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.

11 June 2020 edition. Contents:

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





Location (basis / contract details)

Senior Ecologist / Experienced Bat Ecologist

Darwin Ecology Ltd

Farnham, Surrey

Communication and Engagement Officer

Hart District Council

Fleet in Hart District (NE Hampshire)(Four year fixed-time position, 37.5 hpw)


Hart District Council

Based in Fleet, NE Hampshire (flexible working considered) (37.5 hpw)

Nature Partnership Manager

Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (hosted by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust)

Based in Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Water & Habitats Specialist Officer (Tame Valley Wetlands)

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Hams Hall Environment Studies Centre, Coleshill, B46 1GA  (Fixed term, full time)

Apprenticeships, Interns and paid trainee roles 


Trainee Ranger

Hart District Council


Fleet in Hart District (NE Hampshire) (18-month fixed term position 37.5hpw)



An introduction to the Nature Volunteers website

The Nature Volunteers website helps to help link people interested in volunteering in nature with projects being offered by organisations. The website has two aims - to give people better access to volunteer opportunities in the UK and to help organisations find volunteers to enhance the success of their projects. [more]


Surveys and Fieldwork

Four new surveys added during May.

Read the articles from our Featured Charity, the Mammal Society, from National Biodiversity Network and also Royal Entomoligcal Scoeity for Insect Week for more on surveys and citizen science.


Features and In Depth Articles

The fourth article from our featured charity: The Mammal Society writing on a very topical subject.

Lockdown life…Mammal Society-style

Since we wrote our last blog for CJS back in March it would be safe to say that life has changed for everyone. Our small team have been working from home since lockdown started and any research/surveys that couldn’t be undertaken during daily exercise ground to a halt. Whilst signs and sightings of mammals could always be recorded using the very portable Mammal Mapper app, anything more complex or off the beaten track had to be put on hold.*

So, what have we been up to for the last few months? Below is a snapshot of some of the activities keeping our somewhat outdoorsy team busy at home. [more]

People need Parks written by Chris Worman MBE Parks Practitioner member of the Parks Action Group, rugby Borough Council. 

“People need Parks” were the words of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government at the Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing. Never before have our nation’s, indeed the world’s, parks been in such focus. [more]

Outdoor Activity ideas for parents and children

Forest School leader Jen Stephenson  offers suggestions to help with home schooling, she says: "When home-educating our children, we can really hone in to what excites our children, tailoring the activities to suit each child." [more]

A bright and shifting future for the UK’s sand dunes by Emma Brisdion

Many of us know and love sand dunes as beautiful coastal landscapes; idyllic backdrops to days spent on the beach or the perfect natural ridges between which to enjoy a sheltered picnic. But dunes are also important biodiversity hotspots. They are a sanctuary for rare species which are perfectly adapted to live in their shifting sands, like the northern dune tiger beetle, natterjack toad, sand lizard and fen orchid.  [more]

The National Trust: 125 years of nature, beauty and history

2020 is the 125th anniversary of the National Trust, the biggest conservation charity in Europe.

Founded in 1895 to care for historic properties, areas of beautiful countryside and to provide access to green spaces for everyone, the Trust now cares for over 500 places of national significance, including houses, gardens and monuments, and 780 miles of coastline.   Never more so has nature been needed than during this time of global crisis brought on by the coronavirus. [more]

Make cycling part of the new normal

6-14 June is BikeWeek. Every year, Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, organises a week-long celebration of all things bike. This time round, like so many other parts of our lives, Bike Week has had to adapt to the reality of life under lockdown. The usual programme of group rides, conferences and meet-ups has been cancelled, and instead the event has gone virtual. [more]

Make time for nature – find your forest moment urge Forestry England

To care for ourselves we must care for nature. World Environment Day, on 5 June, urges us all to make time for nature. Wellbeing Project Manager at Forestry England, Ellen Devine, reflects on our time in nature during lockdown and invites us all to find our ‘forest moment’ over the coming weeks and months. [more]

Our work with Sky Ocean Rescue and plans for the future

Alec Taylor, Head of Marine Policy at WWF explains more and outlines their plans and hopes. [more]

Six-legged careers: working with insects

Do you know how many different insects we have in the United Kingdom? Just over 24,000 species have been recorded and the Royal Entomological Society will celebrate ‘the little things that run the world’ during National Insect Week #NIW2020 from 22nd to 28th June 2020.  [more]

The National Biodiversity Network Trust – sharing wildlife data for 20 years

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is the UK’s largest partnership for nature and this year, the NBN Trust, the charity that facilitates the work of the Network, celebrates its 20th anniversary. As at May 2020 the NBN Trust had over 200 members (including CJS). [more]

National Picnic Week: 22-28 June

Picnics are this Summer’s Antidote to Lockdown Living.  We’ve been shut indoors for too long; something as simple as a picnic could be the first step towards bringing us back together.  [more]


CJS Focus

The most recent edition: Environmental Education and Outdoor Activities view the most recent edition here or download a pdf copy.

The next edition will be published on 12 November looking at: Ecology and Biodiversity BUT is dependent on the status of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak nearer the time. 


CJS Information 

We're delighted to relaunch the Photography Competition for a further two months of entries.

In March we paused our Photography Competition. With the lockdown restrictions introduced to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak beginning to be lifted we think there is once again the opportunity to showcase your incredible photographs.  With the lockdown limitations, implications of maintaining safe social distances and restrictions caused by working from home we decided to alter the remaining suggested themes to make them more suitable for the current environment.  For June the suggested theme is From my Window and for July we're suggesting Hidden Gems. Both are open to interpretation and we hope you will enjoy looking for suitable subjects or going back through your archive to find photos. [more]

Let's talk countryside jobs.

On Tuesday 26 May we hosted our first Facebook Live Session with Lucy McRobert, former Communications Manager for The Wildlife Trusts and author of 365 Days Wild who talked about careers in the countryside and conservation sectors. The session is available to view online. [more]



Land and Countryside Management

Grants, Funding and new projects

Sustainability, Pollution and Litter

Recreation, Volunteering, Education and Health

Scientific Research, Results and Publications

Wildlife news

And finally, our pick of things to make you smile this month.



Details of recently added online events, webinars and online learning.  Mostly happening within the next month.


Grants and sources of funding

Just one addition this past month: The Tree Council Branching Out Fund is now open.



Garnock Connections is encouraging people to connect with their local heritage, both cultural and natural


CJS Newsletters and updates:

CJS Weekly: subscription only weekly newsletter. Receive details of all vacancies and information advertised with CJS. Find out more here. Instant access here.

Daily email with details of latest vacancies, news and general information. Sign up free here.

CJS Professional: 11 June 2020

Jobs: view all online jobs here


Logo: Darwin EcologyDarwin Ecology Ltd

Senior Ecologist / Experienced Bat Ecologist

Farnham, Surrey

We are looking for a confident and highly experienced Senior Ecologist / Bat Ecologist to join our team of consultants in our Southern Office in Farnham, Surrey.

The successful candidate must share our passion for ecology and conservation, be enthusiastic, self-motivated and reliable, confident working independently and inspiring as part of our team.

Skills & Qualifications


   ●   BSc and MSc in ecology or related subject   ●   Minimum of 3-4 years experience in ecology within a consultancy environment   ●   Appropriate protected species licences (Bats, GCN, Dormice, Reptiles)   ●   Able to demonstrate an excellent understanding of the consultants role and have proven commercial competency   ●   Excellent written and verbal communication skills   ●   An excellent understanding of the planning process and construction industry   ●   Appropriate level of CIEEM membership   ●   Proven success of working in a busy team and managing team logistics   ●   Ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines   ●   Ability to undertake all of the above whilst maintaining a sense of humour and positive team spirit   ●   Applicants will need to hold a UK driving licence, have their own vehicle and must be prepared to travel to different sites and to work ecology survey hours.


   ●   Named ecologist on protected species licences   ●   Registered consultant for BLICL   ●   A valid CSCS card   ●   GIS skills   ●   Practical ecological mitigation skills   ●   Marketing and tendering experience

What we offer

   ●   Salary is competitive and negotiable depending on experience and qualifications but will be in the range of £26,000-30,000.   ●   23 days annual leave  ●   Generous annual training budget for structured training events   ●   All employees are invited to join our pension scheme   ●   Apple Mac laptop and iPhone   ●   Flexible working hours and TOIL for all out of hours survey work   ●   Flexible and friendly working environment   ●   Serviced office with many facilities in a beautiful rural area on the outskirts of Farnham
Find out more information on our website here 

Logo: Hart District CouncilHart District Council

Communication and Engagement Officer

Salary Grade F: (£26,843 to £29,072)

Hours per week 37.5

Location: Fleet in Hart District (NE Hampshire)

Type: Four year fixed-time position

Closing Date: Midnight on the 9th July 2020

Hart District Council is looking for a motivated and enthusiastic individual to join our Countryside Services team.

The Hart District area covers part of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA and the Forest of Eversley Heritage area, including various SSSI’s, commons and open spaces that encompass the assorted heaths, woodlands and wetland habitats around the District. The Service has three Green Flag Award sites.

Part of a small but dynamic Visitor Services team, this five-year post will coordinate the development of community engagement, communication and enhancement of the visitor's experience to a Hart District Council countryside site. This includes taking a lead role on the development and delivery of an engagement and consultation plan for the Fleet Pond 2030 Vision Project.

This post will require good project management and communication skills, to be able to meet tight deadlines and be flexible and pragmatic. You will require a qualification in either a countryside management discipline, a marketing and/or engagement discipline or other relevant subject. We will consider a Further Education qualification with relevant work experience.

Experience of working in a communication and/or engagement role within a countryside service would be desirable.

Interviews will be held remotely through Teams or Zoom.

To see the full job description, person specification and to apply please email

For any questions please email

 Logo: Hart District CouncilHart District Council


Salary Grade I (£36,511 to £39,387)

Hours per week 37.5

Based in Fleet, NE Hampshire (flexible working considered)

Closing Date: Midnight on the 9th July 2020

Hart District Council is an ambitious and progressive council. Enhancing and protecting Hart’s environment is an area of major strategic importance as this makes up one of our key priorities within the Council’s Vision for 2040: to “Enhance the environment to live in, work in and enjoy” by.

We are looking to appoint an experienced Ecologist to lead in the delivery of major ecological enhancement projects as part of our established, friendly and highly skilled multidisciplinary countryside team. Projects will include:

You will have experience of working as an ecologist within an advisory and practical capacity and will provide specialist ecological advice in relation to planning applications, including extensive knowledge of the legislative framework and provision of biodiversity net gain. The successful candidate will also be able to contribute to the development and implementation of corporate policies, guidance and procedures such as the Biodiversity Action Plan, Supplementary Planning Documents and Green Infrastructure Strategy.

To see the full job description, person specification and to apply, please email

For any questions please email

Logo: Greater Lincolnshire Nature PartnershipLincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Nature Partnership Manager

Based in Horncastle, Lincolnshire

c£35,000 pa

An exciting opportunity to join the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership as the leading member of the team

As Manager you will deal with the day-to-day activities of team life, but also look to innovative and create more opportunities for nature’s recovery, working with key partners across the area, locally and nationally.

We are looking for a partnership manager with business planning, project management and advocacy skills as the most important, but with empathy for nature’s role in delivering a more sustainable way of living.

A full current UK driving licence is required.

The GLNP is a government accredited Local Nature Partnership. The Partnership is hosted, and its staff employed, by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

For further details and an application form click here.

CVs alone will not be accepted

Closing date for applications: 12.00 noon on 30 June 2020

Logo: Warwickshire Wildlife TrustWarwickshire Wildlife Trust

Water & Habitats Specialist Officer (Tame Valley Wetlands)

Salary: Up to £27,862 (WWT Grade 2B)

Contract type: Fixed term / Working hours: Full time

Location: Hams Hall Environment Studies Centre, Coleshill, B46 1GA

Job reference: HH-WHSO-20

An exciting opportunity has arisen within our dedicated team based at Hams Hall Environmental Centre.
The Tame Valley NIA is a dynamic landscape so if you are an excellent project manager, have a good knowledge of wetland habitats, have a passion for conservation and enhancing the environment and want to make a real difference we would love to hear from you.
For an informal chat about this position please contact

Please click here to download the job pack for full details and how to apply.

Closing date: 30th June 2020

Interview date: initial interview via remote video conference either 13th or 14th July 2020    


Apprenticeships, Interns and paid trainee roles.

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Logo: Hart District CouncilHart District Council

Trainee Ranger

Salary Grade A (£17,711 to £18,065)

Hours per week 37.5

Location: Fleet in Hart District (NE Hampshire)

Type: 18-month fixed term position

Closing Date: Midnight on the 9th July 2020

Hart District Council is looking for a motivated and enthusiastic individual to join our Countryside Services team.

The Hart District area covers part of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA and the Forest of Eversley Heritage area, including various SSSI’s, commons and open spaces that encompass the assorted heaths, woodlands and wetland habitats around the District. The Service has three Green Flag Award sites.

The Trainee Ranger will be part of a dynamic Countryside Services team, working to manage Hart’s countryside sites for people and wildlife. Part of this will be focusing on the management of Hartland Park, a brand-new Site of Alternative Natural Greenspace.

As part of this post, the trainee ranger will be given the opportunity to undergo various training courses and gain tickets in practical conservation skills, as well as additional personal development opportunities.

This post will require enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and good communication skills, as well as being flexible and pragmatic. You will require a Grade C GCSE (level 4 up, new system) in Maths and English and be I.T literate.

Interviews will be held remotely via Teams or Zoom.

To see the full job description, person specification and to apply please email

For any questions please email





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Volunteers: see all of our adverts for voluntary roles online at:


General Volunteering at Home Roles

 County Dragonfly Recorders for British Dragonfly Society

Social Media & Marketing Volunteer for RSPB Bempton Cliffs Closing date 30/06/2020
Advertise your voluntary roles with CJS - it's free! Click here.

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Citizen Science, Surveys and Fieldwork: additions in May

Many conservation organisations appeal for volunteer surveyors to record and submit local sightings for a national wildlife survey.

Taking part in any of these surveys will give you useful experience and also help to extend the scientific knowledge of a species, so vital for appropriate conservation management. Some include training in survey techniques and some may even pay expenses. 



Biological Recording Groups carry out wildlife surveys, gather data on wildlife and ensure that the information is available to the public. To find out how you could get involved, find out how to contact your nearest Group at


Naturehood: a citizen science project focused on taking action for wildlife in private gardens, this project encourages the implementation and recording of wildlife friendly actions in communities. Take simple surveys to record changes in your garden wildlife.



RiverLife's West Lothian Aspen search

The RiverLife team at Forth Rivers Trust invite you to take part in our aspen search across West Lothian. Feeding into aspen conservation and education, the project aims to record wild and planted aspen stands across West Lothian. To get involved and access resources get in touch.


Ethnoveterinary Medicine Project, based at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, is researching current knowledge of the use of plants, either as medicines or feed, to treat animals (livestock or pets). If you have contributions, please send an email to


If you are interested in helping with any of the surveys please contact the person or see the website listed.

Please see the full listings online at:  



CJS Announcements and articles of interest.


logo: CJS Photography competitionWe're delighted to relaunch the Photography Competition for a further two months of entries.

In March we paused our Photography Competition. With the lockdown restrictions introduced to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak beginning to be lifted we think there is once again the opportunity to showcase your incredible photographs.  With the lockdown limitations, implications of maintaining safe social distances and restrictions caused by working from home we decided to alter the remaining suggested themes to make them more suitable for the current environment.  For June the suggested theme is From my Window and for July we're suggesting Hidden Gems. Both are open to interpretation and we hope you will enjoy looking for suitable subjects or going back through your archive to find photos.

Please bear in mind at all times that your health, and the health of those around you, is more important than any photograph and you should not do anything to put it at risk.

We're looking for any photo that you think is relevant to CJS, your fellow readers and other professionals working across all of the the countryside, conservation, ecology, wildlife, environmental education, arboriculture sectors. 

More detail on the categories and prizes here.


The June suggested theme is: From My Window


Prize: beepot planter from Green&Blue

This month we're looking for views from your window, whether that's your home, office or even car doesn't matter. It could be an incredible sunrise, a lovely lupin in the garden, a flock of birds seen over fields on your way to do the shopping, fledglings hoping about the grass harassing parent birds, a window box bursting with promise on a balcony; whatever it is you see that connects you to the natural world and all from the safety of your home.

More about the reasons for us running a photography competition here.

See the winning photos here.

And don't forget to follow our instagram.


CJS want to thank all the wonderful organisations who are supporting our competition by providing prizes. 

logo: Green&Blue

This month our chosen photo will win the photographer a beepot from Green&Blue, an award winning Cornish company who design and make a beautiful range of products created to give nature a home.

Founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Gavin and Kate Christman, Green&Blue brought together their love of simple, stylish design and their passion for wildlife.

beepot planter
beepot planter

In 2014 the company launched the Bee Brick, which went on to win the Soil Association innovation award. With Bee Brick, Green&Blue recognised that if they could work with a massive industry like construction, and make each new house built provide habitat for wildlife as well as for people, they could really help with large scale change in biodiversity. In 2019 Green&Blue added the SwiftBlock and the BatBlock to their range, creating even more space for nature within the built environment.

The Green&Blue range is designed and made in Cornwall and uses 75% waste material from the Cornish china clay industry. As well as the construction based products Green&Blue make a range for the garden, including beautiful birdfeeders, birdhouses and Beepot planters which have space for solitary bees to nest as well as somewhere to plant bee-friendly flowers.

Find out more:

As well as the monthly prizes there are prizes to be awarded once the competition closes

logo: WINWP

The overall winner as chosen by the CJS Team will receive a year's membership of Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers  We have runners up prizes of a bundle of birdwatching books, CJS subscriptions and more.  These are chosen by the CJS Team however we are also going to open the floor to readers with a Readers Choice photo which will win a year's subscription to BBC Wildlife magazine. During August 2020 readers will get a choice to vote a selection of images.

When we launched the competition in July 2019 our overall winner's prize was to be an invitation to the grand gala opening of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2020 due to be held in September, unfortunately the Awards are not accepting entries at present (spring/summer 2020) and therefore there is unlikely to be a gala or even exhibition in 2020. We didn't feel it was fair to offer a prize which might not happen until 2021 and consequently took the decision to change the overall prize.

More about the prizes here


You can submit any image at any time but we will be suggesting themes for each month ranging from the obvious British Countryside to the more open to interpretation "Green". You can see the full list of suggested subjects here. Simply email your photo (jpegs please) to along with your name and any information you want to include about your photo: what it shows, where it was taken and a caption for a funny one would be welcome too. (Full rules are here - please read them before sending your photos, we'll assume you have.)  

We're not necessarily looking for the most perfect, most technically accurate image (although nice clear pictures are usually better than fuzzy ones!) but those that reflect our glorious countryside and all that goes with working in the management of landscapes, with wildlife, in education everything that is part and parcel of daily life. We want to see the best (smiling visitors on sunny days), the worst (sodden waterproofs, overflowing wellies and wall still only half built), the wonderful (that elusive moment as an otter slips into the water), the incredible (dandelion seeds floating in a clear blue sky) and the humorous (the perfectly placed background poledriver) that capture life working in the countryside


Coronavirus reminder - Be safe: 

Please bear in mind at all times that your health, and the health of those around you, is more important than any photograph and you should not do anything to put it at risk.



We'll showcase your photos through our new Instagram account ( and share our pick across our social media so make sure you include your social media handles and we'll tag you in. Meaning that it's also a great way to publicise your site or project.
Not only will your photos be seen by over 100,000 CJS readers but we have prizes too! The CJS Team will choose one winner each month who will receive a prize and at the end of the competition will select one image as an overall winner who will receive a year's membership of the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers.
In August we will post a selection of photos online for you, our readers, to pick a winner who will win a year's subscription to BBC Wildlife magazine


Let's talk countryside jobs.

On Tuesday 26 May we hosted our first Facebook Live Session with Lucy McRobert, former Communications Manager for The Wildlife Trusts and author of 365 Days Wild who talked about careers in the countryside and conservation sectors.  Lucy discussed the nuts and bolts of how to get your career off the ground, what experience you need and cover many of the aspects of working in nature conservation.  Although aimed at young people thinking about a job in the natural world it will be of interest to many CJS readers.  Lucy talked for around an hour about careers in the countryside and conservation sectors and then took questions for another 30 minutes. You can watch it all, pause it to take notes or come back later.  Fantastic informative resource, super useful and really useful tips were some of the comments.

A  recording is available and you can catch up now by watching it here: Please share it with anyone who you think would benefit from Lucy's insight.



Features and In Depth Articles.


The fourth article from our featured charity: The Mammal Society writing on a very topical subject.

Lockdown life…Mammal Society-style

Logo: The Mammal Society

Since we wrote our last blog for CJS back in March it would be safe to say that life has changed for everyone. Our small team have been working from home since lockdown started and any research/surveys that couldn’t be undertaken during daily exercise ground to a halt. Whilst signs and sightings of mammals could always be recorded using the very portable Mammal Mapper app, anything more complex or off the beaten track had to be put on hold.*

So, what have we been up to for the last few months? Below is a snapshot of some of the activities keeping our somewhat outdoorsy team busy at home.

The State of Mammals in Wales report cover (The Mammal Society)
The State of Mammals in Wales report cover (The Mammal Society)

One of the positive things to come out of lockdown is more time to focus on a great deal of proofreading, including updates on a couple of smaller guidebooks and a European Mammal book but mostly for the new Mammal Society/Natural Resource Wales publication The State of Mammals in Wales.

The State of Mammals in Wales

The status of the 49 mammal species found in Wales was last comprehensively assessed in 1995. Commissioned by Natural Resources Wales and drawing on our 2018 Review of the Conservation and Population Status of British Mammals, The State of Mammals in Wales summarises our current knowledge, reporting population sizes, geographical ranges, trends and, for native species, their Regional Red List status according to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standards. We’ll be updating readers on Welsh success stories, such as polecats, pine marten, red squirrels and lesser horseshoe bats, as well as those species which may not be faring quite as well, including: water voles; stoats; and, rabbits.

Derek Crawley (The Mammal Society)
Derek Crawley (The Mammal Society)

The report is due for publication in late June. We’ll publish details of how to get hold of a copy on our website soon so watch out for details! For a full list of our other publications visit the NHBS website.


When their time isn’t being taken up with contributing to and editing recent Mammal Society publications the Mammal Atlas and Mammals in Wales, Mammal Society Science Officer, Frazer Coomber and verifier and trainer, Derek Crawley, have been working with expert volunteers to verify records which have been sent in from all over Britain. Our verifiers play a vital part in ensuring that the records we receive are correctly identified. The beauty of being a verifier, particularly during lockdown, is that you can do it at home and in your own time. Can you spare some time to help us? If you work in the field of mammal conservation, are someone who has carried out lots of surveys and can tell the difference between a common shrew and a pygmy shrew, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing us at Find out more about being a verifier here.

Mammal Experts Q&A

Back in April we asked supporters to send in their questions for our first Mammal Experts Q&A session. The theme was Urban and Garden mammals and our knowledgeable panel of four answered questions on foxes, badgers, stoats and weasels and more. The session was hosted on Zoom by our patron, the talented Zeb Soanes.

Our next session will take place at the end of June and, to celebrate the imminent launch of our new publication, we’d like you to send us any questions you may have about mammals in Wales. We’re expecting questions on polecats, pine marten and red squirrels and we would love to hear from you. Send your questions into In the meantime, why not take a look at our Urban and Garden mammals Q&A video below?

Logo: Ecobat


When she’s not busy baking cakes (see below), our Information Officer, Charlie has been working on Ecobat. Ecobat is a free web-based tool that allows users to compare their bat data with data from across the UK in order to give context to their own recordings. Currently, it focuses on acoustic data, where detectors pick up ‘bat passes’ by their echolocations - used to determine the genus or species. Users upload a .csv file of recorded bat passes and Ecobat compares this to its reference database to calculate whether your number of bat passes for a particular species was a low, moderate high, etc. number of bats. Charlie is working on a new app which will allow users to do the same but for data on the number of bats found within a roost. This will compare the total count of bats recorded in a roost to roosts of the same species in the reference database and calculate through the use of percentiles whether a user’s roost has a low, moderate, high etc. number of bats for that species. This helps users to understand the importance of a given roost. The app is very close to completion and hopefully will be up on the Ecobat website and ready to use soon!

Information Officer Charlie's 2.6 challenge (The Mammal Society)
Information Officer Charlie's 2.6 challenge (The Mammal Society)

2.6 Challenge

One of the more fun things we’ve been involved with is the 2.6 Challenge. As many of you will already know, this initiative was set up by the organisers of the London Marathon to help charities which have been unable to fundraise during lockdown.

Our fundraising activities have included cake baking (Charlie), running (Press Officer Jo) and (naturally) mammal spotting. The cakes were demolished pretty quickly but the mammal spotting part is continuing as three intrepid mammologists have set themselves slightly different challenges involving the number 26. Please check out Pam, Derek and Merryl’s updates, blogs and posts on social media and donate if you can.

In the pipeline

Once it is safe to do so we’ll be resuming research projects including plastic ingestion by small mammals. We’re also starting preparations for a nationwide Harvest Mouse Project and National Mammal Week in October. We’re happy to announce that the postponed 2020 Spring Conference will take place on 16-18 April 2021 at Robinson College, University of Cambridge. Please keep an eye on our website for more details.

*Article written at the end of May 2020. For the most up to date advice on the position regarding undertaking wildlife surveys please visit the relevant country agencies for your region.


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 People need Parks

Logo: Rugby Borough Council
Caldecott Park in Rugby still blooming in lockdown. Credit Rugby Borough Council
Caldecott Park in Rugby still blooming in lockdown. Credit Rugby Borough Council

“People need Parks” were the words of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government at the Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing. Never before have our nation’s, indeed the world’s, parks been in such focus. Whilst to some the decision to keep them open during the pandemic has sparked questions, to others they have been a lifeline.

Ministers and even the Prime Minister have been talking about the important role parks and green spaces play in our nation’s health and wellbeing.

Painted floor markings. Credit Rugby Borough Council
Painted floor markings. Credit Rugby Borough Council

Ironic that nearly 150 years after the Public Health act that provided the impetus for local authorities to build public parks, at a time of global health emergency the people need parks. Our Victorian forbearers would be shouting “we told you so”, and “what have you done”. Where did we go wrong, and more importantly what can we do to ensure our parks and green spaces fulfil the needs of both the community and the planet and we don’t forget the experience we have just lived through.

We owe it to the tens of thousands of people that have sadly died and the many thousands more in the NHS and key services that have pulled us through this to bring a legacy of change and improvement to our nations green spaces. A legacy where we value things that matter, that provide a sense of community and place, and where the wider public benefit is acknowledged, and not on how much it costs to cut the grass.

Covid-19 has not only brought challenges to the sector, but has focused a lot of attention on how people engage with their local green space. Some people have rediscovered spaces on their doorstep that they haven’t visited in years, whilst others struggle not to sit on the grass and enjoy the sunshine.

This has been most evident in those communities across the UK where residents live in high rise flats, apartments and terraced houses with no gardens. Sometimes located in our most disadvantaged communities, the need to access quality green space for mental and physical wellbeing is vital, albeit whilst abiding by social distancing. It has also seen our communities reasserting their ownership of these spaces with colourful chalk pictures, creating rainbows similar to those seen in people’s windows. These are in contrast to the painted social distancing warning that have had to be installed to remind users of the restrictions in movement.

Recent surveys by the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE), Greenspace Scotland and the Midlands Parks Form (MPF) all put the compliance with social distancing at around 90%. Whilst there were some high profile media cases where parks had to close the majority have stayed open for people’s daily allowed visit for exercise. Indeed the scientific advice is that “you are much less likely to touch an infected surface and suspended particles will be massively diluted in the fresh air”.

This is a challenging time for those who care for these places, issues have included:

Gardeners redeployed to supporting our most vulnerable communities. Credit Rugby Borough Council
Gardeners redeployed to supporting our most vulnerable communities. Credit Rugby Borough Council

The redeployment of parks and grounds maintenance staff to support the statutory services such as waste collection and supporting vulnerable residents. The MPF research suggest 65.2 of staff have or were about to be redeployed. The result of this alone will require a herculean effort to try to catch up as some green spaces will have seen no maintenance for months. On the flip side with only undertaking very skeleton maintenance some areas have seen an increase in longer grass and along with it, significant biodiversity benefits.

Introducing social distancing polices resulting in changes to work patterns and schedules.

The cancellation of events and volunteering opportunities.

The massive loss of income from already cash strapped parks services. Parks budgets have been reduced on average by 32% over the past few years and income generation and commercialization have become key buzz words. Now with no cafes, no sport, no events, no car parking and no income they face an even greater funding crisis than before.

All play areas and outdoor sports facilities have been closed. Credit Rugby Borough Council
All play areas and outdoor sports facilities have been closed. Credit Rugby Borough Council

So where are we now?

I have long argued that parks are an essential part of the fabric of all our communities. Whether for health and wellbeing, exercise, relaxation, places to volunteer and socialise, for children to play, encountering nature or just providing a place to gather your thoughts. That’s without even touching on all the climate emergency, environmental and biodiversity benefits too. With 37 million annual visits to our nations parks and green spaces you’d have thought we would have already recognised their importance.

We now face two international emergencies, one regarding the climate and one regarding public health. Both are significant challenges. However adversity can bring opportunity and I believe it’s beyond doubt that our parks and green space can start to address some of the issues if we value them correctly.

We really have to do better.

There will be lessons to be learnt, both nationally and internationally and the need for quality parks and green spaces has never been greater; and neither has our communities’ expectations.

There must now be a step change in thinking on what is essential infrastructure for our communities and residents and both political and financial priority given to secure and maintain our green spaces so as a society, and as a nation, we are more resistant to cope with any future challenges.

Stay safe and be kind.

Chris Worman MBE Parks Practitioner member of the Parks Action Group.

Chris has over 36 years’ experience in the parks industry and is currently Rugby Borough Council’s Parks and Grounds Manager. He has also been a Green Flag Award judge from the start of the awards and over the past 24 years of volunteering has had the opportunity to judge many 100s of parks both around the UK and beyond. He has undertaken a number of international judging tours including Spain, the Middle East, Mexico and America. For his service to the Green Flag Awards and public parks he was awarded an MBE in the Queens 90th Birthday honours in 2016


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Outdoor Activity ideas for parents and children

Jen Stephenson (Lex Pearce)
Jen Stephenson (Lex Pearce)

When home-educating our children, we can really hone in to what excites our children, tailoring the activities to suit each child. There is no right or wrong way, the main aim is for both parent and child to enjoy the activity, and to be adaptable to change, as what was planned, might not always turn out how you expect it to!

Here are some basic ideas to get you started, go fly with them!

Mini beast hunt

Whether in the garden or in the park, walking quietly and slowly, see what creatures you can find. Look under logs, stones, under leaves. Have an identification sheet with you (sourced online), find out what they eat. Are they predators? You could pretend that you are as small as a beetle. What would you be like? Draw a picture of your own mini beast. Make one out of Plasticine.

The old wise one (Jen Stephenson)
The old wise one (Jen Stephenson)


You will need clay or plasticine or sticky mud and some natural objects like sticks, seeds, petals leaves to stick onto your blob. Make your own ‘somebody’ using natural objects to stick onto your blob for wings, arms, legs, eyes. Give your blobster a name, character. What would it eat? Where would it live?

Blobster Home / den

Make a den for your blobster. Use what you can find – grass, sticks, mud, sand, leaves. Make up a blobster story, why is it living there, who are the neighbours? What do they like to do? This is a time to let our imaginations go wild!

Questions to ask – will it keep out the weather? How would I insulate it? Will it have an impact on animal or human path ways?

Blobster Journey

With a length of string as long as you like, starting at your blobster den, make a journey for the blobster to travel on, by trailing the string around the garden / park, maybe over sticks, up a tree a little way, down, through a pile of leaves....... imagine being on the string journey, maybe the big rock would be a giant mountain, would the blobster have to traverse high cliffs, wade through rivers or scramble through forests?

Sense Meditation

Find somewhere outside that attracts you to sit for 5 mins or longer if you like, maybe a corner of your garden that gets forgotten. Take time to breathe deeply, sensing the connection between your body and the earth underneath you. Close your eyes and tune in to your other senses.... how many different sounds can you hear? Are they far away or near? What can you feel under your fingers? Can you feel any breeze? Do you smell anything? Take time to just be....then after about 5 minutes, slowly open your eyes with a soft gaze, and look around. Does anything look different? Did you notice any wildlife? Take your time to get up, keeping some of this stillness with you as you go through the day.

This is a great way to be fully present and aware of our physical surroundings.

Sense the connection (Jen Stephenson)
Sense the connection (Jen Stephenson)

Sit Spot

Starting with a sense meditation, find your own special place in the garden / outdoors. Sit for 5 – 15 mins.
The aim is to listen to as many different sounds as you can, how many birds can you see or hear?
Afterwards – what noises did you hear? Did you see any wildlife? Notice anything unusual? How did it feel to sit in their own special place in nature?
Variations – After the sit-spot, draw a map of the area and mark the sounds that they heard on the map.
Go back to the same sit spot time after time and experience how it changes through the seasons.
Bring attention to different aspects of the sit spot. How many different plants grow there? What signs of animal activity are there? Where do the insects like to hang out?

Game – what am I?
Each person gets a sticker put on them in a place where they cannot read it. (On their forehead or back)
On each sticker is a name or drawing of an animal or plant e.g. rabbit.
Find out what you are by asking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. E.g. Do I eat meat? Have I got 4 legs? If you get a ‘no’ answer, it’s the other persons turn. Keep going till you find out what you are!

A blobster home in the forest (Jen Stephenson)
A blobster home in the forest (Jen Stephenson)

Foraging for Wild Food
At this time of the year there are many plants that can be foraged, such as Nettles and Jack-by-the-hedge. Galloway Forager Mark Williams has an excellent website with loads of information on how to forage responsibly. It is important to be sure of your identification skills when foraging, so if in doubt, don’t pick it.

Other Outdoor Activity ideas are listed below. More details are accessible online.

  • Make a bug Hotel
  • Den building, and mini survival shelter – build a shelter for your arm only. Can you make it waterproof? Ask someone to sprinkle water from a watering can over it?
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Knots
  • Nature Poems
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Nature Photos – Take close-up photos of natural objects that you are attracted to and write about why you like them.

I hope these ideas help with you to have fun with your children.
Some of these ideas came from two of my favourite books;
I love my World by Chris Holland
Learning with Nature by Marina Robb, Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.

Jen Stephenson



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A bright and shifting future for the UK’s sand dunes

Logo: Dynamic Dunescapes

By Emma Brisdion

Many of us know and love sand dunes as beautiful coastal landscapes; idyllic backdrops to days spent on the beach or the perfect natural ridges between which to enjoy a sheltered picnic. But dunes are also important biodiversity hotspots. They are a sanctuary for rare species which are perfectly adapted to live in their shifting sands, like the northern dune tiger beetle, natterjack toad, sand lizard and fen orchid.

Baglan Burrows; one of the project’s dune sites in Wales. Image: Emma Brisdion
Baglan Burrows; one of the project’s dune sites in Wales. Image: Emma Brisdion

But sand dunes are listed as one of the most at-risk landscapes across Europe for biodiversity loss and these dune-adapted creatures are now at risk. Over time, many sand dunes have become covered by grass and scrub which have stabilised the majority of the sand, and invasive species have overtaken the habitats of native ones. Conservationists now know that a healthy dune environment needs areas of freely-moving sand, healthy sheltered dune slacks and areas with low vegetation to support its diverse wildlife.

Dynamic Dunescapes is an exciting and ambitious new project, restoring some of the most important sand dunes in England and Wales for the benefit of people, communities and wildlife. The project is using pioneering conservation techniques to rejuvenate dunes and make their shifting sands the perfect home for our native threatened wildlife again. From Cornwall to Cumbria, Dynamic Dunescapes will restore nine key dune areas, covering up to 7,000 hectares of beautiful coastal landscape.

Ponies in Cornwall graze the dunes and help to keep vegetation low and biodiverse. Image: Jon Cripps
Ponies in Cornwall graze the dunes and help to keep vegetation low and biodiverse. Image: Jon Cripps

At many sites removal of invasive species such as Rosa rugosa will be prioritised, and other works will also include the creation of notches and the removal of scrub to expose areas of bare sand, allowing more natural movement of sand throughout the dune system. We will also restore damp dune slacks and pools to support dune amphibians, and the introduction of grazers, such as cows and rabbits, into the habitat will help control vegetation growth and allow rare wildflowers to flourish once again.

During this time of Covid-19 lockdown, many of our on-site activities have been paused. There are a few instances in which project team members have been able to continue visiting their local dune sites – for example where staff are responsible for the welfare of animals. In Cornwall, Jon Cripps, Penhale Dune Ranger, has continued to check up on the ponies which graze on the dunes, even managing to coordinate a foot trim with a farrier, while remaining socially distanced. The ponies seem unfazed by the reduction in passing visitors too, as he has also spotted them taking naps in groups along the coast path!

A myriad of fascinating events in the dunes for the local communities, schools and visitors are being planned for when restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to do so. Sand dunes are far more than just a hurdle to pass on the way to the beach from the car park. Our events schedule invites people into the dunes to learn more about the environment and how to protect the wildlife that call it home.

With sweep netting, mini-beast hunting and pond-dipping in the dune slacks, there will be plenty to inspire exciting family days out and hands-on school trips. Dune rangers will shed light on the dunes’ incredible history, lifecycle and future conservation plans with guided walks along scenic walking trails. And, for keen coastal volunteers and budding environmental conservationists, fascinating opportunities to get involved in the restoration projects, help species monitoring programmes and support scientific research abound.

For more information about the project or any of the Dynamic Dunescapes project sites find the project on social media @dynamicdunes, and keep up to date with events and volunteering opportunities by visiting and signing up to our email newsletter. Natural England, Plantlife, National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Cumbria Wildlife Trust are working in partnership to deliver this ambitious and innovative project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the EU LIFE Programme.

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The National Trust: 125 years of nature, beauty and history

Logo: National Trust

125 years

In 2020 the Trust will be sharing ideas and inspiration to help people connect with nature (National Trust Images Rob Coleman)
In 2020 the Trust will be sharing ideas and inspiration to help people connect with nature (National Trust Images Rob Coleman)

2020 is the 125th anniversary of the National Trust, the biggest conservation charity in Europe.

Founded in 1895 to care for historic properties, areas of beautiful countryside and to provide access to green spaces for everyone, the Trust now cares for over 500 places of national significance, including houses, gardens and monuments, and 780 miles of coastline.

Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley – the triumvirate who founded the National Trust – all believed in the profound effects of access to nature, to beauty and to history. Their aim was not only to save important sites, but to look after them for everyone to enjoy in the years to come. From this trio of environmental pioneers, the National Trust was created – and their original values are still at the heart of everything the charity does 125 years later.

Nature in a time of crisis

Never more so has nature been needed than during this time of global crisis brought on by the coronavirus.

The crowds of people who visited National Trust places the weekend before lockdown and the thousands of photos posted on social media as part of the Trust’s #BlossomWatch campaign showed the importance of trees, wildlife and open skies in our lives.

Just a few weeks later, spring diary entries received from around the UK revealed a nation turning to nature for comfort and solace during a time of unprecedented uncertainty - with descriptions of birdsong and blossom by people in self-isolation, sightings of wildlife through windows, and reflections on health and family.

The Trust has existed during some of the darkest days the country has ever faced – and will continue to be there for the benefit of the nation throughout this crisis.

It will provide access to green space, wherever it is safe to do so, while bringing those people who are unable to leave the house closer to their favourite places via its digital channels. It will keep pushing the Government to deliver green infrastructure and ensure more people have access to nature-rich space. And it will continue caring for places of nature, beauty and history, like it has done for over a century.

Evidence shows that noticing nature can have a positive effect on wellbeing (National Trust Images & Rod Coleman)
Evidence shows that noticing nature can have a positive effect on wellbeing (National Trust Images & Rod Coleman)

The Trust’s founder Octavia Hill said: “We all want quiet. We all want beauty... We all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently.”

And that is needed as much today as it was 125 years ago.

Green ambitions

The Trust also needs to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis and the catastrophic decline in our natural environment.

To mark its 125 years, and to address these twin crises, the Trust has set itself big ambitions, including tree-planting on a national scale to tackle climate change, reducing our carbon footprint and restoring peatlands.

2020 is also an opportunity to inspire people to connect with nature in their everyday life.

Today, evidence shows a correlation between people’s connection with nature and their wellbeing, and that a strong connection with nature is an important factor in whether people take action to protect and help the natural environment.

Throughout the year the conservation charity will be sharing stories, actions and content to help people notice the nature around them.

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The Nature Volunteers website

Logo: Nature Volunteers
The Find project button asks a few quick questions so that in seconds volunteers can search the bank of current projects and see results ranked by how well they match their interests (Nature Volunteers)
The Find project button asks a few quick questions so that in seconds volunteers can search the bank of current projects and see results ranked by how well they match their interests (Nature Volunteers)

The Nature Volunteers website helps to help link people interested in volunteering in nature with projects being offered by organisations. The website has two aims - to give people better access to volunteer opportunities in the UK and to help organisations find volunteers to enhance the success of their projects. People wish to volunteer in nature for diverse reasons and Nature Volunteers was set up last year with funding support from the Higher Education Innovation Fund to expand the range of people accessing nature volunteering opportunities. It is designed to help people ranging from professionals working in the countryside & wildlife conservation sectors who wish to enhance their skills to people who are new to nature volunteering including young adults wishing to expand their horizons, families looking for ways connect with nature to enhance well-being and older people wishing to share their time and life experiences to help nature.

The project match results show projects in order of how well they fit the interests expressed by the volunteer (Nature Volunteers)
The project match results show projects in order of how well they fit the interests expressed by the volunteer (Nature Volunteers)

The projects on the website range from species surveys to practical conservation work in habitats across the UK. They can be one-off tasks to a set placement where regular participation would be expected. They can also be outdoors or desk based. At Nature Volunteers we are happy to host any organisation's projects as long as they are free for volunteers to participate in and help nature or the environment in some way. Visitors to the website can search for current volunteering opportunities using the “Find Projects” tab by answering a few simple questions and can then view projects they are interested in and link directly to the organisations. They can also browse past projects under the “completed projects” tab on our website.

Volunteers can then click on any project to find out more information and contact the organisation (Nature Volunteers)
Volunteers can then click on any project to find out more information and contact the organisation (Nature Volunteers)

The Find project button asks a few quick questions so that in seconds volunteers can search the bank of current projects and see results ranked by how well they match their interests (Nature Volunteers)

Even during the lockdown, our website also still has lots of content to have a look at, both in our resources and projects sections. Many projects and volunteer roles have been promoted via our website, our top-ranked being Project Volunteer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust,  habitat improvement at Wildwood Escot Wetland Project, and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Tuesday group. Meanwhile, the most viewed projects include Plant ID Volunteer for Colour in the Margins, led by Plantlife, Walk This Water Way from The Mammal Society and Gardenwatch from the BTO. Views do seem to translate into sign-ups! Walk This Water Way and Gardenwatch are the most signed-up to projects, along with Living Seas Volunteer at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre.

Volunteering doesn’t have to stop just because of a pandemic.  Projects on our website such as Walk This Water Way and Gardenwatch can be done safely maintaining social isolation rules as can many other projects. Also there are a whole host of other things you can be doing to get in touch with nature, and we at Nature Volunteers are sharing a range of resources on our Facebook page Get out and look for wildflowers, spot swifts or brush up on your bird song ID. From garden species surveys such as looking for Spittlebugs and observing butterflies to looking for seasonal changes on your daily exercise with the Woodland Trust or doing online data entry such as Penguin Watch and Seabird Watch, you can easily help science and nature from home!


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Make cycling part of the new normal

Logo: Bike Week
(Adrian Wills/Cycling UK)
(Adrian Wills/Cycling UK)

Every year, Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, organises a week-long celebration of all things bike. This time round, like so many other parts of our lives, Bike Week has had to adapt to the reality of life under lockdown. The usual programme of group rides, conferences and meet-ups has been cancelled, and instead the event, which runs from June 6 to 14, has gone virtual.

But amid all the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis on the health and finances of the nation, with friends and families being cut off from one another, workplaces shutting down and events being cancelled, there is one undoubted positive. All of us have had to reassess our daily routines, and what is truly important. We have had to think about how we travel, and whether our journeys are essential. Many of us have enjoyed the emptiness of the roads as we took our daily permitted exercise. Key workers have been encouraged to avoid public transport and walk or cycle where possible to maintain social distancing. As travel restrictions gradually ease, we have a choice: do we go back to the old ways, or do we seize the opportunity to make some positive changes?

Uber Jump bikes waiting for their riders on the annual Parliamentary Bike Ride outside Prince Philip House in 2019.  (Sam Jones/Cycling UK)
Uber Jump bikes waiting for their riders on the annual Parliamentary Bike Ride outside Prince Philip House in 2019. (Sam Jones/Cycling UK)

The key theme of Bike Week 2020 is health and wellbeing. This was partly inspired by the vital contribution of the health and social care workers who have helped to keep us healthy during the crisis (and to whom Cycling UK extended a free membership offer to help them travel to work), but also in recognition of the real difference cycling can make to the health of the nation. These effects go beyond the obvious benefits of taking exercise rather than sitting in a car or on a bus. There is the improvement in air quality caused by taking vehicles off the roads: in big cities such as London, two-thirds of car journeys are short enough (under 5km) to be replaced by a 20-minute bike ride. Additionally, a Dutch study comparing overall health risks from cycling to those from driving (including accident risk, exposure to pollution and the benefits of cardiovascular activity) found that the benefits of swapping from driving to cycling for short journeys outweighed the risks nine-fold.

Then there is the effect on mental wellbeing. Physical activity such as cycling is a way to relax and destress the mind. Hospital staff working long and harrowing shifts have told Cycling UK how they find it a vital way to “switch off” and allow separation between home and work life. “When I am cycling my mind is empty of everything except the road in front of me,” said one doctor.

A poll carried out by YouGov on behalf of Cycling UK found that more than one in three people agreed that they would be prepared to rethink the way they travel when returning to work after lockdown, in order to use their cars less. But if people are to choose active travel such as cycling, they need to feel safe and encouraged to do so. As the charity’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, says: “The reduction in vehicle traffic and increase in cycling during lockdown has allowed a glimpse of a different, more active future, and it would be a great shame to turn our backs on this and return to business as usual. We know that cycling is a great way to reduce car use and ease pressure on public transport, and we know that, now more than ever, people are prepared to rethink the way they travel. However, they need infrastructure and investment to support them in making this change, or we risk losing what could be a golden opportunity.”

Cycling through the ages at the launch of Bike Week 2019 in London (Anthony Upton)
Cycling through the ages at the launch of Bike Week 2019 in London (Anthony Upton)

While, objectively, cycling is extremely safe, with fatalities per mile travelled similar to those for pedestrians, safety fears are a very real barrier to many potential cyclists. Cycling UK is therefore calling on both national governments and local authorities to commit to infrastructure that will encourage people to choose active travel. The organisation encouraged its members to write to their local councils to ask for temporary space for pedestrians and cyclists to be made available on streets during the coronavirus lockdown, and has highlighted areas in major cities where relatively short lengths of cycle lane could encourage large numbers of people onto their bikes.

Logo: Cycling UK

Bike Week 2020 aims to capitalise on the extra attention that cycling has enjoyed in the past few months – with positive coverage even in media that have often published negative portrayals of cycling and cyclists in the past. The organisers are asking people to share their cycling experiences on social media, with the hashtag #7daysofcycling reflecting a different theme each day. Prizes are on offer for those sharing photos and videos of their rides or other bike-related activities. There are also family activities to download, online webinars and workshops on everything from council infrastructure to yoga for cyclists, a Q&A with Dragon’s Den star (and cycling investor) Piers Linney, and much more. Cycling UK hopes that Bike Week can return to its usual, real-world self in 2021, and that one lasting impact of this year’s pandemic can be a positive one: helping the charity to achieve its long-term aim of getting one million more people on their bikes.

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Make time for nature find your forest moment

Logo: Forestry England
Mallards Pike Gruffalo orienteering. Credit and ©: Unieed for Forestry England
Mallards Pike Gruffalo orienteering. Credit and ©: Unieed for Forestry England

To care for ourselves we must care for nature. World Environment Day, on 5 June, urges us all to make time for nature. Wellbeing Project Manager at Forestry England, Ellen Devine, reflects on our time in nature during lockdown and invites us all to find our ‘forest moment’ over the coming weeks and months.

(Re-)discovering nature during lockdown

Wild garlic. Credit: Rupert Barry, Forestry England. © Crown copyright
Wild garlic. Credit: Rupert Barry, Forestry England. © Crown copyright

The current restrictions mean that many of us have a bit more time on our hands – perhaps we’re not working, or at least not spending hours commuting to work, or perhaps we’re looking for ways to entertain the kids now that the afterschool activities have disappeared from the family calendar. Trying to stay at home, travelling less and with indoor recreation limited, exploring natural environments in our neighbourhood has become more relevant than ever. As someone who has always found solace in nature, I’ve relished the opportunity to walk, unrushed by calendar appointments, through the fields, ‘discovering’ footpaths I’ve previously rushed past. For others, nature has been a surprise comfort, a new friend in an otherwise lonely lockdown. And as human activity has slowed, nature has stepped into the spaces, taking over quiet streets and even ‘re-wilding’ our social media feeds as we take a moment to capture in a photo the beauty of a view, the joy of a flower coming into bloom, the excitement as we witness a dragonfly balanced on a lily pad. During these uncertain times, we have turned to nature for escape, from our homes and our minds, and as a place to exercise. Our time outside has felt precious; we’ve made time for nature, because we’ve needed it, and nature has been there for us.

Spending time in forests is crucial for both people and planet

Our instinctive move towards nature during times of stress is explained by a wealth of research into the physiological and psychological effects of nature. We know that being among trees helps to reduce stress, improves mood, and reduces the possibility of poor mental health. Studies have even shown that exercising in forests provides a distraction from fatigue, making physical activity feel easier and more enjoyable, keeping people active for longer, and increasing their satisfaction compared to working out indoors.

Recent research into ‘nature connectedness’ – a concept which describes our cognitive and emotional relationship with nature – shows that being connected to nature is not only good for our wellbeing, but also encourages pro-environmental behaviour. In short, spending time outdoors is a win-win for people and the planet.1

Painting at Cyril Hart Arboretum. Credit: Forestry England. © Crown copyright
Painting at Cyril Hart Arboretum. Credit: Forestry England. © Crown copyright

Find your forest moment

Over the coming months we anticipate that the restrictions on our activities will slowly lift and life will gradually return to something closer to pre-lockdown normality. There will be huge challenges – we will grieve for the people we have lost, adjust to a world that is forever slightly different, live with the knowledge that life can change in a moment. As we face these challenges, we must remember to make time for nature and support others to do the same – in doing so we will reap the benefits for ourselves and the planet.

A great way to continue to make time to connect with nature is through the Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or forest bathing. This simple method of being clam and quiet amongst the trees has been proven to help both adults and children de-stress, and the techniques can be used for a minute, an hour or longer. Intrigued? Just follow these tips for beginners to get started, or download the Forest Bathing for Children activity worksheet to discover fun ways to support children to connect with their senses and the natural world. And for those of us without access to a woodland or the outdoors, Forestry England has created a series of virtual forest bathing resources to bring the forest to you, your family, friends and the people you work with.

Canopy. Credit: Ben Thomas, Forestry England. © Crown copyright
Canopy. Credit: Ben Thomas, Forestry England. © Crown copyright

Restoration, resilience and rainbows

As we recover from the upheaval of COVID-19 and learn to adapt to the new world we find ourselves living in, we can look to nature for restoration and inspiration. The soft fascination of nature and its gentle sensory stimulation soothes us by placing just the right amount of effortless demand on our working memory to distract us from spiralling rumination and allow our minds to reflect and our bodies to recover.2 We learn from nature, that resilience is a part of life, that we can bounce back from the harshest of winters with fresh new shoots; and that dark skies and storms are followed by rainbows – a sure sign of brighter skies ahead.

Find out more about Forestry England

Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, welcoming 230 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and are enhancing forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. Find out more at

Forests are places to seek adventure, make memories and find escape. Find out more about how Forestry England supports people to experience the wellbeing benefits of forests at

If you would like to work with Forestry England to help people connect with forests and improve their wellbeing, contact Ellen Devine, Wellbeing Project Manager. Email:





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Our work with Sky Ocean Rescue and plans for the future

Logo: WWF - for your world

Alec Taylor, Head of Marine Policy at WWF

The issue

A small estuary seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, drifts in the polluted waters near Sumbawa Besar, Sumbara Island, Indonesia (© Justin Hofman / WWF-US)
A small estuary seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, drifts in the polluted waters near Sumbawa Besar, Sumbara Island, Indonesia (© Justin Hofman / WWF-US)

The ocean is the blue heart of our world, absorbing over 90% of the heat and almost a third of carbon dioxide humans have ever created. It is also the lungs of our system, producing well over half of the world’s oxygen. It’s the largest ecosystem on earth, sustaining millions of jobs, providing food to more than a billion people and is worth trillions of dollars to the global economy. Without our ocean, our planet would be pretty much uninhabitable.

Yet, the ocean is suffering and in crisis. 2019 was the year that the world woke up to the profound impact that the climate and nature crisis is having on our marine environment, both here in the UK and across the world. Unless we take action now, it’s almost certain 1 that over this century the ocean will face desperate decline, with growing acidification, dead zones, warming and sea level rise. This will mean many of our fisheries, species, habitats and marine ecosystems are unlikely to thrive or even survive, with critical impacts on societies and economies.

This is also a social and economic issue for the UK: WWF’s Global Futures report shows that over 98% of the economic losses to UK GDP by 2050 will be to ocean natural assets, in particular the loss of coastal ecosystems and fisheries, with significant knock-on impacts on livelihoods.

Delivering at home

The WasteShark in operation at Ilfracombe Harbour, Devon (© Nick Kindon / WWF-UK)
The WasteShark in operation at Ilfracombe Harbour, Devon (© Nick Kindon / WWF-UK)

In 2018, WWF entered into a new partnership with Sky, as part of its Ocean Rescue campaign. Designed to inspire millions to take action to protect our oceans, the initial phase of the partnership focussed on the management of marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs are areas explicitly created with the objective to conserve biodiversity, as part of a wider network to maintain and restore nature and provide services to people. Our work with Sky Ocean Rescue in the UK focussed on eight key areas: an MPA in North Devon, (teaming up with the Government’s ‘Pioneer’ projects); an area in the Outer Hebrides; and six protected areas over three times the size of Wales, created to protect the harbour porpoise populations. Other work across Europe looked at protecting whales from ship strikes in the Mediterranean and protecting the German North Sea coast to help adapt to climate change.

Our aim was to address the challenge of ensuring our seas receive proper levels of protection. Whilst a fifth of UK waters are designated as protected, only a fraction are adequately managed. This is due to a combination of factors including a lack of community buy-in, limited financial resources and a fragmented governance system. Solutions existed to tackle some of the key threats, such as underwater noise and fisheries bycatch, but they were not being implemented. Through developing solutions and building support in these areas, we could build an inspiring and persuasive case for replicating success across the country. This was all brought together under the “UK SEAS” project, seeking a fresh look at how we coordinate the management of MPAs.

Over the last three years together with Sky Ocean Rescue, we’ve done some amazing things, including:

The future

We have already achieved a great deal together, yet we also know we need to do more to reset the ambition and urgency of ocean leadership in the new decade.

We know that it is possible to substantially restore the ocean in 30 years and avoid the worst impacts of climate change 2, if we act now to reduce key pressures and give the ocean space to breathe. The power of the ocean to bounce back is an inspirational long-term message to accompany the need for transformative change.

A split-level digital composite showing a Basking shark (Ceterhinus maximus) feeding on plankton around St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, UK © / Alex Mustard / WWF
A split-level digital composite showing a Basking shark (Ceterhinus maximus) feeding on plankton around St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, UK © / Alex Mustard / WWF

On top of this, the power of the ocean to support the UK as an island nation is a critical part of building a long-term recovery from the current COVID-19 epidemic, helping us move towards a future that is just, sustainable and supports coastal communities and livelihoods.

Throughout 2020 WWF, together with Sky Ocean Rescue, will be campaigning to drive ocean recovery as the foundation for the next decade, inspiring millions to take real action to save our oceans.

To us, ocean recovery means bringing UK seas back to life for people, climate and nature. It is a positive vision of hope to allow the ocean to help us deliver food security, reduce environmental footprint, improve livelihoods, support coastal communities and reduce climate risks. It is an underlying mindset and a dedicated choice, and which the UK Government could drive forward both globally and nationally in its new role as an Independent Coastal State.

We focus on ocean recovery as a clear and unifying vision, not just because it is important in itself, but also as the only way to collectively tackle climate change, protect our coastal assets, reduce our ocean footprint and restore nature. In doing this, we also take vital pressure off resources on land, for example on the agricultural systems that cause so much deforestation, soil erosion and pollution.

Over the coming months, we will be setting out the actions that we can take as individuals to become ocean heroes, whilst outlining the leadership needed by the UK Government at this critical time to support ocean recovery.

By the time World Oceans Day 2021 comes around, let’s hope we look back at this moment as the point we really got serious about bringing our precious seas back to life.

To find out more about WWF’s partnership with Sky Ocean Rescue or to join the fight and become an Ocean Hero visit


1    As per IPCC State of The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) report

2    As per Duarte et al., (2020) Rebuilding Marine Life , Nature 580, pp 39–51


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Six-legged careers: working with insects

Logo: National Insect Week

Do you know how many different insects we have in the United Kingdom? Just over 24,000 species have been recorded and the Royal Entomological Society will celebrate ‘the little things that run the world’ during National Insect Week #NIW2020 from 22nd to 28th June 2020. This year our activities are online and we encourage the general public and organisations to appreciate insects with our online resources, provide habitats for them in their green spaces and help monitor the species that they find.

Anthony Cooper - Sawflies eating a birch leaf, 2nd Prize 2014 NIW Photography Competition, Insects Alive category
Anthony Cooper - Sawflies eating a birch leaf, 2nd Prize 2014 NIW Photography Competition, Insects Alive category

We rely on our six-legged friends for ecosystem services such as pollination, decomposition and biological control. Some of our insect species are sadly in decline, but there are also pest species that we need to control because of the economic damage they can do. Professional entomologists often work to balance both conservation and pest control using knowledge of insect ecology.

To conserve insects you need to know about a species’ requirements for survival, recreate what it requires and if needed reintroduce it. On a small scale we can do this in gardens by creating a range of habitats such as log piles, insect hotels, ponds, wildflower areas, shady and sunny areas and by providing floral resources throughout the seasons. On a larger scale this involves coordinated efforts across a region or even a whole country, to create a network of habitats for a species or ecological community and to change policies and therefore behaviours that may harm insects.

Sustainable control methods are increasingly needed in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Natural enemies that are parasitic or predators of pest insects may be applied and traps with attractant colours and pheromones can help show pest presence. Companion planting and push-pull systems can also reduce or even eliminate the use of conventional pest controls, many products of which are being removed or heavily restricted.

Petar Sabol - Orange tip butterfly and mayfly sharing, 1st Prize 2018 NIW Photography Competition, Adult category
Petar Sabol - Orange tip butterfly and mayfly sharing, 1st Prize 2018 NIW Photography Competition, Adult category

Monitoring insects is important for both conserving and controlling insects. Apps such as iRecord are used to help identify insects and submit biological records of where and when a species was found, to help map its national distribution and highlight conservation concerns. Support for identification can also be found on social media and through societies focussed on particular insect groups. Professional apps are used to monitor insects in crops, looking at the balance of pests and predators across a site over time, to enable precision farming methods such as targeting interventions to specific problem areas.

Logo: Royal Entomological Society

Insect farming is a small but growing industry in the UK. We are familiar with beekeeping to produce honey, but mealworm beetles, black soldierflies, crickets and other species can also be reared and processed to provide protein to feed to livestock and, in due course, humans. Our legal framework is slowly catching up to where these businesses are heading, but it’s exciting to see this industry developing.

To be an entomologist you need to be comfortable with looking at and handling insects and have a detailed mindset to help identify what type of insect you are working with. You can find out more about careers with insects and study options on the Royal Entomological Society’s website

Francisca Sconce, Outreach & Engagement, Royal Entomological Society


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The National Biodiversity Network Trust sharing wildlife data for 20 years

Logo: NBN - celebrating 20 years

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is the UK’s largest partnership for nature and this year, the NBN Trust, the charity that facilitates the work of the Network, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

History of the NBN

Surprisingly, there has never been a statutory requirement for one organisation to collect wildlife records on a long-term basis. Despite this, a move to establish a UK-wide wildlife recording network began back in the 1980s, with the impetus to set up the National Biodiversity Network finally coming in the early 1990s. Following the 1992 Rio Summit and a report from the “Coordinating Commission for Biological Recording”, a number of UK organisations came together in 1997 to build the NBN, with a view to simplifying data exchange in the UK. From this, the NBN Trust was set up as an independent charity in 2000 to oversee the development of the Network.

What is the NBN?

Image: NBN achievements from 20 years

The NBN (National Biodiversity Network) is a collaboration of organisations who are committed to sharing UK wildlife data and making it easily available for research, education and to support environmental decision making. The NBN Trust is the charity whose membership helps support the work of the Network, with members ranging from government agencies, research bodies, local environmental records centres, conservation charities, commercial companies, museums and wildlife recording groups. These include some well-known organisations, such as the Bat Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, as well as lesser known groups such as Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme, Riverfly Partnership and Outer Hebrides Recording Group, to name just a few. As at May 2020 the NBN Trust had over 200 members (including CJS).

The one thing that unites those who are part of the NBN, is their desire for the availability of high-quality wildlife data. The NBN Trust does this by bringing together data from many different sources and making them available online through a data sharing website, the NBN Atlas. This central resource means that data can be easily accessed by anyone who needs the information.

What is the NBN Atlas?

The NBN Atlas launched in April 2017 as an online platform to engage and inform people about the natural history of the UK. It is helping to improve our collective knowledge of the UK’s wildlife as well as aiding research. In fact, over 172 million records have been downloaded to help with conservation work since the NBN Atlas launched.

The NBN Atlas is the largest UK-wide aggregation of multiple sources of information about species and habitats and it provides the ability to interrogate and map these data in a single location. It currently holds over 235 million records across more than 46,000 species and these are available for use in accordance with specific licence conditions.

In addition to the parent NBN Atlas, there are country-specific versions – the NBN Atlas Scotland, the NBN Atlas Wales, the NBN Atlas Northern Ireland and the NBN Atlas Isle of Man. The latest website to use the NBN Atlas infrastructure is the Burial Ground Portal, which focuses solely on records known to be from within burial grounds.

The many, divergent data providers and data users require a platform where the availability and quality of the records are clear and understandable. Records are stored in the NBN Atlas following an internationally accepted format for sharing biodiversity data - the Darwin Core standard. This not only aids sharing of records with other organisations, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), but also ensures efficient and effective filtering of standardised records, based on the requirements of the individual user.

The times, they are a changing

Much has changed across the Network over the last 20 years, with technology in particular, constantly evolving.

Now, the increased use of technology is starting to help with the gathering of more data. This is improving the standardisation of data collection, especially through online recording both in the UK (iSpot, iRecord) and globally (iNaturalist).

Social media is also having a big impact. Facebook groups and Twitter encourage people to upload their photos making it easier for people to get involved in wildlife recording at all levels of experience and expertise.

In addition, no longer is wildlife data just from human observation and submission of the record by dedicated volunteers, new technology is really helping in this area too with the use of drones, camera traps and remote sensing.

Who knows where technology will take us in the next 20 years, but the need for high quality data, that can be accessed easily, will remain vital for the protection of the UK’s wildlife.

Recognising the importance of the wildlife recorders

Despite the changes over the years, one thing that has remained constant throughout is the people who make the wildlife records and those who share the information. Without a willing group of data providers, the Network wouldn’t exist. Without the people who are making the records, often volunteers, there wouldn’t be data to share and there wouldn’t be an NBN Atlas.

Logo: NBN Trust

That’s why the NBN Trust developed a national awards scheme to help acknowledge the hard work of the people who regularly collect wildlife data and recognise how their contributions improve our understanding of the natural world.

The NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording were established in 2015 in conjunction with the Biological Records Centre and the National Forum for Biological Recording. The Awards are given annually to individuals and groups and nominations for the NBN Awards 2020 can be made until 26 July -

Find out more about the NBN


NBN Atlas –

NBN Atlas Documentation and Help Portal - - includes information on how to use the NBN Atlas and share data

Subscribe to the monthly electronic newsletter ‘Network News

Discover recording schemes and other wildlife organisations in your area in the NBN database of surveys and recording schemes -

As a charity we rely on membership, sponsorship and donations to help fund our work, so every amount, large or small, helps us to facilitate the sharing of UK wildlife data -

Follow us on social media to keep up to date with news from across the Network:

Twitter    Facebook    Instagram    LinkedIn


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Picnics are this Summer’s Antidote to Lockdown Living

Logo: National Picnic Week

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift in the way many Brits have lived their lives. Lockdown restrictions saw the public confined to their homes for up to 23 hours a day, with exercise and outdoor activities restricted to a bare minimum and within a small radius from an individual’s residence. As of Monday, 1st of June, these restrictions were relaxed, now allowing members of the public to travel further afield and to meet with up to 6 people from another household (whilst still abiding by the 2-meter social distancing rules.) The relaxing of lockdown, in addition to the remaining foreign travel bans in place by many countries, has moved much of the UK to spending more time out and about in their local countryside or open spaces, and appreciating nature in a way that they had not previously.


The return to nature that many of the public are taking part in highlights the need for public and green spaces, allowing groups to meet in open areas and enjoy the company of friends and family they may not have seen in person for several months. Spending time outdoors has also been linked to general wellbeing. During the first weekend of the relaxed rules, beaches, parks and open areas were flooded with people, and although it still stands to be seen how this will affect the pandemic in the long run, it highlights a clear need for these spaces to be available to allow for social activities that have clearly been missed.

A 2019 Government survey found that spending as little as 120 minutes a week outdoors and in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, so it should come as little surprise that the excess time spend indoors during the lockdown led to a general increase in stress and anxiety levels for many. The return to the outdoors should be seen as essential and encouraged as part of the return to the ‘new normal’ for the British public, and as more families and individuals are venturing out to explore and appreciate Britain’s open spaces and the countryside it would seem that the public feels the same way.

National Picnic Week, which runs from 22nd to 28th of June may be one way to help get Brits get outdoors and support the transition towards whatever may be the new way of life in a post-COVID UK. Encouraging individuals to spend more time outside, where safe and possible, and to embrace the British Summer with loved ones. The return to the local community, now appreciated as more important than ever, will play a key role in this, and taking the opportunity to travel to nature reserves and parks, where possible, to appreciate what has been out of reach for the past months will be equally as important in the ‘new normal.’

We’ve been shut indoors for too long; something as simple as a picnic could be the first step towards bringing us back together.




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CJS Focus The most recent edition: Environmental Education and Outdoor Activities

view the most recent edition here or download a pdf copy.

The next edition will be published on 12 November looking at: Ecology and Biodiversity BUT is dependent on the status of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak nearer the time.





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.


Land and Countryside Management.

Boris Johnson ‘should prioritise a green recovery’ - Freshwater Habitats Trust

Along with dozens of environmental and business organisations, Freshwater Habitats Trust is calling on the Prime Minister to prioritise a green recovery as ‘the new normal’.

We are urging the government to put nature and climate at the heart of decisions for the recovery effort, for healthy communities and a resilient economy, in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s roadmap to exit COVID-19 lockdown and restart the economy on Sunday, 10 May. Ahead of this announcement, over 60 signatories of major charities, businesses and youth leaders called on the Prime Minister to adopt four principles to enable a sustainable economic recovery for people and planet:

  • Create a more resilient economy by investing in the infrastructure, technology and skills to generate thousands of new jobs that directly contribute to a climate-safe future – and exclude polluting industries from help without a proper climate plan.
  • Increase access to wild spaces for everyone through restoring nature and oceans, incentivising walking and cycling, and supporting sustainable food, farming and fishing.
  • Strengthen nature’s protections by ensuring the swift passage of environmental legislation – and introduce targets in law across the UK for the restoration of nature on a massive scale.
  • Lead the world in building back better for people, climate and nature by bringing global leaders together to plan for a green and sustainable recovery in the run-up to the vital United Nations climate conference and biodiversity conferences next year.

The call to the government is made by the Chief Executives of a broad cross-section of environmental NGOs, businesses and youth groups.


Majority of natural features in good condition - Scottish Natural Heritage

More than three quarters of Scotland’s natural features are in good condition or on the road to recovery, new figures show.

Official statistics published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) show that 78.8% of more than 5,000 features on protected nature sites were assessed as in a favourable or recovering condition in the last year. Natural features include habitats, species and geological features such as fossil beds and caves.

The figure has remained relatively stable since last year but is up over the long-term from 71.4% in 2005.

Around two-thirds (65.4%) of features were found to have already reached favourable condition, with a further 13.3% assessed as on the road to recovery.

Dragonflies, marine habitats and earth science were the categories with the highest proportion of features in favourable condition, while the biggest increases were noted in vascular plants (up 1.3 percentage points), as well as heath and upland habitats (up 0.8 and 0.6 percentage points respectively).

Meanwhile the largest decrease was for fish (down 4.4 percentage points). There are a relatively small number of features in this category (46 in total) and analysis shows the drop is due to a decline in the abundance of two arctic charr populations on different sites, the causes of which are being investigated as there appears to be a healthy population of younger fish and no apparent change to their habitat.


Go peat free for wildlife - Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

With garden centres re-opening today Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust are urging people to go peat free in their gardens to help wildlife. As part of their Action for Insects campaign, which aims to change the future of insects, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust are asking the local community to make small changes in their gardens, homes and lifestyles that will help insects and other wildlife. One of these small changes is to go peat free in your garden. Peat has been a major ingredient of the compost used in gardening for many years.

Peat is made up of decayed organic matter and vegetation, developing slowly under particular, wet conditions over thousands of years. Peat can be found in wetlands such as bogs and moors, and its composition makes it home to a unique ecosystem. This peat is dug out of wild places, damaging some of the last remaining peatlands in the UK.

When it comes to climate change, peatlands are vital. The excess carbon in our atmosphere is causing the planet to heat up. Peat bogs act like a sponge, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it like a sink.

But sadly, more than 94% of the UK’s lowland peat bogs have been destroyed or damaged, and a wealth of wildlife has disappeared along with it. This vital habitat isn’t easily replaced.


Reinforcing Europe's resilience: halting biodiversity loss and building a healthy and sustainable food system - European Commission

Today, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future.

In line with the European Green Deal, they propose ambitious EU actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide and transform our food systems into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how vulnerable the increasing biodiversity loss makes us and how crucial a well-functioning food system is for our society. The two strategies put the citizen at the centre, by committing to increase the protection of land and sea, restoring degraded ecosystems and establishing the EU as a leader on the international stage both on the protection of biodiversity and on building a sustainable food chain.

The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species. Adopted in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy is a central element of the EU's recovery plan, crucial to preventing and building resilience to future outbreaks and providing immediate business and investment opportunities for restoring the EU's economy. It also aims to make biodiversity considerations an integral part of EU's overall economic growth strategy. The strategy proposes to, among others, establish binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers, improve the health of EU protected habitats and species, bring back pollinators to agricultural land, reduce pollution, green our cities, enhance organic farming and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices, and improve the health of European forests. The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe's biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe's lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.


Wildlife charities unite in position against Sizewell C - Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Suffolk Wildlife Trust has united with the RSPB in a position against Sizewell C stating that the build must not go ahead.

We have highlighted concerns about the timing of proceeding with this decision, amid a public health crisis, which is likely to impact public scrutiny of plans.

The charities have not seen the evidence from EDF that Sizewell C can be built without detrimentally impacting internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast, at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, Sizewell Belts Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and beyond.

Ben McFarland, Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Head of Conservation said: “Current plans suggest the direct loss of nationally important and protected land on Sizewell Belts, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. An area between 10-12 hectares – or roughly ten football pitches - will be covered in concrete. The loss of this nationally rare fen habitat would be devastating and irreplaceable.”

On neighbouring land at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, the build will bring the Sizewell Estate adjacent to the internationally famous wildlife haven. The building work may increase erosion, upsetting the delicate balance of the reserve. It could affect the water levels in Minsmere’s ditches, impacting its rare wetland wildlife, which includes bitterns, water voles, otters and ducks. Once the construction is in progress, it may increase levels of noise and light pollution. Marsh harriers, ducks and geese and wading birds in particular are very sensitive to this. The effects will be long-term.


POLICY: Latest Green Space Index highlights importance of parks and green spaces - Fields in Trust

(image: Fields in Trust)
(image: Fields in Trust)

Our nation's local parks and green spaces have played a critical role recently as places for us all to get outdoors, exercise and to meet loved ones safely during the COVID-19 lockdown. The latest findings from our annual Green Space Index, however, highlight the need to revaluing these spaces and protect them in perpetuity to ensure we never lose these cherished community assets.

Despite local green spaces being of such value to us all right now, the 2020 release of the Green Space Index finds that 2.7 million people across Great Britain do not have access to such a space within a ten-minute walk of where they live. Working with our colleagues at the Co-op, we estimate that this figure could rise by a further 170,000 people in the next five years, as a result of changes in population alone.

Headline findings

The Green Space Index was first published last year and is our annual barometer of publicly accessible park and green space provision. The key results in 2020 also find that there are 215,194 hectares of provision across Britain, but that only 5.9% of this is legally protected with Fields in Trust.

Five English regions fall below a minimum standard of green space provision, as measured by our GSI Score, with a further two only just at the benchmark. Whilst Scotland and Wales both exceed the standard, changes in population will bring them closer to the minimum over the coming two decades.


Illegal gravel removal puts river wildlife at risk - Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Farming Connect have joined forces to remind landowners not to remove gravel from streams and rivers, following an increase in the number of incidents reported across Wales.

In-river works, such as gravel removal or alteration of a channel, can be an offence unless the work is carried out under an appropriate permit or consent.

These operations cause damage to wildlife, including aquatic invertebrates, fish spawning grounds and nesting birds.

It also risks spreading seeds/ fragments from invasive non-native species such as Japanese Knotweed to other locations and can result in damage to neighbouring property through increased erosion or deposition.

Removing gravel from rivers is only permitted under certain circumstances and where it is demonstrated to be absolutely necessary to do so. For example, to alleviate flood risk from nearby properties.


A plan for nature in the north of England: Natural Assets North final report - IPPR

The north of England has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. From the soaring heights and serene waters of the Lake District, to the rugged, majestic splendour of the Yorkshire Dales, to the spectacular beauty of the Northumbrian coast, and everything in between, the North is rich in a diverse range of natural assets.

We have a collective responsibility to preserve and enhance nature for future generations to enjoy. And its in our best interests to do so: our natural environment supports and sustains the North’s economy, and the health and wellbeing of its people, in myriad ways. From the water we drink to the air we breathe, the places where we live and work to where we relax and exercise, the prosperity of the North is deeply entwined with the state of its natural environment. Despite this, the state of nature in many parts of the UK is poor. In many cases, conditions are particularly bad in the North.

The failure to properly look after, and invest in, our natural environment is a political failure. This must change. Reversing the underinvestment and under-valuation of nature will increase the resilience of the Northern economy. Not only that, but strategic investment in nature represents a substantial opportunity to develop a fair, green, zero-carbon Northern economy.


Dig ponds to save UK’s rare wetland plants - Freshwater Habitats Trust

Digging clean water ponds in the countryside can deliver “unprecedented” gains for freshwater biodiversity, with new study showing they significantly boost wetland plant diversity and numbers of rare species.

Digging clean water ponds in the countryside can deliver “unprecedented” gains for freshwater biodiversity, with new study showing they significantly boost wetland plant diversity and numbers of rare species.

New research shows that creating clean-water ponds in the farmed countryside can dramatically increase levels of freshwater biodiversity, protecting our fragile ecosystems, and almost trebling the number of rare plant species.

A 9-year project showed that creating just 20 clean water ponds across a 10 km2 area of farmland increased the number of wetland plant species by more than a quarter (26%). The number of regionally rare plants almost trebled (a 181% increase). Species that were largely extinct in the wider countryside returned once more (see Note 1).

The benefits were an order of magnitude greater than observed using other, more traditional, biodiversity enhancement methods that were also tested. The ponds were also one of the cheapest interventions costing just £1500-2000 each to create.

Lead author Penny Williams from Freshwater Habitats Trust said, “The gains we saw are unprecedented for freshwater and are, by a long way, the largest recorded improvements in freshwater diversity seen from adding land management measures to countryside landscapes. Our previous work had already shown that ponds were a secret treasure in the British countryside – with a value out of proportion to their tiny size – however the scale of benefits from adding new ponds took all of us by surprise.”

Read the paper here


Arboriculture, Woodland and Trees

Campaigns update: crimes against woods and trees during lockdown - Woodland Trust

There's been an increase in reports of illegal felling of trees and woods during lockdown. We'd like to understand what's going on.There's been an increase in reports of illegal felling of trees and woods during lockdown. We'd like to understand what's going on.

The illegal felling of woods and trees is completely wrong, particularly at this time of year when it’s likely to have devastating impacts on wildlife.

In normal circumstances, it’s very difficult for us to do much on a case-by-case basis, so it’s even more difficult for us in these current circumstances.

This is where you, our supporters, can help us. We need your help to determine whether we’re looking at a larger issue that has come about as a result of the current lockdown and limits on government bodies to monitor and investigate illegal felling and wildlife crimes.

We’re compiling an evidence base of felling cases so we can raise this at a higher level and make sure the Government takes appropriate action.

Here's a short guide to the laws on tree felling and how you can help.


Tree of the Year 2020 - Woodland Trust

Nominations are now open for the 2020 Tree of the Year competition.

A tree may be a village’s oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region’s identity or a natural monument integral to a nation’s story. It can also be a much-loved local landmark, a place to play and exercise, a gardener’s pride and joy or a space for communities to gather. Young or old, tall or small, fat or thin, our national contest celebrates these special trees across the nations.

Previous winners include an ancient oak tree that is said to have served as a medieval courthouse, a young copper beech tree in the playground of a Scottish primary school and a Welsh parkland sweet chestnut you can stand inside.

Now we're on the hunt for the trees that are special to you.

Could your favourite tree take the 2020 Tree of the Year crown?

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, up to £1,000 in tree care awards are available to the winning tree in each nation. Smaller awards are also available for shortlisted trees most in need of help to survive. Care awards are aimed at helping trees to live long and healthy lives, for generations to come.


Woodland management sees new residents move in - Forestry and Land Scotland

The regular return of red squirrels to a local Fife woodland after an absence of many years is being taken as nature’s ‘thumbs up’ for Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) management of the site.

The squirrel sighting - reported by a local resident who had thought to never see red squirrels back in the area in his lifetime – came one year after some thinning and clear felling was carried out to improve the structure, biodiversity and the productivity of the site.

Juli Titherington, FLS’s Central Region Environment Advisor, said; “The Dean plantation is a long established site that features a mix of broadleaved and conifer species and is managed for timber production and biodiversity.

“Appropriate thinning and small-scale felling helps to enhance the richness of the site and you can now see lots of bluebell, bird cherry, and birds - including long tailed tits and black cap. Last year, Alder moths were spotted here for the first time - one of the initial recorded sightings in Fife – and to have red squirrels also return is the icing on the cake. It’s a rewarding endorsement of our decisions on site. It’s also a very positive demonstration of the benefits of pro-active woodland management.”

In planning the new forest design, the local FLS team worked with contractors to ensure that squirrel dreys and other species’ breeding sites were identified and marked to protect during the felling. They cleared a lot of conifers around some veteran oak trees to ensure that they survive and had to ensure that felling work did not impact on heritage features, such as earthen embankments, marker stones and stone walls that indicate old woodland management.

Many mature trees were retained in the woodland, including conifers to provide a food source for the red squirrels and give them a competitive advantage over the greys. Large veteran trees that were also preserved will provide good denning sites for pine marten, which prey on grey squirrel.


Public urged to report sightings of tree pest Oak Processionary Moth - Forestry Commission

As Oak Processionary Moth season begins, the Forestry Commission reminds people to be aware of the pest and report sightings

The public is being urged to report sightings of the tree pest Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars.

Oak Processionary Moth was first identified in London in 2006 and has since spread to some surrounding counties. The caterpillars and their nests contain hairs which can cause itchy rashes, eye and throat irritations, and should not be touched under any circumstances at any time. The greatest risk period is May to July when the caterpillars emerge and feed before pupating into adult moths.

OPM caterpillars feed on oak leaves and can increase trees’ vulnerability to attack by other pests and diseases, making them less able to withstand adverse weather conditions such as drought and floods. A government programme is in place to limit their spread from areas where they are present.

The pest is established in London and surrounding areas but the majority of the country is designated a Protected Zone, which means it is free from the pest.

The Forestry Commission, working in partnership with others, have an annual programme in place to tackle the pest, with an ongoing programme of surveillance, treatment and research.


Grants, funding and new projects.

New route map points the way to £1 billion for nature conservation in Scotland - Scottish Wildlife Trust

A route map towards unlocking £1 billion of new investment for nature conservation in Scotland has been published by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). This work comes at a critical time as society plans a green recovery from the social and economic upheaval caused by Covid-19, and continues to respond to the urgent climate and ecological emergencies.

The route map, which was developed in collaboration with a broad coalition of stakeholders and experts over a period of two years, highlights nine tangible opportunities for investment that would contribute to a green recovery and result in significant benefits for nature, people’s health and wellbeing, and the nation’s economy. Crucially, the route map also includes models which aim to stimulate investment in Scotland’s natural capital by delivering a financial return to investors.

Attracting new investment into nature through innovative approaches to tried and tested mechanisms would also help Scotland to meet its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and help bridge a gap between the resources needed to tackle urgent challenges facing nature and the funding available from traditional sources.

Jo Pike, Chief Executive, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “We have seen during the pandemic that when human beings put their minds to it, it is possible to mobilise action on an unprecedented scale. The urgent challenges facing nature now require a step change in our response and we need to learn from recent experience. Many people have been reminded of the importance of the natural world during lockdown, and there is growing support for ensuring that the recovery from this crisis helps build a better future instead of returning us to business as usual.

“It is increasingly clear that solving the nature crisis will only be possible if we can develop new and innovative funding mechanisms that help us take solutions to scale. Our route map aims to identify ways to generate greater investment in nature conservation, whilst also creating green jobs, more resilient communities and helping to fight climate change. We hope it will stimulate further discussion about how these new models can be at the heart of a green recovery.”

The route map is the culmination of the Scottish Conversation Finance Project’s £1 Billion Challenge. It has been developed with the support of a wide range of private, public and third sector organisations (“Scottish Conservation Finance Pioneers”), including Conservation Capital, Scottish Natural Heritage, Central Scotland Green Network Trust and many more.

Read the route map document (PDF)


Funding boost to crack down on the Illegal Wildlife Trade - Defra

£3.4 million in new projects to protect endangered species

Protected species across the globe including tigers, Asian elephants and chimpanzees have been given a boost today (Friday 22 May) as the government announces £3.4 million for new projects from the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Challenge Fund.

From today, the government is also inviting new projects to apply for the next round of funding.

Image by Peter Eichler from Pixabay
Image by Peter Eichler from Pixabay

The Illegal Wildlife Trade is a criminal industry worth more than £17 billion each year threatening wildlife, bringing species to the brink of extinction and causing despair for communities. The IWT Challenge Fund supports projects around the world that tackle the illegal wildlife trade by strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products, and empowering people to shift away from trading illegal wildlife to more sustainable livelihoods.

The latest round of the Challenge Fund will fund important wildlife conservation projects across the globe, including five in Asia, two in Africa and South America respectively and one in Europe.

To date, the Challenge Fund has supported 85 projects to a value of more than £26 million.

International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said: "I am delighted to announce this latest boost to our IWT Challenge Fund on the International Day of Biological Diversity. Our fund is driving change to protect illegally trafficked wildlife across the globe. We are committed to taking global leadership to protect the world’s most endangered species. The illegal wildlife trade brings misery to local communities and holds back development in some of the world’s poorest countries, and today marks another milestone in helping to end this vile trade and protect these amazing species for future generations."


Green projects given support to attract private sector investment - Defra

New investment approach announced to involve private sector in environmental projects, helping to tackle climate change and restore nature.

Credit: Moors for the Future Partnership
Credit: Moors for the Future Partnership

Four projects which will protect and restore valuable habitats have been selected to receive funding in a pilot scheme to encourage sustainable private sector investment in our natural environment.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and Triodos Bank UK have formed a collaboration to support environmental projects to create sustainable funding models.

Having been sourced and evaluated by Triodos Bank UK the projects will receive grant funding from Defra, the EA and EFF to support their development, complete business plans to attract private sector investment, and deliver long-term environmental benefits and sustainable financial returns.

The four projects receiving funding are:

  • Devon Wildlife Trust’s restoration of the Caen wetlands
  • Rivers Trust’s work on natural flood management in the Wyre catchment in Lancashire
  • NFU’s work to reduce nitrate pollution in Poole Harbour
  • Moors for the Future Partnership’s restoration and conservation of peatlands in the Pennines

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: In England we are increasingly seeing new extreme weather accelerate from wettest to driest and back again, restoring nature is key to managing this. You can’t put a price on nature, but investing in its recovery can generate a steady return and will make the UK economy more clean and resilient. These projects are designed to attract investment into local economies while developing models for businesses to use and scale up around the world.”


Recreation, Volunteering, Education and Health.

£2 billion package to create new era for cycling and walking - Department for Transport

  • Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport.
  • largest ever boost for cyclists and pedestrians
  • emergency bike lanes and streets will help support transport network
  • trials of rental e-scooters to be brought forward to increase green transport options
  • government working with leading tech developers to reduce crowding on public transport

Far more people will be cycling and walking thanks to plans to boost greener, active launched today (9 May 2020) by Transport Secretary Grant  Shapps .transport,

Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund - the first stage of a £2 billion investment, as part of the £5 billion in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.

Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.

Our response to the £2 billion package to boost walking and cycling - Sustrans

The UK Government today announced £2 billion funding for walking and cycling with the first £250 million available immediately to support widening pavements, pop-up cycle lanes and streets closed to motor traffic to support social distancing as we move out of lockdown. Sustrans CEO, Xavier Brice, on behalf of the Walking and Cycling Alliance, responds to this announcement.

“We welcome the UK Government’s immediate commitment of £250 million for new pop-up protected cycle lanes, the widening of footways and to support car free, cycling, bus and walking streets to allow for social distancing as we begin to move out of lockdown. Public transport systems are vital but will not be able to operate at full capacity for some time due to social distancing Our towns and cities can’t cope with the increased private car journeys this could cause. Instead we must increase walking and cycling. This won’t just help with social distancing. This will help with tackling the climate crisis, air pollution and public health, decreasing the burden on our NHS. This funding is a first step that allows more local authorities to put temporary measures in place so more people can move around safely and actively as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. UK Government of £2 billion funding for walking and cycling in the longer-term, with a plan to support this funding expected in June, is the next step in helping to create real long-term change in the way we move around our towns and cities and should also be used to help support people new and returning to cycling. As we begin to rebuild after this devastating Covid-19 pandemic, we encourage all Local Authorities to use this funding as soon as possible to make the changes needed. The Walking and Cycling Alliance is here to help and share our expertise with the public and local authorities as we adapt to and create changing environments, whether its tips for cycling and walking or helping to put new infrastructure in place. It is imperative going forward that we don’t solve one crisis by perpetuating others and instead create healthier, happier and greener places that we all want to live in.” Sustrans CEO Xavier Brice, on behalf of the Walking and Cycling Alliance


Government to consider Nature Volunteer Force to tackle invasive species following Spending Review - Environmental Audit Committee

Establishing a Nature Volunteer Force (Citizens’ Army) to monitor invasive species is one of a number of recommendations the Government is exploring following the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Invasive Species.

Urgent action needed

Last year, the Committee published its report on invasive species, finding that they cost the UK economy £1.8 billion a year through damage done to natural biodiversity, disease transmission and other harmful effects to the environment. It was clear that urgent action is needed to slow the rate of arrival of invasive species, and concerns were raised it is not being given the same priority and funding as animal and plant health.

In response to the report, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recognised the need for greater resources to tackle the issue.

Nature Volunteer Force

Establishing a Nature Volunteer Force to track invasive species was one of the main recommendations of the Committee, and the Government has confirmed it will monitor a similar approach underway in New Zealand. It has estimated the cost to support Local Action Groups in the UK could be around £340,000 and after the Spending Review, the Government will consider taking this forward.

Reaction: Welcome Government commitments towards closing our doors on nature invaders - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Wildlife and Countryside Link welcomes the Government’s response today to the Environmental Audit Committee’s recommendations on tackling invasive species. Particularly positive is the Government’s commitment to exploring creating a Nature Volunteer Force and an inspectorate to boost biosecurity and public awareness on this damaging issue for wildlife and the economy.

Zoe Davies, Policy Lead at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: ‘Invasive plants and animals cost our economy around two billion pounds per year and the price tag is set to soar with new post-Brexit trade routes and climate change opening the doors to more potential nature invaders. It’s welcome that the government is considering the EAC’s robust proposals on how to close the doors on nature invaders’ dual threat to our environment and our economy. Properly resourced biosecurity along with an engaged citizens’ army are essential to deliver an effective invasives’ line of defence, which can help make nature and our economy more healthy, and should form part of a green recovery after the covid-19 crisis.’


Proposed Closure of Askham Bryan College’s Newton Rigg Campus - July 2021 - Askham Bryan College

Askham Bryan College’s Newton Rigg Campus in Cumbria is earmarked for closure in July 2021 after an independent review found the site is not financially viable.

The College’s governing body has decided to propose the closure of Newton Rigg after considering the findings of a Further Education Commissioner review of educational provision at the campus and in the wider area.

The closure proposal is subject to the outcome of a 45-day consultation process with 117 staff (79 full time equivalent roles) and the trade unions, which has started today – May 21st 2020.

The College will also be consulting individually with affected staff. Students, parents and carers, applicants, employers, local MPs, civic leaders and community groups are being informed of the proposal, made on May 18th 2020, this week. A final decision on whether or not the campus closes in July 2021 will be made following the completion of the statutory consultation in respect of College staff.

Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, Askham Bryan College, said: “We understand the strength of feeling about Newton Rigg and the fact this will be upsetting news to our staff, students and the local community.” He explained: “This has been a very difficult decision. We regret putting staff at risk of redundancy. However, the review has confirmed that the campus is not financially viable from the College’s perspective and would require ongoing investment to keep pace with industry skills.” He added: “Given the current economic climate, and the fact that no capital or revenue funding is available, we have no other option but to propose closing the facility in July 2021. We will do all we can to support our staff and students at this difficult time.”


Over 7,000 people sign up for garden citizen science survey during lockdown - British Trust for Ornithology

Gardens cover more land than nature reserves in the UK, yet their importance for our wildlife is under recorded – is that about to change?

While our movements have been restricted, many of us have spent more time watching and enjoying our garden wildlife. Since the beginning of April, over 7,000 people have taken the opportunity to engage with the UK's most robust garden wildlife survey, joining 11,000 existing members and turning their observations into scientific data, by joining Garden BirdWatch (GBW), a long-term garden wildlife survey run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
Garden BirdWatch records help scientists at the BTO understand how garden birds and wildlife are changing over time. Thanks to the sightings of thousands of Garden BirdWatch volunteers we understand more about how wildlife uses the food, shelter and other resources in our gardens, and the threats they face, such as disease. Most importantly, the more we know about how birds and animals use our gardens, the more we can improve our cities, towns, villages and individual gardens for wildlife.


Argyll mental health project opens new doors during lockdown - Scottish Forestry

Branching Out Argyll (Scottish Forestry)
Branching Out Argyll (Scottish Forestry)

A mental health project in Argyllshire has transformed its operations during the COVID-19 outbreak to continue helping its participants.

The Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) delivers Branching Out Argyll and Moving On, two woodland-based programmes of outdoor activities, to help participants overcome mental health issues caused by loneliness, isolation, and stigma.

With the current COVID-19 lockdown in force, participants have been unable to meet outside and carry on its activities which normally involved bush craft, building shelters, conservation and gentle exercise.

Instead, ACT has joined forces with Mid Argyll Community Learning, Jean's Bothy and the local NHS Community Mental Health Teams to transform their work. Participants will now receive weekly phonecalls, a multitude of activity packs and a safe online group has been set up to keep everyone in touch.

Developed by Scottish Forestry, Branching Out is a national partnership programme between NHS, Scottish Forestry and community organisations providing woodland activities on referral from mental health services.

Speaking at the start of Mental Health Week which runs 18-24 May, Elaine Jamieson of Scottish Forestry said: “This is really good news, especially for people who are suffering mental health issues during this challenging time. Branching Out is a lifeline for many people so it is great to hear that ACT and other mental health groups are joining together to keep activities going for participants.”

On ‘Virtual Chelsea’ RHS Members Day, RHS Announces Appreciation of Gardens doubled during lockdown and 7 out of ten say their outside space has helped their mental health - RHS

RHS / Helen Yates
RHS / Helen Yates
  • One Poll Survey, commissioned by the RHS, to 2000 respondents across the UK shows that following lockdown 57% of respondents now value their garden more than previously
  • 71% of respondents who have an outdoor space felt that having a garden/outdoor space has helped their mental health during lockdown
  • Weeding, mowing and watering are the gardening activities that are currently having a positive impact on well-being during lockdown, closely followed by planting and potting

On the first ‘Virtual Chelsea’, RHS Members Day in the history of the world’s most famous gardening event, the RHS is sharing new research that shows nearly 6 in 10 people (57%) now value their gardens more than previously; with over half (51%) saying they will value their garden more after lockdown.
A One Poll Survey to 2000 respondents across the UK commissioned by the UK’s Gardening Charity also found that seven in ten people (71%), who have outside space, say that having a garden, courtyard or balcony has helped their mental health during lockdown. Some 60% of respondents felt that having some outdoor space has helped their physical health during recent times.
Even the smallest gardens have been helping with people’s mental health, with some 59% of people with 10 sq meters or less of outdoor space saying it helped their mental health.
People with outside space are almost twice more likely to feel very satisfied with life currently compared to those with no outdoor space, those with an outdoor garden, balcony or courtyard were also twice as likely to feel they do things that are worthwhile all the time.


Wild at Heart at Home - Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Wild at Heart Pre Lockdown (Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust)
Wild at Heart Pre Lockdown (Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust)

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s Wild at Heart project has been transformed to enable project participants to stay connected to nature and each other during lockdown. Wild at Heart is a National Lottery Community Fund project that delivers friendly and supportive nature-based activity sessions for adults over 50 years, helping to improve well-being and personal resilience through building a connection to nature and meeting other people. The group usually meets on a weekly basis and delivers nature based activities such as wildlife walks, cooking, gardening and crafts.

However since lockdown began the Wild at Heart project has had to be transformed to enable participants not to miss out on the regular contact with the team and other participants through friendly telephone calls, an active online community and regular nature activity packs posted to their homes, which is especially important for the participants who are not online.

One particular highlight is the new group project to make Wild at Heart Bunting, each participant was sent fabric and instructions through the post so they could decorate their own bunting triangle in their own way – a ‘group’ activity even whilst apart! The bunting will be assembled when the group returns so they can celebrate what they have achieved together.


Dare to be wild! New review says get long-lasting feel-good factor from 30 Days Wild - The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts and University of Derby evaluate the benefits of daily nature contact with 1,000 people over five years

The feel-good factor from simple daily contact with nature can last for months, once initiated, according to a new review from The Wildlife Trusts. The review is based on surveys completed by people taking part in 30 Days Wild – the UK’s biggest nature challenge which is run by The Wildlife Trusts and inspires daily acts of nature engagement every day during June.

Building on three peer-reviewed papers, the University of Derby has evaluated survey responses from more than 1,000 people over five years and discovered the enduring effects on wellbeing from participation in 30 Days Wild – the positive effects are still felt two months after the challenge is over.

30 Days Wild participants are provided with ideas, wallcharts and activity sheets that give everyone easy ways of enjoying nature whatever their location. These ‘random acts of wildness’ range from walking barefoot on grass, to sitting beneath a tree or watching birds on a feeder.

Key findings

30 Days Wild – a five-year review is a summary of 1,105 people’s responses. The results show that taking part in 30 Days Wild not only significantly increases people’s wellbeing and heightened sense of nature – but that these positive increases are sustained beyond the life of the challenge – for a minimum of two months after it is over.

The people who benefit most are those who have a relatively weak connection with nature at the start.

Read the review here


Over 1000 care homes sign-up to go wild this June - The Wildlife Trusts

Double number of care homes take the 30 Days Wild challenge in 2020

A record number of around 430,000 people are, so far, set to participate in The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge which begins on Monday 1st June – and over 1100 care homes have registered to take part, twice as many as last year.

Urban fox © Bertie Gregory / 2020VISION
Urban fox © Bertie Gregory / 2020VISION

30 Days Wild is the UK’s biggest nature challenge and encourages everyone to do something that connects them to nature every single day during the month of June. Recent research* shows that taking part in 30 Days Wild not only significantly increases people’s happiness, health and sense of nature – but that these positive increases are sustained beyond the life of the challenge – for a minimum of two months after it is over. The people who benefit most are those who have a relatively weak connection with nature at the start.

The Wildlife Trusts provide free online activity packs to help participants of all ages find new, easy ways of noticing nature – even while social distancing. Special resources are available for care home residents to help them enjoy their grounds; these were developed after a Derbyshire care home group discovered significant benefits when their residents’ lives included more time outdoors, looking at and talking about nature and wildlife. Another pack has been created to help elderly people explore their wild side from the comfort of their own homes.

Louise Baker of Your Health Limited says: "The benefits of 30 Days Wild have been far-reaching for our staff and residents and have lasted well beyond June. Residents have been reminded of their own wild childhoods, reminiscing and telling stories of summers gone by. The sensory benefits of nature, of soothing scents and textures, have really inspired us too. Staff and residents can engage in meaningful conversations and feel much closer to one another. We have also noticed that residents are less inclined to anxiety when they're engaged with nature; nature has a habit of calming the soul and does wonders for residents' mental wellbeing.

Leanne Manchester, Communications Manager of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “30 Days Wild is fun for all ages and we provide ideas and activities for people whatever their circumstances – for individuals, families, schools and businesses. Last year we experimented with an activity pack for care homes and we were really delighted that a large number were interested. So many of us are seeking solace in nature during the pandemic but even we were surprised – and thrilled – that double the number of care homes have signed up to do 30 Days Wild this June."

Sign-up, download the inspiration and get ready to share your daily #30DaysWild now!

*Recent research: The Wildlife Trusts and University of Derby evaluated the benefits of daily nature contact with 1,000 people over five years of 30 Days Wild – the findings are online here.


Lockdown learnings: we want richer green spaces - CPRE

Over two-thirds of us want to see our local green spaces enhanced with more plants and wildlife, our new research shows.

It was perhaps natural that the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic would affect how we feel about our local green spaces. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that one in every eight households don’t have access to our own gardens, so daily exercise in nearby countryside and parks and other green spaces became a lifeline to many.

We at CPRE have long campaigned for us all to have easy access to quality green spaces from our doorsteps. And new online research that we commissioned just as lockdown started, working with the HomeOwners Alliance, shows that our time in a pandemic has really reinforced just how much people want these green spaces to be the best they can be.

Making green spaces greener

We asked over 2000 people some key questions about their green spaces, and 71% of those we asked told us that they would like to see these enhanced. Our survey shows the many ways that people would like to see these local spaces, including their nearby countryside, made even better. Over half said they’d like to see more wildlife including birds, butterflies and bees, and almost exactly the same amount of people said they want more variety in the trees, shrubs, hedgerows, plants and flowers in these areas. It seems we’re all hoping for rich and diverse spaces in which to rest and play.

It’s not neat lawns many people are picturing, either. 30% told us that they’d like to see fewer manicured spaces and more wildness, where nature has been allowed to take its course. And we want to explore and exercise safely in these areas, with over a third of people saying they’d like more signposted walks and 34% saying they’d like paths and plants to be better maintained.


Wildlife News.

‘Emboldened wildlife’ reported by National Trust during human lockdown - National Trust

Eight weeks since the National Trust closed its properties to restrict the spread of coronavirus, wildlife seems to be enjoying its unusually empty gardens and estates.

Rare sightings and uncharacteristic behaviours have been noted by staff at the Trust, who say the absence of visitors appears to have emboldened wildlife, with birds and mammals spotted venturing out of their usual territories.

Reports from rangers and gardeners include peregrine falcons nesting in the ancient ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset, English partridges wandering in an empty car park near Cambridge, and a cuckoo calling at Osterley in west London, having not been heard there for 20 years.

David Brown, National Trust ecologist at Corfe Castle, said: “This is the first time peregrines have nested here since the 1980s. With the site the quietest it has ever been, the great curtain walls are an ideal spot for these powerful birds, which look for isolated and inaccessible places to build a nest. Amongst all the uncertainty, it has been heartening to see nature colonising the landscape in our absence.”

At Plas yn Rhiw, on the Llyn Peninsula, stoats, weasels and hares have come in from the woodland to explore the gardens, usually filled with visitors, while in the Peak District, rangers report being able to hear the otherworldly call of the curlew in areas that are normally much busier.

Meanwhile in Norfolk, a buzzard was spotted tucking into its lunch in the orangery at Felbrigg Hall, and at Ashridge Forest in Hertfordshire, the rare sound of a grasshopper warbler was recorded in a typically busy dog-walking area.

Little owls have also been making their presence felt, with gardeners at Ham House in London noticing the birds venturing further into the garden from the adjacent river meadows.


Rural organisations call for wildlife licencing in England to be brought back into central government - The Moorland Association

Leading rural organisations have today (2 June) joined forces to call on the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, to bring the chaotic wildlife licensing system run by Natural England back into central Government where it can be fixed.

A new paper, ‘Wildlife Licensing in England: Chaos, Crisis and Cure’, written by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance, catalogues a litany of errors and delays by Natural England brought about by an unwieldly wildlife licensing system that must change to become more efficient, effective and cheaper.

Wildlife licences are required in a range of circumstances to enable land managers to undertake work to conserve species and habitats.

A spokesperson for the organisations, said: “Natural England has a statutory duty to provide a wildlife licensing system. A system designed both to protect livelihoods and some of our most precious wildlife. At the moment it’s unworkable for those who use it and those charged with running it. It’s broken and needs to be fixed. The Government needs to provide a system that works. Wildlife licenses are a cog in the wheel for much conservation management work that happens in the countryside. Land managers across England carry out an essential role by conserving and enhancing important wildlife sites that support iconic bird species such as curlew, merlin and redshank, and to help protect them for future generations. Although this work has been progressing well with Natural England staff on the ground, this is now all at risk with the licensing chaos.”



Bird of prey persecution crimewave during lockdown - RSPB

  • The RSPB has received a surge in reports of birds of prey being illegally killed since lockdown began
  • The majority of incidents have been on or close to sporting estates managed for game bird shooting
  • The public are being asked to stay vigilant and report crimes against birds of prey

The RSPB’s Investigations Unit has been ‘overrun’ with reports of birds of prey being illegally killed in recent weeks.

Police have been called out to investigate multiple cases involving the shooting, trapping and suspected poisoning of birds of prey following reports by the public.

The RSPB is currently aware of many confirmed incidents involving the targeting of birds of prey involving hen harriers, peregrines, buzzards, red kites, goshawks and a barn owl in the last six weeks. Amongst the cases being dealt with by the police are a number of significant ongoing investigations on land managed for grouse shooting.

recovering buzzard (image: RSPB)
recovering buzzard (image: RSPB)

On 29 March a buzzard was found shot at Shipton, near York. Its wing was fractured in two places and an x-ray revealed several pieces of shot within the bird’s body. Thanks to the care of a  local wildlife expert the buzzard recovered and was released.
Over the Easter Weekend, aa red kite was found shot dead near Leeds. It had 12 shotgun pellets lodged in its body..

The following weekend, wildlife presenter Iolo Williams recovered aThe following weekend, wildlife presenter Iolo Williams recovered a dead red kite in Powys, which had been shot. Reports also came in of a further two shot red kites in the area, which is managed for pheasant shooting.

And in Scotland, the police are following up several raptor persecution cases and multiple reports of illegal trap use on grouse moors.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.


North Yorkshire Police leads online day of action to raise awareness of raptor persecution - North Yorkshire Police

Worrying signs that incidents of birds of prey being killed or injured could be on rise.

North Yorkshire Police is joining with other police forces across the country on Friday (15 May) in a virtual ‘Operation Owl’ day of action to highlight bird of prey persecution as numbers of reported incidents show no signs of slowing down.

Launched in February 2018, Operation Owl is a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA), together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and the Nidderdale AONB. The initiative set out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

In June last year, Operation Owl was rolled out nationally and the first awareness weekend was held in September 2019 with 26 police forces taking part across the whole of the UK. A second national weekend of action was planned for April 2020 with 36 police forces asking to be involved. But that sadly had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chair of the England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) said: “We’ve heard from various police forces across the country that they have seen no let-up in incidents of raptor persecution being reported and some areas have seen a significant rise in the past few weeks which is very worrying.

More information at:


RSPB launches new swift mapper app and calls on public to help save one of the fastest birds in our skies - RSPB

Swift brick (Ben Andrew/RSPB)

The RSPB is calling on the public to help record where swifts are nesting to help us understand where the best places are to help these amazing birds.

Every year swifts make incredible journeys from Africa to the UK to nest in gaps in roof tiles and the eaves of our homes and other buildings.

These small but intrepid birds desperately need our help. Their numbers are falling sharply and in just 20 years more than half of our swifts have vanished. The RSPB believes loss of nest sites is at least partly responsible. They return from Africa to the same spot each year to breed in gaps under roof tiles and eaves but the way we build homes has changed and swifts are returning to discover their nest site has gone or access is blocked.

But there is something very easy the public can do to help. Together with our partners Action for Swifts, Natural Apptitude, Swift Conservation and the Swifts Local Network we’ve developed Swift Mapper; a web-based mapping system with mobile app.

By reporting where you see nesting swifts on Swift Mapper you’ll help to build a picture of where swift nest sites need to be protected and where it would be best to provide new nest sites.

Watch out for groups of swifts flying fast at roof height, often calling out loudly – this means they’re breeding nearby. Swifts nest in holes, so we’d also like to know if you see swifts entering holes in buildings – usually high up under the eaves.

The best time to look for nesting swifts is from late May to late July, around dusk on a warm, still evening or early in the morning.

RSPB UK Migrants Recovery Programme Manager, Guy Anderson said: “Swifts are true globetrotters, flying thousands of miles, but returning each year to nest in the very eaves of our homes. Just look at that Swift - back to its nest in your house, or local church tower, or old factory building – and think about it for a moment. It weighs about the same as a small chocolate bar. But it spent the winter in the skies over central Africa. Maybe over the Congo basin rainforest? Maybe over Malawi or Mozambique? It likely hasn’t stopped flying since it left its nest site last year.”


Quarantine measures help RSPB scientists confirm positive result for project to protect one of UK’s rarest species - RSPB

Disappointment turned to delight when RSPB scientists realised lockdown rules may have halted plans to help bolster precious field cricket populations, but they proved previous attempts to safeguard this endangered species were a success.

Although most of us are familiar with the chirping of a field cricket, they are so rare in the UK many people will have learnt what they sound like from films and have never heard them in the wild.

Government restrictions meant this year conservation charity RSPB had to abandon plans to translocate field crickets to newly restored habitat on two RSPB reserves; part of the National Lottery funded Back from the Brink programme (due to end in 2020) to protect some of the UK’s most threatened species from extinction.

But when wardens carrying out fire and livestock checks at RSPB Pulborough Brooks and Farnham Health reserves this month heard field crickets singing at the release sites, RSPBs ecologists realised it was the first proof of successful breeding. With an annual life-cycle, any crickets heard calling this year must be the offspring of ones released in previous years. It is only because the charity couldn’t translocate more field crickets this year scientists could confirm the previous translocations are working.

For the first time the RSPB is able to confirm the project a success, with the start of a new breeding population at Pulborough Brooks and an extended population at Farnham Heath.

Once a much-loved soundtrack to a summer evening, the chirping of field crickets was heard in many heath and grasslands in south-east England. However, changes in land management and habitat loss during the last century saw the UK’s population of field crickets declined to fewer than 100 by the 1980s, all found at only one location. Although they are on the road to recovery field crickets are still officially classed as Vulnerable and one of the UK’s most threatened and protected species.


Highland osprey family welcome their first 2020 chick live online - Woodland Trust

The chick beginning to emerge from the egg on the right as mother Aila watches (Credit: WTML)
The chick beginning to emerge from the egg on the right as mother Aila watches (Credit: WTML)

Ospreys on a live online nest camera in Lochaber have welcomed their first chick of the season.

The Woodland Trust hopes the osprey family, who are providing a beneficial dose of nature during lockdown, will continue to grow over the next week.

Chick number one arrived just before noon on Friday 29 May, one of warmest Lochaber days of the year so far. It is the first of the three eggs on the nest to hatch.


Puffins return to breed on the Farne Islands in strong numbers - National Trust

The first Puffins have returned to the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, cared for by the National Trust, for the start of the breeding season. Image Credit Matthew Scarborough
The first Puffins have returned to the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, cared for by the National Trust, for the start of the breeding season. Image Credit Matthew Scarborough

Puffins have returned to the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, cared for by the National Trust, for the start of the breeding season.

The islands are currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus but the National Trust rangers are keeping a watchful eye on the precious seabird colony.

The first puffins returning to the islands this year were spotted in March, but the islands are now at full capacity with rangers witnessing first-hand their courtship displays, burrow clearing and general preparations for the breeding season.

Harriet Reid, National Trust Ranger on the Farne Islands, says: “Puffins were first recorded back on the Farnes on 20 March, although they were first spotted a couple of weeks earlier when they were rafting off the islands. This is something they do early in the season when they meet in groups out to sea before moving onto the islands. Since then we have witnessed plenty of bill tapping and puffins with muddy fronts which is a sign they’re readying their burrows for their precious eggs.”

Despite the current challenges to typical working practices faced by the team, maintaining and protecting the puffin habitat remains a top priority. Their work is critical to the puffins’ ongoing breeding success.

Puffins are a vulnerable species with populations seeing a severe decline across the world over the last 25 years. They are currently under threat due to climate change with rising sea temperatures affecting their food sources, particularly the sand eel, which likes to live in cooler waters.

Last year more than 43,000 pairs of birds were recorded in what was the first annual survey of the colony. Previously the counts had been conducted every five years.

Numbers on the Farnes have been steady over the past few years due to the islands having very few predators.

The results are fed into national data that helps monitor the wider population. Half of the UK population is based at just a handful of sites.



Beavers Build Back Better – but their future is not secure - The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts have pioneered the reintroduction of beavers to Britain ever since Kent Wildlife Trust released these industrious creatures into a fenced area of fenland in 2001. Then followed the Scottish Beaver Trial, which saw the first ever reintroduction of a native extinct mammal to the British Isles since they were hunted to extinction over 400 years ago. Later, in 2015, the River Otter Beaver Trial, based in East Devon and led by Devon Wildlife Trust, enabled beavers to roam wild again in England.

Devon Wildlife Trust beaver female with kits (copyright Mike Symes)
Devon Wildlife Trust beaver female with kits (copyright Mike Symes)

Beavers are back, but their future is not secure. The Wildlife Trusts are calling for a Beaver Strategy for England which would provide a roadmap for a future where:

  • There are more beavers in many more catchments
  • Beaver populations are healthy and thriving
  • Management frameworks are agreed which provide support for farmers, landowners and river users
  • Beaver impacts and their population health are scientifically monitored

The Wildlife Trusts and our partners believe that beavers should be an integral part of a green recovery. The impressive and ever-growing body of independent scientific evidence reveals the vast array of benefits that beavers can bring to society by working with nature. These include:

  • Improved water quality: Beaver dams slow and filter water, causing sediment and nutrients to be deposited in ponds. This improves the quality of water flowing from sites where beavers are present.
  • Land holds more water: The dams, ponds and channels created by beavers increase capacity of land to store water and produce a more consistent outflow below their dams. This can result in less water being released during heavy rainfall (reducing flooding downstream) and more water availability during times of drought.
  • Carbon is captured: Beaver wetlands capture carbon, locked up in dams, and boggy vegetation and wet woodlands which are restored.
  • More wildlife: Beavers create diverse wetland habitats that can provide a home for a wide range of wildlife, especially aquatic invertebrates which act as a food source for other species.
  • People engaged with wildlife: People are fascinated by beavers. The presence of beavers in an area provides an opportunity for people to engage with wildlife, as well as creating a market for nature tourism.

Beavers create thriving ecosystems helping us to put nature firmly back on the road to recovery. And they do all this for free.


Bovine TB: badger vaccination and culling in England’s Edge Areas - Defra Open consultation

Consultation description

We are consulting on a proposal to introduce no-cull zones, surrounding vaccination sites. We expect this will:

reduce the risk of vaccinated badgers being culled

balance the need to continue culling when requirements are met

make sure that progress is made towards disease eradication

This consultation is part of the government’s response to the Godfray Review, published in March 2020.

Take part in the consultation.  Consultation closes at 11:45pm on 26 June 2020


High Court rules against the NFU over Derbyshire badger cull refusal – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reaction - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

We welcome the decision of the court today that ruled against the NFU’s legal challenge of the UK Government over not allowing the badger cull to come to Derbyshire.

The NFU legal challenge over the decision by the government not to allow a badger cull in Derbyshire has reached its conclusion today and has ruled against the NFU.

Tim Birch of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: ‘We welcome the decision of the court today that ruled against the NFU’s legal challenge of the UK Government over not allowing the badger cull to come to Derbyshire. We hope that the government continues to support badger vaccination in Derbyshire and keep badgers free from culling.’

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust continues to lead the largest badger vaccination programme in the country. The Trust will continue with their badger vaccination programme during 2020 working closely with the Government, landowners and farmers.

Tim Birch added ‘We urge the Government to widen its support for badger vaccination across the country and call for the badger cull to be stopped. Badger vaccination is the clear way forward. Bovine TB is primarily a cattle disease spread by cattle and this is where efforts to control the disease should be focused - not on badgers. Rather than wasting public money and time on court battles, the NFU should support badger vaccination and we repeat our call, for us to work together on rolling out a wider programme. Government policy has now changed to support vaccination and the NFU should be supporting badger vaccination not obstructing it.’


Lead nature agency publishes beaver licensing statistics - Scottish Natural Heritage

Copyright SNH/Lorne Gill
Copyright SNH/Lorne Gill

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today published a report on the challenging balance to be made between protecting beavers in Scotland and helping to prevent serious damage to some farmers’ land.

Beavers are ecosystem engineers. They provide huge benefits to people and nature, improving water quality and flow, and creating new habitats that foster many other species. However, their actions can sometimes cause serious impacts for land managers such as flooding of fields and crops. In some circumstances it may be necessary to manage beavers and their dams under special licences issued by SNH.

Beavers became a European Protected Species on 1 May 2019. SNH reports that between 1st May and 31st December 2019, it issued 45 species licences which permitted either lethal control or dam removal. These were granted when there was no other effective solution to prevent serious agricultural damage. Five of the licences permitted dam removal or manipulation only. All licences were issued for the purpose of preventing serious damage to agriculture and all but one of these (97.5%) were issued on land classified by Scottish Government as Prime Agricultural Land. Evidence of serious damage included waterlogged fields and crops, as well as erosion on riverbanks and embankments.

One additional licence was granted to allow an experienced ecologist to live-trap beavers from sites where lethal control may otherwise have been employed. SNH also refused 33% of licence requests.


Trust responds to alarming beaver cull numbers - Scottish Wildlife Trust

Figures released by Scottish Natural Heritage have confirmed that 87 beavers were culled under licence in Tayside in 2019. The population in the area was estimated at around 450 in 2018.

The Trust believes this level of culling is unsustainable. We have called for a new forward-looking strategy for beavers, which includes the potential for strategic reintroductions into other areas of Scotland.

Our Director of Conservation Sarah Robinson said: “This report confirms that at least one-fifth of the beaver population in Tayside has been shot in a single season. It demonstrates that heavy localised culling can impact the population over a wider area, and is halting the ability of animals to spread out through a vacuum effect. These are alarming figures. Such a heavy cull has almost certainly had a negative impact on the conservation status of a protected species. If lethal control continues at this level, we would have grave concerns for the future of beavers in Scotland."


New Partnership to Restore Native Wildcats to Britain - Wildwood Trust

(image: Wildwood Trust)
(image: Wildwood Trust)

Wildwood Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) to restore species of conservation concern to Britain, with a particular focus on the European wildcat (Felis silvestris).

The European wildcat is one of the rarest and most endangered mammals in Britain. The species disappeared from England and Wales a century ago because of persecution during a time when all predators were considered as vermin. A healthy population of wildcats will help restore the balance in the ecosystem by controlling numbers of prey animals, such as rabbits and rodents, and predators such as foxes through competition for food.

The Wildwood Trust, Durrell and VWT are pooling their skills, knowledge and experience to establish a self-sustaining population of wildcats outside Scotland. Currently, the only wild population of these rare cats is in the remote Highlands. However, this small population has been declared “functionally extinct” as interbreeding has resulted in them having the same gene pool as domestic cats. The long-term goal of this project is to establish a self-sustaining wildcat population in an ecologically suitable landscape in Wales and/or England. Most importantly, the team will ensure the needs and views of local communities are taken into full account during this project.

There will be many stages to ensure a successful reintroduction of wildcats. As a first step, VWT and Durrell have undertaken a preliminary scientific feasibility study to identify potential landscapes for reintroduction. The team are now conducting in-depth ecological and social feasibility studies to find out which areas are most suitable. Some of this detailed work is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Exeter through a joint PhD studentship.



Eels have arrived at the Great Ouse - Environment Agency

Environment Agency officers have welcomed the arrival of elvers for the first time this year at an eel pass on the River Great Ouse, Cambridgeshire.

More than 100 juvenile eels travelled 3,000km from the Sargasso Sea before being counted at the Environment Agency’s Brownshill Staunch eel pass, downstream of St Ives.

European eels are a critically endangered species and the Environment Agency leads on eel conservation in England. This involves building and installing eel passes which improves access to habitat.

The Environment Agency also protects eels from illegal fishing, abstraction and works with partners to reduce the impacts of the industries it regulates.

Young elvers travel from the sea to freshwater where they grow and thrive. Eels spend up to 50 years maturing in freshwater, eventually returning back to the Sargasso to spawn.


Fish start to spawn again after successful restoration work - Environment Agency

The work at Friars Meadow in Sudbury has been a big success (Environment Agency)
The work at Friars Meadow in Sudbury has been a big success (Environment Agency)

A year-long project to reinvigorate a Suffolk river and increase the fish population has proven to be a success six months after completion.

The Environment Agency, Sudbury and Long Melford Angling Association, and Sudbury Common Lands Charity, worked together from 2018 to 2019 on the River Stour at Friars Meadow in Sudbury.

The partnership work, which cost almost £10,000 and was funded by fishing licence money, involved creating spawning areas, large scale removal of silt and vegetation and tree surgery.

The spawning areas created now have huge numbers of roach and rudd spawning in it. Before the project that area of the river was heavy with silt and vegetation.

Not only has this work increased the fish population it has also improved the water quality.

The shelter in the spawning areas will benefit recruitment on this section of the river. Recruitment in this context is the number of younger fish making it to adulthood, this has improved as the shelter reduces the risk of them being eaten.

Ben Norrington, Environment Agency fisheries officer in East Anglia, said: “We are really pleased that the project has been a success. I hope this highlights to fisheries owners the importance of spawning areas and shallow diverse river habitats for fish and wildlife. These results are a good indication of well spent fishing licence income and partnership involvement.”



Scottish Small Blue Week: big boost for small blue - Butterfly Conservation

(image: Butterfly Conservation)
(image: Butterfly Conservation)

The Scottish public are being asked to keep their eyes out for the UK’s smallest butterfly species – the Small Blue Butterfly - this summer. The Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation are trying to measure the number of this important species in Scotland this year after bad weather affected the flight season in 2019.

Small Blues are declining in Scotland, and are now mostly found on coastal sites in Moray, Caithness, Angus and Berwickshire where the particular foodplants for Small Blue caterpillars grows. In Scotland the caterpillars only feed upon Kidney Vetch, which can be recognised by its bright yellow flowers that are covered in soft hairs. The butterflies prefer warm sites sheltered from the wind, and are most often found in sand dunes and coastal grassland between late-May and late-June. Knowing exactly where Small Blues are found helps to target on-the-ground conservation work. See the bottom of this page for information on how to send in your sightings.

Unlike the more widespread Common Blue butterfly, the Small Blue’s upper wings are dark grey with a very light dusting of blue scales and, the undersides are pale grey with black spots.

There is a particular interest in this butterfly in Angus, where the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership has been working with Butterfly Conservation and volunteers for several years to monitor the Small Blue populations and create more habitat for this minute butterfly. Some of the plans for 2020 have been put on hold because of Covid-19, but people can still get involved if they take precautions.

Catherine Lloyd from the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership said: “If the coast paths are already part of a daily exercise route, we would ask you to look out for this little elusive butterfly, and try to get a photo and send in details of sightings.''


Buglife’s B-Lines will put a buzz back into Berkshire‘s towns and countryside - Buglife

(image: Buglife)
(image: Buglife)

Today Buglife with funding from Defra, launches an ambitious plan to help our bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinating insects. Berkshire B-Lines aims to connect the county’s best remaining wildlife sites through targeted wildflower habitat creation, linking the levels to the coast and towns to the countryside.

Buglife has worked with the local authorities and other partners to map out a network of potential wildflower habitat – called B-Lines, and are now inviting farmers, landowners and the public to get involved in creating new pollinator habitat, and practically restoring wildflower-rich grasslands.

Bees and other pollinators are disappearing from our countryside because of a lack of wildflower-rich habitats. Three million hectares, 97%, of the UK’s wildflower-rich grasslands have been lost since the 1930s. Creating pollinator habitat along B-Lines will help wildlife move across our countryside, saving threatened species and making sure that there are plenty of pollinators out there to help us grow crops and pollinate wildflowers.

Berkshire is just one of the counties recently mapped leading to the completion of the England B-lines network, enabling Buglife’s vision of a river of wildflowers across the UK to be realised. The next step will be getting wildflower restoration and creation happening across the country.

Catherine Jones from Buglife said “B-Lines provide an exciting opportunity for everyone to support our struggling insect pollinators. By working together to create a network of wildflower-rich habitats, we can support healthy populations of bees and other pollinators enabling them respond to threats such as climate change.”

Sam Cartwright from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust said ‘Insect abundance has plummeted in recent years and a step-change is needed in how we target our collective efforts to restore their numbers. This network of B-Lines will help to prioritise local action for pollinating insects in the places where it will be most beneficial. Crucially, these B-Lines will also contribute to Berkshire’s wider nature recovery network.’


No Insectinction - Buglife

Today Buglife launch ‘No Insectinction – how to solve the insect declines crisis’ a measured response to the ever growing reports of global insect declines. Buglife are launching the No Insectinction campaign to outline the action required to arrest the declines in, and stabilise populations of the small things that enable our planet to function.

Recent studies paint a grim picture of the decline of insects across the planet. It is becoming increasingly clear that our planet’s ecological balance is breaking and there is an urgent need for an intense global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends. Allowing the insect eradication crisis to become a catastrophe is not a rational option for anyone.

The No Insectinction campaign has three central planks:

  • Room for insects to thrive – we need to make space for wildlife and reconnect the wild parts of our landscapes
  • Safe spaces for insects – we must free our land and freshwaters from pollutants and invasive species
  • Friendlier relationship with insects – We need to act now to stop insectinction. However, the scale and quality of that action is still limited by our lack of understanding and awareness.

Craig Macadam, Buglife’s Director of Conservation and lead writer of the report commented. “We believe that there should be sustainable populations of all insects; ‘No Insectinction’ is Buglife’s response to the current crisis – a prescription for healing our planet, by restoring our depleted and devastated insect populations (and other invertebrates such as earthworms, spiders and snails). We call upon governments and decision makers around the world to take decisive action to tackle this ecological crisis. Small steps can have a huge impact if they all fall at the same time. We can stop, and reverse the declines in our insects, but only if everyone pulls together to do their bit.”

Read the featured article from Buglife written exclusively for CJS In-Depth in April here


It's a bug's life at Carr Lodge as nearly 400 species of invertebrate identified - The Land Trust

The Land Trust is celebrating following the results of a survey which identified a total of 372 species of invertebrate on site at Carr Lodge.

The findings are even more remarkable given the incredible transformation of the space over the last few years.

Working in partnership with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Land Trust took ownership of the eight hectare nature reserve in 2012. Back then it was overgrazed by horses and had precious little wildlife value.

Since then the site has been turned around in impressive fashion. The Trust removed the grazing animals, while Yorkshire Wildlife Trust gradually introduced more sensitive stock grazing. The water levels have been managed through the introduction of a gravity fed pump system and the vegetation has been left to recover, which has seen the invertebrate population thrive and ground nesting birds return.

The survey was undertaken between June and August 2019 and concluded that Carr Lodge was of high invertebrate interest, with the site supporting a wide range of habitats which encourage invertebrates to thrive.

Some of the species recorded include the calliphorid Angioneura acerba (blowfly) which is rarely recorded in Britain and has Data Deficient status. In addition a number of other rare or rarely recorded species were also recorded including the picture-winged fly Myopites apicatus.

The huge progress made at the site was previously recognised at the Land Trust annual awards in 2018 when the site picked up the accolade of Nature Space of the Year.


Sustainability, Pollution and Litter.

Success for Scottish seas: Scottish Parliament votes through Deposit Return Scheme - Marine Conservation Society

© Jack Versiani Holt
© Jack Versiani Holt

Yesterday, after over five years of campaigning alongside all our supporters and partners, the Scottish Parliament voted through the final piece of legislation needed to put Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) into place.

Whilst this is fantastic news, we’re disappointed that the Scottish Government has delayed the start of the system from April 2021 to July 2022. During this time our beaches will continue to be blighted by increasing numbers of bottles, cans and glass. We are concerned by what this delay might mean for other parts of the UK and are calling on political leaders to ensure working towards lower carbon emissions and a circular economy is still a priority. Our work is far from over.

Scotland’s DRS is a huge win for our ocean, so we want to celebrate the news with you all, as we did not achieve this on our own.

Thank you to all of our Beachwatch volunteers for collecting crucial data on how much glass, metal and plastic in the form of bottles and cans were turning up on Scottish beaches. When it is safe to do so, we will be relying on you to help collect that data again so we can show the positive impact of Scotland’s DRS just as we did with the 5p carrier bag charge.


Major study reveals substantial quantities of tyre particles contaminating our rivers and ocean - University of Plymouth

Research led by the University reveals vital new information that will improve our scientific understanding of how tiny particles enter the ocean

A major government-funded research study published today suggests particles released from vehicle tyres could be a significant and previously largely unrecorded source of microplastics in the marine environment.

The study is one of the first worldwide to identify tyre particles as a major and additional source of microplastics. Scientists have previously discovered microplastics, originating from microbeads in cosmetics and the degradation of larger items such as carrier bags and plastic bottles, in marine environments globally – from the deep seas to the Arctic.

Following the Government’s ban on rinse off microbeads, which is one of the toughest in the world, the Defra-funded study led by the University of Plymouth now reveals vital new information that will improve our scientific understanding of how tiny particles from tyres, synthetic fibres from clothing and maritime gear also enter the ocean.

This project will be used to guide future research already underway on marine plastic pollution and the impact of human activities on the marine environment, as the Government continues in its fight against the scourge of plastics. This includes the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 15 billion fewer bags distributed – and plans to end the sale of plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds later this year.

The study shows the tyre particles can be transported directly to the ocean through the atmosphere, or carried by rainwater into rivers and sewers, where they can pass through the water treatment process. Researchers estimate this could place around 100million m² of the UK’s river network – and more than 50million m² of estuarine and coastal waters – at risk of contamination by tyre particles.


A new research centre to study the growing problem of plastic waste - Bangor University

Dr Christian Dunn collecting fresh water to test for the presence of microplastics.
Dr Christian Dunn collecting fresh water to test for the presence of microplastics.

A new research Centre has been established at Bangor University to study the growing problem of plastic waste. The Plastic Research Centre of Wales (PRC Wales) is the first of its kind in the country and brings together a wide variety of academics, students, organisations and industries.

Bangor University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact, Prof David Thomas, brought together the group after realising many scientists in the university were already researching various aspects of plastic waste.

“We felt it was time to add our considerable academic weight to the fight against plastic pollution,” said Prof Thomas. “We’ve brought together a great group of researchers from all across Bangor University, but the PRC Wales isn’t just about research; everyone involved in the centre is passionate about tackling what David Attenborough describes as an “unfolding catastrophe. We want PRC Wales to be a true hub of knowledge for anyone, from our current and prospective students, to members of the public, businesses and policy makers. We encourage anyone that’s interested in this subject to get in-touch with us,” Prof Thomas added.
Projects taking place at the university include work by Prof Golyshin and others in the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB) looking at how microbes are attaching themselves to plastics.

Research by the Bangor Wetlands Group, led by Dr Christian Dunn - with support from Friends of the Earth, Surfers Against Sewage and Laura Sanderson from We Swim Wild - is looking at the presence of microplastics in UK inland waters and National Parks, alongside developing wetland ecosystems to remove plastic particles from our waterways.


Scientific Research, Results and Publications.

New database reveals plants' secret relationships with fungi - University of Leiden

Leiden researchers have compiled information collected by scientists over the past 120 years into a database of plant-fungal interactions. This important biological data is now freely available for researchers and nature conservationists. Publication in New Phytologist.

Almost all vascular plants have a relationship with a fungus in their roots that allow them to obtain nutrients from the soil. This relationship, called mycorrhiza, is symbiotic, since the fungi too benefit from it. It is so important that most plant species would not be able survive without it.

Until now, information on this symbiotic relationship has been scattered throughout myriad scientific publications. A new database of fungal interactions, available via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the PlutoF biodiversity data management platform, combines all knowledge into a single source and allows scientists to acquire a new understanding of the importance of the relationship between plants and soil fungi.

Fundamental aspect of plant life

Root fungi not only help plants to obtain nutrients from the soil, but the types of mycorrhiza available and their abundance in plant roots can have a large influence on plant life in general. Research has shown that types and intensity of mycorrhiza in an ecosystem can drastically affect plant biodiversity. Studies have even shown that mycorrhizal fungi can influence how much carbon an ecosystem can store in the soil.


Human activity threatens billions of years of evolutionary history - ZSL

Copyright: Sandeep Das / ZSL
Copyright: Sandeep Das / ZSL

Research led by ZSL and Imperial College London warns that more than 50 billion years of unique evolutionary history is at risk.

A ZSL study published in Nature Communications today (Tuesday 26 May) maps the evolutionary history of the world's terrestrial vertebrates - amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles - for the first time, exploring how areas with large concentrations of evolutionarily distinct and threatened species are being impacted by our ever-increasing 'human footprint'.

Worryingly, the researchers discovered that many regions home to the greatest amounts of unique evolutionary history are also facing unprecedented levels of human pressure, including the Caribbean, the Western Ghats of India, and large parts of Southeast Asia.

Using extinction risk data for around 25,000 species, the researchers also calculated the amount of evolutionary history - branches on the tree of life - currently threatened with extinction: they found at least 50 billion years of evolutionary heritage is under threat, as well as a large number of species for which we lack adequate extinction risk data that may also be threatened - suggesting this is at best an under-estimate.


Loss of land-based vertebrates is accelerating, according to Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich and others - Stanford University

Analysis of thousands of vertebrate species reveals that extinction rates are likely much faster than previously thought. The researchers call for immediate global action, such as a ban on the wildlife trade, to slow the sixth mass extinction.

In 2015, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich co-authored a study declaring the world’s sixth mass extinction was underway. Five years later, Ehrlich and colleagues at other institutions have a grim update: the extinction rate is likely much higher than previously thought and is eroding nature’s ability to provide vital services to people.

Their new paper, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates the wildlife trade and other human impacts have wiped out hundreds of species and pushed many more to the brink of extinction at an unprecedented rate.

For perspective, scientists estimate that in the entire 20th century, at least 543 land vertebrate species went extinct. Ehrlich and his co-authors estimate that nearly the same number of species are likely to go extinct in the next two decades alone.

The trend’s cascading effects include an intensification of human health threats, such as COVID-19, according to the researchers. “When humanity exterminates populations and species of other creatures, it is sawing off the limb on which it is sitting, destroying working parts of our own life-support system,” said Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies, emeritus, at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow, emeritus, at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “The conservation of endangered species should be elevated to a national and global emergency for governments and institutions, equal to climate disruption to which it is linked.”


Land and Countryside Management

Upland sheep grazing impacts biodiversity and will take decades to recover - University of Liverpool

A new study by the University of Liverpool has found that sheep grazing does negatively affect the diversity of plant species of upland areas of the British countryside, and it could take up to 60 years for it to recover.

The impact of sheep grazing (and indeed other livestock) on the diversity of plant species in the British countryside has been a subject of debate for many years. Often referred to as “white-woolly maggots” or “hoofed locusts”, the renowned ecologist, Frank Fraser Darling, coined the phrase `wet deserts’ to describe species-poor vegetation of the Scottish Highlands and in an article for the Spectator in 2013, George Monbiot described the British uplands as ‘sheep-wrecked’.

An innovative research study, led by Professor Rob Marrs and Professor Richard Chiverrell from the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences, sought to confront this thorny issue using as series of long term ecological experiment to analyse the vegetation; each experiment compared two adjacent plots of land at the Moor House National Nature Reserve, one of which had been used for grazing sheep and the other plot which had not.

They tested and compared the leaf properties of seven focal species that occurred only, or were present in much greater abundance, in the plot of land absent of sheep grazing to those of ten common species that were common in both grazed and ungrazed vegetation.

Access the paper: `Release from sheep-grazing appears to put some heart back into upland vegetation: A comparison of nutritional properties of plant species in long-term grazing experiments’ Annals of Applied Biology. DOI: 10.1111/aa b.12591

Read the paper here


Scientists find genes to save ash trees from deadly beetle - Queen Mary University London

An international team of scientists have identified candidate resistance genes that could protect ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a deadly pest that is expected to kill billions of trees worldwide.

Scientists find genes to save ash trees from deadly beetle. Credit: USDA Forest Service photo by Jennifer Koch.
Scientists find genes to save ash trees from deadly beetle. Credit: USDA Forest Service photo by Jennifer Koch.

In the new study, published today (Monday 25 May) in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers from Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, sequenced the genomes of 22 species of ash tree (Fraxinus) from around the world and used this information to analyse how the different species are related to each other.

Meanwhile, collaborators from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service in Ohio tested resistance of over 20 ash tree species to EAB by hatching eggs attached to the bark of trees, and following the fate of the beetle larvae. Resistant ash trees generally killed the larvae when they burrowed into their stems, but susceptible ones did not.

The research team observed that several of the resistant species were more closely related to susceptible species than to other resistant species. This meant the UK-based genome scientists were able to find resistance genes, by looking for places within the DNA where the resistant species were similar, but showed differences from their susceptible relatives.

Using this novel approach, the scientists revealed 53 candidate resistance genes, several of which are involved in making chemicals that are likely to be harmful to insects.

The findings suggest that breeding or gene editing could be used to place these resistance genes into ash species currently affected by EAB.

Dr Laura Kelly, an academic visitor at Queen Mary, Research Leader in Plant Health at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and first author of the study, said: “Ash trees are key components of temperate forest ecosystems and the damage caused by EAB also puts at risk the many benefits that these forests provide. Our findings suggest that it may be possible to increase resistance in susceptible species of ash via hybrid breeding with their resistant relatives or through gene editing. Knowledge of genes involved in resistance will also help efforts to identify trees that are able to survive the ongoing threat from EAB, and in turn, could facilitate restoration of ash woodlands in areas which have already been invaded.”


Global environmental changes are leading to shorter, younger trees – new study - University of Birmingham

woodland by Emese Selley on unsplash
woodland by Emese Selley on unsplash

Ongoing environmental changes are transforming forests worldwide, resulting in shorter and younger trees with broad impacts on global ecosystems, scientists say.

In a global study published in the 29 May 2020 issue of Science magazine, researchers including experts at the University of Birmingham, showed how rising temperatures and carbon dioxide have been altering the world’s forests.

These alterations are caused by increased stress and carbon dioxide fertilization and through increasing the frequency and severity of disturbances such as wildfire, drought, wind damage and other natural enemies. Combined with forest harvest, the Earth has witnessed a dramatic decrease in the age and stature of forests.

The study was led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), with analysis on changes in forest age carried out by the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR).

Dr Tom Pugh, of BIFoR, said: “This study reviews mounting evidence that climate change is accelerating tree mortality, increasingly pushing the world’s forests towards being both younger and shorter. This implies a reduction in their ability to store carbon and potentially large shifts in the mix of species that compose and inhabit these forests. This is likely to have big implications for the services those forest provide, such as mitigating climate change. Increasing rates of tree mortality driven by climate and land-use change, combined with uncertainty in the mix of species that will form the next generation, pose big challenges for conservationists and forest managers alike.”


Climate could cause abrupt British vegetation changes - University of Exeter

Climate change could cause abrupt shifts in the amount of vegetation growing in parts of Great Britain, new research shows.

The University of Exeter studied the country in high resolution, using models to examine the local impacts of two climate change scenarios at 1.5x1.5 km scale.

It found that even “smooth” climate change could lead to sudden changes in the amount of vegetation in some places.

Most such changes were increases, caused by factors such as warmer, wetter conditions and more CO2 in the atmosphere fertilising plant growth.

Elsewhere, warmer conditions could cause soil to dry out, reducing plant productivity and decreasing vegetation rapidly.

“The general expected trend towards warmer, wetter weather is likely to cause an overall increase in vegetation in temperate places like Great Britain,” said Dr Chris Boulton, of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. “However, we wanted to find out whether even ‘smooth’ climate change might lead to abrupt shifts in vegetation. A lot of research has focussed on ‘tipping points’ in large systems like rainforests and oceans. Our study doesn’t predict abrupt shifts across the whole of Great Britain – 0.5-1.5% of the land area depending on the climate scenario – but it shows numerous shifts can happen on a localised level.”

The researchers used a new method for identifying “abrupt” shifts to look for sudden changes in the total amount of carbon stored in vegetation over a short period of time.

“We also find early warning signals before some of the abrupt shifts. This is good news as it shows the potential for being able to predict them in the real world,” said Dr Boulton.

Read the paper (open access): Boulton, CA, Ritchie, PDL, Lenton, TM. Abrupt changes in Great Britain vegetation carbon projected under climate change. Glob Change Biol. 2020; 00: 1– 13. doi:10.1111/gcb.15144



‘Pingers’ could save porpoises from fishing nets - University of Exeter

(image: University of Exeter)
(image: University of Exeter)

Underwater sound devices called “pingers” could be an effective, long-term way to prevent porpoises getting caught in fishing nets with no negative behavioural effects, newly published research suggests.

The study of harbour porpoises off Cornwall found they were 37% less likely to be found close to an active pinger.

Concerns have been raised about porpoises becoming used to pingers and learning to ignore them, but the eight-month study – by the University of Exeter and Cornwall Wildlife Trust – found no decrease in effectiveness.

There have also been worries that continual pinger use could affect porpoise behaviour by displacing them from feeding grounds, but when pingers were switched off the animals returned “with no delay”.

The effect was found to be “very localised” – the 37% reduction in porpoise detection at the active pinger compared to a drop of 9% just 100 metres away.

Harbour porpoises are the most common cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) seen at the Cornish coast, where accidental catching by fishing boats (“bycatch”) is a persistent problem.

“Cornwall Wildlife Trust have been monitoring local dolphin and porpoise deaths through our standings scheme for over 25 years, and bycatch is still the biggest threat to these animals in the South West with large numbers washing ashore every year,” said Ruth Williams, of Cornwall Wildlife Trust.


Moths have a secret but vital role as pollinators in the night - University College London

Moths are important pollen transporters in English farmland and might play a role in supporting crop yields, according to a new UCL study.

The research, published in Biology Letters, shows that moth pollen transport networks are larger and more complex than networks for daytime pollinators.

The team found that moths transport pollen from a high number of plants also visited by bees, butterflies and hoverflies, but also interacted with plants not commonly visited by these insects.

The study also shows that pollen transport occurs most frequently on the moth’s ventral thorax (chest), rather than on the proboscis (tongue), allowing it to be easily transferred to other plants.

Lead author of the study, Dr Richard Walton (UCL Geography) said: “Nocturnal moths have an important but overlooked ecological role. They complement the work of daytime pollinators, helping to keep plant populations diverse and abundant. They also provide natural biodiversity back-up, and without them many more plant species and animals, such as birds and bats that rely on them for food, would be at risk.

“Previous studies of pollen transport among settling moths have focused on their proboscis. However, settling moths sit on the flower while feeding, with their often distinctly hairy bodies touching the flower’s reproductive organs. This happy accident helps pollen to be easily transported during subsequent flower visits.”


National Bat Monitoring Programme Annual Report 2019 - Bat Conservation Trust

The latest results of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) with data up to the end of summer 2019 are now available. Download the report here.

Last year over 1,000 dedicated volunteer citizen scientists carried out NBMP surveys at over 2,000 sites across the UK. The survey results allow BCT to estimate population trends for 11 out of the 17 species of bat which breed in the UK. At present we are not able to produce population trends for some of the rarer and more habitat-specialist bat species such as barbastelle or Bechstein’s bat as they are difficult to monitor or rarely encountered.

Results of the NBMP show that from the baseline year of monitoring (1999 for most species) to 2019, GB populations of the 11 species of bat surveyed appear to be stable or increasing. A few results need treating with caution and there are regional and/or country differences. Species considered to have increased in Great Britain since the baseline year of monitoring are greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat, Natterer’s bat and common pipistrelle, all of which often use buildings to roosts in. The population trend for Natterer’s bat should be treated with caution until the effect of this species' roost switching behaviour on the Roost Count trend is better understood.

These encouraging results reflect relatively recent changes in bat populations. It is generally believed that during the early 20th century there were declines in bat populations. Possible drivers of the historical declines include agricultural intensification, loss of roosting and foraging habitat, persecution, pesticides and biocides including the use of toxic timber treatment chemicals within roosts, water quality, declines in insects, unsympathetic development, land-use change and climate change.

When they were our featured charity Bat Conservation Trust wrote about the National Bat Monitoring Programme for CJS Weekly, read this article here, (first published February 2016)


Population trends for UK bat species - JNCC Official Statistics

Statistics comprise population trends for 11 of the UK’s 17 breeding bat species, based on National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) data. The NBMP relies on hundreds of volunteer bat surveyors. Population trends are generally provided at GB level, but for one species (Daubenton’s bat) there are sufficient data from NI to enable trend analysis at UK level. Trends are also broken down to country level where possible. Data contribute to UK and England Biodiversity indicators, and are important in enabling the UK to meet obligations under the Habitats Directive, report on and implement country biodiversity strategies, and report to EUROBATS.

Download the report from here.


Pine martens like to have neighbours – but not too near - University of Exeter

Female pine marten with radio collar (© Nick Upton)
Female pine marten with radio collar (© Nick Upton)

Pine martens need neighbours but like to keep their distance, according to new research.

Over three years, the cat-like predators were caught in Scotland and moved to mid-Wales by Vincent Wildlife Trust.

By attaching miniaturised radio-transmitter collars to 39 of the released animals, a tracking team followed them for a year as they explored their new home in Welsh forests.

The research, published today (Friday 15 May) in the journal Ecology and Evolution, was carried out by Dr Cat McNicol from the Environment and Sustainability Institute of the University of Exeter with staff from Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Dr McNicol’s analyses have shown that the pine martens spent some time exploring their new habitats before settling into solitary territories, but that having pine marten neighbours helped them settle more quickly.

In the first release, when there were no other pine martens nearby, the new arrivals roamed long distances over two weeks before settling into their chosen territory – often close to the point where they were released.

The following year, when more pine martens were released in the same area, the new cohort established territories within a week, but further away from the release point.

Dr McNicol said “Although they defend solitary territories vigorously, pine martens depend on their neighbours when deciding where to set up home. Releasing martens near to others promoted rapid settlement. Using scent-marking as their main way of communication, newly-released martens can figure out which bits of woodland are occupied by other individuals and then set up home nearby. This behaviour results in a patchwork-quilt of new territories spreading across the Welsh countryside.”

Read the papers:

C.M. McNicol et al 2020. Post release movement and habitat selection of translocated pine martens. Ecology and Evolution DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6265 

C.M. McNicol et al 2020. Translocated native pine martens alter short‐term space use by invasive non‐native grey squirrels. Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13598 

Read more about pine martens in the feature Volunteers help with the return of the pine marten to Wales, written for CJS readers by our previous featured charity Vincent Wildlife Trust (first published 2/3/18)


Lack of insects in cities limits breeding success of urban birds - British Ecological Society

A male urban great tit bringing the supplemented mealworms for his chicks © Gábor Seress
A male urban great tit bringing the supplemented mealworms for his chicks © Gábor Seress

Urban insect populations would need to increase by a factor of at least 2.5 for urban great tits to have same breeding success as those living in forests according to research published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology.

Researchers at the University of Pannonia, Hungary and the University of Sheffield, UK found that providing high quality supplementary food to urban great tits, in the form of nutritionally enriched mealworms, can dramatically boost their breeding success.

“Urban nestlings had considerably higher survival chance and gained an extra two grams of body mass when provided with an insect-rich diet, an increase of 15% compared to the weight of chicks that didn’t receive extra food. This is a substantial difference.” said Dr Gábor Seress, lead author of the research.

These beneficial effects of food supplementation were not seen in forest dwelling great tits where high quality nestling food is abundant. Although the free meals were also readily received by forest parents.

Reduced breeding success in urban bird populations is well documented but this study is the first to show that insect-rich supplementary food during nestling development largely mitigates these habitat differences. The findings indicate that food limitation in urban environments plays a crucial role in reducing the breeding success of insect-eating birds.

Access the paper: Seress G, Sándor K, Evans KL, Liker A. Food availability limits avian reproduction in the city: An experimental study on great tits Parus major. J Anim Ecol. 2020;00:1–11. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13211


Farmers and land managers urged to help the GWCT monitor grey partridge numbers - Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)

Partridge pair (Rollin Verlinde)
Partridge pair (Rollin Verlinde)

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and landowners who have signed up for its Partridge Count Scheme (PCS) to take part in the spring grey partridge count while there is still time./p>

Members are being reminded to carry out partridge counts on their land and submit a copy of their counts to the GWCT’s national database. The scheme relies on its volunteer members, who are interested in helping to conserve wild grey partridge on their land, to help record bird numbers twice a year. Counts are conducted in the spring to measure breeding abundance and in the autumn to measure breeding success.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who has signed up for the Partridge Count Scheme to get out into the fresh air, see some wildlife, and count partridge on your land while there is still time this spring. For those who have already done so, please do not forget to return your count form to us,” said the GWCT’s head of project Julie Ewald. “Things are looking good so far this year. Early counts from our advisory and research teams are encouraging,” she continued. “Perhaps owing to the milder weather conditions, numbers appear to have held up well over the winter. I would also remind anyone who has very few or no partridges to still return their counts. It is just as important to let us know when you haven’t seen any partridges.”

The volunteer farmers, gamekeepers and landowners are given instructions on how to count and encouraged to count around dawn and dusk when birds are out of cover and feeding. Following the count, they receive site-specific guidance based on their results. This can help to identify factors that might be limiting partridges on their land and inform habitat management decisions that could benefit grey partridges and other wildlife. Future counts will then help to track the success of those measures, further encouraging landowners and managers in their commitment to conservation.



Urban red foxes are diverging from their country cousins - University of Glasgow

Urban red foxes are becoming more similar to domesticated dogs as they adapt to their city environment, according to a new analysis.

A team led by Dr Kevin Parsons, of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, has carried out an analysis into the differences between urban and rural red foxes in the UK.

Their findings go some way to explaining how dogs could have evolved into our current pets.

With our current lockdown measures due to the covid-19 pandemic we are seeing a number of animals more frequently in our cities. It has been known for some time that cities create new habitats for wild populations. While many can’t cope, it is recognised that some types of animals are especially good at living within cities. Red foxes are prevalent within several cities within the UK and elsewhere where they have become well-established.

“We wondered whether this change in lifestyle was related to adaptive differences between urban and rural populations of red foxes. We assessed skulls from hundreds of foxes found within London and the surrounding countryside and saw that urban foxes had a smaller brain size capacity but also a different snout shape that would help them forage within urban habitats. There was also less of a difference between males and females in urban foxes,” said Dr Parsons.

These changes matched up with what would be expected during a domestication process. In other words, while urban foxes are certainly not domesticated, they are changing in ways that move them closer to what is seen in many domesticated animals.


Two lefties make a right – if you're a one-in-a-million garden snail - University of Nottingham

Credit Angus Davison / University of Nottingham
Credit Angus Davison / University of Nottingham

A global campaign to help find a mate for a left-coiling snail called ‘Jeremy’ has enabled scientists to understand how mirror-image garden snails are formed.

The findings, published today in the journal Biology Letters, show that the rare left-spiralling shell of some garden snails is usually a development accident, rather than an inherited condition.

In October 2016, evolutionary geneticist Dr Angus Davison in the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences appealed to the public for their help in match-making for Jeremy, a garden snail with a rare left-coiling shell.

Dr Davison hoped to use the offspring from Jeremy to study the genetics of this condition, because his previous work on snails had given insight into understanding body asymmetry in other animals, including humans. But another left-coiling snail had to be found first. As well as a mirror-imaged shell, Jeremy had genitals on the opposite side making it very difficult for the snail to mate with normal snails.

The science to unravel this mystery was made possible by the involvement of the general public in finding a mate for Jeremy, initially via an appeal put out on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, and then the wider media using #snaillove.


Scientific Publications

Seward, A. et al (2020) Effect of GPS tagging on behaviour and marine distribution of breeding Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea. IBIS DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12849

Z. Malvat, S. A. Lynch, A. Bennison and M. Jessopp Evidence of links between haematological condition and foraging behaviour in northern gannets (Morus bassanus). R. Soc. open sci.192164


Fischer, LK, Neuenkamp, L, Lampinen, J et al. Public attitudes toward biodiversity‐friendly greenspace management in Europe. Conservation Letters. 2020;e12718.


Cooney, C.R., Sheard, C., Clark, A.D. et al. Ecology and allometry predict the evolution of avian developmental durations. Nat Commun 11, 2383 (2020).


Wilco C. E. P. Verberk, Piero Calosi, François Brischoux, John I. Spicer, Theodore Garland and David T. Bilton Universal metabolic constraints shape the evolutionary ecology of diving in animals Proc. R. Soc. B.28720200488


Belharet, M., Di Franco, A., Calò, A., Mari, L., Claudet, J., Casagrandi, R., Gatto, M., Lloret, J., Sève, C., Guidetti, P. and Melià, P. (2020), Extending full protection inside existing marine protected areas, or reducing fishing effort outside, can reconcile conservation and fisheries goals. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13688


Josefsson, J, Hiron, M, Arlt, D, et al. Improving scientific rigour in conservation evaluations and a plea deal for transparency on potential biases. Conservation Letters. 2020;e12726. doi: 10.1111/conl.12726 (open access

White, R.J. and Razgour, O. (2020), Emerging zoonotic diseases originating in mammals: a systematic review of effects of anthropogenic land‐use change. Mam Rev. doi:10.1111/mam.12201


And finally, our pick of things to make you smile this month:

Entangled Seal at Ravenscar - British Divers Marine Life Rescue

rescued Ravescar seal (image: BDMLR)
rescued Ravescar seal (image: BDMLR)

At around 7pm on Wednesday 13th May, we received a call on our rescue hotline from a member of public who had been out watching the seals at Ravenscar*. While looking back through her photographs, she noticed one appeared to have an injury round its neck.

BDMLR Medics Matt and Niamh were quick to respond and luckily by the time they arrived the seal was still in the same location. The animal was restrained and the monofilament line cutting into its neck was removed. The injury on the animal was fairly superficial only cutting into the layer of blubber round the seals neck, so after some topical treatment the animal was able to return to the sea, where the salt water will speed up the healing process.
There are often reports of netted seals in this area of Yorkshire but due to the location it is often too late to reach the animals, usually due to the tide which can quickly cut off areas of the coastline.

*NB: Ravenscar is just down the coast from CJS.


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo celebrates birth of fourteen extinct-in-the-wild deer - ZSL

(image: ZSL Whipsnade)
(image: ZSL Whipsnade)

Zookeepers at the UK’s largest Zoo have got a spring in their step, after welcoming 14 fawns to the Père David deer herd, a species which is officially classified as extinct in the wild.

Born with Bambi-esque white spots on their backs that fade as they get older, the fawns have been spotted by keepers skipping around their Passage Through Asia home – an exhibit which visitors can usually drive around to see the deer, and the camels that they share their home with.

Known for their unique antlers which point up and backwards, the rare deer are a part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) - a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes to ensure a healthy and diverse population of animals.

Zookeeper Gracie Gee, who captured the pictures said: “It’s great to see our herd growing so much this year as they are such an important group - helping to ensure the survival of this species.

“We’ve had 14 new arrivals and we all wish that our visitors were able to see them too, as they’re absolute proof of the incredible work we are doing to conserve precious species at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.”




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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.


Recently added online events and learning


Online Events

18/06/2020 In Conversation With... Victoria Prentis MP, Farming Minister at Online 1 Day

Country Land & Business Association Limited (CLA) Contact:   

Join us as we discuss the issues shaping farming, food production and our environment, and the steps Government and rural communities can take to secure the best future for British agriculture.

23/06/2020 LI Webinar: Place and Project Management at Online 1 Day

Landscape Institute Contact:

24/06/2020 A Decade of Decapods: the quest to save our native crayfish from extinction at Online 1 Day

Bristol Zoo Contact: 

30/06/2020 IES Webinar: Seagrass restoration - Bringing biodiversity back to our seas at Online 1 Day

Institution of Environmental Sciences Contact:

09/07/2020 Introducing England's Natural Capital Atlases at Online 1 Day

Ecosystems Knowledge Network Contact: 

A new National Natural Capital Atlas has been published for England. The Atlas uses the best available data to map out Natural England's Natural Capital Indicators to show the quantity, quality and location of ecosystem assets, as well as the flow of some ecosystem services


Online Learning - Short Courses and Webinars

16/06/2020 Bitesize Bats 2 hours each

Online, Tragus Training

A collection of workshops designed to work as both a complete programme and as stand-alone sessions, suitable for licence trainees and interested individuals: ‘Introduction to British Bats’, ‘Bats and the Law’, ‘Bat ID’, ‘Roosts and Signs’, ‘Training for a Licence’. 50% of profit donated to the Bat Conservation Trust.

Cost £20/workshop, £80 for all 5

18/06/2020 Introduction to Identifying Ladybird Larvae 1 Day

We have Helen and Peter from the UK Ladybird Survey joining us in this free webinar. Learn how to ID the larvae of some of our common ladybird species.

Cost £5/Free

24/06/2020 On the hunt for the Rugged Oil Beetle 1 Day

We will have Jennifer Gilbert joining us in this free webinar. Jennifer works for Butterfly Conservation on the Back from the Brink?s ?Limestone?s Living Legacies? project. This talk will focus on their work on the Rugged Oil Beetle and how they?re finding out more about its status and life cycle.

Cost £5/Free

25/06/2020 A Community Working to Brink Back Water Voles 1 Day

We have Elliot Newtown from the Get inVOLEd project joining us in this free webinar. He will introduce you to Water Voles, one of fastest declining mammals in the UK. He?ll also talk about how the project is empowering local people to support water vole reintroduction to SW London.

Cost £5/Free

Above three courses with Field Studies Council. Contact

25/06/2020 Effective Communication for Conservationists 1 Day


Would you like to learn how to navigate any difficult conversation effectively and confidently? Conservation Careers is hosting a FREE webinar about Professional and Personal Communications for Conservationists on Thursday 25th June. Register to save your spot. Free Course

02/07/2020 Evidence Synthesis 1 Day

Online, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology 01491 69 2225 

This interactive ONLINE course gives you the knowledge, skills and confidence to carry out an Evidence Review Synthesis for an area of natural environment research. You will gain & improve skills in undertaking an evidence review. The training involves hands-on group exercises in developing review questions & undertaking a review.

07/07/2020 Virtual QGIS Foundation Training 3 Days

Virtual, exeGeSIS SDM Ltd 01874 713066

Ideal for Environmental & Ecological Professionals

Identifying and recording the butterflies of Central Scotland

Online, Butterfly Conservation

Join this free online course to find out how to identify and record the butterflies of Central Scotland.

Free Course

Corvid Control - Law and best practice in Scotland

Online, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust 

Corvid control is a vital tool for countryside managers. When done well it can be hugely beneficial to the conservation of our game and wildlife. This online course has been developed to ensure those practicing corvid control in Scotland can do so with the confidence that they are operating within the law whilst demonstrating due diligence.

Complete the course to earn your GWCT certificate. Estimated time: 2 hours.

Cost £72

ARC's Bitesize Herpetology Courses

Online, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

ARC’s expert staff have created a new series of free, introductory training modules for anyone with an interest in amphibians and reptiles. It’s a great way to increase your knowledge of herpetology, at a pace and time that suits you. The five courses currently available cover identification skills for the 13 native species widespread non-natives. Good luck and have fun!

Free Course

Botany Training Courses in the North East

North East, Verde-ecology Consultancy 07875544635

We offer the following courses: Plant Identification for Phase 1 Habitat Survey, NVC for Calcareous Grasslands, Grasses, Sedges and Rushes for habitat surveying, Riparian Vegetation for protected species. They will be delivered using blended learning and distanced field work. £125 per course.

Reptile Ecology, ID and Surveying 0.5 Day

Course covers ecology, ID and surveying of all UK reptile species via videos.

Cost £80

Otter Ecology and Surveying 0.5 Day

Course covers ecology, surveying and field signs. Includes a video of a field visit to carry out a survey.

Cost £80

Badger Ecology and Surveying 0.5 Day

Course covers ecology, surveying and field signs. Includes a video of a field visit to carry out a survey and some trail cam footage.

Cost £80

Surveying Buildings for Bats 0.5 Day

Course covers how to survey buildings for bats and includes signs, types of roosts, roosting areas in buildings, health and safety and a video of a field visit to survey buildings.

Cost £70

Legislation for Bat Workers Bats: 0.5 Day

Course covers essential information on legislation relating to bats including relevant legislation, licencing and applying the law in our bat work.

Cost £70

Bats: Architectural Terms for Batworkers 0.5 Day

Course covers a wide range of architectural terms for bat workers to ensure they can properly describe buildings for their surveys and reports.

Cost £25

Bats: Surveying Trees for Bats 0.5 Day

Course covers information about how bats use trees, what features are important for them, how to survey trees and legislation and licensing.

Cost £70

Bats: Health and Safety Awareness for Bat Workers 0.5 Day

Course covers health and safety issues relevant to bat workers including working at height, in confined spaces, asbestos and lone working.

Cost £25

Above courses with Ecology Training UK. Contact 07818073660


Outdoor Courses

18/07/2020 Riparian Vegetatation 2 Days in Stockton on Tees

Two-day course looking at vegetation along riparian corridor and practicing how to identify the different plant species. Course will be completely outdoors up to 4 participants and following social distancing rules.

01/08/2020 Saltmarsh Vegetation 1 Day in Hartlepool

We will be exploring the brine-fields where tides come and go making the conditions changeable and plant adaptations unique. Course will be completely outdoors, up to 4 participants and following social distancing rules.

Above two courses with Verde-ecology Consultancy. Contact   


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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.

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 Garnock Connections is encouraging people to connect with their local heritage, both cultural and natural. We have a wealth of wildlife recording equipment that people within the project area can borrow for free. This includes binoculars, bat detectors, identification guides and more.

Email or call 07595655174 for more information.


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