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

Featured Charity: Campaign for National Parks

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CJS Professional: 14 October 2021

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


26 adverts included in this edition.

Please note adverts are deleted as they reach the closing date. 

CJS Updates and other useful information

Countryside Jobs Service – Readers Survey
Only by knowing your opinions can we meet your needs and thus maintain our position as the Biggest and the Best.
It's been a turbulent few years and it's time we assessed how well CJS is fitting your needs and providing the services you want and need in a way that is simple and easy to use. Your opinions matter and we do listen. Only three compulsory questions and even if you fill in every section it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. We know everyone is incredibly busy and as a thank you to everyone who submits a survey will receive a month (four weeks) of CJS Weekly. We also have some wonderful rewards on offer. Read more here or take the survey here.


Wednesday 3 November at 2pm – save the date
Join Dr Lizzy Pinkerton, Scheme Manager for the Belfast Hills Partnership as she gives you tips on job applications our next CJS Facebook Live event. [more]


The Youth Environmental Service is calling for participants to join its co-design group, looking at developing plans for a pilot programme in 2022 in the Midlands. The Youth Environmental Service is a new initiative being developed out of The Eden Project. [more]


VirtRural careers event.  Lantra Scotland is running an online event on Thursday 4th November to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the careers available in Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation sector. [more]  


Reminder: A year's free subscription to CJS Weekly for students graduating this year.
Details here and please share. More info here and sign up is here.

Features and In Depth Articles

Dynamic Dunescapes: shifting sands – dune rejuvenation A followup to a previous article from Dynamic Dunescapes written by Tim Braund, Dynamic
Dunescapes Engagement Manager.
This ambitious project, rejuvenating some of England & Wales' most important sand dunes for people, communities and wildlife. The concept of dune rejuvenation is still relatively unknown and conventional management remains that dune systems need to be stabilised particularly for flood and coastal protection. Find out more and access the latest resources. [more]


Generation Green - supporting young people to get into green careers written by  Bek Trehern, Engagement and Training Assistant at the Field Studies Council
Generation Green is the first project to be delivered by the Access Unlimited coalition, which comprises YHA (England & Wales), The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council and the 10 English National Parks. The project aims to target young people aged 14 to 26 years from the North, Midlands, and coastal and deprived urban areas. At the core of these are young people that are traditionally less likely - due to social, economic and cultural factors - to connect or engage with nature and conservation. The six organisations involved will provide jobs, training, volunteering roles, residentials and outdoor and online learning experiences, aiming to offer more than 100,000 opportunities to connect young people to nature – many for the first time – and to cultivate a sense of care for the natural environment. [more]


The new platform for Conservationists - Force For Nature Ranger App
The Ranger App is a new communication solution responding to recent reports and recommendations and this can only be great news for Rangers locally and around the world. An online space created by Rangers, for Rangers. Endorsed by the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the Universal Rangers Support Alliance (URSA), it is a growing online community that connects Rangers and provides relevant conservation news,events, stories, and training - and soon to include CJS daily news headlines. It is totally free, with over 90 countries represented, and the app is now keen to get more UK Rangers onboard. [more]

CJS Focus

Focus on Careers in Ecology & Biodiversity - our first career focused edition in association with CIEEM
Articles on: the variety of jobs available in the ecology sector ranging from government, private consultancies to research and teaching roles with CIEEM; what exactly an ecologist does with the Ecology Academy; a Day in the Life of an ecologist from James at Arbtech & also from Laura at Total Ecology; setting up as a freelance ecologist – the good and the bad with Eco-Habitat; Ecology Training UK run through the skills you need to work in conservation and how to get them; the job of a Biodiversity Officer and the tasks undertaken by local authorities; early career ecologist Julia is on the career ladder – what’s it actually like and what tips has she got to help you; career progression in ecological sciences with British Ecological Society.
This edition also carries some ecology jobs. Read it in full here


Quite a lot on pollution this month, from microplastics in water to light pollution, however increasing carbon dioxide concentrations teach old oaks new tricks according to the University of Birmingham. Bad news for many bird populations but beavers are doing well across the country and reactions to the latest planned badger culls for bTB control.  The Woodland Trust is aiming to plant a million trees next year whilst the National Trust is highlighting the importance of planting the right tree in the right place and the Wildlife Trusts are celebrating raising £25m in a year to kickstart nature's recovery.


Training and Events

Calendar of events and short courses occurring in December plus additions made over the past month.

Useful information

Reminder that you can post useful Information to our new bulletin board page, it's the place for all sorts of useful information that doesn't really fit anywhere else! 50 word text is free.


Call out for water vole mitigation sites! Are you involved in a historic or active water vole mitigation scheme? [more

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

CJS Newsletters and updates:

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

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

Jobs: view all online jobs here  Please remember to say you saw the advert in CJS Professional.

Volunteers: see all listings online at:

Advertise your voluntary roles with CJS - it's free!
Click here.

CJS announcements, information and other articles of interest.

double eded wooden signpost saying Reader Seruvey

Countryside Jobs Service – Readers Survey

Only by knowing your opinions can we meet your needs and thus maintain our position as the Biggest and the Best.

Fit for the future

It's been a turbulent few years and it's time we assessed how well CJS is fitting your needs and providing the services you want and need in a way that is simple and easy to use. Your opinions matter and we do listen. This survey is more in depth than previous ones, with quite a few open ended questions, as we work out how to ensure that CJS remains relevant to you: our readers. We're not expecting essays just a few words or a sentence or two at most. Please be honest - write your first response on reading the question.

The survey is broken into various sections you can complete as many as are appropriate or you want. There are only three compulsory questions everything else is entirely up to you and how much time you want to spend, we think it should take no more than 15 minutes.

Thank you for your time

We know everyone is incredibly busy and as a thank you to everyone who submits a survey will receive a month (four weeks) of CJS Weekly and one survey drawn at random will receive a full year's subscription

We also have some wonderful rewards on offer.


A Field Studies Course

One of two £25 vouchers for NHBS

£50 voucher to spend at Habitat Aid

Sweet Cecily's lip balm gift box - perfect for those days outside in all weathers.

One of two sets of stamps from Royal Mail celebrating our National Parks

Full year of CJS Weekly (can be added to an existing subscription or given to someone else)

Click on each reward for more information or here to see more about everything of offer.

Watch out for more details of the rewards over the nxt few weeks

SURVEY CLOSES ON Sunday 24 October: take part here.


logo: Belfast Hills Partnership

Wednesday 3 November at 2pm – save the date

The next CJS Facebook Live event will give you tips on job applications

Join Dr Lizzy Pinkerton, Scheme Manager for the Belfast Hills Partnership, as she gives us an insight into the recruitment process in Northern Ireland. The session will provide attendees with an insight into how to correctly fill out job application forms, top tips for the interview along with how to predict interview questions. You will also have the chance to ask any questions you may have about the process.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details nearer the time


logo: Youth Environment Service

The Youth Environmental Service is calling for participants to join its co-design group, looking at developing plans for a pilot programme in 2022 in the Midlands.

The Youth Environmental Service is a new initiative being developed out of The Eden Project. It looks to offer young people, aged 18-25, the opportunity to work on environmentally focused service work for up to a year, paid at the national living wage. At the moment the project is still very much a seed of an idea - they’re looking to develop it into something real, working with national and Midlands-specific organisations and individuals to determine what it could look like in practice - what work there is to be done, what support/training would wrap around it, and who will deliver it.

The co-design is slated to run from October to December, with 3 collective working sessions supported by ongoing conversations around specific topics. The team running it are keen to ensure a range of different voices are involved in the process to make sure that they create something that adds value to both the people taking part, the employers hosting them, and the wider community and environment. If you’d like to find out more, or would be interested in taking part, please reach out to the programme director, Billy Knowles:


collage of people in different rural careers

VirtRural careers event

Lantra Scotland is running an online event on Thursday 4th November to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the careers available in Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation sector.

As it will be a virtual event, it is open to anyone interested in finding out more about careers in those industries, whether career influencers, students, parents or career changers.

It’s a great chance to hear directly from people already working in the sector about the exciting opportunities on offer, so book your place now at


picture of a mortar board hat with the message: Congratulation to the class of 2021

Things are strange enough for everyone right now but for our new graduates it's particularly bewildering. Our graduating students are leaving the world of academia behind and heading off to start their careers looking at a more uncertain future than any of us can imagine. To help our next generation of rangers, ecologists, wildlife warriors, landscape managers and environmental educators CJS wants to give each of the class of 2021 a graduation present of a full year's subscription to CJS Weekly.

If you know any new graduate please send them the details of our graduate gift, there are more details and the form to sign up here:

Rest assured this is a genuine gift, no hidden catches or sudden requests for money, just CJS trying our best to help the sector.

CJS Focus.

logo: CJS Focus

Most recent edition is below. Or click the links to read each article.  To share this edition on social media please use this link:

CJS Focus on Careers in Ecology & Biodiversity in association with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) now published

Details of the articles in this edition:

Careers in the Ecology and Environmental Sector – The lead article from CIEEM investigates the different careers in the sector. [more]

So you want to be an ecologist? – Richard Dodd at the Ecology Academy asks the question and goes on to explain the various roles and also what companies are looking for in an early career ecologist [more]

A Day in the Life of an Ecologist – namely James Fielding, Ecological Surveyor with Arbtech Consulting Ltd. Working in an entry-level role, most of James’ days are spent conducting ecological surveys. [more]

Flying Solo – A Year in the Making – Just over a year ago Emily Macfarlan set up as a freelance ecologist. Trading as Eco-Habitat Ltd the time has exceeded her expectations but has also come with anticipated and unforeseen challenges. [more]

Born to be Wild – the skills you need to work in conservation and biodiversity – Sue Searle at Ecology Training UK departs a wealth of information about how you can build your skills set and secure a paid position in the ecology sector. [more]

Life on the Edge – Working for Nature and Well-being in Outer London – the work of Biodiversity Officer at Harrow Council, Steve Whitbread is highlighted along with what’s involved in the Council’s activities around biodiversity [more]

A closer look at the life of an early career ecologist – Julia Kozlowska achieved her goal of being offered a permanent, full-time position as an ecologist at the start of the year. She tells us all about the experience and also provides some tips for getting your first ecology job. [more]

Day in the Life of an Ecologist – in our second look at the job of an ecologist we find out what Laura Thompson gets up to in her role with Total Ecology – overall a day is usually fun, stressful if I’m to be honest and very variable and she wouldn’t have it any other way! [more]

Careers in Ecology & Biodiversity: What can you do to progress your career? – Amy Padfield at the British Ecological Society goes through some great methods you can use to progress in your ecological career. [more]

This edition also contains some jobs in ecology - NB adverts are deleted as they reach the closing date.

Features and In Depth Articles.


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.

Following the Cabinet Reshuffle in September:

CPRE urges Michael Gove to focus on housing, nature and the climate crisis - CPRE

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffles his cabinet to bring in a new minister for housing, communities and local government, we call on Michael Gove to look at the triple threat: housing, nature and climate.

As the government sees changes in the ministers leading key teams including in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, we at CPRE, the countryside charity, are urging for focus on key rural issues.

These changes come at a crucial time, with some proposed reforms to the planning system close to being scrapped and the COP26 international climate conference looming in November 2021.

And so we welcome Michael Gove to his new role as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and urge him: ‘champion communities, nature and climate.’

‘Challenges like never before’

Mr Gove arrives at a crucial time. Unpopular proposed changes to the planning system that would empower big developers and disenfranchise local people are still on the table and the country continues to see a crisis in truly affordable housing, especially in rural areas.

Our chief executive, Crispin Truman, has this to say to the new housing minister: ‘With his past experience as environment secretary, we hope and expect him to champion local communities, nature and climate as his department drafts the new planning bill. We hope and expect him to champion local communities, nature and climate as his department drafts the new planning bill. That means securing the voice of local people in planning decisions, holding developers to affordable housing targets, an end to land banking and protecting our local green spaces and countryside by reusing previously developed land first.’

And we at CPRE are urging the whole cabinet to set their mind to the challenges of our age: the climate emergency, lack of housing and losses to nature and biodiversity. As Crispin puts it: ‘Our countryside faces challenges like never before. We simply don’t have time for disjointed policy where one department’s good work is undermined by damaging decisions in another. That’s why we need bold and decisive leadership from the government’s top team to truly face up to the triple threat of the housing, nature and climate crises, especially ahead of the COP26 climate summit.’

Animal and Wildlife News


Seabird numbers decline by almost 50% - NatureScot

Numbers of breeding seabirds in Scotland have declined by almost 50% since the 1980s, a new report shows.

NatureScot has published its latest biodiversity indicator looking at 11 species of breeding seabirds.

two guillemots
Guillemots at Fowlsheugh ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot

The results show that numbers fell by 49% between 1986 and the most recent estimate in 2019.

Arctic skua continues to show the largest decline (81%), with reductions in the availability of sandeels and increased predation from great skuas understood to be factors affecting the species. Common tern numbers have also dropped sharply by 48%.

Meanwhile guillemot numbers have increased by 17% since 2016 and are now at a similar level to the early 2000s.

Other species – such as herring gull – also appear to be stabilising, albeit at lower levels than the 1986 baseline year.

Simon Foster, NatureScot’s Trends & Indicator Analyst, said: “While there are some positive signs of stabilisation in some species, overall our internationally important breeding seabird populations are continuing to decline. We know that these declines are driven by factors including climate change, fisheries and invasive non-native species."

Access the full biodiversity indicator here.

Varied fortunes for Scotland's wintering waterbirds - NatureScot

Numbers of wintering waterbirds have declined overall in Scotland, with waders showing the greatest decrease.

Lapwing ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot
Lapwing ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot

NatureScot has published its latest biodiversity indicator, which tracks populations of 41 species, including wildfowl, waders, cormorant, grebes and coot, using data gathered by volunteers through the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).

Overall numbers of waterbirds were 7% lower in 2018/19 than when comprehensive counting started in 1975, with large variations between species.

Numbers of waders – including species such as oystercatcher, lapwing, golden plover, knot and dunlin – have declined by 58%.

Wintering numbers of two species - black-tailed godwit and grey plover - have increased, while numbers of sanderling remain stable.

Climate change is causing some species to shift their wintering distributions and this may account for some of the declines as birds select areas with more favourable foraging conditions to spend the winter.

For waders that winter along our rocky shores, such as purple sandpiper and turnstone, the reasons for the decrease are not well understood but some studies suggest that poor breeding success in their arctic coastal and tundra breeding grounds is a factor.

Simon Foster, NatureScot’s Trends & Indicator Analyst, said: “Wader numbers peaked around 1997/98 but since then have been in steady decline. Scotland is in an important position within the East Atlantic Flyway, which is the migration route used by our waders, so these data are invaluable in piecing together what is happening globally. By sharing research and working with others across the entire flyway we can better understand the global forces at play, especially climate change. Collaboration is vital to finding solutions to the declines of waders. Improving coastal habitats, such as through coastal realignment, helps Scotland’s waterbirds providing areas for feeding and roosting waterbirds, as well as helping with climate resilience. For wintering waders which also breed in Scotland, such as curlew, golden plover and oystercatcher, we are also supporting schemes such as The Working for Waders initiative, which is taking active steps to reverse the decline in our wading birds through a range of targeted projects.”

Action needed to reverse decline in farmland birds - Countryside Restoration Trust

Action must be taken to reverse the decline in farmland birds which have seen a 7% decrease in numbers since 2015, according to the UK Forestry Statistics published today.
Danielle Dewe, Chief Executive of the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT), said: “It is concerning to read that farmland birds have declined since 2015, alongside woodland birds. We need an approach to agriculture that unites farming and wildlife, so that we have productive and profitable farms that also help to reverse the precipitous decline in British biodiversity.”
Dewe concluded: “The CRT has seen a positive response to the regenerative farming practices that it encourages on its farms. For example, Lapwings returned to the CRT’s Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire this year, after an almost twenty-year hiatus. This is in response to efforts to run a mixed farm, and to taking steps to allow their habitats to remain. CRT Chair Nicholas Watts was also recently celebrated for raising £2 million for conservation charities through sales of his birdseed. If we tweak our farming practices, wildlife will be restored.”

Read the paper here


The Wildlife Trusts respond to new badger cull licences - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

The Wildlife Trusts are disappointed and saddened that the Government has issued new licenses to cull badgers in seven areas of England.

These cover 33 existing areas and 7 new areas for 2021. To take one example, badger culling in Derbyshire continues and enters its second year where up to 3218 badgers could die this autumn.

Up to 75,000 badgers could be killed across England this year – taking the total to around 200,000 shot badgers since the cull began. The new licenses allow badgers to be shot and killed over the next four years in an attempt to control bTb in cattle.

There is still a lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle and a report by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust last year suggested the evidence used is flawed and inaccurate.
Jo Smith, chief executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, says: “The main cause of bovine TB is from cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are not the main culprit yet thousands are killed every year. For years, The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of vaccinating badgers. It is now time for Government to step up its commitment and implement a badger vaccination strategy alongside the deployment of a vaccination for cattle against the disease.”
Earlier this year, the Government committed to issuing no new intensive badger cull licences after 2022 and thousands of people have shared their concerns and called for a more immediate end to the cull. The Wildlife Trusts are also concerned that the cull in England has inspired plans for a potential badger cull in Northern Ireland for the first time – a huge step backwards in the fight against this devastating cattle disease.”

RSPCA dismay as targets for killing badgers are increased despite government pledge to stop - RSPCA

The RSPCA has said it is dismayed at the Government's decision to expand the badger cull by issuing licences to seven new parts of England despite recently pledging to phase out culling.

According to the animal charity, up to 75,930 badgers could be shot this year in the continuing flawed attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB. The new licences will result in badger culling being permitted in zones in Hampshire, Berkshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and two parts of Shropshire.

The devastating news comes despite the Westminster Government making a commitment to move away from culling badgers in favour of vaccinating and to develop more cattle based measures such as a more sophisticated TB testing regime.

Adam Grogan, head of the RSPCA's wildlife department, said: “We are completely dismayed that the Government is insisting on persisting with its inhumane and ineffective badger cull despite its commitment to 'government-supported badger vaccination and surveillance'. It is appalling news that the cull is to be extended to another seven regions, given the Government's welcome announcement earlier this year that it would move away from culling towards badger vaccination, the development of cattle vaccination, more frequent and improved cattle testing, better management of cattle movements and incentives to improve biosecurity. Vaccination of cattle and badgers is key. Vaccination of cattle started this summer in a groundbreaking trial and inoculating badgers can reduce prevalence of the disease in those animals. Data from Wales implies that it may have had an impact in reducing cattle herd prevalence as well.

There should also be an increased focus on management measures to better control bovine TB in cattle. Vets have told us that they want more information and training specifically on bovine TB so they can help their clients manage it better - and the BVA agrees. Some schemes do already exist but we believe the government should incentivise uptake of these by making it a provision of any bovine TB management plan.”

The RSPCA's 2019 report Bovine TB: Not Everything is Black and White included a number of recommendations on how the management of bovine TB could be improved. The RSPCA then carried out a consultation of farmers and vets about their opinions of the recommendations in the report.

Trust urges Government not to cull badgers it has already vaccinated - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Chris Tufnell of Coach House Vets vaccinating a badger at a BBOWT reserve. Picture: Julia Lofthouse
Chris Tufnell of Coach House Vets vaccinating a badger at a BBOWT reserve. Picture: Julia Lofthouse

BBOWT is urging the Government to speed up its promised transition from badger culling to vaccination, and not slaughter animals that the Trust has already vaccinated.

The Government announced last month that it was issuing seven new licences for badger culling across England, including in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, in an attempt to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

That is despite more than 40,000 people responding to a Government consultation at the start of this year urging it to stop issuing licences and prioritise vaccination instead.

The licences were also issued regardless of the fact that BBOWT has been running a highly successful badger vaccination programme in the area since 2014 and has inoculated hundreds of badgers - many of which could now be pointlessly killed. Over the past seven years, BBOWT has vaccinated badgers over a 20km2 area covering its own nature reserves, council land, farms and private estates.

The Government has already said that it will stop allowing culling from 2025 and instead push for vaccination of badgers and cattle in a drive to eradicate bTB in England by 2038. Now BBOWT and the 45 other local conservation charities that make up The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to simply achieve its own ambition sooner.

Julia Lofthouse, BBOWT Mammal Project Manager, said: "The current situation is absurd: over the past seven years, BBOWT has successfully vaccinated hundreds of badgers, protecting them from bTB and preventing them from passing the disease onto cattle. What's more, our results have proven this is a much more humane way to tackle bTB than culling - and is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger. "We aren't even asking the Government to change its policy - we are saying its ambition to move from culling to vaccination is completely right. In fact, we think it's such a good idea we are asking them to start doing it right now, instead of carrying on with a hugely unpopular, needlessly expensive and inhumane slaughter."

Thames has the ‘seal of approval’ - ZSL

ZSL’s annual seal population survey highlights Thames’ role as important ecosystem ahead of global summits for environment and nature

It is estimated that the Thames estuary is home to 2,866 grey and 797 harbour seals according to international conservation charity ZSL latest’s seal survey results - showing that the iconic river is a key ecological hotspot for these species.

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has been monitoring the grey (Halichoerus grypus) and harbour (Phoca vitulina) seals in the Greater Thames Estuary since 2013, and this year’s count revealed an active population:

ZSL’s conservation biologists conducted the survey from water, land and air covering the Greater Thames Estuary coastline and sandbanks between Felixstowe and Deal - the first survey since 2019, due to the pandemic. The census data helps ZSL’s team to understand how well the two important species - which are top predators in the Thames - are doing.

The count was undertaken over several days in August, as this is the moulting season for the harbour seals, when they spend much of their day out of the water and can be easily spotted basking on the estuary’s sandbanks.

ZSL Conservation Biologist Thea Cox, who led this year’s survey, said, “During the 2021 ZSL annual seal survey, we counted 574 harbour seals, and 685 grey seals laying out on the sandbanks along the Thames. When we combine this with the estimated number of seals that remained in the water during our count, our final numbers are 797 harbour seals and 2,866 grey seals.”

The Scottish SPCA is caring for a ringed seal which is a species normally found in arctic waters. - Scottish SPCA

We were alerted to the male seal by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue after he was spotted at Cove Bay Harbour in Aberdeen on 27 August.

The seal had abrasions on his back and seemed lethargic. He was mistaken for a common seal pup but when he arrived at our National Wildlife Rescue Centre, he was identified as a ringed seal. Ringed seals are much smaller than common seals which is why he was misidentified as a pup.

very cute spotty seal pup looking into the camera
I mean, look at that face! Hispi, the Ringed Seal pup (image: SSPCA)

Sian Belcher, wildlife assistant said: “We were very surprised to have a ringed seal arrive in our care as they are found in arctic waters and can venture as far south as Greenland or Norway so it’s very unusual that he was found in the Aberdeen area."

Sian continued: “We decided to call him Hispi. He wasn’t too underweight when he arrived but is eating well and putting on some weight. Hispi is doing well and our team are very excited to have such a rare resident. It doesn’t hurt that he’s impossibly cute. He will most likely stay with us in to October and then we will need to get as far north as we possibly can to release him so he can find his way back home.”

Baby ‘Squirrel Nutkins’ born - Longleat Safari Park

Red squirrels (Longleat Safari Park)
Red squirrels (Longleat Safari Park)

A quartet of baby red squirrels has been born.

The babies, a boy and three girls are known as kits, and are the first to have been born at the Park.

They are part of a UK-wide breeding programme for the rare, native mammal which aims to reintroduce the species back into the wild.

The last red squirrel sighting in Wiltshire was in 1965 and they’re now virtually extinct in England, except for isolated populations on the Isle of Wight, Brownsea Island, Formby, the Lake District and parts of Northumberland.

“We’re very excited to announce the birth of our very first red squirrel kits here at Longleat,” said keeper Chris Burr. “The youngsters are part of a very special captive breeding programme with the aim that one day these amazing animals can be reintroduced and thrive in our native landscapes. Our role is to establish a healthy breeding population and, once fully grown, these kits will become part of future breeding programmes or perhaps even wild release themselves. Obviously our ultimate goal would be to have a population living on the Longleat estate and the aim is for us to have the native red squirrels back on site within the next 10 years,” he added.

Great news - it’s looking rosy for the reds - Northumberland Wildlife

Red squirrel, image John Bridges
Red squirrel, image John Bridges

Conservation group Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) which works to protect red squirrels in the region and further afield, has published the results from its ninth annual squirrel monitoring survey.

The surveys take place in ‘red squirrel counties’ across northern England, where wild red squirrels can still be found: in Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, North Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and parts of County Durham.

As with previous years, over 125 people were involved in this massive citizen science project surveying 253 sites including woodlands and gardens across seven counties with many of the surveys carried out by volunteers using trail cameras, feeders in gardens and walking through forests to spot squirrels.

In Northumberland, the number of red squirrels recorded catapulted by 19% to 44.7% from 2019’s 26%, which are the rewards form the long-term and sustained efforts invested by our rangers and local volunteers. Notably the increase in the Harwood and Kielder red squirrel strongholds, where the natural defence of conifer forests provide some help in slowing down the greys, bolstered county results.

Grey squirrel numbers were also up - from 51% to 62.3%, most likely due to favourable environmental factors such as mild winters and good autumn crops, both of which favour grey squirrel reproduction.

Most encouraging from this year’s survey results is red squirrel occupancy across the red squirrel regions has remained stable since 2015 - it is not down, but up! However, there is no room for complacency, as grey squirrel occupancy is also up and very high at around 60% on average.

Management of grey populations remains vital in order to protect the native reds so that they can continue to thrive, which they surely would not be doing if grey management was not at its current level, especially thanks to the significant efforts of local community volunteers.

The Mammal Society embarks on landmark conservation project to help protect the UK’s red squirrels - Huawei Technologies

Bringing together the University of Bristol, Huawei Technologies and Rainforest Connection, the project will deploy innovative technologies for the first time in the UK.

Dorset, United Kingdom, 07 October, 2021: One of the UK’s most respected wildlife organisations is launching a conservation project to help secure the future of endangered red squirrels in the UK.

The Mammal Society is partnering with the University of Bristol, international NGO Rainforest Connection, and Huawei Technologies on an innovative new campaign to help protect red squirrels by generating unprecedented insights into the lives and activities of declining populations across the UK.

The project will see advanced bio-acoustic, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies deployed to help experts assess and monitor squirrel populations. It will use custom-built “Guardian” and “Audiomoth” monitoring devices and Huawei software to analyse the natural noise of the environment - the first time Huawei’s world-leading technology has been applied in this way in the UK.

One of the UK’s most loved native species, the endangered red squirrel has lost 60 per cent of its range in England and Wales over the last 13 years, and it is estimated that there are fewer than 290,000 left across the country. Monitoring is a critical part of conservation efforts as this allows conservationists the opportunity to better understand habitats, behaviours and the role of other species.

The project will focus on UK woodlands with red squirrel populations, grey squirrel populations, and areas where both live side by side. It will see Huawei AI capabilities used to generate vital information on these squirrel populations. Data generated through this collaboration will then be used by the Mammal Society to support further efforts to protect the species.

Dr. Stephanie Wray, chair of the Mammal Society said: “We face an urgent crisis in protecting some of the UK’s best-loved native species, and there is no creature more iconic than the red squirrel. This technology allows us to see what’s happening in real time, and the AI approach allows one researcher to cover a much wider area that we would traditionally. This means we can scale the project up faster, and start to make a difference for endangered species sooner.”

Professor Marc Holderied at the University of Bristol, said: “We are excited to be taking part in this innovative project that will improve our understanding of these remarkable forest-dwellers and their habitat and importantly, will help us identify where conservation efforts can be best deployed to boost their declining numbers.”

This programme is the latest step in Huawei’s global partnership with Rainforest Connection and their efforts to promote biodiversity worldwide.

Bold new vision places communities at the heart of deer management obligations - British Association for Shooting and Conservation

A new vision that will place communities at the centre of efforts to manage deer on publicly owned land in Scotland will be unveiled today (24 September) by a partnership of eleven leading deer management stakeholders.

The partnership aims to institutionalise what is being described as ‘community integrated deer management’ by establishing more opportunities for trained recreational deer stalkers to manage deer on publicly owned land in their local area.
In Scotland nearly 6,400 people hold the deer stalking certificate 1 (the introductory deer management qualification), while over 2,100 individuals hold the more advanced deer stalking certificate.

standing roe deer in long grass and flwoering thistles
roe deer (image: pixabay)

Despite having an estimated deer population of one million, many trained recreational deer stalkers in Scotland struggle to access deer management opportunities locally. This is especially true for those living near publicly owned land, where permissions are described as being ‘out of reach’ for recreational stalkers.
The organisations argue that current public expenditure on deer management contractors is ‘needlessly expensive’, and that utilising trained recreational deer stalkers would slash costs if they were afforded a more enhanced role in their local area. In 2019, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) – which manages approximately 9% of Scotland’s land area – expended £10.5 million on deer management contracts and just under £5 million on fencing.
The partnership is urging the Scottish Government to establish a pilot community deer stalking scheme on FLS land, in which a local recreational deer stalking syndicate would pay a small fee to take on the deer management obligations. It is envisaged that the harvested venison would be sold and consumed locally, thus reducing the overall carbon footprint.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) – the co-ordinating partner behind the vision – has pledged to support the syndicate, act as the liaison with FLS and develop replicable operating mechanisms so that other schemes can be established in the future.

The vision – entitled ‘Our Deer’ – will be launched at the Scottish Game Fair today (Friday 24 September). It outlines six recommendations for the Scottish Government to consider, as well as five commitments that will be honoured by the partnership.

Wild beavers recorded in Avon for the first time in 400 years - Avon Wildlife Trust

Beaver (c) Bevis Watts
Beaver (c) Bevis Watts

New evidence from Avon Wildlife Trust has shown wild beavers are thriving in the Avon catchment area – making this one of the UK’s first regions in which the endangered species has established themselves without human assistance or interference for over 400 years.

Since the early 2000’s, beavers have been reintroduced across the UK, through conservation trials like the River Otter Beaver Trial in Devon. At a time when the UK government has launched a landmark consultation on the reintroduction of beavers in England, this new sighting of three generations confirms that beavers are successfully expanding their range naturally.

The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of beaver conservation in Britain, and Avon Wildlife Trust are now delighted to have beavers on their own patch. A family of beavers has been recorded in the area, including three baby beavers (kits) born this year.

Amy Coulthard, Director of Nature’s Recovery, Avon Wildlife Trust, commented: “A new sighting of wild beavers is extremely significant. Beavers are a keystone species and they have an extraordinary ability to change habitats to suit their needs while creating ecosystems for other species to thrive. The presence of this beaver population will support other wildlife and help us to tackle the ecological emergency.”

Avon Wildlife Trust recently launched the 30 by 30 appeal, to raise £30,000 to help ensure at least 30% of our land and sea is connected and protected for nature’s recovery by 2030.

Beavers benefit fish by building dams in Scottish rivers - University of Southampton

Image: Beaver dam in Scotland. Credit: R Needham
Image: Beaver dam in Scotland. Credit: R Needham

Modification of river habitat by Eurasian beavers helps fish in small upland streams, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

The research shows that by building dams in shallow streams, the beavers create deeper pools that increase availability of suitable habitat and abundance of food – benefiting brown trout, which are a commercially and ecologically important species.
As a result of beaver activity, the trout tended to be larger, having grown well throughout the year, with the largest and most mature fish, that are of greatest interest to fishermen, being much more abundant. In beaver modified habitat, the trout also benefit from the provision of sanctuary from predators.
The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Southampton, and published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, monitored the fish that inhabited two Scottish streams in Inverness-shire that flow into the same loch. One stream was modified by beaver activity through the construction of five dams, while the other was left unaltered, providing a unique opportunity to compare the influence of beaver habitat modification on fish.
PhD student Robert Needham, from the International Centre for Ecohydraulics Research at Southampton, explained: “There has been a great deal of concern about the possibility of beaver dams blocking the upstream and downstream migration of Atlantic salmon and trout as they move to and from their spawning grounds, as well as impacting habitat quality. This study explored how brown trout respond to beaver activity.”

Read the paper ‘The response of a brown trout (Salmo trutta) population to reintroduced Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) habitat modification’


State of Dragonflies 2021 report - British Dragonfly Society

State of Dragonflies in Britain & Ireland front cover

More dragonflies are gaining than losing from climate change, but is this good news?

The State of Dragonflies in Britain and Ireland 2021 report, just published online by the British Dragonfly Society (BDS), shows that dragonflies are bucking the trend of declining species in Britain and Ireland. In the dragonfly world there have been far more gains than losses. Over 40% of resident and regular migrant species have increased since 1970, while only 11% have declined. Although this sounds like good news for dragonflies, it is in fact yet another indicator of climate change. Dragonflies are a mainly tropical group of insects, so most will benefit from rising
average temperatures.

Emperor Dragonfly has shown the largest increase. Found mainly in England and south Wales until the 1990s, the species crossed the Irish Sea in 2000, before spreading rapidly through Ireland. It has also spread northwards in England and Wales, reaching Scotland in 2003. Migrant Hawker and Black-tailed Skimmer have shown similar increases and range expansions to a slightly lesser extent.

In total, 19 of our 46 resident and regular migrant dragonfly and damselfly species have increased in Britain and Ireland, while just five have declined.

In addition, we have gained eight new species since 1995 and two others have reappeared after a long gap in their records. Some of these species have since colonised with Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Willow Emerald Damselfly and Southern Migrant Hawker spreading most rapidly in recent years. This increased rate of immigration and colonisation by species with a more southern distribution in Europe is unprecedented in modern times and clearly shows how our climate is changing to one more commonly found on the Continent.

The full report can be accessed here.

Study supports theory that dragonflies migrate across the Indian Ocean - Lund University

A globe skimmer dragonfly (Johanna Hedlund)
A globe skimmer dragonfly (Johanna Hedlund)

Can dragonflies migrate thousands of miles across the Indian Ocean, from India via the Maldives to Africa, and back again? An international research team led by Lund University in Sweden has used models and simulations to find out if the hypothesis could be true.

In 2009, marine biologist Charles Anderson put forward a hypothesis after observing globe skimmer dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) on the Maldives, that had flown in from what he assumed was India. When they flew off again, it was towards East Africa. Now, 12 years later, a group of researchers decided to investigate his claim.

Globe skimmer dragonflies are too small to be fitted with transmitters. Instead, the researchers examined its physiological aspects and calculated how long a globe skimmer dragonfly could stay airborne using the energy that can be stored in its body. In addition, the researchers used meteorological wind models to determine if there are winds that can facilitate the migration in both directions.

“Our study shows that this migration from India to East Africa is actually possible. However, the globe skimmer dragonfly can’t manage it using only the fat it can store in its body. It also requires favourable winds and these are present during certain periods of the year”, says Johanna Hedlund, a biology researcher at Lund University.

According to the simulated migration experiments using wind models, about 15 per cent of the dragonflies could manage the migration from India to Africa in the spring. In the autumn, 40 per cent could make the same journey in the opposite direction.

Big Butterfly Count 2021 sees lowest ever number of butterflies recorded - Butterfly Conservation

Ringlet - Heath McDonald
Ringlet - Heath McDonald

Wildlife charity warns that we must act now if we are to save the UK’s butterflies and moths for future generations.

Butterfly Conservation has today released data on the number of butterflies and day-flying moths counted across the UK in this year’s Big Butterfly Count, which ran from 16th July – 8th August.

Worryingly, the decline in the number of butterflies and moths across the UK is continuing, with the overall number of butterflies recorded per count at its lowest level since the Big Butterfly Count began 12 years ago.

The nation’s love of butterflies isn’t diminishing. Despite the low butterfly numbers, and relatively poor weather, more butterfly counts were submitted than ever before. Over 150,000 counts were registered, representing more than 38,000 hours of butterfly counting in gardens, parks and the countryside.

Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation said: “This year’s results show that the average number of butterflies and moths per count is the lowest we’ve recorded so far. On average people counted nine butterflies or moths per count, which is down from 11 in 2020, and down again from 16 in 2019. More counts are undertaken and submitted year on year, but it seems that there are fewer butterflies and moths around to be counted.”

Some of the UK’s most-loved species including the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies dropped in numbers this summer. The iconic Peacock butterfly suffered its lowest numbers since 2012. The Small Tortoiseshell, once a frequent visitor to gardens in the UK, had its third worst summer in the history of the Big Butterfly Count and shows a significant long-term decline in Britain.

A boost for bees as Defra works with beekeepers to implement the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 - Defra

honey bee on a flower Image by Photorama from Pixabay
Image by Photorama from Pixabay

Enhancing biosecurity, skills and science is central to delivering the aims of Healthy Bees Plan 2030

A raft of new actions were published by the Government today (Tuesday 5 October) aimed at sustaining populations of honey bees in England and Wales.

Defra today published its Implementation Plan for the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 which sets out more than 50 actions which beekeepers, bee farmers, bee associations and government will undertake to protect and enhance populations of honey bees.

Honey bees continue to face pressure from a variety of pests, diseases and environmental threats and the new Implementation Plan sets out actions to sustain the health of honey bees and beekeeping in England and Wales over the next decade.

The plan was developed in consultation with stakeholders and includes promoting training and support as a key action to improve beekeeping skills and provide a supportive and inclusive community.

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

They are just one of many species of pollinator in the UK, alongside 26 species of bumble bee, over 250 species of solitary bee and hundreds of types of hoverflies, butterflies and moths. Actions to support and improve the status of wild pollinators are set out in the National Pollinator Strategy for England.

The economic benefit of pollination – provided by all of these species groups - to crop production in the UK is over half a billion pounds each year, based on yield.


Boost for UK’s rarest lizard as over 140 are released back into the wild - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

A group of the UK’s rarest lizard – the sand lizard - have been released back into the wild in Dorset. Over 140 of these endangered species, bred at several locations including Marwell Zoo and Forestry England’s New Forest Reptile Centre, were released in a partnership project led by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) to return these species from near extinction.

The young sand lizards were reintroduced on Forestry England land in Dorset and follow on from a group of 200 released in the same spot last year. Despite an unfavourable spring, many lizards managed to lay two clutches of eggs and the lack of prolonged hot or wet periods over the summer helped these to remain in good condition, prior to being excavated and incubated until hatching.

Once widespread in England, sand lizards have declined considerably owing to loss of suitable habitats and are now only found in a few isolated areas of southern England and Merseyside. ARC recently carried out a country-wide survey of the species, classifying them as still highly endangered in the UK. Reintroductions in several locations across the UK are seeking to boost numbers and restore the habitats these rare animals need to thrive.

Dorset is one of the key strongholds for sand lizards with over 70% of the remaining UK population found here. Ongoing habitat restoration at Forestry England release sites in the area ensures the new populations have suitable habitat. The work includes removing dominating vegetation to open up the sandy areas needed for breeding.

In the UK sand lizards are dependent on dry, sandy lowland heathland or coastal sand dunes. Growing to around 20cms long, females can be identified by their sandy-brown colour with rows of dark and white spots called ocelli along their backs. Males have vivid green flanks which are particularly distinctive during the breeding season.

Zoos and Exotics

Edinburgh Zoo welcomes Scotland’s only sloths - RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

Scotland’s only sloths have been revealed for the first time at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo today, Monday 13 September.

Visitors can now spot two Linne’s two-toed sloths in the wildlife conservation charity’s new Sloths and Armadillos building which is opening gradually to help the pair settle in.

Two-year-old male Moana, nicknamed Mo, and one-year-old female Feira, known as Fe, have joined large hairy armadillos Nymeria and Diogo in the exhibit which tells the story of wildlife in South America.

Erika Oulton, senior animal experiences keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are thrilled to have welcomed this brand-new species to the zoo and hope visitors will be able to spot Mo and Fe in their incredible new home during their visit. Our Brilliant Birds building has been refurbished to create an amazing space with lots of trees and ropes for our sloths to explore at their own pace. They are settling in well so far, though we’ll be keeping viewing hours limited for the first few weeks while they get used to their new surroundings. It is wonderful to open this exciting exhibit which our sloths are sharing with two large hairy armadillos who are important ambassadors for our charity’s conservation partners, working to protect threatened species and their habitats in Brazil.”

Born Free Foundation and the RSPCA call for an urgent review of current exotic pet legislation following joint report published today - RSPCA

In a new report published today the RSPCA along with Born Free has revealed the animal welfare 'ticking time bomb' faced by the country due to the extensive trading and keeping of wild animals.

  • An estimated 1.8 million reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, 1.3 million indoor birds, and more than 100 million ornamental fish kept as pets in UK households
  • Exotic pets are commonly deprived of one or more basic welfare needs
  • 6,119 incidents were reported to RSPCA in 2020 involving 22,865 exotic animals

The charities have today published a joint report - The Exotic Pet-demic: UK's ticking timebomb exposed - which calls for urgent changes in the law.

The RSPCA is concerned that the private keeping of exotic wild animals poses significant risks to animal welfare, species conservation, as well as animal and human health, and the environment.

Our CEO, Chris Sherwood said: "Last year, the RSPCA handled more than 6,000 calls relating to almost 23,000 exotic pets - from lizards and snakes to raccoon dogs and monkeys. Many of the problems we deal with are the result of a lack of understanding of how to care for exotic pets. These animals have the same, complex needs as their wild kin, but it can be extremely difficult to fulfill those requirements in a domestic environment and that leads to suffering. This important report highlights why the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which approaches its 2nd reading, doesn't go far enough, particularly in its failure to propose a full ban on primates being kept as pets. We also want to go further and restrict the keeping of other exotic, wild animals whose needs cannot be met in the home and who face a life of suffering if kept as pets. There needs to be better regulation of the keeping and trade in exotic pets, and we are proposing that the UK Government gives consideration to proposals like a positive list system as a possible way forward. This report offers far-reaching recommendations and we hope it will be a springboard to further discussion about the way we regulate the keeping and trading of exotics and improve their welfare."

Scientific Research, Results and Publications

Going up: birds and mammals evolve faster if their home is rising - University of Cambridge

The rise and fall of Earth’s land surface over the last three million years shaped the evolution of birds and mammals, a new study has found, with new species evolving at higher rates where the land has risen most.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have combined reconstructions of the Earth’s changing surface elevations over the past three million years with data on climate change over this timeframe, and with bird and mammal species’ locations. Their results reveal how species evolved into new ones as land elevation changed - and disentangle the effects of elevation from the effects of climate.

kia parrot sitting on the top of a rock with mountains behind
Wild Kea at the peak of the Arthur’s Pass by Pablo Heimplatz on unsplash

The study found that the effect of elevation increase is greater than that of historical climate change, and of present-day elevation and temperature, in driving the formation of new species – ‘or speciation’.

In contrast to areas where land elevation is increasing, elevation loss was not found to be an important predictor of where speciation happens. Instead, present-day temperature is a better indicator of speciation in these areas.

“Often at the tops of mountains there are many more unique species that aren’t found elsewhere. Whereas previously the formation of new species was thought to be driven by climate, we’ve found that elevation change has a greater effect at a global scale,” said Dr Andrew Tanentzap in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, senior author of the paper.

As land elevation increases, temperature generally decreases and habitat complexity increases. In some cases, for example where mountains form, increasing elevation creates a barrier that prevents species moving and mixing, so populations become reproductively isolated. This is the first step towards the formation of new species.

The effect of increasing elevation on that rate of new species formation over time was more pronounced for mammals than for birds; the researchers think this is because birds can fly across barriers to find mates in other areas. Birds were affected more by present-day temperatures; in birds, variation in temperature creates differences in the timing and extent of mating, risking reproductive isolation from populations of the same species elsewhere.

Access the paper: Igea, J. & Tanentzap, A.J.: ‘Global topographic uplift has elevated speciation in mammals and birds over the last 3 million years.’ Nature Ecology & Evolution, September 2021. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01545-6

Roadkill may accelerate local extinction of mammal populations - University of Reading

More than 120 species of terrestrial mammals are particularly vulnerable to roadkill mortality and several populations could become extinct in 50 years if the observed roadkill rates persist, according to an assessment of roadkill impacts on terrestrial mammals worldwide conducted by a team of international researchers from different continents.

These results were published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Sub-adult Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) captured by a camera-trap in Serra de Andujar (Spain). (Credis: Joaquim Pedro Ferreir)
Sub-adult Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) captured by a camera-trap in Serra de Andujar (Spain). (Credis: Joaquim Pedro Ferreir)

Dr Manuela González-Suárez, researcher at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, said: “We analysed the impact that observed roadkill rates had on 71 populations of threatened mammal species and the non-threatened species with the highest observed roadkill rates worldwide. Our results show that populations of the maned wolf and the southern tiger cat in Brazil, the brown hyena in South Africa and the leopard in North India are at risk of local extinction in the near future if observed levels of roadkill persist. We then developed models using species characteristics that allowed us to assess vulnerability to roadkill mortality for 4,677 mammal species worldwide and revealed 124 species as particularly vulnerable including the Iberian lynx, brown and black bear, tiger, jaguar, and lion-tailed macaque with known records of collisions with vehicles.”

There are ambitious plans to facilitate future global trade particularly in emerging market countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. These initiatives will facilitate regional and intercontinental trade flow through the construction of more than 25 million kilometres of new roads.

This will expand the global road network by 60% compared to 2010 and is in conflict with the global objectives of environmental sustainability, as many of these new roads will cross environmentally sensitive areas where many threatened species occur.

Access the paper: Grilo, C., Borda-de-Água, L., Beja, P., Goolsby, E., Soanes, K., le Roux, A., Koroleva, E., Ferreira, F., Gagné, S., Wang, Y., González-Suaréz, M. (2021); Conservation threats from roadkill in the global road network; Global Ecology and Biogeography; doi: 10.1111/geb.13375

The simple act of looking out of your window can help scientific research - British Trust for Ornithology

Garden birds by Edmund Fellowes
Garden birds by Edmund Fellowes

During the first lockdown in 2020, the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch (GBW) survey saw the number of participants double, from just over 10,000 to over 20,000 garden birdwatchers, with submissions of garden wildlife sightings up by around a third on 2019. So far in 2021 almost 4 million observations have been submitted.

BTO Garden BirdWatch takes place throughout the year, with those taking part submitting records of birds and other wildlife that they see in their gardens each week. This information allows scientists at the BTO to keep an eye on how our garden wildlife is doing, both between years and over time; the survey began in 1995. During 2020, 378,062 weekly observations were submitted to the survey amounting to over 5.5 million individual records, the highest number counted in a decade (in 2019 it was 3.7 million).
Since 1995, the survey has charted the huge decline seen in Greenfinches and the large increase in Goldfinches. But GBW is about much more than birds, with other garden wildlife, such as butterflies, reptiles and mammals monitored too. We know that in 2020 butterflies did well in our gardens, largely as a result of the warm spring, and that in 2021 they are struggling after the cold start this year, although some are doing a little better since the warmer weather kicked in. Butterflies such as Peacock and Red Admiral are particularly obvious in our gardens right now.
Rob Jaques, Garden BirdWatch Development Officer, said, “The information we get from our Garden BirdWatchers is vital in helping us keep an eye on our garden birds. The simple act of looking out of your window and telling us what you see is extremely powerful and the only way we know just how they are doing. With more people taking part across Britain since 2020, we have an even better picture of how our garden birds are faring, but we would like more people to help. Even if you only see a few birds, or none at all, you can still take part, it is as important to know where birds aren’t as much as where they are. It is free to take part, so why not give it a go at and don't forget to tell us about your other garden wildlife too"

Scientific Publications

Hemsley, J. A & Holland, J. M. Does the non-native Harlequin ladybird disrupt the feeding behaviour of the native two-spot ladybird? Bulletin of Entomological Research. Cambridge University Press DOI: 10.1017/S000748532100064X

Douglas, D.J.T., Lewis, M., Thatey, Z. & Teuten, E. (2021) Wetlands support higher breeding wader densities than farmed habitats within a nature-rich farming system. Bird Study. DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2021.1970104

Sustainability and Climate Change

Glasgow to Globe: how saving nature could save people and the planet - RSPB

A living exhibition showcasing how nature can help tackle the climate crisis and support happier and healthier communities is launching today.

Today sees the launch of RSPB Scotland’s living exhibition that will be completed in the run up to the UN Climate Summit, COP26, taking place in Glasgow 31 October – 12 November.

Glasgow to Globe will feature areas demonstrating the role urban streets, gardens, peatlands, grasslands, seas and coasts and forests can play in tackling the nature and climate emergency. It will highlight how local, national and global actions to protect nature can help solve the climate crisis and protect us from the impacts of climate change, while providing other benefits for people from improving wellbeing to reducing crime.

The exhibition, in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, will come to life between now and November. Throughout September activities including workshops, which will help to complete sections of the exhibition, will be held before the space opens for visits and public events from mid-October.

Visitors will begin their journey on an urban street that’s been transformed to help climate, nature and people. They will then move on to an area demonstrating activities that people can do at home to be a part of this including bug hotels, green roofs and window boxes before journeying through sections devoted to peatland, grassland, forest and seas. Throughout the finished exhibition visitors will be able to discover how they can take action and what our political leaders need to do as well as links to films to bring the stories of the space to life.

Over the two weeks of United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) hosted by Glasgow in November, representatives from 190 countries will negotiate to agree actions to limit threats to climate. RSPB Scotland is urging everyone not to forget that solving the climate crisis means addressing the nature crisis and urging the Scottish Government to take the opportunity to show the world Scotland’s leadership on the climate and nature emergency.

Seven ways nature is at heart of London Zoo - Zoological Society of London

Historic Zoo shares eco credentials of new Giants of the Galápagos exhibit ahead of Great Big Green Week

ZSL London Zoo has revealed some of the clever ways it puts nature at the heart of its decision-making, as it prepares to call on world leaders to do the same at COP26 in Glasgow this November.
As part of Great Big Green Week (18 - 26 September), international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has shared some of the behind-the-scenes work being put in at its London Zoo HQ to achieve its own eco goals - to halve the historic Zoo’s carbon emissions by 2030 - while also encouraging people across the UK to take seven simple actions to combat climate change and biodiversity loss.

“ZSL’s science and conservation supports wildlife across the globe, and at ZSL London Zoo it’s no different - we put nature at the heart of everything we do and are continually searching for ways to improve sustainability and reduce our impact on the environment,” explained ZSL London Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer Kathryn England. “For example, Giants of the Galápagos - a new home for our giant Galápagos tortoises Dolly, Polly and Priscilla opening in October - has been designed to minimise the amount of energy used for its heating, cooling and lighting."

ZSL London Zoo was the first attraction in the UK to eliminate single-use water bottles in its shops and catering outlets as part of its 2016 #OneLess campaign – instead, visitors are encouraged to use refill stations on site to top up reusable bottles.
Elsewhere, herbivore poo and bedding are collected daily to be composted on local farms, fresh herbs are grown on site for the animals to eat, and zookeepers even recycle old fire hose donated by local fire stations into enrichment for the animals - weaving the tough material into scratching posts and balls for the Sumatran tigers and Asiatic lions, or new swings for the primates.
The Zoo’s horticulture team also ensures patches of wildflowers grow undisturbed across the 36acre site, to provide space for native species to thrive.

Find out more about ZSL’s sustainability and to explore ways to reduce environmental impacts at home in our blog here.

"YOUR Climate needs YOU!" - Royal Horticultural Society

basket of vegetables Image by congerdesign from Pixabay
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

RHS Planet-Friendly Gardening Campaign aims to mobilise 30 million gardeners in ambitious Sustainability Strategy.

In World War II The Ministry of Agriculture mobilised gardeners to “Dig for Victory” and feed the country. In today’s battle against the climate and biodiversity crisis, the power of 30 million gardeners can be similarly harnessed. However, a national survey reveals 8 out of 10 people think the government undervalues the positive impact that gardening can make on the environment.

As Britain’s leading gardening charity, the RHS recognises its unique position to empower the general public to make a meaningful contribution towards climate change targets. Today (13 September) sees the launch in Parliament of the national Planet-Friendly Gardening Campaign, part of the RHS’s ambitious new Sustainability Strategy.

When it comes down to what people choose to plant, buy, and consume, it’s about small actions leading to big results. RHS scientific research shows that if every one of the UK’s 30 million gardeners planted a medium sized tree and nurtured it to maturity, they would store the carbon equivalent of driving 11 million times around the planet. And if each person made an average of 190 kg of compost a year, this would save the carbon equivalent to heating 506,000 average sized houses for a year.
As part of its Planet-Friendly Gardening Campaign, the RHS has come up with a list of achievable actions for gardeners:

  • Plant a tree in your community, school, workplace or garden to draw carbon out of the air: Grown to maturity, a small tree stores up to 376kg of carbon; a medium tree 511kg; and a large tree 3,350kg.
  • Water the way Nature intended: Pledge to switch from mains to rains on RHS mains2rains
  • Go peat free: Protecting precious peatland habitats which are the largest land carbon store and havens for biodiversity will also help reduce flood risks.
  • Make your own compost: Every 1kg of home-made compost saves 0.1kg fossil carbon, which could save more than 19kg carbon, per gardener, every year.
  • Pull up a paving slab (1m²) and grow perennial plants to maturity: Herbaceous perennials (lawn grasses and non-woody plants) draw 3.21kg carbon/m² out of the air; shrubs 19.54kg and trees 40.38kg.
  • Plants for pollinators: Help slow and reverse declines in bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other pollinators by growing a wide variety of plants including a mixture of native, near-native and exotic plants to support pollinator biodiversity.
  • Grow your own bunch of flowers: Growing or buying UK-grown cut flowers can save up to 7.9kg Carbon per bunch compared with buying imported bunches.
  • Electrify your garden: Even though 82% of garden tools sold in the UK are powered by electricity, nearly 40% of gardeners still use ones powered by fossil fuels. An average gardener uses 9L of petrol a year equating to 7,6kg fossil carbon.
  • Help map UK garden plant biodiversity: Add your garden plants to RHS My Garden online to help the RHS conserve this important biodiversity for future generations.
  • Eat more home-grown, UK, local and seasonal fruit and vegetables.

New NFU report urges government to back British food at home and abroad - National Farmers Union (NFU)

We're calling for a commitment from government that Britain’s food production will not slip below its current level of 60% self-sufficiency. We also want to see greater ambition in promoting British food at home and abroad to help with food security.

Our new report - British Food: Leading The Way

potato tubers on newly dug ground

NFU President Minette Batters will officially launch our new British Food: Leading The Way report at our Back British Farming Day event in Westminster. She will outline how we're asking the government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year, covering the country’s production of key foods and its contribution to global food security. This would be the first meaningful assessment of UK food security in over a decade and the first under the requirements of the Agriculture Act that mandate reporting every three years.

Our report also showcases how the UK can reduce its reliance on food imports by harnessing the growth opportunities for different home-grown foods and increasing British sourcing in public procurement. This should be coupled with ambitious food and trade strategies that will help British farmers provide more quality, affordable and climate-friendly food for people at home and abroad.

Other key asks that we're outlining in our report include:

  • Extending Defra’s ministerial portfolio to include food security and agri-food trade and competitiveness.
  • UK-produced food to be put at the heart of public procurement policy with assurances that the public sector does not provide a back door to food imports not produced to UK production standards.
  • An ambitious marketing strategy for British food exports which includes agricultural counsellors in key potential markets across the world and UK government-backed promotion of ‘Brand Britain’.
  • A supportive approach that enables new technology and innovation to be embraced by farmers, ensuring international competitiveness and climate-friendly food production.
  • Domestic policies – and the associated investment needed – that ensure farmers can continue to be producers of world-leading food while delivering for the environment, the economy and net zero.

Download your copy: British Food: Leading The Way

Transform our towns into green jungles to protect homes from extreme weather and boost nature - RSPB

In a new report out today [Thursday 30 September], researchers are calling on UK governments to unleash the power of nature to protect our homes and farmland from floods, droughts and heatwaves, as the UK’s famously mild climate is rapidly becoming a thing of the past due to climate change.

Last month a major UN scientific report issued a “code red for humanity” and warned of increasing heatwaves, droughts and flooding across the planet but said catastrophe can be avoided if world leaders act fast. More than 2,500 deaths were linked to heatwaves in England last year. This summer flash flooding in London submerged London Underground stations in water and forced hospitals to evacuate patients and cancel surgeries.

The report, Nature-based solutions in UK climate adaptation policy, points out the government needs to act much faster on expert advice about how nature can help us adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Nature-based solutions in UK climate adaptation policy, commissioned by the RSPB, WWF and researched by Oxford University's Nature Based Solutions Initiative, shows how the government could harness the potential of nature and make changes that would directly benefit the quality of life for UK residents, with long term savings for the taxpayer when all costs and benefits are taken into account.

The report shows there are examples all around us of nature protecting us from rising sea levels, flooding, heatwaves and other extreme weather caused by a changing climate. It also says how people’s quality of life could be safeguarded if governments recognised the true value of nature in helping fight and adapt to the very live threat of climate change.

Dr Olly Watts, RSPB Climate Change Policy Officer, said: “Climate change is here – extreme weather is already devastating our homes, our health and our precious wildlife. Yet nature is showing us what to do and how to adapt. As our leaders prepare to meet at COP26, we are sending a message that investing in nature restoration will not only help save some of our most iconic and well-loved species – including seahorses, otters, hedgehogs, bats, bees, butterflies, frogs and many farmland, wetland and garden birds – it will benefit people too, cooling our cities during heatwaves, filtering polluted air, protecting our homes and businesses from flooding, and our coastal communities from rising sea levels".

Scotland’s climate targets are at risk of going up in smoke - RSPB

Person carrying out Muirburn (Laurie Campbell /
Muirburn (Laurie Campbell /

Scotland’s hopes of meeting its Net Zero by 2045 goal to address the nature and climate emergency are at risk of failing unless the burning of grassland and moorland is more strictly regulated, and almost all burning on peat is banned.

A new report, published today by RSPB Scotland, warns that current muirburn practices are incompatible with Scotland’s net zero ambitions because of the importance of peatlands as carbon stores and provides evidence that the current voluntary Muirburn Code is not working.

Muirburn is the burning of heather and grass vegetation (usually to promote new growth) and is a land management practice typically associated with managing land for game, deer, and some agricultural purposes. It is currently “lightly regulated” with some outdated statutory regulations supported by a voluntary code of best practice – the Muirburn Code.

The report calls on the Scottish Government to introduce licensing and regulate the practice to deliver on its 2020 pledge, and to implement this action before the start of the next muirburn season in October 2022. Without regulation the £250 million of public investment in peat restoration over the next decade is at risk of being seriously undermined and cancelled out.

With a month to go until the UN Climate Summit COP26 takes place in Glasgow, the report – How to prevent nature and carbon going up in smoke: Licensing Muirburn – highlights the changes to muirburn legislation and practices that are needed to help Scotland address the nature and climate emergency. It looks in detail at how a licensing system could work.

The report recommends that:

  • new muirburn legislation should be implemented in time for the start of the next muirburn season on 1 October 2022.
  • all muirburn, whether for gamebird and deer management or agricultural purposes, should be licensed by NatureScot.
  • all licenses should be subject to full compliance with an updated Muirburn Code, which puts addressing climate change and nature loss at its heart, delivering Scottish Government priorities for native woodland expansion, peatland protection and biodiversity conservation. Any future breaches of the Code would invalidate licences.
  • burning should be prohibited on deep peat soils, except in exceptional circumstances, and a 30 cm depth definition (rather than the current 50 cm) should be adopted for deep peat in line with recommendations from peatland experts.
  • details of all muirburn licenses granted by NatureScot in future should be freely available.

In recent years, and increasingly because of the current nature and climate emergency, the costs and benefits of this land management method have been hotly debated. Burning on peatland can lead to a rapid release of stored carbon and a drying out of peatland soils, whereas healthy wet peatlands continually store carbon. Damaged peatlands can also contribute to flooding and affect water quality with significant public costs and can negatively impact wildlife and their habitats.

You can download the full report here

Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere teaches old oaks new tricks - University of Birmingham

Anna Gardner carrying out fieldwork in the forest canopy (University of Birmingham)
Anna Gardner carrying out fieldwork in the forest canopy (University of Birmingham)

Mature oak trees will increase their rate of photosynthesis by up to a third in response to the raised CO2 levels expected to be the world average by about 2050, new research shows.

The results, published in Tree Physiology, are the first to emerge from a giant outdoor experiment, led by the University of Birmingham in which an old oak forest is bathed in elevated levels of CO2. Over the first three years of a ten-year project, the 175-year-old oaks clearly responded to the CO2 by consistently increasing their rate of photosynthesis.

Researchers are now measuring leaves, wood, roots, and soil to find out where the extra carbon captured ends up and for how long it stays locked up in the forest.

The increase in photosynthesis was greatest in strong sunlight. The overall balance of key nutrient elements carbon and nitrogen did not change in the leaves. Keeping the carbon to nitrogen ratio constant suggests that the old trees have found ways of redirecting their elements, or found ways of bringing more nitrogen in from the soil to balance the carbon they are gaining from the air.

Santander becomes a founding partner for National Parks Nature Restoration Initiative – ‘Net Zero with Nature’ - National Parks UK

Santander UK announced as a Founding Partner for National Parks UK ‘Net Zero With Nature’ initiative

Nature-based carbon reduction project aims to help tackle climate change, contribute to the UK’s net zero ambition, and enhance local biodiversity in the UK

Ahead of COP26, National Parks UK and Santander UK today announce a pioneering new partnership that highlights how nature restoration in National Parks can contribute towards combating climate change.

Santander is confirmed as a Founding Partner of the ‘Net Zero With Nature’ strategy, which defines the role that the National Parks can play in the UK’s fight against climate change and the biodiversity crisis. Santander will fund a new project involving the restoration of 220 hectares of damaged peatland in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. This restoration site has the potential to avoid more than 16,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over its first 5 years and will help to establish nature-based solutions in the UK at scale.

Each carbon credit will be assured by a UK government-recognised standard and independently validated by qualified auditors. The peatland restoration project in the Cairngorms National Park will be designed and validated in accordance with the Peatland Code methodology.

The National Parks contain almost a quarter (24%) of the UK’s peatland, offering a significant opportunity for emissions mitigation: ecologists estimate that restoring degraded peat could mitigate nearly 5% of the UK’s entire annual emissions.

However, the UK’s peatlands are mostly degraded with just one fifth remaining in a near-natural state. This can increase the risk of flooding and result in rising emissions as carbon that would have been safely stored underground is released. Restoring damaged peatland stops emissions and leads to improved biodiversity and reduced flood risk.

Peatland carbon will also play a significant role in meeting the UK’s Net Zero target. In December 2020, the statutory Climate Change Committee set a target of restoring 79% of the UK’s peatlands by 2050. Peatland restoration is also a key component of the Scottish Government Climate Change Plan to meet net-zero by 2045.

Grant Moir, CEO of Cairngorms National Park said: “We know that the National Parks can play a major role in fighting the impacts of climate change, restoring nature and ensuring that local communities can benefit from the transition to a green future. But to achieve the scale and pace of nature restoration that we urgently need, we must work with a range of partners, and the private sector has a huge role to play. That’s why it is so encouraging to see Santander UK step up to help us find UK-based solutions to today’s biggest environmental challenges.”


Pollution and Litter

£9 million fund for local authorities to tackle air pollution - Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Department for Transport

white clouds aginst bright blue sky
(imge: pixabay)

New round of Air Quality Grants for local authorities opens to benefit communities and reduce the impact of polluted air on people's health

Local projects to improve air quality across England will get a £7 million funding boost this year, the government confirmed today, as applications opened for this year’s scheme.

The government’s Air Quality Grant helps councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of polluted air on people’s health.

At least £1 million of the £9 million available this year will be dedicated to projects to improve public awareness in local communities about the risks of air pollution, following a recommendation in the Coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths report after the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013.

These could include projects to inform people about the ways to reduce their exposure to emissions by avoiding pollution hotspots. Projects that deal with improving air quality, as well as improving knowledge about the health risks, are also strongly encouraged to apply.

Local authorities can also bid for a portion of the fund for a wide range of other projects to improve air quality and create cleaner and healthier environments. The criteria for this year’s grant period will prioritise three areas:

  • Projects which reduce air pollutant exceedances, especially in those areas that are projected to remain in exceedance of the UK’s legal targets;
  • Projects that will improve knowledge and information about air quality and steps individuals can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution; and
  • Projects that include measures to deal with particulate matter, which is the pollutant most harmful to human health.

English waters among the least healthy in Europe, and climate change will make this worse - Conservationists launch roadmap for restoring waters and wildlife - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Our blue spaces are vital to people & nature but they are suffering image (Wildlife & Countryside Link)
(Wildlife & Countryside Link)

21 nature organisations are calling for urgent measures to help lift England’s rivers, lakes and streams from the bottom of the water quality league table, and warn that drastic action is needed to restore wildlife habitat. Every freshwater body in England currently fails chemical standards and only 16% are classed in good ecological health compared to 53% on average in the EU.
A new report launched today (Tues 14 Sept) by Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Blueprint for Water group, warns that climate change is worsening conditions for our already beleaguered waters. Increased water-use during droughts and damage caused by flooding, which are both becoming more frequent due to climate change, are compounding the existing problems of overuse and chemical, sewage and plastic pollution for our waters.
Ali Morse, Water Policy Manager at The Wildlife Trusts, and Chair of Blueprint for Water, said: “Nature and society are already paying the price for the over-use and pollution of our waters and wetlands - wildlife is struggling to survive, our rivers are not safe to swim and play in, and as customers we pay millions to clean up water so that it’s safe to drink. And that price is going to get even steeper as we feel the effects of climate change. We’re facing a hazardous future of water shortages, flood damage and the loss of iconic species like the water vole and Atlantic salmon in England. We should all be worried that none of our rivers, lakes or streams are in good health and we have among the worst water quality in Europe. It’s time for a new vision for English waters, with adequate investment, robust pollution prevention and sustainable water use.”
Tom Fewins from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) said: “The world faces a biodiversity crisis. In the UK alone, over half of freshwater and wetland species are declining with 13% at risk of extinction. Poor water quality is helping to fuel this and the UK is very likely to miss its targets to address this. We must urgently turn this situation around – and that should include looking to the ‘nature based solutions’ that wetlands provide. This includes their amazing ability to improve water quality by filtering out a wide range of pollutants, something WWT has found out over the many years we have been creating ‘treatment’ wetlands specifically for this purpose. With a biodiversity crisis upon us the Government must now adopt wetlands as a powerful weapon in the fight to restore our missing wildlife. This means putting together the partnerships, information, plans and funding in place to create and restore 100,000ha wetlands as part of a Blue Recovery.”
Read the full report here

Water industry calls for a wave of bathing rivers as part of a new national plan to improve the health of English rivers - Water UK

aerial view of a river Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Water companies want government, agriculture, and other sectors to come together and help create a series of bathing rivers across the country

Research shows the many sources of pollution in rivers, and proposes ten actions for transforming their health, including next-generation monitoring to revolutionise data, and greater protection in law through a new Rivers Act

The water industry is calling on all parties to play their part and show greater ambition to deliver fundamental changes

Water companies have today set out ambitious plans to dramatically improve the health of England’s rivers. In a ground-breaking new report, the industry sets out ten key actions which must be met to dramatically improve the nation’s rivers and waterways.

Among the proposals is the development of a new approach to ‘Bathing Rivers’ to massively increase safe inland bathing areas for recreation. Currently there is only one river with designated bathing water status, the River Wharfe in Ilkley, but water companies in England want to work with government and other sectors to secure safe inland bathing waters in every region of the country.

Elsewhere the report calls for a new long-term strategy for rivers to include input from Government, regulators, water companies, catchment partnerships, agriculture, highways, and other sectors to help guide and prioritise investment and policy change. This would allow a step-change from the historic approach of disjointed, incremental, ad-hoc changes and include the creation of a new ‘Rivers Act’ to bring together all existing legislation and provide greater protection for rivers in law.

The report, entitled 21st Century Rivers: Ten actions for change, sets out the importance of all sectors working together to achieve the fundamental changes required. Only around a quarter of the challenges facing rivers are caused by water companies with the largest source of harm coming from agriculture with other sectors, such as highways and local authorities, also playing a part.

The creation of a national plan to eliminate harm from storm overflows, prioritising nature-based solutions and action to massively increase public awareness of the water environment are among the other bold proposals made.

Time to fix our broken water sector report: Thames21 responds - Thames21

Last week, the Angling Trust and Salmon & Trout Conservation released a new report called ‘Time to Fix The Broken Water Sector’. In this report, the organisations called on the economic regulator of the water industry OFWAT and the government to address the chronic lack of investment in the UK’s ‘creaking and leaking’ water infrastructure to meet demands of climate change and population growth without damaging the environment.

We are in full support of this report.

Our water infrastructure has been suffering for a long time. As the document mentions, successive governments, and their agencies and regulators, have failed to take water issues seriously preferring instead to pursue cheap bills and to ignore the huge problems that have been mounting up as a result of an ageing and failing infrastructure.

Our rivers are like arteries, but they are under constant risk of being attacked by raw sewage pollution and there is a clear risk that this could increase exponentially as the impacts of population expansion and climate change become locked in.

As the economic regulator, OFWAT is responsible for setting limits on pricing and encouraging adequate investment within the water industry, among other things. It can urge water companies to repair and invest in sewerage systems.

Although there has been some expenditure by water companies, it has not been at the level we need to fix our creaking water infrastructure.

We call on OFWAT to urgently review the level of spending available for water companies to invest in environmental protection. Much more funding is needed to enable our rivers to be less polluted and ultimately enable them to become healthy ecosystems. Most of the present-day sewerage infrastructure in the UK was installed over half a century ago or before. Investment is not keeping pace with its deterioration.

In addition our water supply is transported through wastefully leaking pipes at a time when the Climate Emergency makes it crucial to use the water to our homes and businesses responsibly.

There is an opportunity to speed up the pace of progress and ensure all water companies are actively involved.

New report reveals pollution is biggest threat to wildlife on our waterways   - The Wildlife Trusts

  • Beautiful, freshwater habitats that are home to an abundance of wildlife are being devastated by agricultural waste, raw sewage and pollution from abandoned mines, according to a new report 
  • According to an online YouGov poll, 88% of those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland agree freshwater habitats are a “national treasure” and 87% want more to be done to protect them 
  • Experts say that ‘without significant and urgent action some of our best-loved freshwater species face a perilous future’ 

A new report released today reveals that waterbodies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being devastated by poor water quality caused by agricultural waste,raw sewage, and pollution from abandoned mines.   That’s despite 88% of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland agreeing freshwater habitats are a “national treasure”.

Grey heron credit Mike Richards
Grey heron credit Mike Richards

In England, only 14% of rivers meet standards for good ecological status, with less than half achieving these standards in Wales. In Northern Ireland, only 31% of water bodies are classified as good or high quality. The poor health of many of our waterways has a significant impact on nature, with many species in decline and some facing extinction.  

The Troubled Waters report  was commissioned by a partnership of environmental charities including The Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, and the National Trust. It details seven case studies including Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, the Norfolk Broads in England, and Cardigan Bay in Wales, which have been designated as sites of special importance for nature. Yet these special places are not receiving the protection they should be and wildlife is suffering as a result.

Some of our most iconic and threatened species such as otters, the swallow tail butterfly and salmon depend upon these sites. But widespread failure to control pollution has ruined the water quality of these sites and wreaked havoc on the wildlife that call them home.  

The authors also commissioned online polling from YouGov as part of the report. Most people surveyed (88%) agreed the UK’s lakes, rivers and streams are a “national treasure” and nearly nine in ten (87%) of the those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed that it’s important that we do more to help the UK’s freshwater ecosystems, as they are an important part of our heritage, culture and identity of place.  

Read the report here

Rapid increase in global light pollution - University of Exeter

London at night, seen from the International Space Station. Different colours are visible, showing different lighting technologies. Credit A.Sánchez de Miguel, ESA, NASA
London at night, seen from the International Space Station. Different colours are visible, showing different lighting technologies. Credit A.Sánchez de Miguel, ESA, NASA

Global light pollution has increased by at least 49% over 25 years, new research shows.

This figure only includes light visible via satellites, and scientists estimate the true increase may be significantly higher – up to 270% globally, and 400% in some regions.

The study, led by the University of Exeter, examined light emissions from 1992 to 2017.

The findings show differing regional trends, but emissions have increased almost everywhere and there is "limited evidence" that improved technology has cut light pollution.

"The global spread of artificial light is eroding the natural night-time environment," said first author Dr Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall. "This study provides clear evidence not only of how bad light pollution has become as a global problem, but also that it is continuing to get worse, and probably at a faster and faster rate."

The study highlights the "hidden impact" of the transition to solid-state light emitting diode (LED) technology.

LEDs emit more blue light than previous lamp technologies, but satellite sensors are blind to this blue light and so underestimate the level of emissions.

Correcting for this, the authors say the actual increase in the power emitted by outdoor lighting, and thus of light pollution, may be as high as 270%.

The study finds persistently increasing light pollution in Asia, South America, Oceania and Africa.

In Europe, detected light increased until around 2010 and the levelled off, and in North America it appears to be in decline.

However, the researchers say the shift towards blue-rich LEDs masks the fact that light pollution has increased in most locations.

"To take the UK as an example, if you ignore the effect of the switch to LEDs – which has been extensive – you get the false impression that light pollution has recently declined," said Dr Sánchez de Miguel. "However, correcting for this effect shows it has really increased, and potentially very markedly. Contrary to popular belief, the installation of 'broad white' LED streetlights, whilst potentially providing some energy savings, has increased light pollution and also the impacts on organisms such as moths."

The paper, published in the journal Remote Sensing, is entitled: "First estimation of global trends in nocturnal power emissions reveals acceleration of light pollution."

WDC joins with BRITA to send plastic pollution warning - Whale and Dolphin Conservation

A new WDC report issued today reveals the frightening extent of the plastic pollution problem and that 81% of species of whale and dolphin are now affected.

To mark the launch of the report, WDC partner BRITA has also revealed worrying survey figures that show nine million Brits have littered at the beach, 22% notice litter every time they visit the seaside whilst over half of Brits (52%) admit to taking disposable products to the beach.

Sand drawing (image: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)
Sand drawing (image: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

To raise awareness of the problem, BRITA and WDC have joined forces to bring the report and survey findings to life with a 50m long sand drawing of a whale and her calf filled with plastic waste on a UK beach (pictured). [Whitby West Cliff beach actually, just down the hill from CJS]

WDC’s Message in a Bottle report has been commissioned to highlight the shocking impact of plastic pollution on whales and dolphins and how we can reverse it. Plastics have been shown to negatively affect whales’ and dolphins’ ability to feed, digest, navigate, breathe, breed and migrate The report findings show that the number of whale and dolphin species known to be affected by marine litter has increased profusely, from 28 out of 75 in 1997, to 73 of the 90 species recognised today. And while plastic waste has long been a problem, production of plastic waste has increased worldwide during the pandemic, meaning urgent action is needed to stem the tide.

Yet the survey commissioned by BRITA highlights that less than half (45%) of the UK population think whales and dolphins are harmed as a result of single-use plastic rubbish, with almost one in ten (9%) believing no marine life suffers at all.

The joint awareness drive has been launched to mark World CleanUp Day, and spotlights plastic not only polluting the ocean, affecting more whale and dolphin species with every year, but it also exacerbates climate change. Fewer whales and dolphins mean more carbon in the atmosphere.

Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and WDC patron added her voice to the wake-up call, saying: ‘WDC’s study shines an important light on the scale, and impact, of marine litter, however BRITA’s research has shown there is still a lack of understanding about the impact of our plastic waste here in the UK. We hope that this new report helps to educate the public and raise awareness of the issue, and encourage people to limit their use of single-use plastics.’

Read the report here

Maritime rope could be adding billions of microplastics to the ocean every year - University of Plymouth

New research compared a variety of synthetic ropes commonly used in the maritime industry (Credit University of Plymouth)
New research compared a variety of synthetic ropes commonly used in the maritime industry (Credit University of Plymouth)

The study is the first to explore the potential for rope to become a source of microplastic pollution in the marine environment

The hauling of rope on maritime vessels could result in billions of microplastic fragments entering the ocean every year, according to new research.

The study, by the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research Unit, is the first to explore the potential for rope to become a source of microplastic pollution in the marine environment.

It compared a variety of synthetic ropes commonly used in the maritime industry – but differing in age, wear surface and material – to assess the quantity and characterises of microplastics produced while they were in use.

This was achieved by simulating, in both laboratory and field experiments, the rope hauling activity which is typically performed on board maritime vessels such as fishing boats.

The results show that new and one-year old ropes can release around 20 microplastic fragments into the ocean for every metre hauled.

However, as the rope gets older it can release significantly more fragments – two-year-old ropes shed on average around 720 fragments per metre, while 10-year-old rope releases more than 760 fragments per metre.

Writing in Science of the Total Environment, researchers say that in fishing activities the rope length deployed during each haul could be up to 220m depending on the type of vessel and the depth of the ocean.

However, based on a modest 50m of rope being hauled from a boat, they estimate that each time new rope is hauled it could release between 700 and 2000 microplastic pieces. Used rope could release anywhere up to 40,000 fragments.

With more than 4,500 active fishing vessels in the UK, their estimates suggest this could result in anything between 326 million to 17 billion microplastic pieces entering the ocean annually from the UK fleet alone.

Read the study here

Cross-party report calls for microfibre filters on all washing machines by 2025 - Marine Conservation Society

This week, an All-Party Parliamentary Group tasked with tackling the issues microplastics, released its first report recommending to the government that all washing machines should be fitted with microfibre filters.

We're delighted that our research, and our supporters voices, have contributed to this vital step to stop trillions of plastic fibres polluting our ocean.

We've been campaigning for years to raise awareness of the damaging effect microfibres have on our environment. Thanks to the help of our supporters who signed the #StopOceanThreads petition, the message is finally getting through.

We were pleased to be able to advise the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on marine conservation issues and celebrate the launch of their first microplastics report, which will influence government decisions.

What is the APPG?

An All-Party Parliamentary Group is a coalition of cross-party MPs who are the voice of the ocean in Westminster. Together with NGOs, environmental charities, health experts, businesses and community leaders, it's a powerful platform to discuss environmental issues and recommend policy solutions.

This group has been tasked with looking at how they can raise awareness of the effect microplastics have on the environment.

The report released this week is a big step forward in our campaign against plastic pollution.

Download the report

Medical drugs harmful to invertebrates present in British waterways - Buglife

Daphnia magna asexual Dieter Ebert Basel Switzerland CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Daphnia magna asexual Dieter Ebert Basel Switzerland CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
  • New research shows the presence of medical drugs in British rivers at levels potentially dangerous to wildlife
  • Medical drugs observed to alter reproduction and growth in freshwater invertebrates, regularly exceed their ecologically safe levels
  • Commonly used over-the-counter medicines found to be of the main risk
  • Action is needed to address the risks that medical drugs pose to freshwater life.

Wildlife charity Buglife has found that medical drugs are a widespread occurrence in rivers across Britain – the presence of these chemicals in our waterways may be contributing to the loss of freshwater life.

The charity warns that drugs including painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and antidepressants may contribute to the decline of freshwater invertebrates – like snails, shrimps, and mussels – by altering reproduction, behaviour, and development. Wastewater treatment works are a major source of contamination with concentrations for the 14 drugs examined exceeding recommended levels in discharge up to 94% of the time.

Pharmaceuticals are essential for human and animal health. However, increasingly they are recognised as environmentally damaging when they enter freshwater systems. To assess the potential risks and impacts posed by medical drugs in our waterways, Buglife examined concentration data across England, Scotland, and Wales, alongside current scientific research.

Wastewater treatment works are not equipped to fully deal with medical drugs. Discharges of treated water contributed to significant concentration increases in downstream waters for half of the medicines examined. For instance, anti-inflammatory drugs Ibuprofen and Diclofenac were found in 84% and 34% of downstream samples.

Commonly seen damaging effects of pharmaceuticals on invertebrates are changes in reproduction and growth, however, urgent research is needed to understand the full risks. Larger animals like birds and fish may also be affected due to the loss of their invertebrate prey, or by eating contaminated insects.

Catastrophic consequences for our ocean when climate change and plastic pollution crises combine - ZSL

Beach plastic in the Philippines (Heather Koldewey)
Beach plastic in the Philippines (Heather Koldewey)

ZSL and Bangor University study reveals plastic and climate change crises exacerbate one another and urge that they must be tackled in unison to save precious marine life.

ZSL (Zoological Society London) and Bangor University have revealed fundamental links between the global climate crisis and plastic pollution, including extreme weather worsening the distribution of microplastics into pristine and remote areas.

The ocean, its ecosystems and species are commonly the focus of plastic pollution research or climate change research; however, the compounding impact of how they act together is often overlooked.

In a paper published today (28 September) in Science of the Total Environment, an interdisciplinary team of scientists have for the first time, collated evidence that the global issues of marine plastic pollution and climate change exacerbate one another, creating a dangerous cycle, and are urging governments and policy makers to tackle the two issues in unison.

The team identified three significant ways that the climate crisis and plastic pollution – a significant driver of marine biodiversity loss - are connected, with the first being how plastic contributes to global greenhouse gases (GHGs) throughout its life cycle, from production through to disposal. The second demonstrates how extreme weather, like floods and typhoons associated with climate change will disperse and worsen plastic pollution. With plastic pollution and the effects of climate change being major issues for our ocean, seas, and rivers, the third point examines the marine species and ecosystems that are particularly vulnerable to both.

EIA study reveals a 10 billion tonne plastic pollution bomb ticking away in every corner of the planet - Environmental Investigation Agency

The Truth Behind Trash: The scale and impact of the international trade in plastic waste,
The Truth Behind Trash: The scale and impact of the international trade in plastic waste,

Humans have to date produced a staggering 10 billion tonnes of plastic – of which about six billion tonnes is now plastic waste in landfill sites or polluting the open environment.

In our new report The Truth Behind Trash: The scale and impact of the international trade in plastic waste, EIA’s Ocean team has pulled together and analysed available plastic waste export data to give the most comprehensive picture to date of the world’s mounting plastic waste trade problem.

In just 65 years, plastic production on the planet has increased by 18,300 per cent, fuelling a relentless convenience lifestyle that produces enormous and unnecessary quantities of waste. Since plastic waste trade data collation began in 1988, more than a quarter of a billion tonnes of plastic waste has been legally exported around the globe.

Tom Gammage, Ocean Campaigner, said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that the world has an horrendous plastic pollution problem and, with plastics lasting for hundreds to thousands of years, we’re leaving a toxic legacy to our descendants and all other lifeforms on the planet. The trade in plastic waste is just a secondary symptom of rampant overproduction and consumption. We urgently need a global plastic treaty to do for plastics what the Montreal Protocol did for harmful gases destroying the ozone layer – radically phase them down. In the meantime, we must end plastic waste colonialism, whereby high-consuming wealthier countries simply export their plastic waste – and their problem – to poorer countries which also lack the infrastructure to deal with it.”

The Truth Behind Trash shows the immense scale and opacity of the plastic waste trade, which not only enables the ever-expanding production of virgin plastic and its unchecked consumption but firmly displaces the duty of treatment onto those countries which are not responsible for it.

Exporting countries – primarily the UK, EU member states, Japan and the US – are overwhelming the plastic waste management infrastructure of destination countries as a result of not being able to manage what they alone produce and consume. EIA believes these countries must take responsibility for their own waste by banning its export and reducing the amount of plastic they consume.

The best estimates suggest as much as 79 per cent of all plastic waste is going into landfill and the natural environment and the plastic waste trade contributes significantly to that.


Land and Countryside Management

Marches Mosses marks 30-year milestone and extends NNR - Natural England and Natural Resources Wales

An internationally important lowland raised peat bog between England and Wales celebrates its 30th birthday as a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The Marches Mosses, the UK’s third largest lowland raised peat bog, was once known as a source of peat cut for fuel and horticulture. Now it is a leading example of how peat bogs can fight against climate change if restored.

In 1990 ownership of the land was acquired by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Shropshire Wildlife Trust who began the process of restoring it before being joined by the European BogLIFE Project in 2016.

The 2,500-acre peat bog, which crosses the Wales-England border between Wrexham and Shropshire, has been cleared of trees and scrub, ditches have been dammed and bunds created to restore bog water tables to the peat surface.

The 30th anniversary will also see the NNR status being spread to incorporate a further 237 acres of peatland which have been added to the restoration work.

Sir David Henshaw, chair of Natural Resources Wales, said: "Restoring and protecting peatlands is the only way we can safeguard their rich biodiversity and ensure they continue to deliver the full range of ecosystem services associated with these habitats, such as carbon storage, natural flood management and a range of other services. This collaborative cross-border project, as well as other projects in Wales and beyond, will contribute in a very significant way to addressing both the nature and climate emergencies."

Working with and for nature: creating new habitat at Cotehele quay - National Trust

Aerial photo of the site successfully flooded (Steve Haywood)
Aerial photo of the site successfully flooded (Steve Haywood)

We’re creating a wildlife rich intertidal habitat in the field below the woodland path by Cotehele Quay

The field below the woodland path by Cotehele Quay was originally converted into farmland in 1850 when an enclosing embankment was built. Now the field has become part of the original flood plain as a 15-metre breach has been made in the riverside bank to allow the tide to flood in.

Working in partnership with the Environment Agency and supported by Natural England, the work forms part of a larger programme of habitat creation and improvement throughout the Tamar catchment which aims to create new intertidal habitat which will improve the resilience to the changing climate and to provide a richer environment for people and nature.

What has happened?

The first phase of the project was completed in April 2021 when channels were created within the field to help bring tidal waters in. A new embankment was also built by the quay car park to form the boundary of the intertidal habitat and to help protect the car park.

In September 2021 a breach was made in the 19th century bank to allow tidal waters to regularly flow into the channels across the field, beginning the creation of a richer habitat for nature that will take place over the coming years.

Groundwork receives over £100,000 to improve local rivers - Groundwork

River Irk (Groundwork Greater Manchester)
River Irk (Groundwork Greater Manchester)

United Utilities has awarded £300,000 to eight North West charities through a unique grant scheme that helps organisations to improve their local river and the land around it for the benefit of their local communities. Groundwork Greater Manchester and Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside has collectively received over £100,000 for their work in the Irwell and Douglas catchments.

The CaST Account encourages partnership working, bringing different people, ideas and actions together to improve more than just water quality. Having trialled the approach with organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria and seen successes like phosphorous pollution reduction in the River Petteril, the water company rolled the project out across the North West and allowed organisations to bid for up to £50,000.

Two Groundwork trusts and six other charities have now received funds for their projects having demonstrated they will either encourage community engagement with nature or bring together different partners to maximise funding for schemes. Work on the various projects is expected to start over the coming months.

Groundwork Greater Manchester will focus on the River Irk and its brooks within Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale, engaging local communities and partners to co-design and deliver a yearlong programme of events, networking and training opportunities. The project will raise awareness of the river corridor, connecting more local people to it, and to each other, to create a Love Your River Irk network. Read more here.

Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire, and Merseyside working alongside the Rivington Heritage Trust project will look to recruit and train 25 volunteers to begin conservation work at Lever Park in Rivington. This conservation work will involve both habitat and water improvements.

Marches Mosses marks 30-year milestone and extends NNR - Natural England and Natural Resources Wales

An internationally important lowland raised peat bog between England and Wales celebrates its 30th birthday as a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The Marches Mosses, the UK’s third largest lowland raised peat bog, was once known as a source of peat cut for fuel and horticulture. Now it is a leading example of how peat bogs can fight against climate change if restored.

In 1990 ownership of the land was acquired by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Shropshire Wildlife Trust who began the process of restoring it before being joined by the European BogLIFE Project in 2016.

The 2,500-acre peat bog, which crosses the Wales-England border between Wrexham and Shropshire, has been cleared of trees and scrub, ditches have been dammed and bunds created to restore bog water tables to the peat surface.

The 30th anniversary will also see the NNR status being spread to incorporate a further 237 acres of peatland which have been added to the restoration work.

Sir David Henshaw, chair of Natural Resources Wales, said: "Restoring and protecting peatlands is the only way we can safeguard their rich biodiversity and ensure they continue to deliver the full range of ecosystem services associated with these habitats, such as carbon storage, natural flood management and a range of other services. This collaborative cross-border project, as well as other projects in Wales and beyond, will contribute in a very significant way to addressing both the nature and climate emergencies."

Affric Highlands launched to rewild half a million acres of Scottish Highlands - Trees for Life

30-year project joins prestigious European group of awe-inspiring rewilding areas

An ambitious 30-year landscape-scale rewilding initiative to link up a majestic sweep of the Scottish Highlands as one vast nature recovery area connecting Loch Ness to Scotland’s west coast has been launched by charity Trees for Life, and joins a select group of prestigious European rewilding areas.

The Affric Highlands initiative follows three years of consultation between Rewilding Europe, Trees for Life, and other local partners and stakeholders.

two scots pine trees on open countryside with flowering heather in the foreground
Scots Pines at Glen Affric, (image: Grant Willoughby)

It will restore nature across a network of landholdings potentially covering an area of over 500,000 acres stretching from Loch Ness across the central Highlands to Kintail in the west, and encompassing Glens Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel.

Trees for Life has brought together a broad coalition of landowners, communities and others to boost habitat connectivity, species diversity, and social and economic opportunities in the region, while tackling climate breakdown.

With community involvement and partnership working central to the project, a diverse group of 20 landowners covering at least 25% of the total area and six organisations are already on board, with hopes that more will join. Work is underway to further involve local people, with practical action to connect areas of rewilding land due to begin in 2023.

Because engaging and involving stakeholders from the beginning is crucial to the success of any rewilding initiative, Rewilding Europe has been working with Trees for Life to lay the foundations for this over the past three years – including through meetings with over 50 local stakeholders, drawing on experience from other major rewilding sites across Europe, and a scoping study.

As well as connecting habitats, Affric Highlands will bring people together to help nature recover, and strengthen connections between communities and the wildlife on their doorsteps.

Forest rewilding has been at the root of Trees for Life’s work for three decades. The charity has so far established nearly two million native trees to restore the unique and globally important Caledonian Forest at its own 10,000 acre estate at Dundreggan in Glenmoriston, and at dozens of other sites in the Highlands, including Glen Affric.

In 2023, Dundreggan will become home to the world’s first Rewilding Centre – showcasing how large-scale nature recovery can give people amazing experiences, create jobs and benefit local communities.

Rewilding Europe says this work in the Highlands has been a beacon of hope for reversing declines in habitat and wildlife that have left vast swathes of Scotland overgrazed, treeless, denuded, drained and over-managed, to the point that little remains unmodified by humans.

Aim to Sustain launches ‘zero tolerance’ toolkits - Aim to Sustain

red kite in flight Image by Kevinsphotos from Pixabay
Image by Kevinsphotos from Pixabay

Leading rural organisations have today announced the publication of anti-persecution measures that they believe will further boost the UK’s growing raptor populations.

The new Aim to Sustain partnership – which promotes sustainable game and land management – has produced a suite of legally-approved clauses for contracts and agreements that can be used as an ‘off the shelf’ toolkit by game and land management businesses.

When inserted into employment contracts and shooting leases, the best practice clauses demonstrate that sporting and land agents, employees and owners across the game sector are committed to following a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on raptor persecution.

Publication today is another positive step from the game and land management community as raptor numbers continue to rise in the UK, with many types of birds of prey increasing significantly.

The hen harrier is continuing its recovery in England and this summer enjoyed a record number of chicks fledging – this iconic raptor is now heading towards the internationally-recognised ‘Favourable Conservation Status’.

Natural England announced last month that 2021 has been the best year for hen harrier breeding in England since the 1960s, with 84 chicks fledged from nests across uplands in County Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire. And 19 of the 24 successful nests reported were on land managed for red grouse.  

Red kites and buzzards are likewise flourishing; it is estimated the number of red kites has increased to 4,400 breeding pairs. Buzzard numbers are also at historically high levels – between 63,000 and 87,500 breeding pairs have been recorded. 

A spokesperson for Aim to Sustain said: “The game and land management community in recent years has embraced the changes necessary to support birds of prey in the United Kingdom.”

New report says planning reform must make access to nature legal and fair - The Wildlife Trusts

Children riding bikes on a meadow near housing at Cambourne © Matthew Roberts
Cambourne © Matthew Roberts

First anniversary of Wildbelt in PM’s keynote speech – when will it happen?

Today (Tuesday 5 October), The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report that, for the first time, calls for people’s access to nature to be set in law. Planning – a new way forward: how the planning system can help our health, nature and climate, comes at a critical time for the Government’s Planning White Paper and the recently announced “pause” on planning reform.

The newly named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has a huge opportunity to ensure the planning system improves lives by levelling up access to nature.

In the light of recent political developments, The Wildlife Trusts are calling for:

A planning system which levels up people’s access to nature by setting a legally binding target so everyone, no matter where they live, can receive the benefits that nature provides. Evidence shows that almost half the population say they are spending more time outside than before the pandemic – but access to nature is deeply unequal and this exacerbates health inequalities, putting more strain on the NHS as it copes with the mental health crisis made worse by Covid.

The Planning Bill to ensure that we have more space for nature. Last October, at his keynote address to the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister said that his vision for 2030 included people “going for picnics in the new wild belts that now mark the landscape.” A year on, the Government has the perfect opportunity to keep its promise by including a new way of protecting land reclaimed for nature in the Planning Bill. If the Government is to reach its target of at least 30% of land for nature by 2030, a new designation – Wildbelt – is essential for protecting new land, currently of low biodiversity value, where nature can recover.

Arboriculture, Woodland and Hedgerow

Before and After: 25 Years of Restoration at Glen Finglas - Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is celebrating 25 years managing Glen Finglas Estate in The Trossachs. Once a heavily grazed sheep farm, the landscape is now diverse and thriving. As the nation gets the woodland creation bug ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Glen Finglas offers a glimpse of what the future may hold for land whose revival journey is only just getting underway.

Woodland Trust Scotland’s new director Alastair Seaman said: “Ideas such as rewilding and reforesting have a high profile today. People increasingly see the urgency to create more woodland to counter the climate and biodiversity crises. Glen Finglas has had a 25-year head start. What you see here now is what much of the country might look like in future, as more and more land is revived. I am thinking of places such as Langholm where the community has taken ownership, the Clyde Climate Forest being created in Glasgow and its surrounding council areas, and hundreds of schemes on crofts, farms and estates across the country."

The Glen Finglas Estate was a hill farm that had been heavily grazed by sheep for generations when the Woodland Trust acquired it in 1996 with help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Covering more than 4,800ha of mountain and moorland, it is the largest of the Trust's sites across the UK.

Over a million native trees have been planted and some 1,800ha of new native woodland created. Over 100ha of peatland has been restored. The estate now welcomes more people and is home to more wildlife. The Trust maintains its own herds of cattle and sheep to manage open areas including woodland pasture.

Car parks, waymarked trails and a visitor gateway building have all improved opportunities for the public to access and enjoy the site, which is part of The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve.

National Trust ‘shines a light’ on the cultural landscape to get the right trees in the right places - National Trust

The National Trust’s largest tree planting project to date is relying on sophisticated aerial mapping using a laser to help decide where 75,000 British native trees will be planted on the Wallington Estate in Northumberland over the next few months.

The planting is part of the conservation charity’s ambitions to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030.

Funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the £800,000 project has used LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to unearth fascinating insights into farming practices and other archaeological aspects of the landscape dating back to 2,000BC with these areas to be conserved and protected while informing new areas for tree planting, hedgerow creation and river management.

The work starts this autumn with plans to plant 13 hectares of woodland with native species which will cope well with the semi-upland conditions such as hawthorn, hazel and alder; and 10.5km of hedgerows including blackthorn, guelder rose and dogwood to help reverse the decline of wildlife, restore natural habitats and create more carbon storage.

By boosting these habitats and creating more wildlife corridors, one of the key aims is to help ensure the estate’s resident species including the endangered red squirrels, bats, white-clawed crayfish, woodland birds and farmland butterflies will have more space to move around the estate and thrive.

The aerial LiDAR survey, carried out in February, is the biggest ever conducted by the conservation charity across 57 square kilometres of the 5,431 hectare (13,420 acre) estate.

LiDAR uses the pulse from a laser to collect precise measurements between a light aircraft as it flies over the landscape and the ground to produce a minutely detailed map of the ground surface.

The results are so detailed that they can often reveal features that are not readily discernible to the naked eye allowing researchers to penetrate vegetation cover to identify features concealed by trees and undergrowth. It can also be used to map ecological features like water courses.

The initial analysis which has concentrated on the area where the majority of the new trees are due to be planted, has revealed fascinating details of Wallington’s archaeology dating from 2,000BC to 1,900AD including traces of historic, healthy woodlands dating from the mid-eighteenth century which were cleared and not replanted.

This information will help the team make critical decisions on where new trees and hedgerows should go, new fences erected and site access points to minimise the impact on the landscape’s archaeology.

By basing new planting plans on historic planting schemes the team also aims to create even more habitat benefit as well as restoring lost features of the historic environment.

Riverbanks and watercourses to be planted with new woodland - Defra

Credit: Natural England
Credit: Natural England

New project to plant extensive woodlands along England’s riverbanks launched to improve water quality, manage flood risk and boost biodiversity.

Over 3,000 hectares of new woodlands are set to be planted along England’s rivers and watercourses with backing from the country’s leading environmental organisations, Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith announced today (Saturday 25 September).

Planting trees on and around riverbanks, or allowing them to grow naturally, can help to improve water quality by blocking the runoff of pollutants into rivers, manage flood risks by slowing the flow of water, boost biodiversity by creating new habitat corridors and make our rivers more climate resilient by providing shade and cooling water temperatures.

There are 242,262km of watercourses in England, and it is hoped that by planting trees in this way they will contribute to a natural network of habitats across the country as part of our plans to expand, improve and connect these places across our towns, cities and countryside.

The Woodlands For Water project aims to create 3,150 hectares of trees in six river catchment areas from Devon to Cumbria by March 2025. To support farmers and landowners to create these woodlands, they will be able to apply for funding through the England Woodland Creation Offer grant which provides greater financial incentives for landowners and farmers to plant and manage trees, including along rivers and watercourses.

Speaking from a National Trust river tree planting project, Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said. “This is a hugely exciting and untapped area for woodland creation. The benefits of planting trees by rivers are vast - from helping biodiversity recover by creating more natural riverbanks; to slowing the flow of surface water to reduce the risk of flooding; and improving water quality by buffering rivers from harmful agricultural pollution. The Government is committed to trebling tree-planting rates by the end of this parliament, and in this vitally important year for tackling climate change with the Glasgow COP summit, this partnership marks an important next step in our plans to build back greener.”

£14.8m boost to breathe new life into the Northern Forest with over a million new trees to be planted in the next year - Woodland Trust

Image of landscape at sunset (Credit: Russell Hedley / WTML)
New funding will help to progress the next phase of the Northern Forest (Credit: Russell Hedley / WTML)

Almost £15 million of funding will be pumped into the Northern Forest in the next year with just over one million new trees (at least 670 hectares) established.

The ambitious project, which aims to link trees across the M62 corridor from Liverpool to Hull, was launched in 2018 and already 3 million trees have been planted.

This has been made possible with funding from the Government’s £640 million Nature for Climate fund. £6 million will go directly to the Northern Forest to support the Woodland Trust’s Grow Back Greener programme, while £8.8 million will go to Community Forests within the Northern Forest area through the Trees for Climate programme announced recently.

Simon Mageean, the Woodland Trust’s Programme Director for the Northern Forest, said: “This new funding is massively significant for this project and enables us to push on with this new phase. It will allow us to establish over one million new trees this winter and connect them better to the wider landscape, together with new woodlands in urban areas and rural areas across the Northern Forest. Not only do these new trees have the power to transform people’s lives through all the green space they bring in areas of traditionally low tree cover, they are also set to bring a big boost to our fight against climate change and encourage nature recovery.”

The Northern Forest was launched three years ago and is an ambitious plan to establish at least 50 million trees to encourage greater tree and woodland cover across an area spanning 13 million people and taking in the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull. It’s an area that only has 7.6% woodland cover – much lower than the England average.

As well as the Woodland Trust, it involves a partnership of community forests in the north – The Mersey Forest, City of Trees, White Rose Forest, and HEYwoods – which are working with the Woodland Trust to bring the Northern Forest to life.

CPRE releases groundbreaking new research into hedgerows - CPRE

A couple enjoy tall, healthy hedgerows (Bill Waters / CPRE)
A couple enjoy tall, healthy hedgerows (Bill Waters / CPRE)

Our new report investigates the huge environmental and economic benefits of hedgerows and shows that boosting them by 40% would create 25,000 jobs over the next 30 years and yield almost £4 for every £1 invested.

The new research, undertaken independently by the Organic Research Centre, is laid out in a report published today (Monday 6 September): ‘Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy‘.

We’re launching the report in parliament to urge the government to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050, as recommended by the climate change committee – a win-win-win for climate, nature and the economy.

Hedgerows for nature, the climate and people

CPRE has long argued that hedgerows could be champions of climate action and nature recovery. But our new analysis has laid out how expanding hedgerow cover can contribute tens of thousands of jobs to hard-hit local communities.

Investing in 40% more hedgerows would support around 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs in hedgerow planting and management over the next 30 years across both rural and urban areas.

Our new report investigates the huge environmental and economic benefits of hedgerows and shows that boosting them by 40% would create 25,000 jobs over the next 30 years and yield almost £4 for every £1 invested.

Now’s the time: the UK hosts COP26, the international climate summit, in Glasgow in less than two months. CPRE is calling on the government for a firm commitment: set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050.

National Trust reveals blossoming ambitions for city of culture as ‘Project Blossom’ starts to take root around UK - The National Trust

Coventry is the latest city to confirm plans for a new blossom garden as part of the National Trust and its partners’ ambition to create hundreds of blossom spaces in urban areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years, to ensure more people have access to nature and green spaces. The charity and its partners also hope to create a UK-equivalent of Japan’s world-famous Hanami (blossom viewing).

large field tree in dappled sunlight
Charterhouse Heritage Park on the outskirts of Coventry - the latest location in the National Trust's blossom project in partnership with Historic Coventry Trust (image: National Trust)

The new blossom garden in Charterhouse Heritage Park will mark Coventry’s tenure as City of Culture. And, today, the locations and plans for blossom plantings in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth, first announced in February, have also been revealed.

The National Trust has also confirmed 46 new blossom projects which will be planted on the land in its care across the country over the next few months.

All plantings will help towards the Trust’s ambitions to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030 to help in the fight against climate change and to create more homes for nature. They will also help in its aim to help tackle unequal access to green space across Britain and build on the importance given to green spaces and nature during lockdown when thousands found time spent in nature beneficial not just for their physical health but mental wellbeing too.

Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from towns, cities and local communities around the country after our first blossom garden was unveiled in London this year. Bringing more blossom to cities and to National Trust landscapes is an important part of our plans to plant 20 million trees, give more homes to nature and help people connect with nature wherever they are. This project goes back to our roots and one of our founders’ key desires – to ensure more people have beautiful spaces to enjoy.”

In Coventry, the trees will be planted in the newly-created 70 acre Charterhouse Heritage Park. Members of the local community will be asked to share their thoughts on where the blossom garden should be located, its design and uses for the space.

Habitat heroes help create hedgerow havens - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Hedgerow Havens volunteers sow wildflower seeds along roadside verges near the village of Weedon. Picture: Marcus Militello
Hedgerow Havens volunteers sow wildflower seeds along roadside verges near the village of Weedon. Picture: Marcus Militello

BBOWT and Buckinghamshire Council are celebrating the conclusion of a successful three-year project that has created and restored more than 5km of hedgerows and other vital habitats for wildlife to thrive in.

The Hedgerow Havens project has also created 12 new wildlife ponds and helped enhance eight hectares of land in and around Aylesbury for mammals such as badgers, insects like butterflies and especially farmland birds including kestrels, bunting and linnets.

The project worked with more than 100 volunteers and supporters from 11 different parishes, helped set up six new wildlife groups and worked with 19 landowners including farmers, homeowners, charities and estates. Among its successes was the creation of a 4.2ha wildflower meadow on the banks of the River Ray in Quainton.

Marcus Militello, BBOWT's Hedgerow Havens officer, said: "We are so immensely proud of everything we have accomplished with this project over three-and-a-half years. It’s not just about hedgerows - the huge amount of valuable wildlife habitat that we have created, restored and enhanced will provide homes and hunting grounds for so many struggling species that we want to protect. Each of these areas forms part of the jigsaw of connected spaces for wildlife that BBOWT wants to create across our whole area, to make sure our region can really sustain wildlife populations in the long-term. And we’re so delighted that more than 100 people from all over Buckinghamshire are now truly invested in projects that are really helping local wildlife - and they now have skills and knowledge which mean they can carry on helping local wildlife for years to come."

Hedgerow Havens was launched in 2018 by BBOWT and what was then Aylesbury Vale District Council – now Buckinghamshire Council – with the aim of enhancing wildlife habitats in the rural farmed environment.


Ecology and Biodiversity

Vulnerable ecosystems discovered near deep-sea trawl fishery - Zoological Society of London

Leading conservation charity ZSL provides vital new evidence to inform sustainable marine management in the region

Vulnerable deep-sea species and habitats have been identified for the first time in the Davis Strait, west Greenland, near areas currently subject to extensive trawling for halibut.

Trawling creates significant impact on the sea floor, destroying or degrading precious marine habitats. The discovery of deep-sea vulnerable marine ecosystems such as 'fields' of sea-pens (Halipteris finmarchica), along with other coral and sponge habitats in this area, is cause for concern, according to experts from ZSL (Zoological Society London), University College London (UCL), and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR) in a paper published today (Wednesday 8 September 2021) in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.

The fishing industry is an important livelihood for many people in Greenland and forms a sizable part of the country’s economy. However, offshore halibut fishing employs heavy trawling gear to catch this deep-sea fish, which can have a devastating impact on the seabed. Weighing over 10 tonnes, the gear is towed along the seafloor for several hours at a time at depths of up to 1,400 m.

Using a low-cost video sled placed on the seabed, the team were able to explore previously unseen ecosystems, and document key species of coral and sponge in the region. The intention is for their findings to inform sustainable fishery management, to ensure vulnerable species and habitats are protected from the impacts of trawling.

PhD Researcher at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology (IoZ) and lead author on the study, Stephen Long said: “Our analysis provides evidence that there is a negative relationship between trawling and the abundance of some key species, and that the composition of deep-sea marine species communities is being affected by trawling. Of particular concern are potential vulnerable marine ecosystems that may be at risk of serious or irreversible harm from trawling. It has been invaluable to work so closely with partners in Greenland to investigate these previously unexplored deep seas.

Readthe study: Long, S., Blicher, M. E., Hammeken Arboe N., Fuhrmann, M., Darling, M., Kemp, K. M., Nygaard, R., Zinglersen, K., and Yesson, C. Deep-sea benthic habitats and the impacts of trawling on them in the offshore Greenland halibut fishery, Davis Strait, west Greenland. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Programme for Government: commitments must deliver a transformation for nature - Scottish Environment LINK

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes today’s Programme for Government outlined by the First Minister (7 September). As we embark on the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, the need to tackle the global climate and nature emergency is urgent. Two major UN reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC and Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES) have very clearly stated the need for immediate and effective action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5oC and to restore biodiversity. With the State of Nature report showing one in nine species in danger of extinction in the country and our biodiversity intactness index 28th from the bottom globally, Scotland clearly needs to act now.

This Parliamentary session is crucial. With only nine years of the decade that IPCC and IPBES say is left for us to act, this Programme for Government in 2021 is vital and must be transformational. That means we need to see immediate, determined and demonstrable action. The commitment to protect our land and marine environments for generations to come, reversing ecological decline and delivering nature-based solutions to climate change is central to this transformation.

We warmly welcome the commitment to nature targets: targets help guide action and enable everyone to play their part in nature restoration. The proposed Biodiversity Strategy and Natural Environment Bill must provide a direction of travel, led by government, to bring immediate progress towards those targets from 2021. In addition, the commitment to designate 10% of our seas as highly protected is very welcome and alongside commitment for nature networks on land and at sea, this could be transformational.

Major conservation project for Rathlin Island gets green light - RSPB Northern Ireland

view of Rathlin Island cliffs
Rathlin Island (Jamie Haughton on unsplash)

A £4.5 million conservation project that will safeguard Rathlin Island’s internationally important seabird population and wildlife has been given the go ahead, following major funding.

The partnership project, known as Rathlin Acting for Tomorrow (LIFE Raft), has received funding from EU LIFE, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (development phase) and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), with contributions from RSPB NI, Rathlin Development and Community Association (RDCA) and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT).

This £4.5 million island restoration project is set to be the largest-of-its-kind on the island of Ireland and will be delivered over five years. Focusing on natural heritage and community, the initiative will help Rathlin Island’s economic recovery following the impact of Covid-19, while protecting its important wildlife.

Rathlin is known as a haven for wildlife, including many threatened species, and hosts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony, which is one of the most important breeding sites in both the UK and Ireland. However, its wildlife is under threat, including 25 bird species and notably the puffin which has declined by more than half in recent years. One of the key threats is from predation by invasive non-native species.

The project will safeguard Rathlin’s seabirds and ground-nesting birds that are under threat through a brown rat and ferret eradication programme. With 70% of visitors to Rathlin citing birds and wildlife as their main reason for visiting, by restoring Rathlin’s natural heritage, the project will bring benefits for the local community.

Fishers declare emergency in English Channel and Southern North Sea with Greenpeace - Greenpeace

Greenpeace, fishers, anglers, charter skippers and fishing businesses have come together to declare a state of emergency in the English Channel and Southern North Sea. Fishing groups from Eastbourne, Hastings, Thanet, Newhaven and Lowestoft, along with the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA), New Economics Foundation, Angling Trust, fishing businesses Sole of Discretion and Pesky Fish and Greenpeace, have signed a joint statement calling for the UK Government to take urgent measures to protect fishing communities and our oceans.

inflatable boat approached the stern of large trawler pulling nets
Operation Ocean Witness in the English Channel. Caroline Lucas, MP and Greenpeace confront The French fishing vessel Larche Concarneau flyshooting in the MPA Bassurelle in the English Channel. They sailed by with banners and handed over a map showing the locations of the 4 MPAs Greenpeace are patrolling in the channel. (© Kristian Buus / Greenpeace)

These measures include permanent bans for supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly-shooters in all marine protected areas more than 12 nautical miles from the coast in the English Channel, and a ban on pelagic trawlers over 55m and fly-shooters in the entire English Channel and Southern North Sea, on the grounds of the precautionary objective in the Fisheries Act.

Fishers along the south and east coasts have had their livelihoods devastated after years of unchecked industrial fishing by pulse trawlers, supertrawlers and fly-shooters. This has severely depleted fish populations, particularly in inshore waters, leaving some local fishers with nothing left to catch. Less than one third of key UK fish populations are in a healthy state.

Supertrawlers, all of which are EU owned, spend thousands of hours fishing in UK waters annually, including in marine protected areas. Supertrawler fishing times in UK marine protected areas increased by 1000% between 2017 and 2020. Industrial fly-shooters began focusing operations on UK waters off the south and east coast following the electric pulse trawling ban. Fly-shooting is a highly efficient industrial fishing method with immense catching capacity, which poses a threat to fish populations and the seabed.

his comes as it has been revealed by a Greenpeace investigation that one third of the membership of the UK’s largest industrial fishing lobbying group, the National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO), is made up of European fishing companies. This group has lobbied against supertrawlers being banned from marine protected areas.

The joint statement calls on the UK government to act with an urgency that reflects the state of emergency facing fishers along the south and east coasts of England.

Read the joint statement in full here.

NRW report identifies essential marine habitats that could be restored - Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has published a marine restoration report that shows the potential to restore marine environments in Wales back into prospering habitats and highlights the wider benefits they can offer.

Bringing existing data together in a new way, the report shows where physical conditions could support important marine species and habitats.

By mapping seabed type, depth, current habitats, light levels and more, the report shows where environmental conditions could support these vital species and habitats. It also confirms the additional benefits these habitats can offer.

Among the species and habitats in the report are saltmarsh, mudflats, and seagrass. It also considers possibilities for reef-forming species that provide a habitat for other animals and seaweeds. These include horse mussel beds, honeycomb worm reefs and native oyster habitat.

Previous research has already shown that marine habitats are able to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This report also highlights many other benefits that healthy marine habitats can offer:

  • Absorbing wave energy to improve coastal protection
  • Improved water quality and cycling of nutrients
  • Providing habitats and nursery grounds for other marine life
  • Improving the quality of our marine and coastal environments for their local communities and visitors

NRW hopes that bringing existing evidence together in this report can help stakeholders, communities and conservation groups to decide where to focus action on actively restoring such habitats.

Amy Martin, Marine Specialist Advisor at NRW said: “The marine environment is such an important part of life in Wales. Healthy and functioning seas can help us tackle the current climate and nature emergencies. This report is the first time we have had a clear map of where active restoration might be possible for some of our key marine habitats. We hope this gives organisations a place to start when they look to restore habitats. It shows where restoration could be physically possible, and it provides an insight in to how to restore these habitats. It also highlights the many benefits that restored and healthy habitats can offer people in Wales and shows how important our seas are for our health and wellbeing.”

Peatland restoration brings back rare birds after twenty years - RSPB

A major peatland restoration project has heralded the return of breeding golden plover and curlew to an upland farm in Eryri (Snowdonia), the first breeding of the birds there in over twenty years.

Through taking a nature friendly farming approach and undergoing pioneering peatland restoration, the Ritchie brothers who manage the farm have delicately balanced delivering for nature, mitigating against climate change and maintaining a sustainable farm business.

Over the past four years RSPB Cymru, National Trust Cymru and the Ritchie family have been part of a pioneering collaboration, working to restore peatlands in the Upper Conwy Valley, part-funded through the Wales Peatland Sustainable Management Scheme, run by the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

The Ritchie family are National Trust tenants at Blaen y Coed, an upland farm within the Ysbyty Ifan estate. Moorland on this estate falls within the Migneint Special Area of Conservation: a large and internationally important expanse of upland heath and blanket bog, with huge potential for delivering public goods, such as carbon storage, biodiversity, water filtration and flood protection - when in a well-managed, healthy condition.

In 2017, the partnership started working to restore areas of damaged and degraded peatland, with the goal of creating healthier habitats for declining upland birds. They spent four winters blocking drainage ditches and deep erosion gulleys in the peatlands; creating mini peat dams which in turn allowed small pools to form and rewet the peatland landscape. All work in this very challenging wet peat-bog habitat being carried out by the Ritchie family themselves, using their own farm machinery.

Close monitoring of the habitat has shown it has improved dramatically since the work has been done. Pools are re-forming and specialist bog plants such as sphagnum mosses, cotton grasses and sundews are thriving once again. Wet peatland is an ideal habitat for golden plover and curlew and over the summer both species returned to the site to breed successfully within the re-wetted habitats with chicks of both species being seen. This proved to be the first successful breeding on this site since the 1990’s.

Dewi Davies, Project Manager for the Upper Conwy Catchment Project said: “The transformation we’ve seen through our partnership work on this special landscape is remarkable. Where once we had an area of degraded blanket bog, we now have a rich habitat that provides a whole suite of vital ecosystem services like carbon storage, water filtration, flood protection and a home for wildlife.”

Call to landowners to help save threatened West Wales butterfly - Butterfly Conservation

Brown Hairstreak butterfly (Butterfly Conservation)
Brown Hairstreak butterfly (Butterfly Conservation)

The threatened Brown Hairstreak butterfly’s range in South-west Wales has more than halved in the last decade, a new study by Butterfly Conservation South Wales Branch reveals.

To help reverse this decline it recommends that blackthorn hedges suitable for this butterfly should be not be flailed every year but should be left uncut at least every alternate year.

The study from Butterfly Conservation South Wales branch shows that smallholdings are now the main refuges of the rare the Brown Hairstreak butterfly, which is just about hanging on in South West Wales.

The Brown Hairstreak is listed under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 as a species of principal importance for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in Wales.

Richard Smith of the South Wales Branch of Butterfly Conservation said: “The adult butterflies live mainly in the tree canopy (typically Ash) but lay eggs on young shoots of low-growing Blackthorn in the hedges below. The eggs remain on the Blackthorn shoots through the winter, with the caterpillars hatching the following spring. Mechanical flailing of a hedge or scrub during the autumn and winter period has been shown to remove 80-90% of eggs. If this continues year-on-year, the ever-decreasing population vanishes within two or three years.”

Hedging experts advise that once every three or four years is a suitable interval for trimming hedges. Despite this, mechanical flailing of most farm hedges every autumn/winter seems to be common practice. This annual flailing is far more intensive than traditional labour-based management, in which hedges were laid every few years on rotation across the farm.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew launches new Science Strategy to stop biodiversity loss in crucial decade for the planet - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • RBG Kew launches 5-year strategy to help stop biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges
  • Kew’s 350 scientists will focus on this critical aim, emphasising that the climate crisis cannot be tackled without tackling biodiversity loss
  • Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at RBG Kew says: “The next few years provide a closing window of opportunity for societies to protect and sustainably use Earth’s remaining biodiversity and to restore what we have degraded”

Today (28 September), the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew unveils its new Science Strategy 2021 – 2025, setting out a series of ambitious commitments to urgently help stop biodiversity loss and accelerate understanding of the potential of plants and fungi to help address challenges such as food insecurity, climate change and deforestation.

Building on more than 260 years of unique scientific experience, Kew has set out five new scientific priorities to fulfil the organisation’s new mission outlined in ‘Our Manifesto for Change 2021-2030’ published earlier this year – ‘To understand and protect plants and fungi for the well-being of people and the future of all life on Earth’.

  • Ecosystem Stewardship: Conducting innovative research into evidence-led protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while seeking nature-based solutions to societal challenges.
  • Trait Diversity and Function: Understanding plant and fungal traits, to help conservation, increase resilience to global change, and explore potential benefits for human health and well-being
  • Digital Revolution: The large-scale digitisation of specimens and integration of data systems to increase the global value and use of RBG Kew’s collections for science, conservation, and education
  • Accelerated Taxonomy: Using new technologies to push the frontiers of taxonomic research, accelerating the characterisation and identification of species
  • Enhanced Partnerships: Cultivating current and new scientific, educational and commercial partnerships within the UK and across the world to maximise scientific excellence and on-the-ground impact.

It’s not too late to reverse biodiversity decline by 2030, UK’s five leading nature bodies say - Natural Resources Wales

Greater action, investment and embracing natural solutions are crucial to reversing biodiversity decline by 2030, the five UK statutory nature agencies say in a new report published today (Wednesday 22 September). It marks the first anniversary of the Leader’s Pledge for Nature, which has been signed by over 80 Heads of State from around the world.

(image: Natural Resources Wales)
(image: Natural Resources Wales)

Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), NatureScot, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have together launched a new report – Nature Positive 2030 – which sets out how the UK can meet its commitments in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and ensure that nature’s recovery plays a critical role in our path to Net Zero.

Findings from the joint report shows that achieving nature commitments will deliver huge benefits to human health, well-being and our economy, and will require transformative change across society and in the way we protect, value, use and engage with nature. The Nature Positive 2030 report draws on a wealth of experience and innovation in the UK to present solutions that can be scaled up to achieve change.

The report showcases the importance of utilising natural solutions to tackle climate change, highlighting the essential role of nature in helping us survive our uncertain future, and emphasising that nature’s ability to do so depends upon biodiverse ecosystems that are resilient to the changes ahead. Delaying action for nature will lead to greater economic costs and increased environmental risks.

The report also stresses the important role of nature in supporting human health and well-being, as demonstrated through the Covid19 pandemic.

Nature Positive 2030 sets out the priority actions and achievable steps for becoming “Nature Positive” – reversing biodiversity decline - by 2030 and concludes that we are currently not on track to becoming nature positive by 2030, but that this aim is achievable. The report recommends nine changes that can be delivered rapidly, by national and local governments, land owners, businesses and others that will have particularly high impacts on reversing biodiversity loss this decade.

Lifeline for some the world’s most precious biodiverse habitats announced - Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street

Over £100 million from the government’s Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will be invested in some of the most fragile ecosystems on Earth.

  • Six of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots – spanning 18 countries – to share funding from the government’s £100 million Biodiverse Landscapes Fund
  • The Western Congo Basin, the Lower Mekong and the Kavango-Zambezi region and more set to benefit
  • Projects will tackle biodiversity loss, combat climate change and help deliver our goal to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030

Over £100 million from the government’s Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will be invested in some of the most fragile ecosystems on Earth, International Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith has announced today.

Six environmentally critical landscapes across the globe will receive funding to tackle biodiversity loss and combat climate change. The landscapes selected are each home to rare and endangered species: elephants and rhinos in Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA); mountain gorillas in the Western Congo Basin; tigers in the Lower Mekong and jaguars in Mesoamerica.

These species are supported by diverse ecosystems and habitats, including rainforests, wetlands, temperate forests and mangroves. By driving action to protect these landscapes and habitats, the Fund will protect the wildlife that calls them home, through conserving protected areas, improving connectivity between habitats for key species and combatting the illegal wildlife trade.

The landscapes announced today include:

  • Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, covering areas of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
  • Mesoamerica, covering areas of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras;
  • Congo Basin, covering areas of Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo;
  • Andes Amazon, covering Ecuador and Peru;
  • Lower Mekong, covering Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; and
  • Madagascar

Today’s announcement forms part of the government’s ambitious commitments ahead of COP26 and builds on successes achieved at the UK chaired G7, which saw G7 leaders commit to protect and conserve 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. The global ‘30by30’ target is now supported by over 100 countries worldwide.


New projects, initiatives and fundraising

Brand new Natural History Museum schools programme to create thousands of young urban nature champions - Natural History Museum

Explore: Urban Nature aims to inspire, inform and empower teachers and students, aged 9-14, to go outdoors and get involved with the nature on their doorsteps

The Natural History Museum is inviting schools across the UK to join its exciting new education programme, Explore: Urban Nature, part of the Museum’s Urban Nature Project, which will provide the next generation with the skills to engage with and protect urban nature.

Leading a coalition of museums and wildlife organisations, the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project will create an urban nature movement through a UK-wide learning programme for young people, families and schools. A key strand of the project, Explore: Urban Nature, delivered in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, will provide school children aged 9-14 with exciting opportunities to dig into what urban nature is, what it does, how it's changing, and what they can do to support it.

Director of the Natural History Museum, Doug Gurr says: “When people talk about nature, they often imagine remote wilderness or rolling countryside but there is a fantastic diversity of life in towns and cities. The Natural History Museum is on a mission to create advocates for the planet, and we know that once young people are inspired to engage with the biodiversity around them, they are far more likely to want to want to protect and enhance it.”

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, lead partner for Explore: Urban Nature adds: “Our Trustees are committed to the natural world at this critical time and Explore: Urban Nature has the potential to be transformative. We hope it will help thousands of teachers ignite a passion for the nature on their doorsteps and thousands of students across the UK form a lifelong connection with the environment - at a time when it has never been more vital to the future of our planet.”

Over the next three years Explore: Urban Nature will involve museums from around the UK connecting teachers and students with their local environment, allowing them to become local experts and kick-starting a conversation about the importance of urban nature and biodiversity. The programme will include teacher training to help develop practical skills for outdoor STEM investigations into urban nature as well as hands-on outdoor museum workshops where students can investigate challenges facing nature in urban areas.

New initiative to save Wales’ threatened species – with lots of opportunities for people to get involved - Natural Resources Wales

(image: Natural Resources Wales)
(image: Natural Resources Wales)

A new initiative – Natur am Byth - to save rare species and reconnect communities with nature is getting off the ground in Wales.

The shrill carder bee, pink sea-fan coral, barbastelle bat, and Snowdonia’s arctic alpine plants are just some of the species in line for intensive care.

Overall, the project will help recreate habitats, restore landscapes and hopefully change lives by connecting people with nature.

Natur am Byth, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, unites nine environmental charities with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to tackle the startling decline in biodiversity - Wales’ Nature Emergency.

A number of new jobs are on offer over the next few months to help shape Natur am Byth into a major nature recovery programme in Wales.

John Clark, Natur am Byth Project Manager, said: “With the backing of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Welsh Government, we’ve started the process of recruiting a high-quality team to plan this wide-ranging programme to work with communities for the benefit of Wales’ most threatened species. In February 2023, at the end of the 18-month development phase we will present our bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a four-year programme of action from 2023 to 2027. If successful, that’s when the exciting practical conservation and local engagement will happen.”

To prepare the full National Lottery Heritage Fund bid, the new team and contractors will consult with local communities, conduct species surveys and plan detailed recovery plans for species and habitats across many of Wales’ most treasured landscapes.

They plan to work with a diverse range of communities to find out what matters to them, and how connecting with nature can support well-being and Covid recovery.

John Clark added: “We’re looking for passionate project officers, who understand the importance of protecting species and involving the communities and landowners who are custodians of Wales’ natural heritage.” If that sounds like you, please check out the project webpage and follow #naturambyth across all the partners’ social media for job vacancies.”

The 10 partners in Natur am Byth are Amphibian & Reptile Conservation; Bat Conservation Trust; Buglife; Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Butterfly Conservation; Plantlife; Marine Conservation Society; Natural Resources Wales; RSPB Cymru; Vincent Wildlife Trust.

The Wildlife Trusts raise £25m in a year to kickstart nature’s recovery - The Wildlife Trusts

First anniversary sees charity lead vision for wildlife across 30% of land and sea by 2030

New nature recovery project map shows on-the-ground examples

A year ago today (28 September), The Wildlife Trusts launched a vision to put nature into recovery across at least 30% of land and sea by 2030 and started an appeal to raise £30 million to begin the work. Today we are delighted to announced that in just twelve months we have raised over £25 million. 35 important nature recovery projects are underway to restore land for wildlife.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with once-common creatures such as hedgehogs, red squirrels and sparrows now critically endangered, and huge reductions in the abundance of wildlife across the board. The Wildlife Trusts are determined to reverse the trend.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts said: “We are thrilled to have raised £25 million in the past year to fund our vision for 30 by 30 and we’re extremely grateful to every single person who has helped make this happen. It’s fantastic that people want to support our work to reverse wildlife declines and address the climate emergency. But this is only the first step to mend our broken natural world by 2030. While The Wildlife Trusts are taking urgent action, some aspects of the Government’s agenda threaten to undermine good work on the ground, by weakening habitat regulations which protect wildlife, weakening the planning rules that guard the environment, and shrinking the powers and resources needed by the Environment Agency to stop river pollution. The Government needs to invest far more in nature – we know that more than a £1 billion annually is needed to create and restore wild places. A recent report found that only about 3% of land in England is genuinely protected for nature – yet the Government wrongly persists in claiming the amount protected is 26%. It’s time they faced the huge scale of the task and stumped up the funds to match.”

Coincidentally, the Government launched a 30 by 30 vision on the same day as The Wildlife Trusts a year ago – but believes that far more land is protected for nature than is the reality. The Wildlife Trusts maintain that National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – which the Government says count towards 30% – are landscape not wildlife designations, and many of these places are severely depleted of nature. While National Parks and AONBs contain some high-quality natural areas, they cannot count in their entirety towards 30%. Only those areas which are protected and well managed for nature should be included.

The Wildlife Trusts are calling for a new designation in England, Wildbelt, to protect land that is put into recovery for nature.

RHS announces first Flourish Fund recipients - RHS

Hackney Herb Garden
Hackney Herb Garden

£150,000 fund to increase accessibility to horticultural careers

Community plots in Edinburgh, herbal tea gardens in London and a city farm in the heart of Bristol are some of the initiatives receiving a cash boost from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) as it unveils the first beneficiaries of its new Flourish Fund.

The gardening charity has today announced recipients of its fund aimed at attracting budding gardeners into a career in horticulture, with a particular focus on under-represented communities.

The twelve organisations from across the UK will share £150,000, enabling them to grow their training and development offerings, benefitting more people and helping to pave the way for a career in horticulture. It is thought that around 650 people will benefit directly from RHS funding.

Organisations set to grow their offering this year include Hackney Herbal in London who will offer six positions at its publicly accessible herb garden; St Werburghs City Farm in Bristol who will pilot an Urban Growers Scheme and deliver training and skills workshops; and Edible Estates in Edinburgh, where 80 people will benefit from their community food hubs partnered with local food banks.

The 12 recipients of the RHS Flourish Fund in 2021 are: Bankside Open Spaces Trust (London), Birmingham City Council, Core Arts (London), Edible Estates (Edinburgh), Grow (Sheffield), Hackney Herbal (London), National Botanic Garden Wales, R-evolution (Hull), St Werburghs City Farm (Bristol), Surrey Docks Farm Provident Society (London), Walworth Garden (London) and Young Enterprise Scotland (Glasgow).

Chris Moncrieff, RHS Head of Horticultural Relations, said: “We are very pleased to announce the first tranche of grants aimed at improving the accessibility of horticultural careers. The RHS Flourish Fund will provide much-needed financial support to enable groups already doing fantastic work in their communities to grow their offering. More than ever, people are looking at gardening as a career option and this scheme is intended to ensure everyone can benefit from the opportunity.”


Jobs and Training

Significant New Report On Barriers To Inclusion Published - CIEEM

CIEEM has published an important new report on work undertaken to better understand barriers to inclusion in the ecology and environmental management careers sector for people of colour. The report, produced by leading stakeholder participation consultancy Dialogue Matters, summarises the outputs of two workshops held over the summer.

The first workshop invited people of colour at different career stages within the sector, both CIEEM members and non-members, to share their experiences of barriers faced in their career journeys, their hopes for the future and ideas for change. The second workshop involved a wider stakeholder group to explore these ideas more fully, gather new ideas and to ascribe actions to bring about the desired change.

Sally Hayns, CEO of CIEEM, said ‘This seminal report is a tribute to the participation of all the stakeholders involved and their commitment to help create a more diverse and inclusive profession. It builds on our Diversity and Inclusion Statement published in 2020 and our learning from our report on our survey of CIEEM members published earlier this year. Most importantly, it identifies potential actions for CIEEM, for CIEEM in collaboration with other partners and ideas for other stakeholder groups to take forward. This report is a call for action that must be heard and responded to if we are serious about breaking down these barriers – and we are.’

Read the full report here

Working together to develop our workforce - Lantra

One of the biggest issues college and university graduates face when starting out on their career path in land-based industries, is a lack of relevant practical skills and hands-on experience. These highly qualified individuals often need to volunteer to gain the training required to get their foot in the door for entry-level employment.

To help address these issues, Pearson, the UK’s largest awarding organisation, has joined forces with Lantra, one of the UK’s leading awarding bodies for land-based industries. This partnership champions real skills for real jobs, offering level 3 Learners the opportunity to gain practical skills through accredited training and qualifications, complementing their BTEC qualifications.

By combining industry-based qualifications with work-related skills and certificates, this study programme - designed around specific land-based occupations - will help Learners get their careers off to the best possible start.

Pearson has mapped out six specific career paths as part of the level 3 BTEC qualifications, covering the following sectors:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal management
  • Countryside management
  • Equine management
  • Forestry and arboriculture
  • Horticulture.

With the government pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 78% by 2030, along with a target of establishing 30,000 ha of new woodland in England by 2025, green and land-based jobs are set to be even more in demand across the nation.

Therefore, it’s even more important to ensure our future workforce is prepared and skilled in these key areas, so they’re up-to-speed with working practices and ready to hit the ground running.


Recreation and Enviromental Education

Campaigners want to be allowed to turn parking spaces into parklets in streets across London - London Parklets Campaign

  • Research shows that there are 1 million car parking spaces in London, over 3,000 miles which would stretch across the Atlantic Ocean if lined up. Cars are parked up and unused for 95% of the time, which campaigners believe is a waste of valuable space.
  • Campaigners call for 1 parking bay on every residential street in London to be permitted to be turned into community space
  • UK’s first ever ‘People Parking Day’ on 25/26 September will see people reclaim parking bays with activities like fitness classes, tea parties and book clubs
  • Brenda Puech and others have created guerilla parklets outside their homes which have been dismantled.

First Ever ‘People Parking Day’

group of people in a parking bay parklet
Photo of Brenda and Friends on bay (photo: London Parklets Campaign)

A campaigner from North London is organising the first ever ‘People Parking Day’ in London on the weekend of 25 and 26 September to encourage people to sit and talk in a car parking space on their streets. The London Parklet Campaign, which is made up of volunteers, is working with the charity Living Streets London and IBikeLondon to encourage Londoners to take up part in the activities, being held just after World Car Free Day (22 September).

Brenda Puech came up with the idea of reclaiming some parking spaces for community use while recovering from a serious collision when she was knocked off her bike by a motorist who ran a red light. After being refused permission she set up a guerilla parklet outside her home in London Fields. The ‘People Parking Bay’ was a patch of artificial grass with flowerpots, a bench and a sign that read ‘You’re welcome to park yourself on the bay.’ Sadly the council removed it.

The London Parklet Campaign is calling on the Mayor and borough leaders to allow Londoners to apply to create ‘parklets’ in the streets where they live, with an aim to have a parklet on every street.

Brenda Puech, a founder of the London Parklets Campaign, said: “I want every Londoner whether they own a car or not to have access to these public spaces. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a private garden so providing social spaces close to people’s homes is essential. We can really improve our environment and wellbeing if we reclaim these areas as spaces to sit and socialise, and make London the parklet capital of the world. ”

Children are invited to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee” and take part in The Queen’s Green Canopy Junior Forester Award - Royal Forestry Society

child hugging a tree Image: Royal Forestry Society
Image: Royal Forestry Society

Schools and organisations nationwide are invited to take part in The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) Junior Forester Award – an education programme launched to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Award was unveiled at Balmoral Castle where Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales marked the start of the official tree planting season alongside children from Crathie Primary School in Scotland.

The children from Crathie Primary School took park in a variety of activities as the first participants of the QGC Junior Forester Award, including testing their tree identification skills, making King and Queen of the forest crowns and decorating wooden disc necklaces.

The QGC Junior Forester Award has been developed by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) in partnership with the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) and with the support of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society (RSFS) to inspire young people as the future custodians of the UK’s green spaces, forests and woodlands.

It is split into eight sessions which equip children and young people with the skills they need to effectively manage their own area of woodland, including looking after the trees that they have planted for the Platinum Jubilee.

Christopher Williams, RFS Chief Executive: “The Queen’s love of trees has shone out throughout her reign. We are proud to be able to capture that passion and enthusiasm to inspire children everywhere. The QGC Junior Forester Award will challenge children to think about woodland past and present. It will inspire them to plant more trees and to understand how those trees will grow and survive into the future. Importantly, they will have fun and form lasting memories of their Platinum Jubilee year, planting trees and caring for woodland.”

Britons turning into a nation of ‘leaf peepers’ according to new National Trust research as experts predict a ‘good’ season for autumn colour - National Trust

The vibrant autumn colours at the National Trust's Stourhead Estate (James Dobson)
The vibrant autumn colours at the National Trust's Stourhead Estate (James Dobson)

Britons are turning into a nation of ‘leaf peepers’, according to new research commissioned by the National Trust. And, with signs looking positive for a good year for autumn colour, the conservation charity is urging people to get outside to enjoy the season.

With the first signs of autumn gradually starting to sweep across the country, results from a YouGov poll found that nearly a third (30 per cent) of adults chose seeing autumn colour as their favourite aspect of autumn, followed by spending time in nature – running, walking or cycling (13 per cent) and the weather – cold crisp days, Indian summer, or stormy days (12 per cent).

Enjoying autumn colour also came ahead of the build up to Christmas, hygge, autumn cooking, clothing or television, bonfire night and Halloween.

Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of adults said they take notice of how trees change throughout the year, with over a third (37 per cent) saying they take considerable notice.

Findings also revealed that over a quarter of adults (28 per cent) say they have noticed trees more now compared to before the first lockdown.

However, just under a quarter of Brits (22 per cent) voted for autumn as their favourite season, with it finishing third behind summer and spring (32 per cent and 26 per cent) respectively – with winter coming last at nine per cent.

But, autumn hit the top spot with the youngest group of adults questioned (18-24 year olds), and was their joint favourite season (tied with summer at 29 per cent).

To make the most of Britons’ love of spending time outdoors and the love of trees and autumn colour, the National Trust is asking people to get outside this autumn to not only enjoy autumn colour, but to also help raise vital funds to meet its tree planting ambitions, to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030 to help tackle the climate crisis.

Pamela Smith, National Gardens and Parks Specialist at the conservation charity says: “Autumn colour is not only determined by what the actual weather is doing now, the weather patterns throughout the year are also key – particularly levels of sunshine, but also levels of rainfall, a lack of which can cause stress for trees which is why there have been early shows of yellow or brown autumn colour and leaf-fall in parts of the country.”

Training Directory.

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 including calendar of short courses happening in December 2021

Online Events

19/10/2021 Drought risk in the Anthropocene at Online 2 Days

The Royal Society Contact:

This meeting, which takes place on 19 – 20 October 2021, will explore scientific understanding of changing drought risk and examine drought impacts on the environment, people and the economy. Policy-makers, practitioners and scientists will discuss policy options for management of droughts in the future. More information on the speakers and programme can be found on the website

19/10/2021 Managing Visitors with Dogs post Covid at Online 1 Day

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland Contact:

With dog ownership up 47% during the pandemic this webinar will provide a good foundation for knowing how best to manage visitors to outdoor sites who bring their furry companions.

25/10/2021 Anthropology and Conservation Virtual Conference at Online 5 Days

Royal Anthropological Institute Contact:

Online Learning - Short Courses

Various Fall into nature with Plantlife

Online, Plantlife

Looking for plant ID workshops - grasses, lichens, bryophytes, to understand grasslands as a climate solution, to explore right tree, right place, habitat management workshops for dunes and temperate rainforests or to get a flavour of plant conservation nationally and internationally, there is something for everyone.

02/11/2021 GIS for Beginners: Guide & Application - Online 2 Days

Online, Surrey Wildlife Trust 01372 379523

In this online course, learn how to capture and manipulate data using a Geographic Information System. The first day runs from 10am-3pm and the second day is a follow-up from 10am-noon.

Cost £67.00

10/12/2021 UK Habitat Classification (UKHab) Online Training Course 1 Day

Online, Kent Wildlife Trust 01622662012

An online training day on the UK Habitat Classification, a new comprehensive classification system for vegetation habitats used in conservation and land management

Cost £75

24/01/2022 Applying a natural capital approach

Online, Ecosystems Knowledge Network

Online CPD-level training for professionals involved in the management of rural land in England. This course provides familiarisation training for land agents, rural valuers and agricultural and rural business consultants in natural capital approaches. The next course will run over five sessions from 24th January to 2nd February 2022.

29/01/2022 Compost Toilets: Live online 1 Day

Online compost toilet course. Explore the construction and component features of compost toilets, the biochemistry of composting and sanitising excreta, and cultural trends governing our attitudes towards toilets such as the 'yuck' factor. Join other participants in discussing projects.

05/02/2022 Eco Refurbishment: Live online 2 Days

On this new online version of our popular Eco Refurbishment course, you’ll learn from one of the UK?s leading experts on eco refurbishment and discover what key improvements you can make to transform houses and buildings into cosy, low impact, energy-efficient homes.

05/02/2022 Reedbed Systems: Live online 1 Day

If you’re living or working in a remote location or need eco-friendly options for wastewater management, reedbeds offer a great solution. On this online course you’ll explore how wetland systems work, what kind of effluents they can treat, what scale they are suitable to, and what their ecological footprint is.

Above courses with Centre for Alternative Technology 01654 704966

Online Learning - Longer Courses

Feeding Animals Self-Study Course at ACS Distance Education

Feeding Animals - self study short course. Learn the essentials of what is required to feed animals. The course has 10 lessons. Introduction to feeding animals, industry opportunities, composition of feed, forage, concentrates, feed additives, managing feed production and supply, feeding small companion animals, pets, livestock, wildlife, eating and nutritional disorders.

Forage Management at ACS Distance Education

Learn to better manage forage resources for both livestock and other animals. For farm animals. For wildlife. For sustainable ecosystems. Online course requiring around 100 hours of study. Start at any time to suit you. To manage forage resources, you need to have a good understanding of both the plants growing in an area, and the animals that graze on those plants. It requires an appreciation of plant and animal ecology and the impacts which man can have on that ecology.

Forestry Foundations Online Course at ACS Distance Education

100 hour online course. Learn to grow, harvest and process wood on a farm, woodland or for a native forest. Learn the key principles and practical management of trees in agroforestry and urban forestry. 10% off to CJS members. Enter the promo code - STUDENT - when enrolling.

Above courses with ACS Distance Education, contact: 01384 442752

Grant Writing for Wildlife Conservation at WildTeam

Why do this workshop? Career starters: Improve your chances of getting your dream conservation job by getting a qualification in a required skill for many conservation positions. Practitioners: Learn how to write more successful grant applications. What will I learn? This training workshop has been developed with input from funders and experienced practitioners to help conservationists create high-quality grant applications. You will learn how to: Select the grant that is right for your project; Gather the information needed to develop your grant application; Create content for the application; Enhance and refine that content to make sure your application stands out and is easy to understand; Process the application from submission to responding to the result. What will my learning experience be like? In this online training workshop, we do our best to recreate the best of the interactive and supportive classroom environment, while offering you the flexibility to learn when and where you want. You will be supported throughout by our expert trainers via email, Zoom and WildHub. The workshop is run over 6 weeks, with weekly live teaching sessions and pre-recorded training videos to work from in your own time. Where can I find out more? The next online training workshop in Grant Writing for Wildlife Conservation begins on the 14th November 2021. To find out more and sign up, go to Who is providing this training? WildTeam UK is a not-for-profit charity that designs and delivers training in key skills that help conservationists to increase their impact. To date, we have trained over 1100 conservationists from 86 countries.

Landscape Photography at ACS Distance Education

Learn the techniques necessary to capture the individual expressions of each landscape. Learn about special affects, colour richness, photographic terms, & achieving sharpness. Develop your skill in creating different effects, and using different materials and equipment and see the difference show in your pictures. Distance learning. Start any time. 01384442752

Project Management for Wildlife Conservation at WildTeam

What will I learn? Working with our highly qualified and experienced team, you will learn how to manage conservation projects of any type or size, by: Applying a set of practical and ethical principles to guide your project; Assigning roles to clarify team structure and decision-making, and improve internal communication and coordination; Splitting projects into clear phases, to manage a project from start to finish; Using control processes to monitor the progress of your work and adapt to new information and changing conditions; Establishing administrative processes to help conduct effective internal meetings and develop high-quality project documents; Standardising reporting to record, evaluate and share the impact of your work, both internally and externally. What will my learning experience be like? In this online training workshop, we do our best to recreate the best of the interactive and supportive classroom environment, while offering you the flexibility to learn when and where you want. You will be supported throughout by our expert trainers via email, Zoom and WildHub. The workshop is run over 6 weeks, with weekly live teaching sessions and pre-recorded training videos to work from in your own time. Where can I find out more? The next online training workshop in Project Management for Wildlife Conservation begins on the 10th November 2021. To find out more and sign up, go to Who is providing this training? WildTeam UK is a not-for-profit charity that designs and delivers training in key skills that help conservationists to increase their impact. To date, we have trained over 1100 conservationists from 86 countries.

Short Courses - Face to face / on-site

Administrative and Office Skills

07/12/2021 QGIS: Introductory (Online) 5 Days

Online, GeoData, University of Southampton. Contact: +44 (0)23 8059 2719

10/12/2021 UK Habitat Classification (UKHab) Online Training Course 1 Day
Online, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622662012
An online training day on the UK Habitat Classification, a new comprehensive classification system for vegetation habitats used in conservation and land management

14/12/2021 QGIS: Advanced (Online) 12 hours Days
Online, GeoData, University of Southampton. Contact: +44 (0)23 8059 2719
This course is intended for those who have either completed our Introduction to QGIS course or have equivalent knowledge and experience. Delegates are introduced to advanced analysis techniques using both raster and vector data. The course is run via a series of zoom video calls.

15/12/2021 Transforming Environmental Data in R 2.5 Days
Online, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster University. Contact: 01491 69 225
The 2-day interactive online course will help you understand the benefits of data transformation tools. You will learn about auditable workflows, repeatability, time-saving, improving efficiency & reduced risk of dataloss. You will participate in practical data transformation exercises using real environmental datasets to combine & manipulate datasets for analysis-ready data.

Community Engagement and Environmental Education

10/12/2021 Bringing Wildlife to School 1 Day

Bromley, BEECHE. Contact: 01689860571
short course providing training on outdoor education to teachers of all key stages. Participants bring information and photos of their school site to discuss how best to use their outdoor space, and improve it for biodiversity. Includes discussion of lesson plans, maintenance tasks and links to the curriculum. 10am-4pm.

Countryside Management Techniques

03/12/2021 Woodland Coppicing 1 Day

Voltaire's Wood, Nailsworth, GL6 9AL, Cotswolds National Landscape Rural Skills. Contact: 01451 862000
This is the method of periodically harvesting small areas of woodland, traditionally for a wide array of products. It encourages the re-growth of trees and shrubs. Learning: the skills of coppicing, using tools, a little of the history of woodland coppicing and the potential uses for harvested coppice.

First Aid, Risk Assessment and other Health & Safety Related Courses

04/12/2021 Outdoor First Aid 2 Days 2 Days at Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow

Suitable for all types of outdoor practitioners. Theoretical training and practical scenarios are used together, and are progressed to being based in remote locations, potentially several hours from help. You will be very active on this course, both inside and outdoors.

06/12/2021 First Aid at Work 3 Days at FSC Preston Montford, Montford Bridge, Shrewsbury
This course can be tailored to any relevant environment, and is most commonly delivered as an In-house course, contextualised for your workplace hazards. Theoretical training and practical scenarios are used together to incrementally develop skills throughout the course. ?Come prepared to be active and participate in progressive scenario practice.

Above two courses with First Aid Training Cooperative. Contact: 07585723763

06/12/2021 Emergency First Aid at Work (Forestry Unit available) 1 Day
This course combines theory with hands-on practical exercises in First Aid. You will gain the knowledge and confidence to deal with incidents requiring medical assistance within the workplace. The Forestry Unit can be addd to this course.

09/12/2021 First Aid at Work Requalification 2 Days
This course updates skills and knowledge and helps to rebuild confidence for those who hold the First Aid at Work certificate. This requalification course must be taken before the First Aid at Work certificate expires.

13/12/2021 First Aid at Work FAIB (Forestry Unit available) 3 Days
This course combines theory with hands-on practical exercises in First Aid. You will gain the knowledge and confidence to deal with incidents requiring medical assistance within the workplace. This course meets the requirements as laid down in the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations, 1981.

Above courses in Skipton, North Yorkshire with Tyro Training. Contact: 01756 797 266

15/12/2021 Worksafe Emergency First Aid + Forestry 1 Day
Ardingly, South East Landbased Training Courses LLP. Contact: 07437 601161

17/12/2021 ROLO Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness 1 Day
Skipton, North Yorkshire, Tyro Training. Contact: 01756 797 266
This course is designed for anyone who works in the Land based Industry including labour only, self-employed and employees of companies. ROLO is a prerequisite for anyone applying for a LISS/CSCS SmartCard.

Identification and Field Survey Skills - Ornithology

03/12/2021 Birds of Prey of the North Kent Marshes 1 Day
Tyland Barn, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622662012
Spend a day observing birds of prey. Learn how to identify different species and more about their characteristics, habitats and behaviour.

06/12/2021 Avian Egg Incubation Workshop 5 Days
Jersey, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Contact:
This five-day workshop is aimed at curators, keepers, veterinarians, serious private breeders and field biologists involved in managing breeding birds, both in captivity and in the wild. Whether new to egg incubation or experienced with managing eggs, participants gain a broad range of skills necessary to ensure optimal hatchability both in the incubator and in the nest.

Practical Countryside Skills

01/12/2021 Dry Stone Walling Training 2 Days
Dartmoor, Foundation for Common Land. Contact:
Opportunity for people to learn a new skill and help maintain common boundaries on Dartmoor. Attendees will learn a variety of the recognised boundary typologies from drystone walls to stone hedgebanks. This FREE training is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. All abilities are welcome (minimum age 16).

Practical Countryside Skills - Machinery

06/12/2021 NPTC Level 3 Award in Aerial Cutting of Trees Using Freefall Techniques (formerly CS39) 3 Days
This short course is designed for those in the forestry or landscape industry who wish to be able to use a chainsaw from a rope and harness. Prerequisites apply, contact us for more information.

13/12/2021 PA1 - NPTC Level 2 Principles of Safe Handling and Application of Pesticides 1 Day
This course is designed for people who are involved in the storage and handling of pesticides.

14/12/2021 PA6 - NPTC Level 2 Award in the Safe Application of Pesticides using Pedestrian Hand Held Equipment 2 Days
This course is designed for people who are involved in the storage, handling and application of pesticides using handheld equipment and maintaining handheld type sprayers.

Above courses in Skipton, North Yorkshire with Tyro Training. Contact: 01756 797 266

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photo of a water vole looking out of a clay drainage pipe

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Are you involved in a historic or active water vole mitigation scheme?

Would you like to be part of a study reviewing the long-term effectiveness of water vole mitigation?

The aim of the research is to establish the status of water voles following on-site mitigation, reviewing years 1-5 and years 5+. The influence of on-site management and external factors (mink, flooding and pollution events) will be investigated as part of the project.

If you have worked on a mitigation scheme, or know of a project that might be suitable, please get in contact for further information.

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