for negative effects away from release sites, although mosses and lichens on trees may be affected away from the pen itself.

The full paper is available here.

 

Defra concludes its review into releasing gamebirds on and around protected sites - Defra

Defra has concluded its review into how gamebird releases on or near European protected sites are managed.

The review looked at areas including the number of gamebirds released and their impact on protected sites, the consenting process, and whether further safeguards could be provided to protect sites.

The review has now concluded and found that the negative effects of gamebird releases on protected sites tend to be localised and that there are minimal or no effects beyond 500m from the point of release. It also highlighted a need to gain a better understanding of how any impacts - particularly local ones - might be mitigated.

In response to a pre-action protocol letter from Wild Justice in July 2019, last September Defra accepted that in principle the annual release of non-native gamebirds on, or affecting, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) is capable of constituting a “plan or project” requiring appropriate assessment within the meaning of the Habitats Directive.

While not accepting the argument that current laws do not provide for appropriate assessment in such cases, Defra undertook a review to consider the legislative arrangements around the relevant activities and whether there are ways in which their effectiveness could be improved.

Defra will continue to consult with industry early in order to minimise any disruption.

 

Review of gamebird releases on and around European protected sites - Defra Decision

Review of the way in which releases of common pheasant and red legged partridge on or near European protected sites in England are managed.

In September 2019 the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs took the decision to undertake a review of the way in which releases of common pheasant and red legged partridge on or near European protected sites in England are managed.

There were two parts to this review. The first part was a study of the impact of gamebird release on European protected sites. The second part of the review involved an assessment of what steps are appropriate to prevent any adverse impacts of gamebird release.

The review has now concluded and the Secretary of State’s proposed measures, along with the basis for these, are set out in this witness statement and exhibits, which were produced and submitted to the court as part of the judicial review challenge relating to gamebird release on and around protected sites.

We also publish here correspondence which further clarifies details around the proposed measures. Click through to read.

 

Response:

Defra propose gamebird releasing licence around protected sites - British Association for Shooting and Conservation

male phseant satanding on gree grass looking thorugh a mesh fence.
Common cock pheasant (Image: Mable Amber / pixabay)

Shooting organisations have responded with scepticism to Defra’s proposal to implement a licensing system for gamebird release in and around European protected sites, even after Wild Justice have indicated their intention to withdraw their judicial review.

With no prior consultation with BASC, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers Organisation or the Game Farmers’ Association – who were all interested parties in the case – Defra has announced its intention to introduce an interim licensing system. The system will encompass the release of pheasant and red-legged partridge in and within 500 metres of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Wild Justice had originally demanded a 5 km buffer zone.

Defra has not yet provided details of their proposal although a consultation on the licensing conditions is expected imminently.

The four shooting organisations believe a licensing system is not justified by the scientific evidence, even on an interim basis, that it is a misuse of the precautionary principle and may be unlawful. They are also concerned that it is open to further attack from anti-shooting organisations

A spokesperson for the four organisations said: “We are supportive and fully committed to self-regulation and the principles of gamebird management in the interest of sustainable shooting. Defra’s proposed red tape under the precautionary principle will do little but threaten rural jobs, conservation efforts and a host of social benefits that shooting provides. Natural England’s wildlife licensing system has been proven unsuccessful as a light touch regulatory power and we remain unconvinced that Defra’s proposal for European designated sites will be fit for purpose."

 

Grouse moors and gamekeepers - SRUC

Moorland management in Scotland has come under the spotlight in a series of reports assessing socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and the employment rights of gamekeepers.

The research, led by SRUC, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to address questions about the impacts of grouse shooting – including concerns about large-scale culls of mountain hares, the burning of heath or stubble (muirburn) and the persecution of raptors.

Researchers from SEFARI (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) at SRUC and the James Hutton Institute looked at the financial and employment impacts from a range of different moorland management activities; the employment rights and attitudes of gamekeepers; the extent and intensity of moorland management; and biodiversity impacts from grouse moor management.

New research looks at the impacts of driven grouse moors (SRUC)
New research looks at the impacts of driven grouse moors (SRUC)

Divided into four reports, the research – which addresses gaps identified by work carried out in Phase 1 research conducted on driven grouse moors – has highlighted the complexities involved in assessing the impacts of grouse moor management, with grouse shooting often embedded in, or underpinned by, wider estate activities, some of which occur on the same moorland that grouse shooting takes place.

Project lead Steven Thomson, Agricultural Economist at SRUC and SEFARI Gateway Sector Lead for Communities, said: ”This significant body of evidence provides some new insights into the socio-economic impacts of different models of moorland management, including driven grouse, and helps us better identify the area of moorland used for driven grouse, levels of management intensity and also how management may impact on some less studied flora and fauna related to moorlands. The research has also provided a unique insight into the gamekeeping profession including their terms and conditions of employment.”

Read the report here.

 

RSPB Scotland responds to socio-economic review of grouse shooting in Scotland - RSPB

SRUC have today released a series of reports assessing socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and the employment rights of gamekeepers.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “We welcome the production of these socio-economic reports. We do not take argument with the fact that grouse moor management may produce local economic benefits, however it is also equally important that these benefits are kept in proportion and not exaggerated. We do not think these economic benefits detract either from the need to take action over the increasing harms that intensive driven grouse shooting is causing to the environment and wider costs to society in the context of the climate and nature emergencies. The Werritty Review itself was primarily initiated to address the longstanding issue illegal killing of birds of prey, which is strongly linked to grouse shooting, and the need to address this issue has not gone away. We support the immediate introduction of licensing of driven grouse shooting to protect birds of prey alongside other public interests. Licensing would not result in a cessation of grouse shooting, and it can be delivered with minimum bureaucracy, therefore responsible land managers should have nothing to fear from his approach”.

 

Reaction: New Scottish Government funded research confirms major socio-economic importance of grouse shooting -

A ground-breaking new study has highlighted that grouse shooting delivers significant socio-economic benefits, affirming its place as a much-valued upland land use.

Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the research shows that grouse shooting sustains many jobs and delivers high levels of local and regional investment while receiving no public funding.

The research has been published prior to the Scottish Government’s response to the independent review on grouse moor management known as the Werritty Review.

BASC Scotland Director, Dr Colin Shedden, said: “This research confirms that grouse shooting, especially driven shooting, makes an enormous socio-economic contribution across the uplands of Scotland. Despite running at a net loss, driven grouse shooting enterprises boost employment and drive rural business. The research also highlights how sporting enterprises are entirely self-sustaining. While conservation enterprises rely on public funding for 79% of their revenue, grouse shooting and deer stalking enterprises require no direct public funding whatsoever. The study affirms that an outstanding array of benefits are delivered on grouse moors at no expense to the public purse. “The Scottish Government must consider the findings of this research when it formally responds to the recommendations of the independent review into grouse moor management later this year. The contribution made by grouse shooting is integral to rural Scotland, and every effort must be made to safeguard the lifeline it provides to upland communities.”

 

Publications

A new Natural Capital Committee’s report highlights that the majority of England’s natural assets (air quality, marine environment, soils and land) examined by the committee, five out of seven are ‘deteriorating’, while no natural asset group is making progress in meeting existing targets and commitments.

Access the report here

Read the blog here

 

Wildlife and Animal News

Mammals

Hedgehogs on roads: the problems and solutions - Hedgehog Street (PTES)

A native hedgehog on a road. Credit Calle Eklund
A native hedgehog on a road. Credit Calle Eklund

Why are roads such a problem? While allowing easy movement for people, roads have the opposite effect on wildlife. They create barriers which fragment our natural landscape, preventing animals like hedgehogs from moving around safely.
The most obvious effect of roads is traffic colliding with individual animals. Thousands of hedgehogs are killed on our roads each year, as shown by records logged on our BIG Hedgehog Map and PTES’ Mammals on Roads survey.

The fragmentation of our landscape caused by roads can also lead to isolation of local populations. This in turn leaves them vulnerable to disappearing altogether. Road mortality is sadly often linked to the hedgehog declines of recent years, both in the UK and across mainland Europe.

Here we take a look at the effects of roads on hedgehogs in the UK and Europe, and the potential solutions.

The problem

Recent studies have shown that in Europe, an average of up to four hedgehogs are killed per kilometre of road each year. This equates to a lot of hedgehogs when you think about how many roads we have. In Sweden, it’s estimated to be between 3-22% of local populations, and 24% in Poland.

Adult male hedgehogs are most likely to be victims of roadkill. This is because of their larger home ranges; they need to roam in search of females to mate with. Travelling further means crossing more roads, putting them at higher risk. In the autumn however, females are more in danger. They need to travel further later in the year in search of enough food after spending all their energy rearing their hoglets. At this point they need to fatten up quickly before the hibernation season.

 

Caution urged as the deadliest month for New Forest animal accidents approaches - New Forest National Park Authority

New Forest pony in headlights copyright Russell Sach.
New Forest pony in headlights copyright Russell Sach.

As the nights draw in, drivers using New Forest roads are reminded that animal accidents increase in the lead up to Christmas, with November being the deadliest month for livestock.

Commuters are urged to be vigilant as accidents involving animals in the Forest peak between 5pm and 8pm on weekdays in the winter months.

They are also being encouraged to slow down from 40mph to 30mph, a move which adds only three extra minutes to most journeys across the Forest and can drastically reduce accidents involving animals.

Last year, 159 New Forest animals – ponies, cattle, donkeys, pigs and sheep – were involved in collisions, with 58 killed and 32 injured.

The free-roaming animals are known as the ‘architects of the Forest’ – it’s their grazing which helps make the Forest internationally important for wildlife.

Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, convenes the Forest’s Animal Accident Reduction Group. He said: ‘It’s the grazing by animals that helps shape and maintain the New Forest we all know and enjoy. We urge drivers to be animal aware at all times and always add extra time to journeys in the Forest. By slowing down at night, especially when oncoming vehicles approach, drivers, their passengers and the animals will be much safer.’

The worst month for animal deaths is November; as days become shorter and clocks go back, journeys to and from work are often in the dark. Low light in winter, dazzling oncoming headlights and bad weather can make visibility poor.

 

Concerns over HS2 - events at Jones Hill Wood - Bat Conservation Trust

BCT is very concerned about recent events reported to us in relation to HS2 construction and the felling of Jones Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire. All UK bat species and their roosts are protected by law. Any works likely to impact bat habitats (including woodland) need adequate survey work carried out at the correct time of year and if bats will be impacted by these activities then a licence issued by Natural England is required to carry out works legally. We have received reports claiming that survey effort at this site has been too little and at the wrong time of year. If adequate surveys have not taken place appropriately, this would fall short of HS2’s statement that ‘all our ecological work is carried out in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations’, would reflect poor practice and potentially put them at risk of breaching legislation.

 

Specialised omnivores – individual red foxes prefer different foods in the city and the countryside - Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

Red fox in bushes holding red plastic carrier bag in its mouth. A city fox is searching for food. Photo: S. Kramer-Schadt/Leibniz-IZW
A city fox is searching for food. (Photo: S. Kramer-Schadt/Leibniz-IZW )

Foxes are considered to be particularly adaptable and suited to life in large cities. A team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg State Laboratory has now deciphered an important aspect of these adaptations. Using stable isotope analysis, they showed that individual red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) have a much narrower diet than might be expected from their omnivorous habits. The population of country foxes had a much broader diet than their urban conspecifics, whose diet differed little between individuals. The diet of urban and country foxes showed little overlap. This combination of specialisation and flexibility is a key to this omnivore's adaptability, according to a paper published in the scientific journal “Ecology and Evolution”.

The red fox's ability to eat almost anything is certainly a key to success in conquering urban habitats. The fact that urban foxes all eat more or less the same food probably also indicates that there is plenty for all of them, says Scholz. “Obviously there is enough for everyone. We city dwellers set their table abundantly – with leftover food, waste, compost and pet food.”

Publication: Scholz C, Firozpoor F, Kramer-Schadt S, Gras P, Schulze C, Kimmig SE, Voigt CC, Ortmann S (2020): Individual dietary spezialization in a generalist predator: A stable isotope analysis of urban and rural red foxes. Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6584

  

Scottish SPCA rehabilitates and releases youngest red squirrels in area of conservation - Scottish SPCA

We have released five red squirrels that came into the care of our National Wildlife Rescue Centre when they were just hours old.

We were handed the newborns by a member of the public after their nest was suspected to have been blown out of a tree in Fife on 29 July.

red squirrel looking at the camera over a rotten branch.
Red Squirrel (Nadia Tighe/Pixabay)

The squirrels weighed just 12 grams each when they arrived and required hourly feeding. Animal care assistant Juanita Zaldua took on the mammoth responsibility of providing the kits with round-the-clock care.

Juanita said, “It was touch and go for a while, we weren’t sure if they were going to make it. Kits that young should be with their mum and require dedicated specialist care. I had to feed them every hour, even through the night, for the first three weeks. In the third week they opened their eyes which made the sleep-deprivation worthwhile! They continued to stay with me while I hand-reared them. Once they had weaned at around nine-weeks, they were strong enough to go out in to the aviary where they learned to interact and play. We recently released them in an area of the Highlands where conservationists are trying to increase the population of red squirrels. We were all very sad to see them go but it was so rewarding to be able to raise them and watch them be released back to their natural habitat. I was like a proud mum watching her babies enter the big wide world! The environment they now live in has nest boxes, support feeding and they are being monitored as we get closer to the colder months. We were over the moon to be sent footage of our squirrels jumping from tree to tree and feeding well.”

 

Birds

Record-breaking year for roseate terns - RSPB

The roseate tern - the UK's rarest nesting seabird - has had a record-breaking year with 130 breeding pairs on Coquet Island, the only breeding colony in the UK.

Roseate tern on nest amongst lichen covered rocks. Rockabill. Chris Gomersall (RSBP)
Roseate tern on nest amongst lichen covered rocks. Rockabill. Chris Gomersall (RSBP)

This is the fifth year in a row that numbers have increased on Coquet Island, a steady increase from 104 pairs in 2016.

Roseate terns almost went extinct back in the 19th century because of the demand for their feathers in ladies’ hats. In 1989 there were only 467 pairs in the UK and Ireland, but dedicated conservation efforts have brought them up to 2028 pairs in 2020.

This year, the RSPB celebrates 50 years at Coquet Island. Since taking over management of Coquet Island in 1970, the RSPB has used a wide range of methods to bolster roseate tern numbers such as installing nest boxes, trialling new techniques such as gull-scarers and ‘aerolasers’ to deter predation by other birds, minimising disturbance, and building up lost habitat.

Paul Morrison, RSPB Northumberland Coast Site Manager, said: “When I first started working on Coquet Island 36 years ago there was barely a roseate tern in sight, so it brings me real joy to see scores of them flocking back in the spring to have their chicks. Earlier this year we were able to install webcams again so people could see this wonder for themselves, and there have already been an incredible 375,000 views! We’re planning to install the webcams again next year, so if you’d like to see the antics of these wonderful terns do check back next spring. A record-breaking year is a fantastic 50th birthday present for Coquet Island, and I want to say a huge thank you to the staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help these special birds. I am truly optimistic that, with such continued commitment, we can bring roseate terns back from the brink of extinction in the UK.”

 

Montrose Basin’s pink-footed geese approach record numbers - Scottish Wildlife Trust

Pink-footed geese at Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve © Kirsty Wright
Pink-footed geese at Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve © Kirsty Wright

Pink-footed geese are gathered at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve in near record numbers

A total of 84,400 geese were counted at the reserve on Monday. The highest number, an estimated 90,000 geese, was recorded in October 2016.

This count comes ahead of the Icelandic-breeding Goose Census, a coordinated national survey across several locations led by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Pink-footed geese pass through the reserve on their long migration from Iceland and Greenland to wintering sites in England. They roost on the Basin overnight, and disperse into surrounding farmland to feed during the day.

Anna Cowie, the Trust’s Montrose Basin Ranger said: “Having so many pink-footed geese on the Basin shows that we are providing a safe resting place for them after a long journey over the sea. They are also reliant on good breeding grounds in Greenland and Iceland, as well as suitable wintering sites in England. This demonstrates the importance of maintaining healthy habitats in several countries for migrating birds. It’s hard to describe the noise of the geese on the Basin when they are gathered in such high numbers. They are a fantastic wildlife spectacle and it’s always a little bit sad when they leave. They have arrived relatively early this year so we’d expect that their numbers will start to tail off in the next few weeks. Even after the geese head south there will still be plenty of birdlife to see on the reserve, from large numbers of wintering shelduck and wigeon to the resident kingfisher which is being spotted regularly from the visitor centre.”

 

Police appeal for information after peregrine falcons found dead near Tadcaster - North Yorkshire Police

Male peregrine found poisoned on nest ledge. Credit: Guy Shorrock RSPB
Male peregrine found poisoned on nest ledge. Credit: Guy Shorrock RSPB

Analysis finds carcasses containing pesticide

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following investigations into the death of two peregrine falcons found at a quarry near Stutton, Tadcaster.

A member of the public who had been observing the mating pair of birds, found a male bird dead on a cliff ledge and following investigation by the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police to recover the carcass, a deceased female peregrine falcon was located in the bottom of the quarry.

Both birds were sent away for testing which confirmed high levels of Bendiocarb in their systems and this was found to be the cause of death. The male bird was found next to a pigeon carcass which it is believed may have been used as bait.

Bendiocarb is licensed for use as a pesticide in England but is highly toxic and should never be released into the environment where wildlife, such as birds of prey, could be exposed to it. The pesticide has been found used to kill birds of prey in North Yorkshire previously and as such, police believe this was a deliberate act of poisoning.

 

Marine 

World first as endangered skate egg hatches - NatureScot

brown coloured baby skate in water filled plastic tub
The baby skate shortly after hatching ©Jane Dodd NatureScot

A critically endangered flapper skate has been successfully cared for and hatched in captivity in what is thought to be a world first for the species.

The skate egg, which has been looked after by staff from NatureScot and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), recently hatched at the SAMS aquarium just outside Oban after 18 months.

It is thought to be the first time a flapper skate egg has been cared for from laying to hatching, allowing scientists to accurately confirm the gestation of the species for the first time.

The hatchling, a male measuring just 27cm long, was immediately released into the sea from the shore on the Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura Marine Protected Area.

Despite its name, the common or flapper skate has been listed as critically endangered since 2006 as a result of overfishing. Flapper skate are described as extinct throughout much of their range with the west coast of Scotland one of the last remaining strongholds for the species.

Jane Dodd, NatureScot Marine Operations Officer, said: “We have been observing and monitoring the egg for a year and a half so to see it hatch successfully and be released back into the ocean was a wonderful moment. It has been really exciting to witness the development of the embryo each week from just a large yolk, to an embryo with a small beating tail and finally to a baby skate completely filling the egg capsule. We still know very little about the lives of flapper skate, for example how often they breed, and where and when they lay eggs. The total gestation of the egg was 535 days so it is similar to that of Orca and Sperm whales. Knowing the length of time that eggs take to hatch is a really useful piece of information for understanding the life history of flapper skate which will in turn improve how we are able to protect them.”

 

Mystery over decline in sea turtle sightings - University of Exeter

sea turtle lying on a beach Credit: Rod Penrose
Numbers of sea turtles spotted have dropped since 2000, but the reasons for this are unclear. Photo credit: Rod Penrose

The number of sea turtles spotted along the coasts of the UK and Ireland has declined in recent years, researchers say.

University of Exeter scientists studied records going back more than a century (1910-2018) and found almost 2,000 sea turtles had been sighted, stranded or captured.

Recorded sightings increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s – possibly due to more public interest in conservation, and better reporting schemes.

Numbers have dropped since 2000, but the reasons for this are unclear.

"Lots of factors could affect the changing of numbers of sea turtles sighted," said Zara Botterell, of the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. “Climate change, prey availability and environmental disasters such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill could all influence turtle numbers and behaviour. However, sea turtle populations in the North Atlantic are largely stable or increasing, and the apparent decrease may represent reduced reporting rather than fewer turtles in our seas. One reason for this could be that fewer fishing boats are at sea now than in the past – and fishers are the most likely people to see and report turtles."

The most common turtles spotted off the UK and Ireland are leatherbacks – making up 1,683 of the 1,997 sightings since 1910.

Leatherbacks are thought to be the only sea turtle species that "intentionally" visits these waters, with adults arriving in summer in search of their jellyfish prey.

Meanwhile, juvenile loggerheads (240 since 1910) and Kemp's ridley turtles (61) are more often spotted in winter – likely carried on currents and finding themselves stranded in cold waters.

There are seven sea turtle species in total, and the others are much rarer in UK and Irish waters.

 

Invertebrates

Crayfish ‘trapping’ fails to control invasive species - UCL

Crayfish in a trap. Credit: Eleri Pritchard
Crayfish in a trap. Credit: Eleri Pritchard

Despite being championed by a host of celebrity chefs, crayfish ‘trapping’ is not helping to control invasive American signal crayfish, according to new research by UCL and King’s College London.

There have been grave concerns within the science community and amongst conservationists that American signal crayfish are wiping out other species of crayfish across Europe - including Britain’s only native crayfish, the endangered white-clawed crayfish.

In their new study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, the researchers find that trapping is ineffective in determining and controlling signal crayfish numbers, as the vast majority of individuals are too small to catch using standard baited traps.

‘Trapping to eat’ American signal crayfish has been promoted as a potential control measure in recent decades, but scientists warn that this method may exacerbate the problem, as it inadvertently incentivises members of the public to spread the species to new habitats and greatly increases the risk of accidental catches of the strictly protected native species.

Co-author and PhD researcher, Eleri Pritchard (UCL Geography), said: “Invasive signal crayfish from the US were introduced to England in the 1970s. Since then they have spread rapidly, displacing native crayfish, impacting fish and damaging ecosystems. While celebrity chefs and conservation charities have, with good intentions, promoted trapping and foraging as a way to control American signal crayfish, our research shows trapping to be ineffective. We are also concerned that trapping risks spreading the fungal pathogen, called crayfish plague, which is lethal to native European crayfish.”

The study took place in an upland stream in North Yorkshire, UK and compared the effectiveness of three methods used for surveying population numbers: baited funnel trapping, handsearching, and a novel ‘triple drawdown technique’, which involves draining a short section of stream in a carefully controlled way and calculating the number of crayfish present, including infants.

To measure effectiveness, scientists compared all methods for determining population size, and for understanding the prevalence of crayfish invasion and the ecological impact.

The triple drawdown technique proved significantly more accurate in determining crayfish populations. Through this method, the researchers identified signal crayfish densities up to 110 per square metre, far exceeding previous estimates for similar streams made by trap sampling.

 

Conservationists may be forced to relocate cold-loving butterflies over next 50 years, study reveals - University of York

A mountain ringlet butterfly. Image credit: Melissa Minter, University of York.Some of Europe’s native butterflies may have to be moved to colder climes if they are to survive global warming, a new study suggests.

The University of York study tracked the impact of changes in climate on the genetic diversity of the mountain ringlet butterfly over the 21,000 years since the last ice age.

The study suggests that future conservationists may have to evacuate some populations of butterflies to cooler habitats, higher up in mountains or further north in places including Scotland, Scandinavia and the Alps.

A mountain ringlet butterfly. Image credit: Melissa Minter, University of York.

Genetic diversity loss: The findings reveal that current predictions of a rise in temperatures of 2-3 degrees Celsius by 2070 would lead to a loss of the unique genetic diversity in the species, reducing their ability to adapt to rising temperatures or relocate to cooler habitats on their own.

The results are likely to be true for other cold-adapted and mountain-dwelling butterflies in Europe such as the yellow-spotted ringlet, bright-eyed ringlet and the dewy ringlet.

With many hills and mountains across Europe set to become too warm, conservationists may need to help some cold-loving species move to areas such as Scotland, Scandinavia and the Alps, which, may provide the right conditions in the future for them to thrive, the authors of the study say.

Controversial steps: Lead author of the study, PhD researcher Melissa Minter from the Department of Biology at the University of York, said: “Genetic diversity is so important to the survival of a species, particularly in the face of climate change, because the greater the variation in genes, the more likely is that individuals in a population will have the genetic capacity to adapt to changes in the environment.”

 

Butterflies on the increase - NatureScot

Butterfly populations have increased in Scotland, likely as a consequence of warmer summers.

The latest Scottish Biodiversity Indicator published by NatureScot examines the long-term trend for butterflies since 1979. While the trend shows a moderate increase overall, the picture is complex, with species faring differently. Some butterfly populations in the UK continue to shift northwards as a response to climate change.

small heath butterlfy resting with wings closed on heather
Small heath butterfly (© Lorne Gill/NatureScot)

Those expanding their range northwards into southern Scotland include small skipper, Essex skipper and, most recently, white-letter hairstreak. Ringlet, peacock, and orange-tip show significant long-term population increases, while the small heath is also on the up. Meanwhile speckled woods have expanded their range from their strongholds in Highland and south-east Scotland into new areas. Regular migrant butterflies such as the red admiral are also increasing over the long-term as a response to warming.

Species in long-term decline include the small tortoiseshell, which may be due to poorer overwinter survival in warmer and wetter winters. Grayling have also declined but the small pearl-bordered fritillary and pearl-bordered fritillary have increased significantly. These two species may be benefitting from native woodland planting and targeted management at specific sites.

Simon Foster, NatureScot Trends and Indicators Analyst, said: “We know that habitat loss, climate change and urban development are among the key factors that are affecting butterfly populations. We’re working with partners across Scotland on a range of projects to help our butterflies and other pollinators thrive, from habitat creation and management to promoting wildlife friendly gardening and best practice guidance for developers. Butterflies can also benefit greatly from more people getting involved in citizen science. If you would like to help why not join the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and get involved with surveys? It’s easy, fun and can help us improve our knowledge of what is happening where, giving us the best chance of targeting conservation measures most effectively.”

Access the Scottish Biodiversity Indicator here.

 

Record numbers of stag beetle sightings from Great Stag Hunt 2020 - People's Trust for Endangered Species

Male stag beetle spotted by Andrew Neal
Male stag beetle spotted by Andrew Neal

As the largest land beetle in the UK and with their distinctive ‘stag’ antlers, stag beetles are one of our most spectacular creatures.

Magnificent minibeasts Stag beetles have a remarkable life cycle, spending the majority of their life underground as larvae and only emerging for a few weeks in the summer to find a mate and reproduce. During the summer, stag beetles can be found flying around in many habitats including woodland edges, hedgerows, traditional orchards, parks and gardens.

Although they are relatively widespread in southern England, stag beetles are sadly in decline and extremely rare in the rest of Britain and have even become extinct in two European countries. We cannot let that happen here.

Last summer, we asked the public to look out for stag beetles in the 2020 Great Stag Hunt. We had a fantastic response, with more than double the usual number of records submitted.

Our highest ever number of sightings There were 16,766 stag beetle records submitted (as of 30/9/20) to the Great Stag Hunt. This far surpasses any other year we have run the survey. Once verified, there were found to be 14,281 stag beetle records (this is a sighting and may include more than one beetle, and or larvae). Of the 18,805 adults recorded, 7,754 were female and 10,048 were male (1,003 were unknown). There were 1224 larvae recorded.

 

Surrey Wildlife Trust Rediscovers Great Fox-Spiders - Surrey Wildlife Trust

Great fox-spider (Alopecosa fabrilis) (male) © Mike Waite, Surrey Wildlife Trust
Great fox-spider (Alopecosa fabrilis) (male) © Mike Waite, Surrey Wildlife Trust

One of UK’s Largest and Most Endangered Spiders

Rediscovered After More Than 25 Years

Surrey Wildlife Trust has rediscovered one of the largest and most endangered British spiders on a Ministry of Defence (MOD) training area in Surrey, after more than 25 years without a UK sighting.

The Great Fox-Spider is Red-listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and was feared extinct in the UK as it had only ever been found at three sites, two in Dorset and the other in Surrey, but hadn’t been seen since the early 1990s.

Great Fox-Spiders are ground dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust, had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider. He spent many hours of late night searching with a torch over the last two years. Finally he discovered some unidentifiable immature spiderlings, on MOD land managed by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, and then, at last several mature males and one female Great Fox-Spider, which was 55mm or just over two inches in diameter including its hairy, spiny legs.

With excellent eyesight, camouflage and speed, the Great Fox-Spider Alopecosa fabrilis is one of the largest of the Wolf-Spider Lycosidae family of spiders. An opportunistic predator which hunts at night it is named for its wolf-like habit of chasing down its prey, across sandy terrain, over gravel and rocks before pouncing and capturing insects on the run.

 

Defra launches the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 to help protect honey bees - Defra

Honey bees contribute directly to local food production and make an important contribution, through pollination, to crop production and the wider environment.

Defra and the Welsh Government have today (Tuesday 3 November) published the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 to protect and improve the health of honey bees in England and Wales.

The plan sets out four key outcomes for beekeepers, bee farmers, associations and government to work towards to help protect honey bees, which continue to face pressure from a variety of pests, diseases and environmental threats including the invasive non-native species Asian hornet.

Honey bees contribute directly to local food production and make an important contribution, through pollination, to crop production and the wider environment. The economic benefit of pollination to crop production in the UK is approximately £600m each year, based on yield.

The Healthy Bees Plan 2030 was developed in consultation with bee health stakeholders and is aimed at sustaining the health of honey bees and beekeeping in England and Wales over the next decade.

The plan sets out four key outcomes to help protect honey bees:

  1. Effective biosecurity and good standards of husbandry, to minimise pest and disease risks and so improve the sustainability of honey bee populations.
  2. Enhanced skills and production capability/capacity of beekeepers and bee farmers.
  3. Sound science and evidence underpinning the actions taken to support bee health.
  4. Increased opportunities for knowledge exchange and partnership working on honey bee health and wider pollinator needs.

Launching the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, Pollinators Minister Rebecca Pow, said: During the coronavirus pandemic we have seen an increased connection with the natural world, and the new Healthy Bees Plan provides a blueprint to look after the health of some of our most important insects – the bees – our unsung heroes. Bee health stakeholders have had a key role in developing our plan, and we look forward to working together to help ensure our bees can survive and thrive for future generations.”

 

Sustainability, Pollution and Climate Change

England’s national parks fail to fight climate & nature crisis - Friends of the Earth

Overall woodland cover across all national parks in England is less than 15%

Friends of the Earth today (2nd October) launches a report, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, revealing that England’s national parks are failing to step up to the climate and nature crisis .

England’s national parks were once filled with temperate rainforests and wild woods. Today the overall woodland cover across all national parks in England is less than 15%. Friends of the Earth analysis has found that this could be more than doubled to 34%, without damaging other important habitats such as peatbogs.

Some of our most famous national parks have lower woodland cover than major cities:

Friends of the Earth’s survey of National Park Authority reveals that very little woodland has been created over the past five years. Six out of the ten English national parks do not record this data – an oversight that Friends of the Earth is calling to be changed.

In addition to woodland failures, data obtained from Natural England by Friends of the Earth revealed that only 26% of protected habitat within national parks (such as peatlands) is in a healthy state. This is far less than England as a whole, where 39% of protected habitat is in a healthy state. When peatlands such as blanket bog are in good condition, they act as carbon sinks and help fight the climate crisis.

Friends of the Earth trees campaigner, Danny Gross, said: “England’s national parks have not risen to the challenge of the climate and nature crisis. This isn’t even listed in their core purposes set out by the government. National parks cover roughly a tenth of England’s land and offer enormous opportunities for natural climate solutions, such as woodland creation and peatland restoration, which would also go a long way to support new wildlife. We have a chance to make England’s national parks trailblazers for natural climate solutions such as woodland and other precious habitats. It’s time for National Park Authorities, the government and landowners to step up and work together to fight the climate crisis.”

 

New plans to make UK world-leader in green energy - Prime Minister’s Officer

The announcement is part of the government's commitment towards net zero emissions by 2050 and will support 60,000 jobs

The Prime Minister has set out new plans to Build Back Greener by making the UK the world leader in clean wind energy – creating jobs, slashing carbon emissions and boosting exports.

£160 million will be made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across communities like in Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland and Wales to hugely increase our offshore wind capacity, which is already the largest in the world and currently meets 10 per cent of our electricity demand.

This new investment will see around 2,000 construction jobs rapidly created and will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains, manufacturing the next-generation of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy to the UK.

Through this, UK businesses including smaller suppliers will be well-placed to win orders and further investment from energy companies around the world and increase their competitive standing on the global stage, as well as supporting low-carbon supply chains.

 

No ‘one size fits all’ solution to protecting conservation sites from pollutants - JNCC

We have today (8/10) published evidence showing that local action is the most effective way to protect nature conservation sites from nitrogen pollution.

The findings come from the 'Nitrogen Futures' project, which indicates that. while national measures have a role to play in reducing background pollution levels that can harm sensitive habitats, a "one size fits all" approach is not the best way to combat the complex mix of UK pollution sources.

The project, funded by Defra, explored mitigation options for protecting habitats and species that are vulnerable to nitrogen pollution in the atmosphere. The study found focussing mitigation efforts on the immediate surroundings of conservation sites close to nitrogen pollution sources produced the maximum benefit. By contrast, sites in more remote locations will benefit most from emission reductions across the UK and from abroad. The project will provide each of the four nations with up-to-date evidence to design measures which further reduces the impact of air pollution onto sensitive habitats, to better protect the UK’s biodiversity.

Nitrogen pollution is a major driver of biodiversity loss in the UK. In 2017, over 57% of the area of sensitive habitat in the UK had deposited pollution above thresholds where it is harmful to sensitive habitats (Trends Report 2020). There is increasing evidence that nitrogen pollution has driven local extinctions of sensitive plant species across the UK, reducing the richness of habitats and contributing to declines in populations of insects and other animals that depend on nitrogen sensitive species for food and habitat.

To learn more about this project, the organisations contributing to it and how to get involved please contact contact JNCC. who are also be holding a 'Nitrogen Futures' webinar on 15 October 2020.

Read more: Nitrogen Futures and download the Nitrogen Futures Report

 

New Report from WWF Says Addressing Abandoned Fishing Gear Must be Central in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution - WWF

So-called “ghost gear”, fishing equipment which is lost in the sea, can continue killing marine life for decades or even centuries after it first enters the ocean, making it the most deadly form of marine plastic debris.

WWF is calling on governments to develop a legally binding global plastic pollution treaty that addresses this fundamental threat to marine wildlife

Abandoned fishing gear is the deadliest form of plastic debris for marine life and has already driven the vaquita porpoise and other marine mammals to the brink of extinction, yet even as this crisis continues to intensify, little attention is being paid to it by governments or industry, according to a new report from WWF.

The report, Stop Ghost Gear: The most deadly form of marine plastic debris, shines a lights on how ghost gear* is responsible for harming 66 per cent of marine mammal species, half of seabird species and all species of sea turtles, often subjecting them to a slow, painful and inhumane death. It also damages vital marine habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves and threatens the food sources and livelihoods of coastal communities and fishers, according to the report, which highlights how tackling ghost gear should be at the fore of efforts to combat the global plastic pollution problem.

“Entanglement in ghost gear can cause prolonged suffering, result in long-term physiological effects and stress in individual animals, and even death,” said Leigh Henry, director wildlife policy, wildlife conservation, World Wildlife Fund. “WWF is seeking to shine a light on this devastating global threat to marine life. We have the power to stop it, but problems like these require integrated solutions and commitments from governments, fishing gear designers, producers, fishers, and the general public to prevent these plastics from strangling our oceans”.

The report shows that:

 

A pioneering platform to support the growing nature-based economy - Trinity College Dublin

Hundreds of participants from 36 countries around the world – from Spain to Singapore, and from Poland to the Philippines – tuned in today for the launch of the Connecting Nature Enterprise Platform.

This novel marketplace directly connects increasing global market demand for nature-based solutions (from public and private sector ‘buyers’) with supply (innovative enterprises developing new sustainable nature-based solutions).

The Connecting Nature Enterprise Platform which was launched by John Bell, Director of Healthy Planet, DG Research & Innovation at the European Commission, and Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin puts the spotlight firmly on the potential of nature-based enterprises as an emerging industry sector.

The platform has been created building on a collaboration between Trinity and UCD, whose pioneering global research is focused on the potential of nature-based enterprises to contribute to the net-zero economy of the future. By bringing together under the common heading of nature-based enterprises a number of existing market sectors from landscape architecture to green building construction, the potential of this industry sector as a source of employment and sustainable economic growth can be seen.

Connecting Nature, led by Trinity, is a five-year €12m Horizon 2020 project focusing on the large-scale implementation of nature-based solutions to build climate resilience in cities. Endorsed by the UN and EC, demand for nature-based solutions has increased exponentially in recent years in line with recognition that they could provide up to 30% of the mitigation required to stabilise global warming to below 2oC.

 

February 2020 floods reviews trigger clarion call to step up response to Climate Emergency impacts - Natural Resources Wales

The lessons learnt from February’s floods must be the catalyst for a seismic shift in how Wales responds to the climate emergency and manages its future flood risk.

That is the urgent call to action by the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Clare Pillman as the organisation publishes its reviews into its response to February’s flood events today (22 October 2020).

The record rainfall and river flows triggered by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge earlier this year arrived following an exceptionally wet winter and led to the most severe and widespread flooding incidents seen in Wales since 1979, which also impacted many of the same communities.

Investments made in NRW defences since that time have significantly improved Wales’ resilience to extreme rainfall. Across the whole of Wales, 73,000 properties benefit from NRW’s flood defences and it is estimated that 19,000 properties in South Wales escaped the flood waters during Storm Dennis due to the presence of NRW defences.

Yet the impacts of the successive storms earlier this year were felt across right across the nation as 3,130* properties succumbed to the ensuing flood waters over the course of the month.

The Met Office later confirmed that February 2020 would enter its record books as the wettest February on record and fifth wettest month since records began in 1862.

The call to action comes on the day that NRW publishes the outcomes of its reviews into its response to the February storms.


War on plastic is distracting from more urgent threats to environment, experts warn - University of Nottingham

A team of leading environmental experts, spearheaded by the University of Nottingham, have warned that the current war on plastic is detracting from the bigger threats to the environment.

In an article published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) Water, the 13 experts say that while plastic waste is an issue, its prominence in the general public’s concern for the environment is overshadowing greater threats, for example, climate change and biodiversity loss.

The interdisciplinary team argue that much of the discourse around plastic waste is based on data that is not always representative of the environments that have been sampled. The aversion to plastic associated with this could encourage the use of alternative materials with potentially greater harmful effects.

The authors warn that plastic pollution dominates the public’s concern for the environment and has been exploited politically, after capturing the attention of the world, for example through emotive imagery of wildlife caught in plastic waste and alarmist headlines. They say small political gestures such as legislation banning cosmetic microplastics, taxing plastic bags, and financial incentives for using reusable containers, as well as the promotion of products as ‘green’ for containing less plastic than alternatives, risks instilling a complacency in society towards other environmental problems that are not as tangible as plastic pollution.

 

Network Rail sets world-first targets to combat global warming - Network Rail

Network Rail has announced a major step forward in tackling climate change by becoming the first railway company in the world to set the most ambitious Science-Based Targets to limit global warming.

The targets – and the plans to achieve them – have been independently verified today (29 October), meaning the company will be the first railway to commit to cutting emissions which limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – below the 2 degrees scientists declared necessary to meet the Paris Agreement.

Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Rail is already the cleanest and greenest mode of transporting large numbers of people and goods, but we’re committed to cutting our carbon footprint even further. That’s why we’ve set carbon reduction targets backed by science rather than simply ones we think are easy to achieve. We are the first railway in the world to set targets that will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and this shows our commitment to change. “We’re on an important journey – to support the government’s target of being net-zero by 2050, to help the country build back better as we recover from the pandemic and to help passengers and freight users make the greenest choices they can.”

Network Rail is already making progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. All of the energy used to power its stations, depots and offices comes from renewable sources, and a trial to move its road fleet – such as the vans needed in rail maintenance work – to electric vehicles is happening now. In addition, the company is looking at how it can use its land to generate renewable electricity as well as support biodiversity, whilst an extensive community tree planting scheme is also underway.

Around two-thirds of the railway’s emissions are generated by suppliers, so as well as working on elements within its control, the organisation is keen to work with its wider supply chain, such as manufacturing and construction companies, to help them to set their own targets.

 

Britain’s climate zones shifting 5 km a year - nature recovery could avert wildlife catastrophe - Rewilding Britain

Red squirrel. Credit courtesy of scotlandbigpicture.com
Red squirrel. Credit courtesy of scotlandbigpicture.com

Britain’s climate zones are shifting by up to five kilometres a year because of rising temperatures – with potentially catastrophic impacts for wildlife, says a new report by Rewilding Britain.

The shift – due to human-caused climate heating, and hundreds of times faster than the country’s natural climate warming at the end of the last ice age – is set to outpace many species’ ability to adapt and adjust their ranges.

But Rewilding Britain’s research also shows that a massive increase in restoring and connecting species-rich habitats across at least 30 percent of Britain’s land and sea by 2030 could help save a fifth of species from climate-driven habitat loss, decline or extinction.

The charity is calling for the creation of core rewilding areas across at least five percent of Britain, with a rich mosaic of nature-friendly land and marine uses across another 25 percent of the country.

“Nature is our life support system and it’s at risk. We urgently need to kick-start a new era of rewilding and nature restoration to match the growing tsunami of climate heating and species extinction,” said Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive. “We can only thrive if nature thrives, so we need to think big and act wild, with radical change in how we manage land and sea to halt and reverse biodiversity declines, and tackle climate breakdown.”

Climate zones comprise an area’s temperature, humidity, precipitations and seasons – helping determine the distribution of species and habitats. Such zones shift naturally, but human-driven climate heating – increasingly recognised as the greatest future threat to biodiversity – is causing much more rapid disruption and triggering severe climatic changes.

The estimated shift in Britain’s climate zones is part of a pattern in which such zones across the northern hemisphere are moving northwards, and upwards in elevation, at an unprecedented rate. Rewilding Britain’s calculations are based on an analysis of existing research by leading experts.

Read the report here

 

Warming of 2°C would release billions of tonnes of soil carbon - University of Exeter

Global warming of 2°C would lead to about 230 billion tonnes of carbon being released from the world's soil, new research suggests.

Global soils contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere, and higher temperatures speed up decomposition – reducing the amount of time carbon spends in the soil (known as "soil carbon turnover").

The new international research study, led by the University of Exeter, reveals the sensitivity of soil carbon turnover to global warming and subsequently halves uncertainty about this in future climate change projections.

The estimated 230 billion tonnes of carbon released at 2°C warming (above pre-industrial levels) is more than four times the total emissions from China, and more than double the emissions from the USA, over the last 100 years.

“Our study rules out the most extreme projections – but nonetheless suggests substantial soil carbon losses due to climate change at only 2°C warming, and this doesn’t even include losses of deeper permafrost carbon," said co-author Dr Sarah Chadburn, of the University of Exeter.

This effect is a so-called "positive feedback" – when climate change causes knock-on effects that contribute to further climate change.

The response of soil carbon to climate change is the greatest area of uncertainty in understanding the carbon cycle in climate change projections.

To address this, the researchers used a new combination of observational data and Earth System Models – which simulate the climate and carbon cycle and subsequently make climate change predictions.

 

Recreation and Visitor Management

Quarter of Land Managers Experienced Anti-Social Behaviour In The Countryside - Scottish Land & Estates

A quarter of land managers looking after Scotland’s beautiful countryside have experienced anti-social behaviour from members of the public this year including witnessing fighting, people shouting abuse and noise from parties.

The findings are part of a report into responsible access to the countryside carried out by Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the membership body for land managers, landowners and rural businesses. The survey of almost 100 SLE members carried out in September 2020 also found that this year:

Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We want people to enjoy visiting the Scottish countryside safely and responsibly. Getting out and about and taking in the fresh air, nature and peacefulness of rural Scotland can be extremely beneficial for our mental and physical health. Sadly, there is a minority that is causing a great deal of harm to wildlife and livestock, the environment and other people who visit, live and work in the countryside."

Access the full report here

 

Outdoors and nature engagement sustained post-lockdown - NatureScot

An increase in people visiting the outdoors and engaging with nature has continued after lockdown, a new survey shows.

NatureScot has published the second wave of research into how our relationship with the outdoors and nature has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, carried out in partnership with Scottish Forestry, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Paths for All.

The research was revealed as the nature agency launched its autumn Make Space for Nature campaign, encouraging people to take part in simple, fun activities to help nature thrive.

The latest survey of more than 1,100 people found that during the August to September period, levels of participation have increased, with four fifths of adults (80%) visiting the outdoors at least once a week.

The figure is up from 74% during the initial period of lockdown from March to May, as well as the 64% recorded by Scotland’s People and Nature survey (SPANS) in August 2019.

An increased proportion reported that after spending time outdoors they felt that they had gained health and wellbeing benefits - 70% felt it helped them to de-stress, relax and unwind (up from 63% for March-May) and 56% agreed that it improved their physical health (vs 47%).

Overall 49% expect to increase their time outdoors in future, including 20% who would like to spend ‘a lot more’ time outdoors.

Encouragingly, engagement with nature, which many people reported doing more often during the initial lockdown period, has also been sustained into late summer.

Around 2 in 5 Scots said they had spent more time than last year relaxing in their garden (45%), enjoying nature in their garden (41%) and/or enjoying nature or wildlife from indoors (40%).

An increased percentage also agreed that nature had become more important to their health and wellbeing (55% v 49% in March-May).

 

Rural organisations join forces in proposal for amendment to Highways Act 1980 - CLA

Rural groups have joined forces to call for an amendment to the Highways Act 1980 which would improve safety on the public rights way of network following a spike in livestock-related deaths.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), National Farmers Union (NFU), Countryside Alliance (CA) and Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) have written to Rural Affairs Minister, Lord Gardiner, outlining how the amendment would enable farmers to temporarily divert public rights of way where livestock are present.

This diversion would help reduce the risk of further serious incidents happening to visitors in the countryside and allow farmers to operate their businesses safely and effectively.

The proposal provides a temporary diversion for a limited period of time, following a short notice period with clear notices placed at either end of the route.

Deputy President of the CLA Mark Tufnell said: “We believe that our proposal will help save lives. There have been a number of tragic incidents recently of walkers being killed by livestock while visiting the countryside. Our priority is people’s safety, and by amending the Highways Act landowners will be empowered to take the necessary steps to protect the public.”

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “Sadly, we have learnt of several incidents recently in which members of the public have lost their lives. The countryside is a busy working environment, so we need to ensure that the millions of people who visit every year can continue to do so safely and responsibly. This proposed change in the law would allow farmers to quickly, easily and temporarily divert public rights of way where livestock are present to further reduce the risks.”

 

Don’t Lose Your Way reveals over 49,000 miles of lost historic paths - Ramblers

Find.Map.Save - Don't lose your way (Ramblers)

The Ramblers' Don't Lose Your Way campaign has found 49,138 miles of rights of way missing from the definitive map in England and Wales, which it is now racing to save by 2026.

49,138 miles of historic paths – enough to stretch around the world nearly twice – are missing from official maps in England and Wales, the Ramblers reveals today. These paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries within their communities and beyond, yet if they are not claimed for inclusion on the definitive map (the legal record of rights of way) by January 2026, we risk losing them forever. At a time when more than ever, we recognise the importance of being able to easily access green space and connect with nature, it is vital that we create better walking routes to enable everyone to explore the countryside and our towns and cities on foot.

This follows a mass ‘citizen geography’ project launched in February this year – part of the Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way campaign – which saw thousands of volunteers join forces to find all these lost rights of way.

Surveying England and Wales

In the most comprehensive survey of lost rights of way to date, thousands of volunteers searched 154,000 one-kilometre squares using the Ramblers’ bespoke online mapping site and found that there are nearly five times as many missing paths as the initial estimate of 10,000 miles. However, after the Government cut-off date of January 2026, it will no longer be possible to add paths to the definitive map based on historic evidence, meaning our right to access them will not be protected for the future. More than a fifth of the lost paths found are in the South West of England (over 9,000 miles) with Devon topping the list of counties with the most missing rights of way, while the West Midlands had the highest density of lost paths to potentially be added to the map. (Please see below.)

Jack Cornish, the Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, said: “The amazing response we had from the public to help us search for missing rights of way just goes to show what an important place our path network holds in the hearts of so many of us. By getting the most useful of these paths back on the map, we will not only be saving a little bit of our history, we’ll also be able to improve the existing network, creating new and better walking routes, enabling more of us to more easily enjoy the outdoors.”

 

Community, Health and Volunteering

Green social prescribing pilots open for applications - Defra

Applications open to deliver four ‘green social prescribing’ pilots as part of a £4.27 million project to improve mental health and wellbeing in communities hardest hit by coronavirus.

A trailblazing scheme of £4.27m launches today (Monday 5th October) aimed at helping the mental wellbeing of communities hardest hit by coronavirus. The project will examine how to scale-up green social prescribing services in England to help improve mental health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and alleviate demand on the health and social care system.

The fund, announced in July by Environment Secretary, George Eustice, is now officially open for funding applications from potential delivery partners. Expressions of Interest to become a ‘test and learn’ site for this pioneering social prescribing project are welcome from partnerships of local health, care and environment leads.

Social prescribing connects people to community groups and agencies for practical and emotional support and to improve health and wellbeing. Evidence including from Natural England shows that the NHS could save over £2 billion in treatment costs if everyone in England had equal access to good quality green space.

Green prescribing could include support for walking and cycling groups, green gyms, and practical habitat management conservation tasks such as tree planting. For more vulnerable groups, it could include supported visits to local green space, activities such as gardening, and other outdoor activities to reduce isolation and loneliness.

 

Scientific research shows that greener front gardens reduce stress - University of Sheffield

Including a few plants in a bare front garden could reduce your stress levels as much as eight weekly mindfulness sessions, new research by the Department of Landscape Architecture in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has shown

The researchers, at the Universities of Sheffield, Westminster and Virginia, found that a greener front garden can also make you feel happier, more relaxed and closer to nature.

The four year scientific research project added ornamental plants to previously bare front gardens in economically deprived streets of Salford (Greater Manchester).

42 residents received: 1 tree (juniper or snowy mespilus), 1 shrub (azalea), 1 climber (clematis), sub-shrubs (lavender, rosemary), bulbs (daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops) and bedding plants (petunia, viola) to fill 2 containers. The experimental design included a control group who received the plants one year later.

By measuring the residents’ concentrations of cortisol hormone before and after the plants were added, the research team were able to see if the greenery had any impact on stress levels. Cortisol levels change across the day. In healthy diurnal patterns, levels peak in the early morning shortly after awakening and drop to the lowest concentration at night. Steeper daily declines indicate more effective regulation of circadian and hormonal mechanisms, which is a likely consequence of reduced stress.

 

Nature being prescribed in Edinburgh to support health and wellbeing - RSPB

Woman in autumn Credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
Credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

GPs at five practices in Edinburgh have started prescribing nature as part of a new collaboration between RSPB Scotland and Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, the official charity of NHS Lothian.

Over the next five months, GPs at five practices in Edinburgh will be able to prescribe nature to patients as part of their treatment, thanks to an innovative project designed by RSPB Scotland, in collaboration with NHS Lothian’s charity partner, the Edinburgh and Lothian’s Health Foundation, and local GPs.

The five practices: East Craigs Medical Centre, Leith Mount Surgery, Inchpark Surgery, St Triduana’s Medical Practice and Mill Lane Surgery, are participating in a five-month trial of Nature Prescriptions, an initiative inspired by growing evidence that connecting with nature makes us healthier and happier.

Nature Prescriptions started in Shetland in 2017 as a partnership between RSPB Scotland and NHS Shetland and was successfully rolled out to all ten GP practices across Shetland in 2018. The new Edinburgh pilot aims to investigate whether Nature Prescriptions can be delivered in a similar way in an urban environment, and to explore the potential for extending it throughout Scotland.

Once again, RSPB Scotland has used their knowledge and understanding of connecting people with nature to produce a leaflet and a calendar of ideas, this time specific to Edinburgh. These materials have been designed to help patients connect with nature in a variety of ways and are provided, where needed, alongside regular prescriptions as part of a range of health treatments prescribed by their GP.

 

Lockdown and Green Recovery

First of its kind business project invests in nature's future - NatureScot

A project with potential to significantly increase business investment in Scotland’s natural capital as part of our ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19, has launched in the Scottish Borders.

The pilot will kick off with work with environmental charity Tweed Forum on practical ways that business and other organisations can invest in nature and help tackle climate change.

A key focus for the Forum will be flood management – an important issue for many local people – and understanding the kind of investment that could benefit the community. The natural capital project aims to show how investing in nature can happen in ways that bring returns for business as well as for nature and communities, particularly at regional level.

Scotland’s natural capital is worth at least £196bn, supporting 240,000 jobs. Much of this value is generated by the country’s nature and rural landscapes. Growth sectors such as tourism, and food and drink are heavily dependent on a high-quality natural environment that can be placed at risk from the dual threat of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Mary Christie, NatureScot’s Natural Capital Manager, said: “We need a strong economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, but our recovery has to have a strong environmental component to safeguard us into the future. Climate change and biodiversity loss are a huge threat to our economy, which depends on natural resources like healthy soils and diverse landscapes. By investing in Scotland’s natural capital, we have a better chance of hitting net zero carbon targets, reversing biodiversity decline and building resilience. More and more organisations are investing in green finance, as businesses realise a healthy natural environment is essential for business. Nature can help improve our health, lower atmospheric carbon, reduce the risks of flooding and drought, improve air quality, and buffer us against pests, diseases and pathogens.”

   

Natural England sets out fresh vision for our natural environment - Natural England

Natural England's vision for the next five years seeks to help all children, wherever they live, to enjoy the benefits of a thriving natural environment.

Helping all children, wherever they live, to enjoy the benefits of a thriving natural environment is at the heart of Natural England’s vision for the next five years, published today (Wednesday 7 October).

‘Building Partnerships for Nature’s Recovery’ sets out Natural England’s ambitious blueprint for a more resilient and more accessible natural environment by 2025 and highlights NE’s commitment to helping all enjoy the benefits of our precious natural environment where the live. Recent NE surveys have found approximately one-third of parents wish their children could spend more time outside in nature to support their physical and mental health. The report also found a striking 20 percentage point difference in the time children from the most affluent areas spend outside every week compared with those from more deprived areas.

Natural England’s chief executive Marian Spain will use the plan’s digital launch event, which can be live streamed via NE’s YouTube channel for all to access, to highlight the important role of partnerships in achieving these ambitions and will invite a range of stakeholders to work with Natural England. This will help to ensure our natural environment is protected and can be enjoyed by everyone, including landscapes being restored to provide places of natural beauty, iconic species such as beavers and sea eagles being reintroduced to our rivers, and coasts and new development incorporating green spaces, trees and ponds.

Natural England Chief Executive Marian Spain said: The coronavirus pandemic has made us all more aware of how essential access to a thriving natural environment is for our health and wellbeing. But is has also revealed shocking inequalities in who in our society can access nature. As we emerge from the pandemic Natural England is committed to taking action now which will revive our natural world and make it part of our daily lives. Restoring nature is a win win win: more wildlife, solutions to climate change and a healthier and more prosperous society. Imagine a world where woodlands, peat bogs and coastal marshes soak up carbon from the atmosphere? Where everybody can visit national parks that are rich in nature and beauty? Where beavers help manage our rivers, reducing flooding and tackling pollution? And where every child can play in greenspace near their home? That’s the world we are working to create and why it’s so important that we build partnerships for action to create positive and lasting change for our natural environment.”

   

The Climate Crisis and COVID-19: New research reveals that UK adults want to prioritise the environment as we repair the economy - Lansons

To better understand how COVID-19 will impact our lives, behaviours and values long-term, independent reputation management consultancy Lansons partnered with research house Opinium to produce ‘Life after COVID-19’, a series of reports across many different aspects of UK society. ‘Perspectives on the climate crisis through COVID-19’ aims to provide valuable insight on how the pandemic has impacted consumer attitudes to the environment.

Key findings include:

Full report available here.

   

National Trust reduces compulsory job losses following consultation and vows to ‘grow back stronger’ after coronavirus crisis -

The National Trust has today confirmed it has been able to halve the number of compulsory job losses following the biggest redundancy consultation in its 125-year history as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Following 45 days of consultation, which saw the Trust consider more than 14,500 pieces of feedback from staff and volunteers, the charity has said it is making 514 compulsory redundancies, which includes 62 hourly paid staff, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. It has also accepted 782 voluntary redundancies, including 146 from hourly paid staff.

In July, the Trust warned job losses and budget cuts were inevitable after almost every aspect of its income was hit by the coronavirus crisis. It had proposed making 1,200 compulsory redundancies, saving almost £60m of its annual staff budget. But following a wide-ranging consultation with affected staff and voluntary redundancies, the number of compulsory job losses has reduced by half.

Following the consultation, a number of changes have been made to the original proposals, including retaining roles focused on helping children learn, keeping curation specialists across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, increasing buildings maintenance roles, and introducing new specialist roles for land use, soils and carbon reduction. There have also been changes in other areas covering marketing, retail, holidays, IT, legal and the let estate.

Director General Hilary McGrady paid tribute to staff, volunteers and members who have shared their views on the proposals, and said the charity’s plans were putting it on course for a secure financial future.

CJS are offering a free subscription to CJS Weekly to all National Trust (including National Trust for Scotland) staff who will, or may, lose their jobs as part of the cost cutting at the Trust click here for more information. The offer will run until at least the end of the year.


Grants and Funding

Garfield Weston Foundation’s ‘Prioritising Our Planet’ Report Launches - Garfield Weston Foundation

This report comes at a critical time for our environment – despite the urgent need to protect our natural world, the Foundation has not been receiving the level and quality of applications from environment charities that we hope for. We therefore commissioned this survey to hear directly from UK environmental organisations, to help us understand the issues being faced by non-profits working across the environment sector and to inform our grant-making practice so we can accelerate change for greater impact.

Philippa Charles, The Foundation’s Director says: “We would like to thank all those who took the time and care to respond to the survey – your collective messages are clear and, while they don’t make entirely comfortable reading, they highlight opportunities for change and improvement; both for funders and for those working directly on environmental issues. This report reflects back what the experts have told us about the challenges they are facing and concludes with a brief analysis of the key messages we have taken on board as a funder; messages we will use to inform our work and the actions we take next. I hope you find the report informative and thought-provoking.”

Click here to download our report ‘Prioritising Our Planet

   

The Prince’s Countryside Fund receives £25,000 from the National Lottery to continue vital work - The Prince’s Countryside Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) has awarded The Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) £25,000 as part of their Coronavirus Community Support Fund.

The grant will go towards the PCF’s Farm Support Initiative, a programme which supports farmer networks in the UK. The PCF’s Farm Support Coordinator works to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing between the 40 plus farm support groups, who provide vital support to rural and farming families in the form of free, confidential and practical advice to help people with problems such as business worries, financial hardship, isolation and ill health. 


Scientific Research

Citizen scientists help lift the lid on one of our nearest avian neighbours - British Trust for Ornithology

An army of citizen scientists across the UK has provided scientists at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) with new insights into the nesting habits of the House Martin, arguably our closest nesting neighbour.

Over a two year period, members of the public across the UK were asked to help monitor the breeding behaviour of House Martins. The House Martin is a summer visitor to the UK that spends the winter months in sub-Saharan Africa, returning to build their cup-shaped nests under the eaves of buildings during April and May. During the last 25 years the House Martin has declined by 39% and is amber-listed as a bird of conservation concern but it is unclear what the drivers behind the decline might be.
By asking members of the public to provide information on the House Martins that were nesting on their properties or on nearby public buildings, scientists at the BTO hoped to gain some insights to how this delightful relative of the Swallow is faring in different parts of the country and whether breeding success differed in different parts of the UK.
Their findings were very interesting. House Martins arrived earlier in the east and began breeding earlier than birds in the west, possibly a benefit of drier weather in the east. Birds that used old nests from previous years or artificial nests had greater breeding success than those that built from scratch Substrate was also important. Birds that built nests on PVC as opposed to brick, concrete or wood had much lower breeding success – perhaps because nests were more likely to collapse on the PVC substrate.
Breeding House Martins did better in suburban settings and with the presence of freshwater. Although the amount of agricultural land had no influence, more young were produced by birds that bred close to livestock. Interestingly, there was no evidence of more young being produced in the north than in the south, despite the national trend showing a greater decline in House Martins in the south.

Access the paper: Kettel, E.F., Woodward, I.D., Balmer, D.E. and Noble, D.G. (2020), Using citizen science to assess drivers of Common House Martin Delichon urbicum breeding performance. Ibis. doi:10.1111/ibi.12888

Scientific Publications

Defra Research and analysis: Bovine TB: incidence of TB in cattle in licenced badger control areas in 2013 to 2019
Annual TB monitoring data and results for each of the badger control licensed areas and their buffer areas up to the end of 2019.

This monitoring report provides the annual TB monitoring data and results for each of the badger control licensed areas and their buffer areas up to the end of 2019. New badger control areas will be included in subsequent reports once they have at least one year of follow-up data available.

Download the Bovine TB in cattle: badger control areas monitoring report, 2013 to 2019  documents (pdf)

 

Thompson, S., Vehkaoja, M., Pellikka, J. and Nummi, P. (2020), Ecosystem services provided by beavers Castor spp.. Mam Rev. doi:10.1111/mam.12220

 

And finally something to look forward to:

RHS Announces Plans to Run 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show safely for reduced numbers of visitors over increased days - Royal Horticultural Society

The Great Pavilion RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2008 (© Kerryn Humphreys)
The Great Pavilion RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2008 (© Kerryn Humphreys)

The RHS is today, Friday 23 October 2020, announcing its plans to safely run the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G, with many new precautions due to coronavirus to protect everyone at the Show held at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

For the first time in its 108* year history the Show will run for 6 days in 2021, from Tuesday 18 May to Sunday 23 May. There will also be reduced visitor numbers compared to pre-Covid Shows across the increased number of days.

Tickets will go on sale at the end of October (RHS Members 26 October, Public 30 October), which will see 140,000 visitors at the show over six days, compared to 168,500 over five days in 2019.

The RHS has consulted on its plans and believes, with the measures it is implementing, that it can operate the primarily outdoor event safely for everyone.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We plan our Shows 18 months in advance and have been planning and researching how to open the 2021 RHS Chelsea safely and securely for our visitors, partners and exhibitors since April this year. We have taken the time to get all our plans finalised and will now be consulting with exhibitors and supporting them further due to the changes we have had to make. As the world’s most famous gardening event, RHS Chelsea is vital for the horticultural industry, as well as having a huge impact on inspiring people to garden and grow, which is so important for everyone’s health and for the environment. Whilst we continue to live in uncertain times and May is a long way off, we believe these measures will mean we can safely run the Show, although we will of course be ready to react to any Government advice and if we sadly need to, will offer anyone who has booked a ticket a full refund.”

 

 

How to get your news to us:

Send your press releases to newsdesk@countryside-jobs.com or email a link to items on your website.

If it's time sensitive we can embargo the details to a specific date, let us know when you'd like it to be published. 

 


Training.

Browse the Training Directory online here for short courses (up to 10 days long), or here for longer courses, distance learning and centres and providers

The Directory includes a wide range of courses providing certification in practical skills such as chainsaw use, need to learn how to identify dragonflies, or want to find out the best way to get the community involved in your project then this is the section to read.    We include details of many professional courses in the online short courses pages. There are also sections for longer courses, training centres and other events (eg conferences).

Search for your next CPD course here.

 

logo: The TRee CouncilTree Council keeping nation #TreelyConnected through online arts and culture events for National Tree Week.

 

With many of us getting to know our local treescapes like never before during this challenging year, we are realising that our trees need us – and we need them - more than ever.

 

National Tree Week is The Tree Council’s annual celebration marking the start of the tree planting season, taking place this year Saturday 28 Nov – Sunday 6 Dec. Over the years, millions of trees have been planted and cared for around the UK during National Tree Week. However, this year, coronavirus measures will mean many events must be cancelled to keep everyone safe.

 

But The Tree Council are still bringing people together to plant, celebrate and donate towards trees and hedgerows by offering a programme of inspiring online arts & culture celebrations over the course of the week – from creative practical how-to sessions to panel discussions. With this programme we will uplift people and help them connect with one another and the UK’s amazing trees during National Tree Week. Activities will be free to participate in, with optional donations welcome.

 

In this way, we’re staying #TreelyConnected this National Tree Week.

 

To find out more and book your free tickets, visit treecouncil.org.uk.

 


Recently added online events and learning including calendar of short courses happening in January

 

Online Events

16/11/2020 Zero Carbon Britain: Live online  2 Days

Centre for Alternative Technology Contact: c-js.info/37uh6An contactus@cat.org.uk 01654 704966

Working with local Councils, we have developed a two day, interactive, online course offering an in-depth look at CAT’s flagship research project, Zero Carbon Britain. Connect with a network of others working and studying in the field and explore the radical changes needed to rise to the climate challenge.

18/11/2020 NBN Confernce 2020: The NBN at 20 – Changing times at Online 1 Day

NBN Contact: c-js.info/3dBjiY1

18/11/2020 VirtRural Careers at Online 1 Day

Lantra Scotland Contact: c-js.info/3lVxRbR

The aim of this event is to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the careers available in Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation sector.

20/11/2020 TVERC Autumn Recorders' Conference at Online 2 Days

Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre Contact: c-js.info/31kJEsb tverc@oxfordshire.gov.uk

The Autumn Recorders' Conference will be held online due to Covid-19 restrictions. Our recorders’ conferences offers a chance for the biological recording community to come together and share updates and information on what they are doing. Anyone who is interested in wildlife recording and conservation is welcome to attend.

24/11/2020 Wildlife Live Webinar - Trees, Woods & People at Online 1 Day

Suffolk Wildlife Trust Contact: c-js.info/3jI63WK

26/11/2020 Communicate 2020 at Online 2 Days

The Natural History Consortium Contact: www.communicate2020.org.uk

Join the UK’s environmental communicators on 26-27 Nov for a packed digital conference. Communicate will explore a year defined by change, shining spotlights on new opportunities and challenges in environmental communication. In recognition of 2020’s exceptional circumstances, we are working with our supporters to offer heavily subsidised tickets from £25+VAT.

01/12/2020 Autumn Conference: Time to Change: Putting the Environment at the Heart of Social and Economic Wellbeing at Online via Zoom 4 Days

CIEEM Contact: c-js.info/31hX20e enquiries@cieem.net

Recent events have hugely impacted our society, our economy and our perspectives on what the future could look like. We are working in a period of heightened public awareness of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis and the spread of Covid-19 has put us at a crossroads.

08/12/2020 Putting reptiles on the map: ZSL Science for reptilian conservation at Online 1 Day

ZSL Contact: c-js.info/2TxO4I7

12/01/2021 Revealing the unseen: the amazing world of wildlife pathology at Online 1 Day

ZSL Contact: c-js.info/3e6acTn

 

Online Learning - Short Courses

16/11/2020 An Introduction to Appropriate Assessment in Ireland 2 Days

Online via Zoom, c-js.info/3iki2Js

This introduction to Appropriate Assessment for ecologists covers the background to the designations, the legislation and the steps in Appropriate Assessment.

Cost varies: see website

23/11/2020 Intermediate QGIS for Ecologists and Environmental Practitioners 4 Days

Online via Zoom, c-js.info/33gZCow

This intermediate level event focuses on using QGIS as a tool for data analysis and producing more complex maps accurately and efficiently. The course offers ideal progression from our entry level QGIS training and includes some pre-event work to help ensure all delegates have a similar level of QGIS knowledge prior to attendance.

Cost varies: see website

Above two courses with CIEEM. Contact 01962 868626 enquiries@cieem.net

24/11/2020 South Downs Beelines Competition 1 Day

Webinar, Learning through Landscapes 07818424476 rstaples-rolfe@ltl.org.uk c-js.info/3jeL4ul

Beelines workshops are fully funded outdoor learning events that will inspire and equip you as a teacher to lead changes for Pollinators. You will hear about how you can apply for financial support to make changes in your school grounds if you are within the South Downs National Park.

Cost free

26/11/2020 'How healthy is your rainforest?' Plantlife survey 1 Day

Online South West UK, Plantlife kate.hind@plantlife.org.uk c-js.info/35dKNCW

Is your school based in the South West? We are running two training sessions this year on how to run our school citizen science survey 'How healthy is your rainforest?'. 

Cost free

07/12/2020 Monitoring Garden Wildlife Health Using Citizen Science 1 hour Days

Online, Field Studies Council biolinks@field-studies-council.org c-js.info/2Y0kn5L

This talk will explore how Citizen Science can be used to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats, to British wildlife, using the example of the Garden Wildlife Health project, which focuses on garden birds, hedgehogs, reptiles and amphibians.

Cost free

08/12/2020 QGIS: Advanced (Online) 12 hours Days

Online, GeoData, University of Southampton +44 (0)23 8059 2719 training@geodata.soton.ac.uk c-js.info/2PvT68q

This course is intended for those who have either completed our Introduction to QGIS course or have equivalent knowledge and experience. Delegates are introduced to advanced analysis techniques using both raster and vector data. The course is run via a series of zoom video calls.

Cost £425

10/12/2020 Ecological Report Writing 2 Days

Online via Zoom, CIEEM 01962 868626 enquiries@cieem.net c-js.info/3koVs48

This training course will cover how to produce good quality ecological reports, for species and habitat surveys and Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs), following CIEEM?s ?Guidelines for Ecological Report Writing? (part of the Technical Guidance Series).

Cost varies: see website

14/12/2020 Identifying Trees and Shrubs in Winter 0.5 Day

Online, The Species Recovery Trust 01722 322539 dominic.price@speciesrecoverytrust.org.uk www.speciesrecoverytrust.org.uk/

Identifying Trees and Shrubs in Winter - Tutor:Dominic Price, co-author of the FSC Aidgap Winter Trees Guide. A half-day online course giving participants:  the skills and confidence to identify trees and shrubs when not in leaf; a set of c.20 labelled UK native twigs posted to your address prior to the course; a free copy of the FSC Aidgap Winter Trees guide.

Cost £50 (inc. set of twigs and book)

14/12/2020 Endangered Species Recovery 5 Days

Online, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust academy@durrell.org c-js.info/34jVxzl

A unique, specially designed course, delivered by world-renowned experts and scientists in the field of Endangered Species Recovery (ESR). This five-day, online interactive learning experience introduces the issues and practical skills involved in saving threatened species from extinction. You will develop a critical understanding of biodiversity conservation, the issues it raises and how they may be addressed, as well as practical research skills to inform conservation action.

Cost £450

 

Short Courses: Face to face / on site

 

Administrative and Office Skills

12/01/2021 QGIS: Migrating to QGIS 1 Day in Southampton
This practical one-day course is intended for current GIS users and provides a rapid orientation to QGIS. Whether you intend to move wholesale to QGIS, or alternatively to establish it in a support role, alongside your current GIS software, this course aims to get you mapping in QGIS with the minimum of delay.

26/01/2021 ArcGIS: Introduction to Coastal and Marine GIS 3 Days in Southampton
This course introduces GIS concepts and techniques using ArcGIS 10 and provides you with the background and skills necessary to utilise powerful GIS tools tailored to the coastal and marine environment. You will learn about available coastal and marine GIS datasets, which also form the basis for the course exercises.

Above two courses with GeoData, University of Southampton. Contact: +44 (0)23 8059 2719 training@geodata.soton.ac.uk https://c-js.info/2PvT68q

 

Countryside Management Techniques

16/01/2021 Coppicing and woodland management day 1 Day
Park Farm, LE67 6PD, Park Farm Training Centre. Contact: 0777585722 kate@holmsdalemanor.co.uk forestschoolcourses.co.uk
Learn more about coppicing and woodland management, try your hand, and take away the products for use on your own projects

 

Horticulture and Small Holding

07/01/2021 Designing your own garden 3 Days
https://c-js.info/3fczcay
Tutor: Annie Guilfoyle. Learn the basics of site evaluation and the creation of a functional layout and planting plan to plan and plant your own garden.

23/01/2021 Simplifying the rules - easier ways to a successful vegetable and fruit garden 1 Day
https://c-js.info/2BIZkfj
Tutor: Charles Dowding. Learn the no-dig style of gardening, composting, sowing at the best time, and how to achieve healthy plants. Learn how to grow salad leaves all year, succession planting and winter vegetables.

Above courses with West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Contact: 01243 818300 bookingsoffice@westdean.org.uk

 

Identification and Field Survey Skills - Mammals

14/01/2021 Introduction to Bats and Bat Survey 2 Days
Online via Zoom, CIEEM. Contact: 01962 868626 enquiries@cieem.net https://c-js.info/37C9sEp
This course will provide a look at primary legislation in relation to bats (Scotland focused), important bat identification features and key aspects of bat ecology. A range of roost types for different species will be discussed and pointers will be given on what to look out for in roost identification.

 

Identification and Field Survey Skills - Plants and Habitats

28/01/2021 Winter Phase One Habitat Survey 2 Days
Birnam Arts Centre, CIEEM. Contact: 01962 868626 enquiries@cieem.net https://c-js.info/3ocIcCh
This course is aimed at consultants, botanists and ecologists involved in the conservation, surveying and classification of habitats in Scotland. This course is designed as an introduction to identify the characteristics of main Phase 1 habitats.

 

Updates and Additions to other sections of Training Directory this month

Training Centre / provider listings

Inspired Forest School Training

 

Advertise your training course and professional events.

Send your training course information today to training@countryside-jobs.com or submit online here.

If you're running professional courses or events and would like details to be included here and in the online Training Directory click here for more information, email your details to us or for further information please contact the CJS Team.  Free advertising available.


Grants and sources of funding.

 

Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant

Grants for individuals (£200-£2000) to give people the opportunity to seek out life-changing experiences in wild places of the world in ways which will benefit both the person, and the wild places themselves. More information about the Grant, eligibility criteria and how to apply is available at https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/grants-and-awards/the-bill-wallace-grant. Closing date for applications is 15 January each year.

 

See the adverts by Clicking Here  If you know of a funding source that is not listed please send us details and we'll contact the organisation for more information.

 


The next edition of CJS Professional will be published on: 10 December

Got something to share or want to advertise? The deadline is: 5pm Monday 7 December

Contact us by email: ranger@countryside-jobs.com


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