CJS Professional

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

Published on the second Thursday every month

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

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

Featured Charity: Mammal Society

Find out more about our featured charity here.

Including how to join and donate.

CJS Professional: 12 March 2020


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





Location (basis / contract details)

Turtle Dove Officer


Minsmere / Flexible within Suffolk (Fixed term for 5 months, 18.75 hpw)

Path Builder

A.C.T Heritage Ltd

Inverness area

Senior Nature Conservation Officer

Leicester City Council

Leicester (part-time)

Dartmoor Headwaters Project Assistant

Dartmoor National Park Authority

Bovey Tracey & Exeter (Fixed term contract until 31 March 2021, 37 hpw)

Casual Bat Surveyor

Midland Ecology Ltd

West Midlands

Dark Night Sky Advisor

Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Tollard Royal, Wiltshire (Part time 3 year temp contract)

Visitor Experience Officer - Bird Conservation Awareness


Pagham Harbour & Medmerry, West Sussex (Permanent 18.75 hpw contract)

Conservation Officer (Cambridegshire)

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire


Visitor Operations Manager

Nene Park Trust

Peterborough (Full time, permanent contract)

Summer Bat Surveyors


Hampshire (May to September 2020)

RRC Science & Technical Officer

River Restoration Centre

RRC Office, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire (Full time, 3 year contract, renewed therafter)

Senior Project Manager - LIFE 100%


Edinburgh (Full time, fixed term contract to July 2024)

Countryside Assistant

Epping Forest District Council

Waltham Abbey, Essex (36 hpw)

Parks Activator

Bournemouth Parks Foundation

Bournemouth (Fixed term post to 31 May 2021 full or part-time)

Freelance, Self-employed and contracts

Education Business Opportunity

Forestry England

Delamere Forest, Cheshire


Bird Ringing Camp Volunteers

Wild Areas Network

Polish Baltic Coast



60 adverts for voluntary posts added to the website this month.

Bird ringing camp volunteers welcome on the wild Polish Baltic Coast in April and September 2020 with Wild Areas Network.

You have an opportunity to support one of the oldest bird ringing schemes of the World - Operation Baltic. [more]

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


Features and In Depth Articles

2020 has been declared as the International Year of Plant Health by the General Assembly of the United Nations

Plant health impacts on everyone’s lives socially, economically, culturally and environmentally. [more]

Citizen scientists find 50% fewer insects in Kent

The Bugs Matter survey is based on the windscreen phenomenon, a term given to the anecdotal observation that people tend to find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars now than a decade or several decades ago. [more]

National Trust launches new countryside apprenticeships

The National Trust is launching a range of new countryside apprenticeship schemes this year, which offer paid work, training and learning and are recognised across the industry. [more]

BeeWalk – the national bumblebee monitoring scheme

The scheme protocol involves volunteer BeeWalkers walking the same fixed route (a transect of around 1-2 kilometres) at least once a month between March and October.  [more]

Osmotherley Toad Patrol

The aim of a toad patrol is to reduce the amphibians casualties as they try to cross a road during their spring breeding migration. [more]

When is a volunteer not a volunteer?

Lynn Crowe from Sheffield Hallam University expresses concern about the practice of many environmental charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) employing people in unpaid `voluntary` positions which are clearly full-time jobs. [more]

The Countryside Alliance’s Countryside Clean-up 28th - 29th March 2020

Following the success of last year’s Countryside Clean-up, the Countryside Alliance is supporting this year’s Great British Spring Clean by joining the Daily Mail’s quest in recruiting an army of litter heroes to start the fightback against the rubbish that is blighting our towns and countryside. [more]


CJS Focus

The most recent edition: Volunteering - view the most recent edition here or download a pdf copy.

The next edition will be published on 11 May and is looking at: Environmental Education and Outdoor Activities in association with The Countryside Education Trust.

Enquire about this edition (or make suggestions for future editions) by contacting Amy here


CJS Information and other articles

CJS Photography Competition, the March suggested theme is: A Day in the Life.  This month we're looking for examples of what your working life is really like. It's a perfect opportunity to direct the spotlight on your job, organisation, site or passion project.  The winner will be receive membership to the Countryside Management Association - the largest organisation supporting the work of conservation, access and recreation professionals in the natural greenspace and countryside sector throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. [more]

Photography Competition winners: The February theme was Green, another topic open to interpretation with entries ranging from some lovely green fields, to a windfarm complete with skein of geese.the winner was an incredible photo of a nesting shag on the Farne Islands NNR taken by Kim Gallagher.[more]

The Third article from this year's Featured Charity: The Mammal Society: Are Britain’s wild mammals consuming plastic?

As you will have seen on programmes such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, plastic in our seas threatens marine ecosystems. However, to date, very little is known about the impacts on terrestrial species. [more]



Land and Countryside Management


Funding and new partnerships


Pollution, sustainablity and climate


Environmental Education, Recreation and volunteering


Scientific Research, Results and Publications


Animal and wildlife news


Government Policy and Announcements plus reactions



Get qualified at London's leading specialist land-based college - Capel Manor College offers an Introduction to Arboriculture (Tree Surgery) Award (Level 1)  [more]

Calendar of events and short courses occuring in May - 21 pages

Plus additions to long courses and providers made over the past month.



4  new adverts, including:-----

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) & RSPB's Garnock Connections



CJS Newsletters and updates:

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

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



CJS Professional: 12 March 2020

Jobs: view all online jobs here



Turtle Dove Officer

Do you want to help the recovery of one of the UK's most seriously declining bird species? Are you enthusiastic about, and committed to, biodiversity conservation? Do you have excellent communication skills and experience of working with landowners to deliver conservation benefits? If so, we need you in our conservation team.

Turtle Dove Officer
Reference number: A5940220
Location: Minsmere / Flexible within Suffolk
Salary starting at: £25,463 to £27,585 per annum, pro rata
Hours: Part time, 18.75 hours per week
Contract: Fixed Term for 5 months

We are looking to recruit a dedicated and enthusiastic Turtle Dove Officer to provide advice to landowners about habitat management for turtle doves in Suffolk, one of the most important areas in the UK for turtle doves.
We have a seasonal role available starting in April/May 2020. The Turtle Dove Officer will work two and a half days per week for a five month period.
The main role will be to provide advice about habitat management for turtle doves to landowners by: Organising advisory visits to landowners; Producing reports summarising advice; Carrying out turtle dove surveys; Liaising with colleagues within RSPB and partner organisations.
The ideal candidate will have previous experience of providing landowner advice and a good understanding of arable systems. The role will also require good communication skills and an ability to build relationships with landowners and partners. Experience of carrying out bird surveys along with good knowledge of natural history are desirable.
If this sounds like the job for you then we'd love to hear from you.

Closing date: 25 March 2020
Interview date: 7 April 2020

If you would like to apply and find out more about this position, click here to be directed to our website.

A.C.T Heritage Ltd

Path Builder

We are looking for the right person with experience in hand-built footpaths to join our team of path builders.

Applicants will work as part of an experienced small team but also expected to work independently when required. Applicants must be up for everything which comes with working in the hills and be able to work away from home when needed. The job is also very physical and a reasonable level of fitness to be able to perform their daily tasks is expected. A full UK drivers licence will be required too.

There will be opportunity to develop skills and be an important part of a small business. The company is based in the Inverness area so applicants need to be situated within the local area.

If you are interested and would like to find out more please send a CV to

Logo: Leicester City CouncilLeicester City Council

Senior Nature Conservation Officer

The job

Leicester City has consistently been at the forefront of developing proactive approaches to the Biodiversity in England. This is an exciting opportunity to shape Leicester’s natural environment and to work with others to develop new approaches to biodiversity across the city.

We are seeking to recruit a part-time Senior Nature Conservation Officer to work alongside our nature conservation and (part-time) senior nature conservation officers, within the conservation team in the council’s planning service.

The conservation team provides advice and guidance on all aspects of the natural and historic environment and is pro-active in protecting and enhancing the city’s natural and historic assets.

This post will provide specialist advice and guidance on all aspects of nature conservation across Leicester City Council services, monitoring sites, developing projects and promoting biodiversity and nature conservation across the city.

Utilising flexible working arrangements, you will be based at City Hall with much of the time spent in the city’s natural green and open spaces. You will have the opportunity to further develop your interdisciplinary skills and experience.

About the role

Day to day you will provide advice to the planning service on all aspects of nature conservation and contribute to the city’s Biodiversity Action Plan and strategic vision for the natural environment. Inputting on all management plans for parks and green spaces, and contributing to other service areas, such as the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and surface water and flood management strategies.

Supporting the team, you will promote and act as an advocate for Leicester and its ecology at a local, regional and national level.

What you'll need

Having substantial experience in nature conservation within a planning framework you be able to prepare, implement and monitor site management plans, supporting with species identification, habitat surveys and evaluation skills. Using data management and monitoring to produce complex reports, you will use this to brief and make presentations to senior management and the public.

To apply

If the above sounds like you, then we would love to hear from you!

Please complete our online application form here, referring to the attached person specification for all the job requirements and ensure you tell us about your experience and knowledge, where this is being measured by application form.

Attach your CV, please also ensure that this is tailored to reflect the job requirements which will give you the best possible chance of being shortlisted.

For further information, please click here.

Closing date 29th March

Logo: Dartmoor National Park AuthorityDartmoor National Park Authority

Dartmoor Headwaters Project Assistant

Grade 4: £22,462 - £26,317 per annum

Full time 37 hours per week

Fixed term contract until 31 March 2021

The Dartmoor Headwaters Project (DHP) has been established to explore the feasibility and trial the effectiveness of natural flood management (NFM) measures within the upper reaches of a number of Dartmoor rivers.

The DHP Assistant will work alongside the Project Officer to encourage farmers, landowners and the local communities to implement and monitor a series of measures to help reduce the risk of flooding to properties and other infrastructure whilst also achieving additional benefits to enhance the natural environment where feasible.

The successful applicant will have demonstrable practical experience delivering environmental projects and working with contractors and partners. You will have a good understanding of farming with a background working with upland farmers to achieve environmental outcomes. You will be extremely organised, have proven project management experience and excellent communications skills.

This is a Defra funded project administered through the Environment Agency and delivered in partnership with a number of organisations including Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA). The post will be hosted in partnership between the DNPA and the Environment Agency.

The post is based principally at the National Park Authority offices in Bovey Tracey, but will also be located at the Environment Agency offices in Manley House Exeter. You will also be required to travel extensively within the National Park. The Authority operates flexible working hours and is a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme.

If you would like to know more about this exciting opportunity, please contact Chris Giles – Head of Conservation and Land Management (

Closing Date: 25 March 2020 (5pm)

To apply please visit our website.

Dartmoor National Park Authority is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.

Midland Ecology Ltd

Casual Bat Surveyor
Midland Ecology is looking to expand its team of bat surveyors to assist on dusk emergence, dawn re-entry and activity (transect) surveys from the beginning of May. Entry level position, full training provided.

You will ideally be located in the west midlands as surveys take place across the midlands, usually within a 60 minute drive from the office (and meeting point) in Sutton Coldfield.

You must be available (and willing) to work antisocial hours (dawn surveys, beginning 2 hours before sunrise and dusk surveys ending 2 hours after sunset).

You must be committed, enthusiastic and reliable; with a willingness to learn, good attention to detail and good concentration skills. Prior knowledge/experience is preferable, however full training is provided.

Due to anti-social hours, public transport is not always available; therefore you must have a full UK driving licence and your own car.

We’re committed to helping our subcontractors gain the skills and experience needed to gain full-time roles in Ecology.

All successful applicants must be available for

Telephone interview:
Monday 13th – Wednesday 15th April (morning, afternoon or evening, please state any constraints)

Training session:
Monday 27th April 5.30 – approximately 10.30pm

To apply or enquire, please e-mail with your name, e-mail address, telephone number, address, availability for telephone interview and any experience relevant to the role.

Closing date: 29/03/2020

Logo: Cranborne Chase Chasing StarsCranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Dark Night Sky Advisor

Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

International Dark-Sky Reserve

Dark Night Sky Advisor

£22,021-£23,836 pro rata (22hrs a week)

Part time 3 year temporary contract

The Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is recognised as one of the UK’s finest landscapes. The protected landscape designation reflects its national importance, which is also recognised internationally. The AONB team works on behalf of the AONB Partnership to produce, review and lead implementation of the statutory five-year management plan.

Cranborne Chase became the first AONB to be designated, in its entirety, as an International Dark-Sky Reserve (IDSR) in October 2019. The bid to win this prestigious award took several years to prepare and the designation is awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) based in Tuscon, USA.

About the role

Cranborne Chase AONB Partnership is looking for an enthusiastic and committed person to promote the multiple benefits of IDSR status to the widest possible audiences, through presentations, media channels, the development of literature and leading stargazing events. The post holder will also be responsible for promoting and administering our ‘Dark-Sky Friendly Accreditation’ schemes for tourism related businesses, parishes, farms and schools. You will also prepare the Annual Report for the IDA, take regular dark sky readings across the AONB and be the first point of contact for public and media enquiries.

About you

You will need a good understanding of the International Dark-Sky Reserve designation, some knowledge of the lighting industry, terminology and light fittings. You will demonstrate proven experience in communicating to, and engaging with, a wide variety of audiences, be self-motivated and offer excellent IT skills, including PowerPoint. You do not need to be an expert astronomer; however a strong interest in and passion for the stars is a must!

Logo: Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyIf you enjoy working to deadlines in a positive and friendly environment, you’ll have the ongoing support of the AONB team as we work together to further promote this prestigious designation.

For more details of the job role: click here

For an informal discussion please contact Linda Nunn, AONB Director on 01725 517417 or

Closing date: 23rd March 2020



Visitor Experience Officer - Bird Conservation Awareness

We are looking for a dedicated and enthusiastic person to join the team at the Pagham Harbour and Medmerry nature reserves. These internationally important nature reserves are situated side by side on the South Coast.

Visitor Experience Officer - Bird Conservation Awareness
Reference: A5110220
Location: Pagham Harbour & Medmerry, West Sussex
Salary starting at: £17,276 to £18,716 per annum, pro rata
Hours: Part time, 18.75 hours per week
Contract: Permanent

We are looking to appoint a part time bird conservation awareness Officer, focussed on reducing disturbance to breeding and over-wintering birds across the two nature reserves. Based at the small office and visitor centre at Sidlesham.

The successful candidate will be working with visitors, partner organisations and the wider community on disturbance mitigation projects. They will assist the Visitor Experience Officer to deliver events and projects, monitor their success and report back to the VEO / Site Manager / SPA Mitigation Strategy Steering Group.

They will undertake regular patrols across both reserves, in all seasons; they will have a good working knowledge of shore-bird species and their conservation requirements; and they will be an excellent communicator.

This post and full time role (already in post) are jointly funded by Adur District Council and Chichester District Council as part of The Pagham Harbour SPA Recreation Mitigation Strategy. The strategy aims to mitigate the impact of housing development on the Pagham Harbour SPA and Medmerry proposed SPA through a combination of actions and activities.

The successful candidate will be expected to forge close links with Arun and Chichester District Council Foreshore Officers, Solent Bird Aware scheme staff, and Chichester Harbour Conservancy staff.
If you would like to apply and find out more about this position, click here to be directed to our website.
Closing: 23 March
Interviews: 31 March

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Conservation Officer (Cambridgeshire)

An exciting opportunity has arisen with the Wildlife Trust for a Conservation Officer to play a significant role as an advocate for nature. You will be working in one of the fastest growing and most agriculturally productive counties in England, but one that still retains iconic nature sites and species, and where there are significant opportunities and plans to restore nature at a landscape-scale.

The Conservation Officer plays a leading role contributing to the delivery of nature conservation advice and advocacy work to a wide range of individuals, government organisations and businesses.

They will be instrumental in the Trust’s engagement with land-use planning. There are some exciting opportunities to influence major developments at the early stages, and to integrate nature into designs to achieve biodiversity net gain including significant habitat creation. The role will work with partners to develop a county wide system for biodiversity net gain. You will need a good knowledge of land-use planning and be passionate about nature. Knowledge of biodiversity metrics would be helpful and you should be eligible for membership of CIEEM.

The role also contributes to the Trust’s advisory work, undertaking surveys and monitoring of County Wildlife Sites and providing land management advice to owners. There will be scope to develop conservation projects with colleagues for our Living Landscape schemes, priority habitat and species, and taking forward actions that will support the creation of a nature recovery network.

You will need excellent communication skills and the ability to work with a range of partners. You will be organised and flexible to cope with a varied and diverse role.

Click here to download an application pack. For enquiries about the role, please contact Martin Baker, Conservation Manager on

Closing date for applications is 9am Monday 23rd March.

Interviews will be held on Wednesday 1st April.

Logo: Nene Park TrustNene Park Trust

Visitor Operations Manager

Salary: £29,500 - £32,275 per annum, dependent upon experience

Hours: Full-Time (37.5 hours flexible working across a seven-day week)

Contract: Permanent

Location: Peterborough


This is an exciting opportunity to oversee the management of the visitor centres and visitor experience in Nene Park, creating engaging and welcoming hubs for visitors to the Park and improving our opportunities to deliver high-quality events and visitor services.

The right candidate will be enthusiastic and experienced in managing creative and successful visitor operations and visitor centres/retail outlets. They will be able to think creatively and will be responsible for leading on the retail and visitor operations located in Nene Park’s Visitor Centre and Nene Outdoors water sports and activity centre. The role will involve sourcing and promoting sustainable products including from local businesses and some created within Nene Park. It will also involve working with the wider Nene Park team to develop new and exciting opportunities for the Park and its visitors.

For an informal discussion please contact Oliver Burke, Head of Operations, on 01733 367579.

For further information and to download an application pack please see our website. Please note that all applications need to be made on the application form provided and CVs cannot be accepted.

Closing date: 9am on Monday 23 March


Summer Bat Surveyors

Looking to gain work experience in ecology for your CV? Or are you an experienced or licensed bat surveyor?

Are you available to undertake bat surveys during evenings / early mornings during the summer? If so, ECOSA would like to hear from you!

Each year, ECOSA relies on a pool of skilled bat surveyors to help deliver our busy survey schedule. Ideally, you will be able to commit to joining us on a regular basis on weeknights / early mornings during May to September to undertake dusk and dawn bat survey work.

Full training from experienced ecologists will be provided. We look for a high standard of work and competence in producing clear and thorough results. Applications from licensed bat workers or experienced bat surveyors are particularly welcomed.

You will be based in Hampshire or the adjoining counties and ideally be able to travel to our head office near Southampton to meet up with other surveyors for onward travel to site.

We generally carry out survey works across the South; however, you may be required to travel further afield and stay in accommodation overnight. Having your own transport, being a confident driver and holding a full driving licence is therefore essential.

This role is ideal if you have a keen interest in ecology and are looking to increase your knowledge and gain valuable work experience in this field. Rates of pay are hourly and subject to experience. Mileage and expenses are paid, accruing from the time you leave our head office.

If you would like to apply or find out more about this position, please visit our website.

Successful candidates must be able to attend an evening training session at our head office on Wednesday 22nd April 2020.

Closing date: Friday 10th April 2020.

Logo: The River Restoration CentreRiver Restoration Centre

RRC Science & Technical Officer

Full-time, initial 3-year contract, renewed thereafter

From £33,309 to £37,127 per annum

Location: RRC Office, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire

We want you to help us drive forward river restoration in the UK and Ireland - this includes working with and restoring natural processes, natural flood management, nature based solutions and habitat enhancement - combining practice, science and policy.

The River Restoration Centre (RRC) is seeking a Science and Technical Officer to provide expert advice and guidance. This will include delivery of assessments, planning options and scoping potential projects, supporting research, authoring guidance documents and evaluating restoration success. The role also encompasses the design and delivery of training courses and the coordination of a new international river restoration science conference.

You will have a relevant masters level qualification (such as physical geography, geomorphology or similar) or the equivalent in professional qualifications and work experience in a river management or restoration related position. With a detailed understanding of river processes, management and restoration, you will have delivered training courses and workshops, and understand the differing needs of public, private, third-sector and local volunteer groups. You will have the ability to write complex technical and/or scientific reports as well as simple non-technical summaries and guidance tailored to a specific audience.

You will be able to quickly integrate into a small busy team of highly motivated individuals sharing a common purpose: protecting rivers, restoring natural processes, communicating knowledge and guiding best practice.

For details click here

For an informal chat contact Marc Naura, RRC Science and Technical Manager, on +44 (0)1234 752979 or (E);

Closing date: 19th March 2020.

Interviews: Friday 3rd April 2020.


Senior Project Manager - LIFE 100%

We need an experienced Senior Project Manager to deliver a groundbreaking project which will achieve 100% favourable status of Natura 2000 European protected areas (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas) on RSPB reserves across Scotland.

LIFE 100% Favourable Senior Project Manager
Reference number: A5930220
Location: Edinburgh
Salary starting at: £29,507 to £31,966 per annum
Hours: Full time
Contract: Fixed Term until July 2024

This exciting project, involves 11 conservation management sub projects across 15 natura sites and 23 natura features ranging from the saltmarshes of the Cromarty and Solway to the montane willow scrub of the Cairngorms.
Do you have the organisation, communication and influencing skills to make this complex national project runs like clockwork? Can you pre-empt the risks that are involved and fulfill a solution and outcome focussed team player role? If so you will have an important part to play in protecting our internationally important oakwoods, dunes, machair, pinewoods, fens and improving the conservation status of breeding Chough, Ringed Plover and Capercaillie and wintering populations of White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose and Bar-tailed Godwit.
You will also help facilitate outreach, media and training events to spread good conservation land management practice beyond reserves into Natura 2000 sites in the wider priority landscapes in which they sit, with the opportunity to extend this influence into other European countries.
You will also play a key part in raising awareness of the conservation need of these international natural treasures amongst policy makers through an end of project conference.

Closing date: 27 March 2020

Interview date: 6 April 2020

If you would like to apply and find out more about this position, click here to be directed to our website.

Logo: Epping Forest District CouncilEpping Forest District Council

Countryside Assistant

Countryside and Landscape Team at Epping Forest District Council

Salary range £25,700 - £27,651

Hours 36 per week

Holiday entitlement 28 days pa

Based in Waltham Abbey, Essex

A full clean driving licence is required.

An opportunity has arisen within the Council’s Countryside and Landscape Service for a suitably experienced and qualified individual to join the team as a Countryside Assistant.

You would be responsible for supporting the Countryside Officer in their role, which includes:  ● Supporting the delivery of countryside management projects on Local Nature Reserves, Local Wildlife Sites and other sites of habitat value in the District with the objective of increasing biodiversity for wildlife.Engaging with and instructing the local community and supervising volunteers in practical tasks Supporting the recruitment, training, organization and supervision of volunteersAssisting with the interpretation of the countryside and awareness-raising through events, guided walks, working with schools and community organisations and Tree WardensAssisting with the maintenance of records, risk assessments, procurement, publicity and social media  ● Assisting in the resolution of complaints and respond to enquiries from internal and external bodiesBeing responsible for the health and safety of yourself and others including maintenance and use of power tools, vehicles, transportation of goods and personnel both in the workshop, yard and on sites.

Please quote ref: 2000BAP

Closing date for applications March 20th 2020

Interviews week commencing April 6th 2020

For more information and to apply go to

Logo: Bournemouth Parks FoundationBournemouth Parks Foundation

Parks Activator

Are you interested in our beautiful, urban parks and would you like to help us develop them into nature filled community hubs for their neighbourhoods?

Bournemouth Parks Foundation, partnering with BCP Council, is one of nine organisations across the UK who have been selected for the Future Parks Accelerator fund from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to find new, inspiring ways to develop and manage our greenspaces.

A stepping stone for that is creating three pilot parks in Parkstone, Somerford and Winton where we can deliver a programme of work to deliver nature activities, health initiatives and community engagement to develop these parks. We have a fantastic opportunity for up to two people to join our innovative team, working closely with the community and the wider Greenspaces team, to make that happen.

You'll use your experience of leading nature-based sessions to facilitate a programme of activities which brings the park to life, engaging with a wide range of the community to encourage more people into our parks, for longer, while also improving the quality and biodiversity of the parks.

This is a fixed term post until 31 May 2021. We will consider both full and part-time applications to the post.

Salary: £21,000 - £24,000, depending on experience.

View the job description and person specification here.

Please send your CV and covering letter detailing how your meet the Person Specification, stating whether you'd like to work full or part-time and if you have an affinity to one of the selected parks to by midnight on Sunday 5th April 2020.

Provisional interview date: Friday 17th April 2020.

For further information please contact Cathi Farrer, Foundation Manager, on 01202 451513 or


Freelance, Self-employed and contracts.

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Logo: Forestry EnglandForestry England

Education Business Opportunity

We are looking for a partner who will add value to Delamere Forest, Cheshire, by providing high quality learning experiences to inspire learners of all ages.

The successful applicant will deliver curriculum-linked activities to a range of education groups. They will also offer a range of other activities which may include forest school / bushcraft, birthday parties, holiday clubs, a range of small-scale family events and some corporate sessions.

Forestry England makes a charge for businesses to operate on the public forest estate. You will be required to set out your financial offer on the application form.

Further information and an application pack will be provided at an open day at Delamere Forest on:

Open Day: Tuesday 31st March 2020.

Closing date for applications is 19th April 2020.

For those able to attend the open day (or for those unable to attend but still wanting an application pack), please contact: or




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Volunteers: 60 adverts for voluntary posts added this month see all of these online at:


Wild Areas Network

Bird Ringing Camp Volunteers

Bird Ringing Camp Volunteers welcome on the wild Polish Baltic Coast in April and September 2020. You have an opportunity to support one of the oldest bird ringing schemes of the World - Operation Baltic. You will help to handle caught birds, identify and ring them as well as with measuring, weighting and data entry tasks. You will get to know and distinguish every caught species by direct contact!

Work with Pioneers. Operation Baltic is a world-renowned bird research project going on for more than half a century. Nearly two million birds of 208 species have been ringed so far. The project is implemented in cooperation with top Polish and Foreign universities. Operation Baltic manages the most detailed database of vertebrate measurements of the world.

What will I do? You will handle birds, taking them out of the nets. Our main duty will be to regularly check mist nets installed near the camp. We will take caught birds to the base, where they will be identified, ringed and measured. We will weight them and release back to the wild. We will register all observations made by the Ringer in a special notebook.

Our unique feature is that every participant will be trained to handle and extract birds from nets because in Poland it is the very first skill that you learn when training to be a Ringer.

To Apply: send an email to Joanna at and introduce yourself in few words, explaining why you are interested in the Project and why we should choose YOU as a Participant. You will receive a detailed Info sheet including available dates and the Application Form.

To learn more, visit our project website and Facebook:

Thank you for your interest in our work and see you soon on the camp!


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

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CJS Announcements and articles of interest.


logo: CJS Photo CompetitionThis month (March) the suggested theme is A Day in The Life and the prize is membership of Countryside Management Association


This month we're looking for examples of what your working life is really like. Show off your best days, what is it that makes your job the best in the world? Share the worst days and everything in between.  What are the things you'd share with someone looking to follow a similar career?

Reveal the hidden glamour of it all: soggy waterproofs and overflowing wellies, dressed up in all your finery presenting or receiving awards, the relief of a hot beverage whilst the lop and top crackles away on the bonfire, the glow of pride of a job well done as you look over a new planted meadow.

Whatever it is you'd like to show your fellow professionals and budding enthusiasts.

It's a perfect opportunity to direct the spotlight on your job, organisation, site or passion project.  With that in mind when sending us your photos this month please make sure to tell us exactly what 'life' it is and include the job title (you can use a generic Ranger / Wildlife Project Officer if you don't to be too specific)


logo: Countryside Management AssociationThis month's winner will be given a year's membership of the wonderful Countryside Management Association.

Founded in 1966, the CMA is the largest organisation supporting the work of conservation, access and recreation professionals in the natural greenspace and countryside sector throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We work regionally, nationally and internationally to:

• Support the training and personal development of staff, students and volunteers

• Promote the value and importance of professionally managed countryside and urban green space

• Influence other organisations involved in the management of countryside and urban green space

• Champion staff, students and volunteers involved in countryside and urban green space

Join hundreds of other countryside professionals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and become a member of the Countryside Management Association (CMA).


On becoming a member, you will benefit from:

• the opportunity to gain professional accreditation: underpinned by assessment of your experience, competency and qualification

• Study /training days: visit sites/projects in your region or beyond, to learn from best practice and network with other CMA members

• Ranger magazine: receive our quarterly magazine with relevant articles, news and features

• Networking: join up with other CMA members through meetings, newsletters, social events and social media

• Annual conference: attend our popular annual conference covering topical issues, field trips and workshops.

• International links: gain access to a wider international network of countryside management professionals, through affiliation with the European and International Ranger Federations.


Reminder there are four overall prizes to be awarded at the end of the year (in July), all entries, not just the monthly winners will be eligible for these.  The winner will receive an invitation to the gala opening of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2020. We have runners up prizes of a year's membership of Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers a bundle of birdwatching books.  These are chosen by the CJS Team however we are also going to open the floor to readers with a Readers Choice photo which will win a year's subscription to BBC Wildlife magazine.


Simply email your photo (jpegs please) to along with your name and any information you want to include about your photo: what it shows, where it was taken and a caption for a funny one would be welcome too - and this month remember to include your job title. If you'd like us to tag you (or site / project) if we share your photo to social media please include the relevant handles and details.  You can enter as many photos as you like, but each image may only be entered once.

Full rules are here - please read them before sending your photos, we'll assume you have.


February winner

head of a nesting shag, photo by Kim GallagherThe February theme was Green, another topic open to interpretation with entries ranging from some lovely green fields, to a windfarm complete with skein of geese - see all of these on our Instagram:

There was one image that stood out for all of us, this incredible photo of a nesting shag on the Farne Islands NNR taken by Kim Gallagher who says the bird kept "a beady emerald eye on me at all times". It's that emerald eye that really draws you into the beautifully clear photo, with the grassy tussocks in the foreground highlighting the brightness and colour of the watching eye. 


Congratulations to Kim who has won membership of The Orchards Project. 


Full size image is on our website.


Find out more about the competition

View the Gallery of Winners

Follow us on Instagram for news of the competition and see some of the entries 







Features and In Depth Articles.


Logo: The Mammal SocietyThe third article from this year's Feaured charity: Are Britain’s wild mammals consuming plastic?


Wood mouse (Gary Cox)

Wood mouse (Gary Cox)

As you will have seen on programmes such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, plastic in our seas threatens marine ecosystems. However, to date, very little is known about the impacts on terrestrial species. A team from the Mammal Society are setting out to assess the exposure of wild mammals to waste plastics across the UK. By analysing the droppings of some of our most widespread species — squirrels, rabbits, mice, voles, rats, shrews and hedgehogs — they will find out the extent to which these plastics are eaten. The team will also assess the health threats posed by different types of plastic, through both ingestion and entanglement.

Waitrose & Partners’ Sustainability Team, who have helped to fund the research as part of their Golden Jubilee Trust award scheme, told us that they were interested in finding out more about the effects of plastic on the environment. The Partnership set up the Golden Jubilee Trust (GJT) in April 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the co-ownership business structure. Itself a registered charity, the GJT offers secondments for their staff which enable UK registered charities to achieve their goals. Emily Dempster, who works at Waitrose & Partners in Hove and is also a 3rd year Zoology student at the University of Sussex, has been awarded a secondment to work with the Mammal Society on this project. The findings will be used by the company’s sustainability team to help improve their environmental impact.

Emily Dempster

Emily Dempster

We talked to Emily (pictured) who is working on this project about the reasons behind the study and what she will be doing.


What prompted the Mammal Society to begin this study?

In the UK food packaging accounts for 67% of plastic waste, which is far higher than that of many other EU countries. This suggests that UK supermarkets use more plastic in their packaging than in most of their other EU counterparts. Reports suggest that contamination by microplastic (1) in terrestrial habitats may be as much as 30 fold larger than on marine habitats. Studies conducted so far on terrestrial ecosystems have mostly focused on worms, soils and chickens. The research suggests that microplastics are present in high quantities across the board. This has led to many researchers calling for more research to be done on terrestrial ecosystems.




How could microplastics get into terrestrial ecosystems?

Microplastics find their way into the soil via sewage sludge, plastic mulching and landfill sites. As there is such a vast quantity of supermarket plastic packaging ending up in landfill and littered on UK roads this also means that there is a high chance of our wildlife coming into contact with it at some point in their lifetime. Through a combination of time, exposure to UV light and the high likelihood of different species of wildlife chewing large pieces of plastic they often break down into microplastics. This allows for microplastics to enter both the soil to be ingested in species such as worms and it is thought that animals that chew litter will also be ingesting microplastics. Both of these situations lead to microplastics entering the terrestrial food web. Through studies in marine ecosystems we now understand that there is cumulative effect when smaller organisms that have ingested microplastic are eaten by their predators. Through existing studies looking at worms and snails, it is understood that even small quantities of microplastics can stop normal growth and reduce the chance of successful breeding in individuals. So, this could result in species that are already facing many threats to their survival being at more risk.

Pygmy shrew (John Phillips)

Pygmy shrew (John Phillips)


Why small mammals?

One in five of Britain’s mammals is facing extinction and the conservation status of many other species remains unknown. It is therefore important to identify, and address, possible threats. For example, it is not currently known whether hedgehogs are ingesting microplastics via the invertebrates they eat. As small mammals are some of the most likely species to chew litter it is thought that they could be assisting microplastics to enter soils, waterways and food webs in terrestrial ecosystems. Small mammals are very important for indicating the health of ecosystems as they are vital prey for a wide variety of species such as foxes, weasels, barn owls and kestrels. If small mammals are ingesting microplastics this would have an important impact on the health of these other species. By studying mice, rats, shrews, rabbits, hedgehogs, squirrels and voles we hope to better understand the current situation and raise awareness of the effects of microplastics on our terrestrial UK wildlife.


How can people get involved?

There are numerous ways to get involved — if you are part of a university or wildlife group you can take part in humane mammal trapping in order to gain samples of droppings. Wildlife rescue centres can take part by sending us samples of newly arrived patients, and if you are a member of the public with small mammals in their garden, shed or house, you can collect droppings and send them to us. If you are interested but cannot send samples then you can send us any photos of any wild mammal entangled in plastic or teeth marks in plastic waste you see around where you live. Finally, you can donate to our appeal for the equipment we vitally need in for the laboratory analyses.


Get in touch on

or donate on!/DonationDetails

For more information about the Mammal Society visit our website at You’ll find details about specific volunteering positions and permanent roles here, as well as advertised on social media and on the CJS site.


1 Microplastics are defined as anything under 5mm but we are likely to find them ranging from 1mm to several micrometres.

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Logo: Year of Plant Health 2020The International Year of Plant Health 2020

Plant health impacts on everyone’s lives socially, economically, culturally and environmentally. The General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) proclaimed 2020 the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), which is a key international recognition of the importance of plants, one of the most basic and fundamental pillars for life on Earth as we know it. Failure to ensure plant health as a crucial component of agriculture, amongst other things, will prevent achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development: feeding the growing global population would be simply impossible without preserving plant health. The international community acknowledged its importance by voting the UNGA Resolution proclaiming the IYPH unanimously, underlining the importance of the work of FAO and the IPPC in the drafting, implementation and application of safe international standards preventing the spread of plant pests and diseases while protecting crops and making trade safe and fair.

Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat, and produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Yet, they are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases. Every year, up to 40 percent of global food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases. This leads to annual agricultural trade losses of over $220 billion, leaves millions of people facing hunger, and severely damages agriculture – the primary income source for poor rural communities.

FAO considers the proclamation of the IYPH 2020 as a paramount and unique initiative to increase global awareness of the important role of plant health for life of earth, and to promote activities in favour of preserving and sustaining global plant resources. Plant health is essential to support poor rural communities, often relying on agriculture-related revenues primarily, making it the first source of income: protecting plants from pests and keeping plants healthy begins with prevention avoids the adoption of more burdening interventions of eradications, control and containment, once a pest is introduced. Healthy plants are also supporting biodiversity, which is currently under threat due to many factors, such as climate change that has allowed to some alien species to thrive in new niches.

Promoting and protecting plant health are at the core of FAO’s mandate, helping to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable, and can help ending hunger, reducing poverty, protecting the environment and boosting economic development to leave no one behind.

Much still needs to be done to ensure plant health. Strategic partnerships and collaborative action with all stakeholders, including governments, academia and research institutions, civil society and private sector, are essential to achieve the objectives of the International Year of Plant Health.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

International Year of Plant Health 2020 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

The IYPH launch marks a first step in the right direction to raise awareness amongst various stakeholders about the importance of plant health, with a focus on prevention of the spread of plant pests and diseases. FAO staff, partner organizations, and representatives of governments, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector gathered in Rome at FAO headquarters after Monday’s session of the FAO Council on 2nd December 2019 to join Mr Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General, in launching this paramount global occurrence.

“Plants provide the core basis for life on Earth – stated Mr Qu – and they are the single most important pillar of human nutrition. But healthy plants are not something that we can take for granted”. Climate change and human activities are altering ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating conditions where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment.

“As with human or animal health, prevention in plant health is better than cure,” stressed the FAO chief. Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with full-blown plant health emergencies. Plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them is time consuming and expensive.

Two thematic exhibits from Ireland and Italy were hosted at FAO headquarters for the official launch event of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Entirely dedicated to plant health, the exhibitions aimed to raising public awareness of the phytosanitary risks associated with international travel and trade.

The exhibition was officially inaugurated with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the FAO Director-General, Mr Qu Dongyu and all the keynote speakers of the IYPH launch event’s opening session, including Mr Edward Centeno Gadea, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Nicaragua; Mr Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Ms Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland; and Ms Tamara Finkelstein, Permanent Secretary of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Irish exhibit was organized by Irish national plant protection organization (NPPO) in cooperation with the Irish delegation to FAO and inaugurated at the presence of Mr Andrew Doyle, Minister of Ireland at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Mr Bobby McDonagh, Ambassador of Ireland to Italy; and Mr Barry Delany, IPPC contact point for Ireland. As part of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) “Don’t Risk it!” information campaign, the Irish exhibit aimed to raising public awareness of the phytosanitary risks associated with international travel. “When travelling abroad, plant pests and diseases do not take passports,” said the Minister of Ireland during his remarks at the IYPH launch event, encouraging people and travellers to take responsible and more cautious approach when bringing plants and plant products aboard.

On the other hand, the Italian exhibit was organized by Conlegno, a private non-profit consortium that aims at protecting forest heritage and biodiversity, in collaboration with the Italian NPPO. The IPPC contact point for Italy, Mr Bruno Faraglia, explained to the FAO Director-General how Conlegno companies work in accordance with the IPPC guidelines for regulating wood packaging material in international trade. The exhibit showed how the Italian government is working on the implementation of IPPC standards, and how International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15 is harmonized in Italy to mitigate the phytosanitary risks related to wood packaging material. In conclusion, the IPPC Secretary Jingyuan Xia conveyed his high appreciation to the governments of Ireland and Italy for contributing to the IYPH launch event and expressed the idea to continue such collaboration in view of the 15th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures.

FAO and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) will lead activities to make the Year a success as well as promote plant health beyond 2020. The Year will emphasize prevention and protection, and the role everyone can play to ensure and promote plant health.

The key objectives of the Year are: raising awareness of the importance of healthy plants for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; highlighting the impact of plant health on food security and ecosystem functions; and sharing best practices on how to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment.

By preventing the spread and introduction of pests into new areas, governments, farmers and other actors of the food chain, such as the private sector, can save billions of dollars and ensure access to quality food. Keeping plants or plant products free from pests and diseases also helps facilitate trade and ensures market access especially for developing countries. For this, it is important to strengthen the adherence to harmonized international phytosanitary regulations and standards.

To know more about the IYPH and get involved, please visit and

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Logo: Kent Wildlife TrustCitizen scientists find 50% fewer insects in Kent

Dr Paul Tinsley-Marshall, Conservation Evidence Manager, Kent Wildlife Trust

A growing body of evidence highlights population declines in insects and other invertebrates. Much of this evidence is summarised by the recent Action for Insects report commissioned by a consortium of Wildlife Trusts, and authored by Dave Goulson. The consequences of insect decline are potentially catastrophic. Kent Wildlife Trust is leading a National Lottery Heritage funded project Nature’s Sure Connected, which seeks to develop best practice in landscape-scale monitoring. Over 100 stakeholders from the professional conservation sector helped prioritise the most important themes to consider. One of these focused on ecosystem function, an incredibly broad area. Considerable conservation effort is targeted at invertebrates, and the focus of delivery of conservation action has shifted from site to landscape-scale. Practitioners must evidence landscape-scale outcomes of conservation action. We narrowed our focus to insect decline, in light of the critical role of insects in ecosystem function and the topical nature of the issue. All insect functional groups (herbivores, detritivores, parasitoids, predators and pollinators) are at risk, as are the functions they support. Dramatic declines in insectivorous birds for example (spotted flycatcher -93%, grey partridge -92%, nightingale -93%) are worrying trends. Evidencing patterns in invertebrate abundance at all scales is vital as a tool to drive positive action and engagement. Here we used an innovative invertebrate sampling technique, conducted by citizen scientists, to assess the difference in invertebrate abundance over a 15 year timeframe.

A splatometer in action (Kent Wildlife Trust)

A splatometer in action (Kent Wildlife Trust)

The Bugs Matter survey is based on the windscreen phenomenon, a term given to the anecdotal observation that people tend to find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars now than a decade or several decades ago. This effect has been ascribed to major global declines in insect abundance. Using a standardised sampling grid termed a ‘splatometer’, members of the public were asked to record the number of insects and other invertebrates squashed on the number plate of their car, having first cleaned the number plate before commencing a journey. A national survey using this methodology led by the RSPB took place in 2004, and by repeating the survey in Kent in 2019 we were able to compare the abundance of invertebrates at these points in time.

Figure 1		The difference in splat density recorded on vehicle journeys between a) 2004 (in South East England) and b) 2019 (in Kent). Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%, from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile, in 2004 (n=3838) and in 2019 (n=667).

Figure 1 The difference in splat density recorded on vehicle journeys between a) 2004 (in South East England) and b) 2019 (in Kent). Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%, from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile, in 2004 (n=3838) and in 2019 (n=667). Full size images can be seen by clicking on the graphics

Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%. This difference mirrors the patterns of decline widely reported by others1,2. It should be noted that as this observation is based on data from two points in time, it does not constitute a trend and cannot be interpreted as a decline. Inter-annual variation in variables such as weather cannot be ruled out as factors influencing the observed pattern. More data over a number of years will be required to confirm the direction of any trend, however the pattern we have observed correlates strongly with many other examples of decline.

Figure 2 Model estimates and confidence limits predicted by a generalised linear model of the difference in splat density recorded on vehicle journeys in 2004 (in SE England) and 2019 (in Kent). Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%, from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile, in 2004 (n=3838) and in 2019 (n=667).

Figure 2 Model estimates and confidence limits predicted by a generalised linear model of the difference in splat density recorded on vehicle journeys in 2004 (in SE England) and 2019 (in Kent). Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%, from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile, in 2004 (n=3838) and in 2019 (n=667).



We addressed two limitations of the 2004 survey. Firstly, in 2004 participants were not provided guidance on journey length, and a large number of long journeys spanning several counties resulted in the data providing poor spatial resolution of variation. Only variation between regions was resolved in the 2004 data, but by encouraging participants to submit data from both short and long journeys, we were able to map spatial variation in splat density within Kent. The second limitation we addressed concerned a criticism levelled at the methodology in terms of the effect of vehicle design on the rate of invertebrate sampling. Modern cars are more aerodynamically designed than in the past, and changes over time may affect the numbers of insects getting squashed. We actively recruited classic car owners to take part in the survey, allowing us to collect data using cars ranging in age from 1957 to 2018. We found a small but statistically significant positive relationship between vehicle age and splat density, suggesting that modern cars squash more invertebrates that older cars. This suggests that the signal from the difference in insect abundance is strong enough to be apparent in spite of more efficient sampling by newer vehicles.

Figure 3 The relationship with confidence intervals, between splat density and age of vehicle predicted by a generalised linear model. Modern vehicles were more efficient at sampling insects. In spite of this, significantly fewer insects were sampled in 2019 than in 2004.

Figure 3 The relationship with confidence intervals, between splat density and age of vehicle predicted by a generalised linear model. Modern vehicles were more efficient at sampling insects. In spite of this, significantly fewer insects were sampled in 2019 than in 2004.

More data is required to establish robust trend data, control for inter-annual variation in factors such as weather and vehicle speed, and increase confidence in the observed pattern of the effect of vehicle age and design. There are significant opportunities to expand coverage to other counties, and more data requires greater participation by the public. Experience drawn from other citizen science projects shows that surveys must be as accessible as possible to maximise participation. We ran our pilot survey in 2019 using paper forms and spread sheets, which are not conducive to mass participation. To address this we have drawn up a specification for a mobile app to facilitate wider participation and are seeking funding for its development. Growing this study has the potential to add to the growing body of evidence for significant invertebrate declines in the UK, and demonstrates the valuable contribution made by citizen science.


1   Hallmann, CA, Sorg, M, Jongejans, E, Siepel, H, Hofland, N, Schwan, H, Stenmans, W, Müller, A, Sumser, H, Hörren, T, Goulson, D and de Kroon, H. (2017). More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PlosONE 12. Nature's Sure Connected - Heritage Fund

2   Fox, R., Parsons, M.S., Chapman, J.W., Woiwood, I.P. Warren, M.S. & Brooks, D.R. (2013). The state of Britain’s larger moths 2013. Butterfly Conservation & Rothamsted Research Wareham, Dorset.

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Logo: National TrustNational Trust launches new countryside apprenticeships

The National Trust is launching a range of new countryside apprenticeship schemes this year, which offer paid work, training and learning and are recognised across the industry.

The Trust, Europe’s largest conservation charity, has almost 250,000 hectares of land and 780 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in its care.

With over half of this having a special nature designation such as being a priority habitat, nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest, the need to give the next generation of rangers the skills and experience they need to look after these special places has never been more important.

This year, the Trust’s 125 anniversary, sees the launch of a range of new apprenticeships in countryside roles, offering formal training alongside a paid work experience to develop and grow the rangers of the future.

Lake District, near Ambleside (National Trust Images / James Dobson)

Lake District, near Ambleside (National Trust Images / James Dobson)

Ten Assistant Ranger apprenticeships will be based at locations across England including Exmoor (Devon), Clent Hills (Worcestershire), Calke Abbey (Derbyshire) and Langdale (Lake District), giving new and existing staff the opportunity to gain a Countryside Worker (Level 2) apprenticeship through paid, work-based learning and college release.

Over 650 people applied for the apprenticeships through this new scheme, which replaces the Trust’s successful Ranger Academy. The Trust is one of the first organisations in England to enrol apprentices on this new standard and is looking to develop similar opportunities in Wales and Northern Ireland, which it hopes to launch later this year.

Drystone walling (National Trust Images / John Millar)

Drystone walling (National Trust Images / John Millar)

The charity has also led on the development of a new Level 4 apprenticeship for experienced rangers. This higher-level training standard has been created in partnership with other leading conservation organisations including Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts and through consultation with the industry. Hoping to be launched at the end of May, this will offer rangers greater development opportunities and an improved career path through the organisation.

As a member of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champion Network, the National Trust is also helping to shape the development of wider apprenticeship opportunities nationally and look at how it can create new entry routes and opportunities across the charity.

Caroline Noon, the National Trust’s Apprenticeship Manager, said: “With the focus of our 125th anniversary year very much on nature and the countryside, our plan is to improve and expand the development routes we offer our teams through apprenticeships, helping to develop and grow the rangers of the future.

Wildflower borders at Polesden Lacey (National Trust Images / Mark Wigmore)

Wildflower borders at Polesden Lacey (National Trust Images / Mark Wigmore)

“I am really excited to be launching this brand-new apprenticeship programme at the Trust in Spring 2020 to develop our next generation of Assistant Rangers – it has been two years in the pipeline and involved working collaboratively both internally and with other external organisations to create an apprenticeship that is fit for purpose and a credit to the industry.”

Elsewhere, the Trust offers a range of other apprenticeships in the outdoors, including agriculture and estate management.

In London and the South East, a five-year Level 6 Rural Surveyor apprenticeship offers the opportunity to develop skills to achieve sustainable land and property management, conservation and access, leading to a degree and becoming a Chartered Surveyor.

In North Yorkshire, a Level 2 farming apprentice is working with rangers and tenant farmers to gain experience in conservation and land management as a paid, work-based route to a career in agriculture. More agricultural opportunities will be launched later in the Spring.

Garden apprenticeships are also popular, giving the opportunity to gain skills and experience with the National Trust and routes into careers in horticulture. This year more than 350 people applied for 13 apprenticeships to learn and work for the Trust in some of the most important landscape parks and gardens, ensuring they are protected for everyone to enjoy. As well as the 13 entry-level apprentices, the organisation is piloting more advanced apprenticeships to provide further career development opportunities at higher levels later this year, including the new Level 3 Horticulture Supervisor apprenticeship.

River running through Holnicote (National Trust Images / Chris Lacey)

River running through Holnicote (National Trust Images / Chris Lacey)

It’s not just all about land though. This year the Trust also welcomes its first four apprentices studying Water Environment Worker (Level 3) apprenticeships as part of Riverlands, its £10m waterways restoration project that aims to boost struggling freshwater wildlife and surrounding habitats in five key water catchment areas.

These apprentices will be studying alongside other organisations including the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust and will be based in Cumbria, Norfolk, Cheshire and Somerset, helping to improve land and water management whilst also benefiting people and wildlife within the catchment area.

Caroline Noon added: “Since our first four apprenticeships in 2016, the Trust now offers over 111 apprenticeships across a range of areas. As an organisation that is for everyone, through these apprenticeships we can help people build skills and work experience, who might not have had opportunities to do so through traditional education routes.

“Our apprentice opportunities mean that people can earn while they learn, gaining the work specific skills and a wage, and helping the National Trust to look after the nature, beauty and history in our care.”

For more information about apprenticeships with the National Trust, visit

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Logo: Bumblebee Conservation TrustBeeWalk – the national bumblebee monitoring scheme

Helen Dickinson, Bumblebee Conservation Trust Surveys Officer

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris: showing a decrease (Les Moore)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris: showing a decrease (Les Moore)

Working to protect our bumblebees requires a good understanding of what’s happening to all of our species, from the rarest to the most common. To gather this information, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust established the national bumblebee monitoring scheme; BeeWalk.

BeeWalk is a standardised bumblebee-monitoring scheme active across Great Britain. The scheme protocol involves volunteer BeeWalkers walking the same fixed route (a transect of around 1-2 kilometres) at least once a month between March and October (inclusive). This covers the full flight period of the bumblebees, including emergence from overwintering and workers tailing off. BeeWalkers count the bumblebees they see and identify them to species and caste (queen, worker, male) where possible. ‘Bumblebee sp.’ and ‘unknown caste’ are options where the species and or caste can not be confidently identified.

Collecting data on the abundance of bumblebees enables us to work out the size of populations and how they change over time on a national scale. This data acts as an early warning system for population declines, ensuring that the advice we provide to policymakers, researchers and the public is as accurate as possible. It also allows us to assess the success of habitat management for bumblebees and best target our conservation work.

Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum: increasing in abundance (Les Moore)

Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum: increasing in abundance (Les Moore)

Data received during 2019 is currently being processed for a report later this year, but in total so far BeeWalk had received 151,233 validated records of 23 bumblebee species, that’s 480,113 individual bees! With over 10 years’ worth of data we are able to calculate populations trends for the majority of these species. The last report (2019) indicated that eight species and two species aggregates are increasing in abundance on transects, including the now-common Tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) and also the Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum). However, on the flip side, 12 species and one aggregate are decreasing in number on transects, including five of our most common species. This is a worrying development which supports our concerns that even those species we think of as “common” are not doing as well as they might be. It also underlines why the Trust are committed to BeeWalk, without it we wouldn’t be able to pick out these trends and direct our work accordingly.

A BeeWalk in progress (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)

A BeeWalk in progress (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)

We have a fantastic team of volunteer BeeWalkers across Britain, without whom BeeWalk would not be possible. Several volunteers walk multiple transects, with three BeeWalkers clocking up over 100 kilometres annually. 559 transect submitted data for 2018 but we still need more to ensure the whole country is covered and make the scheme as robust as possible.

If you could set up and walk a transect in your area, you would be part of improving our understanding of bumblebee populations, and contributing to how we best protect all our species into the future. Transects can be established anywhere with flower rich habitat, from nature reserves and wildflower meadows to urban green spaces such as parks and gardens. We also have a number of established transect which are no longer being walked, these are available for new BeeWalkers to “adopt”.

Head to the BeeWalk website resource page for full details on getting involved or email for more information.

The 2020 BeeWalk annual report will be published in the Spring 2020 and can be found at and

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Osmotherley Toad Patrol

Steve Rogers - Coordinator for Osmotherley Toad Patrol


Osmotherley Toad Patrol has been operating since 2002 along a 2 km stretch of minor road to the west of Cod Beck Reservoir, about a 1.5 km to the north of the village. The aim of a toad patrol is to reduce the amphibians casualties as they try to cross a road during their spring breeding migration. In addition to Common Toads, Common Frogs and Newts (in our case Palmate) are also encountered. Numbers of amphibians are forwarded at the end of the season to the charity Froglife who have a “Toads on Roads” project to collate data from across the UK. This enables Froglife to research population trends.

Cod Beck Reservoir - Toad Breeding Site (Steve Rogers)

Cod Beck Reservoir - Toad Breeding Site (Steve Rogers)

Toad patrolling is quite simple. Volunteers, wearing weatherproof clothing and Hi-Vis gilets, walk the road from dusk for a couple of hours using high power torches to rescue the amphibians in a bucket and then release them safely. There are two main difficulties with the patrols.

First, are the weather conditions suitable? Toads, being “cold-blooded”, will not usually move if the air temperature is below about 8oC (though they may move at lower temperatures if it has been warm during daylight followed by a sudden cooling). Frogs (and newts) will move at lower temperatures with perhaps a threshold as low as 4oC. Damp weather also promotes migration. Consequently, a combination of, say, 10oC and moderate to heavy rain will result in a very busy night for the patrol with up to 1,000 toads being collected in a few hours. We therefore rely a lot on the weather forecast (Met Office forecast for Osmotherley Youth Hostel) to alert volunteers that a patrol is needed.

Secondly, after toads have moved from the moorland to the reservoir and breed they then exit in the opposite direction to return to their feeding habitat. Toad migration can last several weeks, probably because the animals are spread over a large area of moorland and may take several days to reach the road. So there is a period lasting week or more when the problem for patrol volunteers is to decide which direction a toad is wishing to go! It is believed that Common Toads do not feed between emerging from hibernation and breeding. They are therefore usually “marching” with some purpose toward the moor which helps the volunteer’s judgement.

Data from Osmotherley Toad Patrol

The results from the 17 years of toad patrols at Cod Beck are summarised in the Table 1. Informal patrols were carried out by local residents for several years preceding 2002. A newspaper article in 2001 publicised the setting up of an organised toad patrol for the following year and resulted in good numbers of volunteers. I had previously taken part in similar patrols in Cheshire over a number of years and was able to advise and train patrollers. The result was that we helped high numbers of animals for a few years; Osmotherley was probably in the top three sites nationwide. Even the advent of a large moorland fire in 2004 did not greatly suppress toad numbers, though we did find some injured animals.

Table 1: Summary of Osmotherley Toad Patrol Results for the years 2000 to 2019 Figure 1		The difference in splat density recorded on vehicle journeys between a) 2004 (in South East England) and b) 2019 (in Kent). Between 2004 and 2019 there was a statistically significant difference in ‘splat density’ of the order of approximately 50%, from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile, in 2004 (n=3838) and in 2019 (n=667).

Table 1: Summary of Osmotherley Toad Patrol Results for the years 2000 to 2019 (n=667). Full size images can be seen by clicking on the graphics

A bucket full of toads (Steve Rogers)

A bucket full of toads (Steve Rogers)

Unfortunately, after this initial success the number of volunteer patrollers declined with a concomitant decrease in toad numbers rescued. Numbers of frogs also dropped dramatically. This may have been caused by disease ("red leg" (Bacillus hydrophilus fuscus) and Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium)). There was an unfortunate occurrence in 2009 when a search party was called out to look for missing chef, Claudia Lawrence, and the vehicles  involved killed hundreds of toads and made patrolling impossible on the busiest night for migration. At Cod Beck we see only the smallest of UK newts i.e. Palmate Newt which are difficult to spot on the road.
In 2011, the reservoir (owned by Yorkshire Water) was drained for repairs to a very low level and this seems to have been the most serious cause of decline in toad numbers recorded. From 2013 onwards we have had a series of very cold, and often dry, early springs which have resulted in migration being delayed until late March or early April. This coincides with the beginning of British Summer Time when the evenings become much longer and patrols consequently shorter in duration (usually finishing around 10 pm). Migration may continue through the night if weather is suitable but volunteers need to sleep!

We can also examine how toad numbers build up over each season in Figure 1. This demonstrates the great variation in the pattern of migration. In particular, it shows how an early start to the migration usually increases the total numbers of toads collected. In some years (e.g. 2008) migration started early but then stalled for days or weeks at a time because of a change to cold weather. In 2013, toad movement did not start until 13th April as a result of an exceptionally cold spring. On the graph I have also indicated (by an open yellow circle) the day at which we noticed the first egress from the breeding site.

Figure 1: Cumulative Toad Numbers for the years 2002 to 2019

Figure 1: Cumulative Toad Numbers for the years 2002 to 2019. Full size images can be seen by clicking on the graphics

Are You Interested in Helping?

We would be delighted to have some new patrollers. Most people that come to help thoroughly enjoy the experience. It would be preferable that volunteers come from within a reasonable travelling distance because we cannot predict accurately, until maybe the day before or even on the day, whether it will be worth turning out in the evening. I'd hate to drag someone from 50 miles away to find no toads appear. Even if there are no toads it is usually an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so as there is often other wildlife to be seen or the night sky to look at as well as having a chat with like-minded people.

If you are interested please email Steve Rogers at There is a lot more information about Froglife’s “Toads on Roads” project here - and a link to find other toad patrols.

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Logo: Sheffield Hallam UniversityWhen is a volunteer not a volunteer?


For many years, I have regularly (and probably rather tediously) expressed concern about the practice of many environmental charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) employing people in unpaid `voluntary` positions which are clearly full-time jobs. These roles - variously described as `volunteer internships`, trainees, and even `voluntary immersive rangers`, often require qualifications and some experience. They seem to be particularly aimed at young people at the start of their careers, desperate for a foot on the environmental sector ladder.

This is not a criticism of volunteering of course. We know the benefits of proper volunteering. Volunteering can provide a sense of achievement; learning new skills and meeting new people, and can enable organisations to achieve much more on the ground. We need more volunteering opportunities - to allow people to engage with and care for the natural world. I developed my own interest in the environment through volunteering locally, at the weekends and in school holidays, with the Greater Manchester River Valleys Project, and on working holidays with the National Trust. At my university, we continue to encourage our students to volunteer to improve their skills and gain work experience.

But volunteering is not the issue here. Let's call the roles I am concerned about `volunteer internships`. UK employment law (1) on unpaid internships is quite clear - if an intern is undertaking work, they are normally due the National Minimum Wage. There are specific circumstances when this employment law does not apply - work experience as part of an educational course (at school, college or university); or if just shadowing an employee (with no actual work undertaken); or if the intern is classed as a volunteer working for a charity, voluntary organisation, or statutory body. It is this latter exemption which has allowed large NGOs such as the National Trust and RSPB, to recruit people to quite significant unpaid roles in the past. It could be described as exploiting a legal loophole. As with many things in our sector, where the National Trust and the RSPB lead, other smaller NGOs have followed.

In a recent edition of the CJS jobs list, I counted around fifteen `voluntary` roles on offer. Less than half of these sounded like real voluntary work to me - that is just one or two days a week at most - preferably working even more flexibly over a month. The majority sounded like real jobs. Some were short term contracts, less than a year, and offered free accommodation (a bonus of course) - but still proper jobs. Many were less generous than that. These jobs were offered by the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust (I will return to the NT's current position later), and other smaller NGOs.

So when is a volunteer not a volunteer? We all have our own personal views on this - but fortunately we have a major national organisation to provide advice - the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). To put it very succinctly, the NCVO's view is "If it looks like work and sounds like work, then it probably is" (2). I think we all intuitively understand this. But the NCVO also provides much more detailed guidance to NGOs struggling with the distinction and is currently working with several of our major environmental organisations to address these issues (3). Their advice covers guidance on volunteer management and expectations, and the need for personal and skill development (including feedback and evaluation). Perhaps more importantly (and practically) interns who are volunteers should not have a certain number of hours imposed on them, but the time they spend volunteering should be mutually agreed, based on their availability and around other commitments they may have. They cannot be compelled to turn up at a certain time, in contrast to an employee who would be contractually obliged to turn up for work. I would like to think that in practice, no volunteer roles should be advertised with any requirement for a specific period of hours a week - or at most, no more than two days a week for guidance only.

Imagine you are a young graduate, straight out of University with a good degree. You need to work - to pay for accommodation, food and other essentials - to establish your own independence. How many days a week would you need to work on top of an unpaid voluntary commitment? Do you feel you would need maybe at least one day a week for leisure and relaxation as well? As a university professor, I have known many excellent graduates who have been unable to take up `volunteer internships` because of their inability to support themselves at the same time. Sometimes these students are the first in their families to come to university. They have sometimes fought with their parents over their supposed unwillingness "to get a proper job". They are unlikely to now be able to come and work for you for free - even if they are amongst the most dedicated environmentalists.

I have heard many justifications from NGOs for existing practice in this area. Some are inherently ridiculous - arguing that NGOs can not afford to recruit paid staff is precisely the same argument that private companies would use if they were legally allowed. But they are not - and NGOs need to also budget accordingly. I am not talking about small voluntary organisations or community groups here - but the larger, professional charities.

Many NGOs claim their voluntary internships provide excellent training and experience - which they generally do. NGOs often add that whilst they cannot guarantee a `proper job` after such an experience, it will undoubtedly be regarded as a good thing by future employers. For me, this makes the inequity of this approach even worse. All the graduates I know who have taken up these opportunities have usually lived at home, supported by their families financially, and have often gone on to jobs with the same organisation. Whilst these young people are undoubtedly enthusiastic and committed, it is clearly unfair if others cannot afford the same opportunity.

Unpaid internships have been accused of being inherently exploitative, particularly if our sector reinforces the view that you are required to undertake such work in order to further your career. `Volunteering` becomes compulsory if it is required to secure paid employment - a sort of `badge of honour` - demonstrating your commitment to the cause. Many colleagues of my generation argue "we had to do this" - but that doesn't make it right (and I can promise you that the current benefit system is nowhere near as flexible as it was forty years ago).

And it is not just young people who are negatively affected by this approach. If your employment opportunities are only available to the well-off, this will inevitably diminish diversity in the environmental profession, as those who have been able to undertake these opportunities are favoured over the disadvantaged when it comes to paid employment. NGOs say they get many excellent, enthusiastic people applying for these roles (I am sure that is true) - but you won't necessarily get the best, and you will certainly be recruiting from a more limited pool of people.

Lynn Crowe

Lynn Crowe, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Management, Sheffield Hallam University

Encouragingly, I think views are changing. As organisations become increasingly concerned about equal opportunities and diversity, some NGOs are reviewing their recruitment practice. The National Trust has been working with the NCVO for over a year now, and has recently made the decision to move away from unpaid voluntary internships. Tina Lewis, their Director of People and Legal Services, has confirmed to me recently: "At the National Trust we are striving to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. This includes continually improving our paid and voluntary opportunities and offering as much choice as possible. We stepped away from voluntary internships last year as, whilst popular, there was a concern that they were not accessible for a lot of people." Working with the NCVO, the National Trust has also introduced new apprenticeships and are piloting paid placements, as well as testing a new recruitment approach for more junior roles that focuses on potential rather than past experience (this work is described in the above article from National Trust). This is excellent news and I trust other NGOs will follow their example (I believe the RSPB are already involved in similar work).

The environmental sector is never going to make you a millionaire - it is a vocation. It is hugely rewarding in so many other ways. But it should also be professional and it should be fair. We need the broadest range of people working in our field, representing everyone in our society, to contribute and to make a difference. Let's not allow unfair and unethical recruitment practices prevent this from happening.

Lynn Crowe February 2020

Emeritus Professor of Environmental Management,

Sheffield Hallam University


1 - Employment Rights of Interns (UK Government, 2020) -

2 - Internships: If it looks like work and sounds like work, then it probably is (NCVO, 2018) -

3 - Volunteering internships (NCVO, 2019) -

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Logo: Countryside AllianceThe Countryside Alliance’s Countryside Clean-up 28th - 29th March 2020


Following the success of last year’s Countryside Clean-up, the Countryside Alliance is supporting this year’s Great British Spring Clean by joining the Daily Mail’s quest in recruiting an army of litter heroes to start the fightback against the rubbish that is blighting our towns and countryside. Scheduled to be held over the weekend of the 28th- 29th March, we have pledged to have a total of 1000 countryside litter heroes out in force over that weekend.

Members of the Bicester and Whaddon Chase out litter picking (The Countryside Alliance)

Members of the Bicester and Whaddon Chase out litter picking (The Countryside Alliance)

The success of last year’s event saw over 50 clean-up sites organised with volunteers getting their hands dirty by clearing litter from footpaths, fields, riverbanks and roadside verges up and down the UK. We are very pleased to be supporting this fantastic initiative by the Daily Mail with our very own Countryside Clean-up. Litter and fly-tipping is a blight on our countryside, dangerous to livestock and wildlife, and can be hazardous to our waterways. Our supporters will be out in force over the weekend of 28th-29th March cleaning up the countryside and making a difference to the communities they love.

The South Shropshire Hunt out helping to keep our countryside clean (The Countryside Alliance)

The South Shropshire Hunt out helping to keep our countryside clean (The Countryside Alliance)

Of course, we all want our bit of the countryside looking beautiful and pristine, but this isn’t simply about clearing up after idle litterers. We also want to highlight the companies and groups who are creating the litter in the first place. The Countryside Alliance’s Countryside Clean-up is a practical response to this issue, which is ever-growing in a time where the topic of single-use plastics is spoken of everywhere.

By encouraging people who live and work across rural areas to not only take part in this initiative but to also share their experiences from the weekend across social media, we can further spread the word about fly-tipping and rubbish, informing people about the disastrous effect that such heavy quantities can have on our countryside.

You can read more about this initiative, register your own clean up and view our interactive map here.

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CJS FocusThe most recent edition: Volunteering

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

The next edition will be published on 11 May

And is looking at: Environmental Education and Outdoor Activities.

We will consider everything from bushcraft to bungee jumping; including a look at the practicalities and benefits of setting up and running your own environmental education programme


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


Click on the headline to read more.


Land and Countryside Management.

£2 million for world’s first rewilding centre near Loch Ness - Trees for Life

Trees for Life is to establish the world’s first rewilding centre near Loch Ness in the Highlands – thanks to more than £2 million of support from The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding.

Pine marten, Scottish Highlands © Mark Hamblin, scotlandbigpicture.comThe groundbreaking centre will be at Dundreggan, the charity’s 10,000-acre estate in Glenmoriston. It is expected to welcome over 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore stunning wild landscapes, discover Gaelic culture, and learn about the region’s unique wildlife including golden eagles, pine martens, red squirrels and wood ants. The centre will boost the rural economy by providing a new attraction on the journey between Loch Ness and Skye, and benefit the local community through at least 15 new local jobs.

Pine marten, Scottish Highlands © Mark Hamblin,

“Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will showcase how rewilding and nature can give people amazing experiences, create jobs and really benefit local communities. It will celebrate one of the Highlands’ greatest assets – the wild landscapes and unique wildlife being returned through rewilding,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive. “Dundreggan has become a beacon of how to rewild a landscape. With this centre, it will become a beacon for rewilding people too.”

The Rewilding Centre has been developed following extensive consultation with the local community. 10 per cent of local residents responded to requests for feedback, and all were overwhelmingly positive. Planning permission in principle was granted by Highland Council in April 2019, and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission this year. Construction should begin in early 2021, with the centre opening in 2022.

At Dundreggan, Trees for Life is protecting and expanding globally important fragments of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest. The estate is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species – including several never recorded in the UK before or once feared extinct in Scotland.


Find. Map. Save: join the search to save thousands of miles of lost historic paths - Ramblers

Image: RamblersImage: Ramblers

The Ramblers is calling on the public to join the search to find and map thousands of miles of lost historic paths across England and Wales, with the launch of a new Don’t Lose Your Way online mapping site today (11 February).

An estimated 10,000 miles of historic paths – the equivalent of the distance from London to Sydney – are thought to be missing from the map in England and Wales. These historic paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries, yet if they are not claimed by 2026, we risk losing them forever.
We want to build a movement of ‘citizen geographers’ to help find all these missing rights of way before it’s too late.

We’re calling on walkers, historians and map enthusiasts everywhere to log-on to our mapping website to help us find, map and save all the rights of way that have gone missing from the map.
The new mapping tool divides the maps of England and Wales into 154,000 one-kilometre squares, which users can select to compare historic and current maps of the area side-by-side. Simply select a square, do a quick ‘spot the difference’, mark on any missing paths and click submit. It takes just a few minutes to check a square.
Jack Cornish, Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, said: “Our paths are one of our most precious assets. They connect us to our landscapes – ensuring we can explore our towns and cities on foot and enjoy walking in the countryside – and to our history and the people who formed them over the centuries. If we lose our paths, a little bit of our past goes with them. This is our only opportunity to save thousands of miles of rights of way and time is running out.”

In response the CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “The CLA believes the 2026 “cut off” date should be maintained. A balance needs to be struck between the needs of nature and the needs of the public. We need to think about the impact of having more public rights of way on the very wildlife ramblers want to protect and enjoy. For example, ground-nesting birds need to be protected from walkers and dogs. It is over 75 years since the Definitive Map came into being and there will have been 25 years to prepare for the cut off. In our view, the focus should be on the real issue in the access debate: ensuring scarce public resources are spent on properly maintaining and looking after the 140,000 miles of public rights of way which are being used in England and Wales so that the public can continue to enjoy them.”


Gamekeepers and wildlife new report - National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

1,000 gamekeepers show their green credentials through positive action

A new report, which studied the activities of nearly 1,000 gamekeepers has identified the frequently unrecognised high level of conservation that this group of skilled and knowledgeable land and wildlife managers undertake nationally.

This joint survey* undertaken by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and analysed by leading research charity, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, shows that modern gamekeepers responding to the survey, manage more than 1,625,000 hectares or more than four million acres of land across England, Scotland and Wales. This equates to about 65% of sites which are designated for conservation such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest SSSI or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Those responding to the survey also provide 23,426 tonnes of supplementary food for farmland birds in winter, they plant on average 47.3 ha or 117 acres of trees, and privately fund more than £2.2 million worth of wild bird cover, which benefits a host of red listed bird species such as yellowhammer and tree sparrow. In addition, 38% of moorland gamekeepers who completed the survey are rewetting moorland, which benefits a host of plants and wildlife and helps to reduce flooding.

The Executive summary PDF can be read here


Consultation launches for ‘Future Flora’, a new project aiming to transform the plant supply chain - Landscape Institute

Funded by Defra, Future Flora aims to provide horticulture and landscape professionals with a biosecure way to grow, procure and specify plants.

Policy makers often talk about the importance of getting the right plant for the right place. But at the moment, it’s almost impossible to know what the right plant is. Our changing climate is a big factor – but researchers have also found that almost all the information we have about plants is either contradictory or out of date.

Worse still, much of the information available to the landscape sectors doesn’t fit seamlessly with digital workflows, undermining our efficiency.

To address these challenges, Future Flora will create new, BIM-compatible data that uses the latest techniques to predict exactly when and why a plant is likely to fail. This increased confidence in plant selection could deliver a step change in the ability of nurseries, landscape contractors, designers and managers to support national policy goals.

Funded by Defra, Future Flora is currently in a public consultation phase, and the researchers are inviting everyone in the landscape sectors to take part in a brief survey.


Habitats survey completed in Westmorland Dales - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Local ecologists have carried out a survey and condition assessment of ‘priority habitats’ across ten parishes in the Westmorland Dales area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Maidenhair speenwort grows in the grykes of limestone pavement near Orton (image: Yorkshire Dales NPA)Maidenhair speenwort grows in the grykes of limestone pavement near Orton (image: Yorkshire Dales NPA)

A total of 40 square kilometres was surveyed, with 60 landowners granting access to the ecologists. Just over a quarter (10.2km2) of the land surveyed was identifiable as priority habitat. Sixteen priority habitats, including blanket bog, limestone pavement, native semi-natural woodland and upland hay meadow, were found. Only areas outside of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which are monitored by Natural England, were included in the survey.

Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Ian McPherson, said: “The survey has given us a substantial amount of information on the state of priority habitats in the Westmorland Dales outside SSSIs. As it was the first survey of its kind to take place in the area, we do not know if the condition of the habitats is getting better or worse. That said, the results show that only a small proportion of priority habitat in the Westmorland Dales area of the National Park is in good condition. Of particular concern is the apparent drying out of blanket bog, which appears to be reverting to acid grassland. I would like to sincerely thank all the landowners who gave access to their land. Getting this data is the first step on the path to nature recovery. The information will be used not only to plan biodiversity conservation work, through programmes such as the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, but also to help farmers to access funding through national agri-environment schemes. There is so much urgent work that can and must be done to stem the loss of priority habitat, and restore what remains.”

Further reading:

  • A report on the survey, which was carried out during 2019, has been published here.

  • A case study illustrating how the survey was carried out, in regard to an area of limestone pavement near Orton, can be seen in this blog post, ‘Mind what’s in the gap’.

  • The ‘YDNPA Habitat Map’ can be found here.


Grow a secret garden for butterflies! - The Wildlife Trusts

• The Wildlife Trusts and RHS urge gardeners to help butterflies and moths for this year’s Wild About Gardens campaign
• Make a pledge for butterflies from 12th March!
• Campaign inspired by a new film – The Secret Garden – that celebrates the joys of wildlife gardening

This year’s Wild About Gardens campaign, run jointly by The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is calling on gardeners to get growing to help the UK’s falling numbers of butterflies and moths.

The new campaign draws inspiration from a dazzling new film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, starring Colin Firth, Julie Walters and newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary Lennox. The film will be bringing the magic of wildlife, childhood and gardening to the big screen this Spring when it blooms in cinemas across the UK from Good Friday 10th April 2020.

Butterflies and moths are important pollinators and, along with caterpillars, are vital food for birds like robins and blue tits as well as bats. However, their habitats have faced catastrophic declines and once-common species like the small tortoiseshell have dropped by up to 80% in the last 30 years in some areas.

An ideal butterfly garden has a wide variety of plants throughout the year to support their life cycles – for butterflies and moths emerging from hibernation, egg-laying females, caterpillars and then as adults. Early-flowering species such as dandelions, aubretia and native bluebells are good sources of nectar; these could be followed by buddleia and red valerian and, finally, ivy flowers which are a great late-season asset in the autumn. Many wildflowers and long grasses are also excellent larval food-plants. Whether your garden is large or small – or simply a flowering window-box – it could throw these declining insects a lifeline, especially in urban areas.


Trees and woodland

New Scottish Forestry spatial data hub - Scottish Forestry

Scottish Forestry Open DataScottish Forestry  (SF) has launched a new web portal that provides access to a huge volume of information that will be helpful to foresters, land managers, developers, teachers, students, researchers and anyone with an interest in how Scotland’s land is managed.

The Open Data hub, developed as part of SF’s Improvement Programme, is easy to use and clearly laid out and offers 70 geospatial data sets.

David Signorini, Scottish Forestry Chief Executive said; “This is one of Scottish Forestry’s first big milestones in our Improvement Programme. Our team has put in a sterling effort to bring this project to life and I think everyone who needs to access this information will find the new website a great help. The principles of open information have been behind the design at every step of the way so the portal is easy to find, read and use. As well as making life simpler for land managers, these qualities make it attractive for non-professionals, too, with links to Scottish Forestry’s Map Viewer and Scotland’s Environment Land Information Search helping to paint a comprehensive picture of Scotland’s landscape.”


'Lost world' wildlife haven now under protection as public help raise £1 million - Woodland Trust

A lost world wooded habitat - home to wildlife gems such as the rare barbastelle bat and hazel dormouse – is now protected thanks to public support.

The Woodland Trust launched an appeal in autumn 2019 to raise the £1 million needed to take on part of Ausewell in Dartmoor, Devon - and donations came flooding in fast. It will now join the National Trust, who owns the other part of the site, in managing this important wildlife refuge.

Woodland Trust site manager Dave Rickwood said: “It’s very exciting that, thanks to the public’s help, we can complete the purchase of Ausewell Wood and start working with the National Trust to restore this valuable wildlife habitat. It means we can protect this 342 acre lost world with its rugged woodland, vast heath and damp temperate forest. Through our restoration work we will create crucial havens for endangered wildlife species, such as the shy hazel dormouse which nests in the trees and the rare barbastelle bat that roosts in forgotten medieval shafts. Nationally important lichen communities can continue to thrive in the pure atmosphere.”

The two charities have plans to carefully managing the non-native conifer areas to allow nature to recover. This will allow plants and trees from former woodland species to recover and re-colonise the ancient woodland areas, thus supporting a range of climate threatened wildlife.


New report reveals Scotland has more native woodland than was thought - Scottish Forestry

Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has welcomed a new report that shows that Scotland has more native woodland than previously reported.

Published as official statistics by the National Forest Inventory (NFI), the study into Woodland Ecological Condition is the largest and most in-depth assessment of the ecological condition of any habitat in Great Britain.

It reveals that in Scotland 442,611 hectares are now classified as native woodland, more than had previously been thought – and that the majority of this is North East and West Scotland.

This figure is up 131,458 hectares on the previous estimate reported in the 2014 Native Woodland Survey of Scotland assessment, and is set to increase as Scotland continues to meet its target for native woodland planting set out in the Biodiversity Route Map to 2020 and our Bonn Challenge commitment. In 2019 Scotland planted 4,436 hectares of native woodland.

The statistics reveal that over 430,000 ha of these native woodlands are in overall ‘favourable’ or ‘intermediate’ condition. They also show that Scotland’s non-native woodlands make an ecological contribution, with less than 6% in ‘unfavourable’ ecological condition.


South Region’s Apprentices powering ahead - Forestry and Land Scotland

Photo l to r: Shaun Hunter, Euan Sneddon, Jamie Wallace, Ben Sinden, Javin Hannah, Sabrina Smith, Alexander Austin.Trainees in the south of Scotland are going from strength to strength under Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) Modern Apprentice programme.

Already six out of the seven Modern Apprentices have secured full time jobs in the forestry sector. All seven are all fully certified and achieved level 5 in a SCQF Trees and Timber qualification.

In addition, three of the Modern Apprentices have been shortlisted for the prestigious Lantra Learner of the Year awards, to be announced this week.

Photo l to r: Shaun Hunter, Euan Sneddon, Jamie Wallace, Ben Sinden, Javin Hannah, Sabrina Smith, Alexander Austin.

Forestry and Land Scotland’s South Region manager Sallie Bailey said: “During Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 (2-6 March) I’m really pleased to welcome this news about our apprentices. I know that every individual has worked hard during their apprenticeships and we are all delighted that careers are being founded within Forestry and Land Scotland. Modern Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to bring new blood into the forestry sector and equip people with life skills that they can take with them in future years. I hope that our work to help train up the apprentices will also act as a catalyst for others in the forestry sector to offer these fantastic opportunities for young people.”

The Modern Apprentices have been based within Forestry and Land Scotland’s South Region since 2018. During their apprenticeship, the trainees learn practical forestry skills on the job but also studied through the SRUC Barony College.


Pollution, sustainablity and climate.

8 steps to woodlands for climate, nature and people - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Heading towards COP 26, the UK Government have designated 2020 ‘a year of climate action’, during which the UK will be setting the pace to deal with CO2 emissions and deliver net zero as soon as possible. Trees and woods are right at the top of the agenda for 2020, and we have today (7 February) published a set of eight principles that we think can help make sure more woods and trees in England benefits the climate, people and nature.

Wildlife and Countryside Link welcomes the spirit of positive action heading into global climate negotiations, so we have set out to provide a set of principles for woodland and tree cover expansion in England that will help to achieve net zero and nature’s recovery. We’ve pulled out the headline points below.

  1. A significant net expansion in trees and woodland cover is needed to respond to the climate and biodiversity crisis, deliver net zero commitments and compensate for the loss of diseased trees. To drive nature’s recovery, the majority of new woodland should be native.

  2. Funding and support must be made available by Government to deliver the woodland expansion, tree planting and management needed. A role for the private sector is also crucial.

  3. New trees and woodland expansion should favour native trees and woodland, naturally regenerated or from UK-sourced and grown planting material except in exceptional circumstances and where rigorous safeguards are put in place.

  4. A new spatial strategy is needed to guide woodland expansion, as part of a broader land use strategy for England.

  5. New woodlands and tree rich landscapes should deliver multiple benefits for climate, nature and people and be sustainably managed.

  6. Better protection of existing species, habitats and potential restoration sites and sensitivity to existing public access, archaeology and cultural landscapes must accompany expansion of our tree and woodland resources, underpinned by project-level surveying prior to conversion to woodland.

  7. A more ecological approach to commercial forestry is needed which delivers biodiversity enhancement alongside other benefits, with the nation’s forests managed as an exemplar.

  8. High standards of delivery for new trees and woodland should be backed up by transparent monitoring and reporting on woodland expansion and its benefits, including regular national canopy surveying.

Read the full report (PDF)


MCS calls for ban of 'forever chemicals’ lurking in bathroom cabinets - Marine Conservation Society

Following an investigation into some of the most popular bathroom and cosmetic staples, MCS has identified many which contain invisible ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS, which remain in the marine environment for many years and can have a detrimental impacts on the ocean and the animals within it.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are fluorinated chemicals which remain in the environment without breaking down for many years; they are highly polluting and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove once they enter the environment.

PFAS chemicals can be found in:

  • Make-up products, particularly eyeshadow and foundation

  • Face masks

  • Facial cream

  • Hair care

  • Face wash

  • Shaving foam and similar shaving products

  • Nail care

MCS is concerned about PFAS presence in cosmetics and bathroom staples due to their direct pathway into water sources and eventually the ocean. PFAS also currently escape classic wastewater treatment systems because, amongst other reasons, they remain dissolved and therefore are difficult to filter out like solids.

Organisations including MCS are working to demystify PFAS chemicals and to introduce better legislation in manufacturing. CHEM Trust is advocating for a ‘grouping’ approach in chemical regulation, allowing regulation of the entire group of PFAS to accelerate the phasing out of the chemicals in products. Environmental charity Fidra is conducting a study looking at the use of PFAS in UK food packaging. Fidra is calling for UK supermarkets to follow the example set by Denmark and take a lead in removing these harmful chemicals from our food shelves, setting the stage for wider legislative change. The use of PFAS chemicals in manufacturing is so prolific that improved legislation would likely have the most impact on stemming the flow of PFAS chemicals into the environment.

More about PFAS can be found here.

Protecting UK’s conservation sites from nitrogen pollution - UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Research led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is exploring options for protecting habitats and species that are vulnerable to increases in atmospheric nitrogen pollution.

The Nitrogen Futures project is being carried out for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the public body that advises the UK’s Government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation issues. Funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the findings will inform policy development at UK, national and local scale.

The project aims to address the environmental impacts of nitrogen pollution from the air, which is a major driver of biodiversity loss in the UK. Around 60% of the UK’s protected conservation sites and 17% (42,400 km2) of the UK’s total landmass are threatened by damaging levels of excess atmospheric nitrogen.

A variety of human activities such as fertiliser use, livestock rearing, road traffic emissions, waste processing, and energy generation release nitrogen into the air, in the form of either ammonia or nitrogen oxides, depending on the source. It is then subsequently dispersed and deposited on land, lakes and rivers and the sea.

Dr Ulli Dragosits of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), who is lead scientist on the Nitrogen Futures project, says: “Nitrogen pollution has a cascading, negative impact on biodiversity, and the decline of sensitive species on land and in water ecosystems results in a series of knock-on effects on plants and the animals that rely on them for food.”


You are what you eat, but what feeds your food? - WWF

New WWF campaign reveals British bought produce has hidden costs

Shopping local and buying British should mean our food isn’t destroying natural habitats and killing the creatures that live there - but too often, that isn’t the case. WWF is aiming to change that with a campaign to make importing products that contain deforestation illegal, Let’s get deforestation #OffOurPlates.

The food we eat in the UK is linked to the threatened extinction of an estimated 33 species, including jaguars, giant anteaters and three-toed sloths. Agriculture accounts for nearly three quarters of deforestation in tropical and subtropical countries, and by 2030 a further 1,700,000 km2 of forests could be destroyed if current deforestation rates continue - meaning we will lose the fight against climate change.

WWF figures show that European consumers, including in the UK, eat approximately 61kg of soy a year without realising. For example, even if they’re born and reared in the UK, the majority of pigs and chickens are fed on soy which is grown abroad. The soy fed to animals that produce food mostly comes from South America, where soy production has nearly tripled in the last 20 years. Global production is predicted to double again by 2050.

Unsustainable soy production is responsible for the destruction of rainforests and natural habitats in South America, because it is currently more profitable to clear new land for food production than to use degraded or abandoned agricultural land that already exists.


Bright Blue: Post-Brexit Britain should become the global green giant - Bright Blue

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published a major new report, Global green giant? A policy story, which proposes original policies to ensure the UK become the global leader on stemming biodiversity loss.

In the run up to two major conferences in the Autumn of this year – COP15 to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in China, and the COP26 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Italy and the UK – Bright Blue’s new report offers a blueprint for how Britain can become a global green giant on conservation.

The report proposes around 50 new and ambitious conservation ideas, both for domestic and foreign policy, across five themes: a green and pleasant land; ending the plastic scourge; protecting our marine environments; eliminating the illegal wildlife trade; and, global green leadership.

Patrick Hall, researcher at Bright Blue and author the report, commented: “Biodiversity decline and climate change are urgent and interlinked crises. The UK is a world leader in climate change mitigation, most recently shown through being the first major economy to adopt a net-zero emissions target. But there is a need and an opportunity to do the same for biodiversity – to become a global green giant on conservation. The current Government is starting to show that global leadership. But we need more new and ambitious conservation policies, both at home and abroad. 2020 is a critical year for the UK to step up.”


Unlocking the energy potential of Scotland’s parks - greenspace scotland

New research published today [Monday 24 February] by greenspace scotland reveals how the untapped energy potential from Scotland’s parks and greenspaces could provide low carbon heat for our homes and reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint.

Public parks and greenspaces across urban Scotland offer the potential to supply low carbon heat to at least 15% of Scottish households. That’s all the households in Glasgow and Dundee combined. This would save the same amount of carbon as 10 years growth from planting 9½ million tree saplings.

Tackling the problem of weaning our residential and commercial buildings off their dependence on gas-based heating is proving extremely challenging with Scotland unlikely to meet its target for supplying 11% of heat demand from low carbon sources by 2020. Most recent estimates suggest we are nearer 6%. This new report published by greenspace scotland, a charity working with public sector bodies to pioneer new ways of managing and resourcing urban greenspace, estimates that heat from the ground in urban greenspace could supply 5% of our total heat demand.

Paul Steen, Department Manager - UK District Energy, Ramboll said: “A key challenge in meeting Scotland’s net zero carbon ambition by 2045 is decarbonising our energy system. The ParkPower project shows the huge green energy potential waiting to be unlocked from Scotland’s parks and greenspaces.”

The ParkPower project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage and Community Funds, and Nesta through the Rethinking Parks programme.

We worked in partnership with two pioneer local authorities, Fife Council and Falkirk Council, to develop a data-driven approach to assess the green energy generation capacity of greenspaces. This was then applied at a national scale to over 3,500 individual parks and greenspaces across Scotland to analyse their potential. The findings suggest that the park below your feet could soon be contributing heat to our homes and buildings. These spaces, widely distributed across our cities and towns, may also be able to provide much needed green electricity from solar and hydro schemes and support our growing needs for electric vehicle charging.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive, greenspace scotland said: “We are all familiar with thinking about Scotland’s parks as our natural health service, our children’s outdoor classrooms and our cities’ green lungs. The findings of the ParkPower project mean we could soon add ‘community power stations’ to the list.”


Friends of the Earth wins campaign to protect the climate from Heathrow Third Runway - Friends of the Earth

Today (27 February), Friends of the Earth won our campaign to protect the climate from the disastrous Heathrow expansion. This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice.

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said “This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice. We were fighting a project that would have had dire implications for present and future generations.”

The government’s decision to expand Heathrow Airport has been ruled “unlawful” by the Court of Appeal, on climate change grounds, in one of the most important environmental law cases in this country for over a generation. This follows a successful legal challenge by environmental organisation Friends of the Earth, represented by Leigh Day, in a victory for local campaigners who have been battling against the third runway for years.

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, added: “We are delighted with The Court of Appeal’s ruling, which goes to show the massive importance of the legal system to check the clear abuse of state power by government, such as in this case. Shockingly, this case revealed that the government accepted legal advice that it should not consider the Paris Agreement when giving the third runway the go-ahead. The Court has said very clearly that was illegal. This judgment has exciting wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions. It’s time for developers and public authorities to be held to account when it comes to the climate impact of their damaging developments.”


Scientific Research, Results and Publications.

Biodiversity yields financial returns - ETH Zurich

Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land. This is the conclusion reached by an interdisciplinary research team including the fields of agricultural sciences, ecology and economics at ETH Zurich and other universities.

Many farmers associate grassland biodiversity with lower yields and financial losses. “Biodiversity is often considered unprofitable, but we show that it can, in fact, pay off,” says Nina Buchmann, Professor of Grassland Sciences at ETH Zurich. In an interdisciplinary study at the interface of agricultural sciences, ecology and economics, Buchmann and her colleagues were able to quantify the economic added value of biodiversity based on a grassland experiment that examined different intensities of cultivation. Their paper has just been published in the journal Nature Communications.

“Our work shows that biodiversity is an economically relevant factor of production,” says Robert Finger, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Policy at ETH Zurich. If 16 different plant species grow in a field instead of just one, the quality of the forage remains more or less the same, but the yield is higher – which directly correlates to the income that can be made from milk sales. “The resultant increase in revenues in our study is comparable to the difference in yield between extensively and intensively farmed land,” says Sergei Schaub, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in Finger’s and Buchmann’s groups.

Access the paper: Schaub S, Finger R, Leiber F, Probst S, Kreuzer M, Weigelt A, Buchmann N and Scherer-​Lorenzen M. Plant diversity effects on forage quality, yield and revenues of semi-​natural grasslands. Nat. Comm. (2020). doi 10.1038/s41467-​020-14541-4


Reconnecting with nature key for the health of people and the planet - University of Plymouth

(Credit University of Plymouth)(Credit University of Plymouth)

A study led by the University also showed people who make weekly nature visits are more likely to behave in ways which promote environmental health

Individuals who visit natural spaces weekly, and feel psychologically connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing, new research has shown.

Alongside the benefits to public health, those who make weekly nature visits, or feel connected to nature, are also more likely to behave in ways which promote environmental health, such as recycling and conservation activities.

The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, indicate that reconnecting with nature could be key to achieving synergistic improvements to human and planetary health.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Plymouth, Natural England, the University of Exeter and University of Derby, and is the first to investigate – within a single study – the contribution of both nature contact and connection to human health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours.

The findings are based on responses to the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey, commissioned by Natural England as part of DEFRA’s social science research programme. The team looked at people’s engagement with nature through access to greenspace, nature visits and the extent to which they felt psychologically connected to the natural world.

Read the paper here.



‘Rule breaking’ plants may be the climate change survivors - Trinity College Dublin

Plants that break some of the ‘rules’ of ecology by adapting in unconventional ways may have a higher chance of surviving climate change, according to researchers from Trinity and the University of Queensland.

Professor Yvonne Buckley marking plantain plants in one of the study areas (Trinity College Dublin)Professor Yvonne Buckley marking plantain plants in one of the study areas (Trinity College Dublin)

Dr Annabel Smith, from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, and Professor Yvonne Buckley, an honorary professor at UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, studied the humble plantain (Plantago lanceolata) in an attempt to see how it became one of the world’s most successfully distributed plant species.

Dr Smith said: “We hoped to find out how plants adapt to hotter, drier or more variable climates and whether there were factors that made them more likely to adapt or go extinct. The plantain, a small plant native to Europe, has spread wildly across the globe – we needed to know why it’s been so incredibly successful.”

The global team of more than 40 ecologists set up 53 monitoring sites in 21 countries, tagged thousands of individual plants, tracked plant deaths and new seedlings, counted flowers and seeds, and looked at DNA to see how many individual plants have historically been introduced outside Europe.

What they discovered went against existing tenets of ecological science.

“We were a bit shocked to find that some of the ‘rules of ecology’ simply didn’t apply to this species,” explained Dr Smith. “Ecologists use different theories to understand how nature works – developed and tested over decades with field research – these are the so-called ‘rules’. One of these theories describes how genetic diversity or variation in genes embedded in DNA is produced by changes in population size. Small populations tend to have little genetic diversity, while large populations with many offspring, such as those with lots of seeds, have more genetic diversity. Genetic diversity sounds boring, but actually it’s the raw material on which evolution acts; more genetic diversity means plants are better able to adapt to environmental changes, like climate change. We discovered that, in their native range, the environment determined their levels of genetic diversity. But, in new environments, these rule breakers were adapting better than most other plants.”

The team found the plantain’s success was due to multiple introductions around the world, which forced genetic diversity throughout the wider species.


University provides expertise to new flooding solutions study - University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is providing its expertise to a pilot study which will test pioneering solutions to combat flooding.

The pilot study site is an upland site of moorland and woodland located near Bolton and more than 25 different flood prevention measures are being piloted, as well as new findings being gathered at the Woodland Trust-owned Smithills site.

In light of predicted changes in extreme weather patterns due to climate change, the research is bringing in expertise from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences and is being carried out in partnership between the Woodland Trust, Mersey Forest and the Environment Agency as part of the *Natural Course project.

The aim is to see the effectiveness of flood prevention measures on upland areas which are near big populations – and the research could influence flooding decisions UK wide.

The Smithills site is the ideal place to test such measures as it raises above the town of Bolton whose homes could become at risk during a large, rare flood event.

Tracey Garrett, from the Woodland Trust said: “Smithills is a mixture of moorland land, grassland and woodland. The site rises up to 456m above sea level and borders a big urban area. The research is all about discovering the effectiveness of flood prevention measures upland and how these can help alleviate the possibility of flooding in the lowlands.”

The scheme is the brainchild of Michael Norbury at Mersey Forest, who is also an honorary resesearcher in the University of Liverpool, and David Brown at the Environment Agency and funding came as a result of a successful bid from DEFRA.

The Mersey Forest formed a partnership with researchers in the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences and the team began gathering data in January 2019 and will continue until at least March 2021.


Scientists call on government to increase UK’s ambition to save our ocean - University of Plymouth

Ambitious conservation requires a holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of the marine ecosystem (Credit Lauren Porter, University of Plymouth)Ambitious conservation requires a holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of the marine ecosystem (Credit Lauren Porter, University of Plymouth)

Addressing key issues would enable the UK it to meet its target of becoming a global leader in fisheries management and marine conservation

In the last decade there has been rapid expansion in the area of ocean designated as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Despite this progress, marine biodiversity continues to decline, placing at risk the health of our oceans and the critical role the oceans have in supporting human well-being.

Now a team of marine scientists from across the UK, led by the Marine Conservation Research Group at the University of Plymouth, have called on the Government to increase its ambition to save the oceans by overhauling its approach to marine conservation management.

The researchers have worked at the sharp end of conservation and fisheries management for several decades, and draw on their research and wider expertise to make four key recommendations to government ministers. They are:

  • Enable the repair and renewal of marine habitats rather than managing degraded or altered habitats in their reduced state.

  • Unite conservation policy and fisheries management as the two are critically dependent on each other rather than competing interests.

  • Establish improved processes for understanding the benefits from ocean protection in a format that leaves in no doubt the links between ocean protection and human lives and livelihoods.

  • Develop a smarter approach to managing the health of the entire ocean that moves beyond MPAs and enables links to be made across sectors towards sustainability.

The recommendations are published in the journal Marine Policy, and scientists say addressing these issues would enable the UK it to meet its target of becoming a global leader in fisheries management and marine conservation.


World’s sandy beaches under threat from climate change - Joint Research Centre

Half of the world's beaches could disappear by the end of the century due to coastal erosion, according to a new study led by the JRC.

Erosion is a major problem facing sandy beaches that will worsen with the rising sea levels brought about by climate change.

According to the study, published today (2 Match) in Nature Climate Change, effective climate action could prevent 40% of that erosion.

Sandy beaches cover more than 30% of the world’s coastlines.

They are popular recreational spots for people and they provide important habitats for wildlife.

They also serve as natural buffer zones that protect the coastline and backshore coastal ecosystems from waves, surges and marine flooding.

Their role as shock absorbers will become more important with the rising sea levels and more intense storms expected with climate change.

However, climate change will accelerate erosion and could make more than half of the world’s sandy beaches completely vanish by the end of this century.

Fuelled by a growing population and urbanisation along coastlines, this is likely to result in more people’s homes and livelihoods being impacted by coastal erosion in the decades to come.

The findings come from the first global assessment of future sandy shoreline dynamics.

JRC scientists combined 35 years of satellite coastal observations with 82 years of climate and sea level rise projections from several climate models.

They also simulated more than 100 million storm events and measured the resulting global coastal erosion.

They found that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could prevent 40% of the projected erosion.

However, even if global warming is curbed, societies will still need to adapt and better protect sandy beaches from erosion.



New study: are teen seabirds safe? - Birdlife International

Seabirds have an exploratory adolescent phase, often looking for food in ocean areas quite different to breeding adults. A new collaborative BirdLife study warns that current seabird protection measures should not neglect such crucial stages of seabird development.

Juvenile Wandering Albatross wearing tracking device on Bird Island, South Georgia © Alex DoddsJuvenile Wandering Albatross wearing tracking device on Bird Island, South Georgia

© Alex Dodds

Whether it’s to get space from their parents, ‘find themselves’ or see more of the world before they settle down, human teenagers and young adults tend to have an exploratory phase. The same could be said for young seabirds, which have been tracked for long periods wandering great distances at sea. And just as this crucial stage in a person’s psychological development can sometimes take them down dangerous alleys, the paths taken by young and non-breeding albatrosses and petrels may well be leading them towards dangerous interactions with fishing vessels. To counter this, a recent study led by BirdLife scientists provides a new and improved method for identifying seabird hotspots for at-sea conservation measures.

Lightweight tracking devices attached to the backs or tails of seabirds, or to a ring on their legs, have given us a completely new insight into their movements and lives – insight that is crucial to, for example, set measures for long-line fisheries in certain important zones to prevent seabird deaths. Yet, despite major recent advances in tracking technology, studying at-sea movements of juvenile, immature, and non-breeding adult seabirds remains particularly challenging, because they can be gone for months or years, returning to colonies only for short periods – making it difficult to retrieve devices and download data.

“Often, approaches to identify seabird hotspots at sea are based on breeding adult distributions”, says lead author Ana Carneiro, Seabird Science Officer at BirdLife. “As a result, evaluation of risk is likely to be biased or an underestimate.”

Read the paper: Carneiro, APB, Pearmain, EJ, Oppel, S, et al. A framework for mapping the distribution of seabirds by integrating tracking, demography and phenology. J Appl Ecol. 2020; 00: 1– 12. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13568 (open access)


New research shows overall benefits for birds from restoring native woodland - RSPB

RSPB research in Scotland suggests that native woodland plantations could have overall benefits for some breeding birds - but care should be taken not to squeeze out important species of open ground.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, looked at the breeding bird communities in native woodland plantations and nearby open moorland in Highland Perthshire.

Overall, more bird species were present in native woodland plantations relative to moorland and the number of species increased with the age, height and cover of the woodland present.

Many songbird species were also more common in woodland than on moorland, but the Meadow Pipit, which favours open moorland, is expected to lose out through woodland creation. Meadow Pipits are of conservation concern due to population declines and are listed as globally Near-Threatened by the IUCN. The UK supports globally important breeding populations of the Meadow Pipit and some other open-ground species including the Eurasian Curlew, so impacts from woodland creation on these species should be minimised.

Researchers concluded “Native reforestation of open ground offers net gains in bird species richness but could disbenefit open-ground birds including those of conservation concern. Where retention of open-ground species is desired, landscape-scale reforestation should consider both woodland and open-ground wildlife.” This new research therefore emphasizes that serious thought must be given to how to minimize impacts on open-ground biodiversity of high conservation importance.



Trial finds benefits to people and wildlife from beavers living wild in English countryside - University of Exeter

A major five-year study into the impacts of beavers on the English countryside has concluded that the water-living mammals can bring measurable benefits to people and wildlife.

The study focusses upon the work of the River Otter Beaver Trial which has been led by Devon Wildlife Trust, working in partnership with the University of Exeter, Clinton Devon Estates and the Derek Gow Consultancy.

Beavers have brought benefits for humans and wildlife (credit DWT/Mike Symes)Evidence presented by scientists who have studied the beavers since 2015 has concluded that the “quantifiable costs and benefits of beaver reintroduction [of wild beavers to the River Otter, in East Devon] demonstrates that the ecosystem services and social benefits accrued are greater than the financial costs incurred”.

Beavers have brought benefits for humans and wildlife (credit DWT/Mike Symes)

The ‘Science and Evidence Report’, published today (17 February), is based on research undertaken by a team of scientists overseen by Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter.

It concludes that other wildlife has greatly benefitted from the beavers’ presence, while their dam building activities have also helped reduce the risk of flooding to some flood threatened human settlements.

It also concludes that while beavers have created localised problems for a handful of farmers and property owners, these can be successfully and straightforwardly managed with the right support and intervention.

The 130-page report is published today by the River Otter Beaver Trial and is the culmination of a five-year study of England’s first licensed release of beavers into the wild in England since they were hunted to extinction more than 400 years ago.

The report can now be accessed via the University of Exeter website, and contains links to on-line videos and scientific papers and research reports compiled during the trial period


Study reveals where London’s hedgehog hotspots are, and where help is needed - People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)

Scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London)’s London HogWatch programme have found hotspots of native hedgehog populations in the north and west of London, compared to the south east of the city.

The research, led by Rachel Cates – an Intern funded by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) – and supported by Dr Chris Carbone, Senior Research Fellow at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, involved placing hundreds of camera traps in several green spaces across the capital, from Haringey to Camden and from Southwark to Barnes. The cameras recorded any wildlife spotted over a two-week period throughout 2019.

The largest population found so far in Hampstead Heath in north Greater London, where there were a number of hedgehog records across the park. In the west of London – in the WWT Wetland Centre, Barnes Common, Putney Lower Common, Roehampton Golf Course, the Bank of England Sports Centre and on Palewell Common, 62 sightings were recorded within this area, with hedgehogs spotted on 13 of the 30 cameras set up in the WWT Wetland Centre alone. Hedgehogs were also seen across Barnes and on Putney Lower Common, but their distributions were fragmented.

However, snuffle south east across the city and a different picture is painted in Dulwich Park, Peckham Rye and Common, and Russia Dock Woodland. Only a single hedgehog was detected out of 65 camera locations. From the many records of foxes seen in these areas, it’s clear these areas are generally suitable for wildlife. As hedgehogs and foxes often live side by side, these areas should support hedgehogs, but the team are uncertain why they weren’t recorded. Occasional sightings are recorded in these areas, so it’s possible that hedgehogs are living in the areas surrounding the parks, in private gardens, allotments and school grounds.

Rachel Cates, PTES’ Intern, explains: “Interestingly, the habitat in the green spaces we investigated in the Southwark area is very similar to the areas where hedgehogs appear to be doing well. We don’t know why hedgehogs would be doing so well in some areas, but less so in others, when the habitats look similar. One explanation could be that these areas are isolated from larger green spaces, meaning there’s no safe passages to enable hedgehogs to access these sites from outside.”


Research shows significance of native predators to naturally restore ecosystem - Queen's University Belfast

A new research study led by Queen’s University highlights the crucial role that recovering native predators can play in conserving the natural ecosystem.

(image: Queen's University Belfast)(image: Queen's University Belfast)

The research reveals how a native predator, the pine marten, is helping to conserve the UK and Ireland’s only native squirrel, the red squirrel.

Following introductions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the invasive grey squirrel had replaced the native red squirrel across much of its former range in the UK and Ireland. The pine marten, a recovering predator in the UK and Ireland are naturally controlling introduced grey squirrels, while simultaneously helping to secure the survival of native red squirrel populations.

Until now, little was known about how the pine marten which predates both grey and red squirrels was able to negatively affect invasive grey squirrel populations while positively affecting their native cousins.

Through the exposure of red and grey squirrels to pine marten scent at twenty feeding sites across Northern Ireland, the researchers used cameras to record how the different squirrel species responded to their shared predator, the pine marten.

They found that native red squirrels showed clear behavioural responses to pine marten scent, while grey squirrels did not. Red squirrels visited the feeders less often and increased their vigilance when pine marten scent was applied whilst grey squirrels did not change their behaviour. This is likely a response to red squirrels sharing a landscape with pine marten over a long-period of time, with grey squirrels being relative newcomers to the threat that the pine marten poses.



Freshwater insects recover while spiders decline in UK - University College London (UCL)

Many insects, mosses and lichens in the UK are bucking the trend of biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 5,000 species led by UCL and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH).

The researchers say their findings on UK biodiversity between 1970 and 2015, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, may provide evidence that efforts to improve air and water quality could be paying off.

“By looking at long-term trends in the distribution of understudied species, we found evidence of concerning declines, but we also found that it’s not all bad news. Some groups of species, particularly freshwater insects, appear to be undergoing a strong recovery,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Charlie Outhwaite (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the RSPB).

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the researchers analysed trends in the distribution of invertebrates (such as insects and spiders), bryophytes (such as mosses) and lichens over a 45-year period, to see whether they were following the same declining trends reported in better-studied groups such as mammals, birds and butterflies.

Across all 5,214 species surveyed, overall occupancy (distribution) was 11% higher in 2015 than in 1970. The researchers were not able to estimate the total numbers of each species, but gauged how well each species was doing by whether its geographic range was expanding or shrinking.

They found substantial variation between the different groups, and between individual species within each group. Among the four major groups studied, only one of them – terrestrial non-insect invertebrates (mainly spiders, centipedes and millipedes) – exhibited an overall trend of declining distribution (by 7% since 1970).

More positively, freshwater insects, such as mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies, have undergone a strong recovery since the mid-1990s, recently surpassing 1970 levels following a 47% decline from 1970 to 1994. Mosses and lichens have also increased in average occupancy (distribution) by 36%, while terrestrial insects, such as ants and moths, exhibited a slight increase.


Scientists make fresh call for policy makers to protect pollinators - Trinity College Dublin

Pollinating insects could thrive if improvements are made to agri-environment schemes across Europe, according to a new collaborative study involving scientists from Trinity.

More than 20 pollinator experts from 18 different countries looked at a range of wildlife habitats on farmland– named Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) – to determine how well they support insect pollinators such as bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies.

Despite significant investment in EFAs the study – just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology– found they are failing to provide all the resources insect pollinators require.

With over 70% of crops worldwide relying on insect pollinators, it highlights the need to create a variety of interconnected, well-managed habitats that complement each other in the resources they offer.

A decline in the number of insect pollinators has been attributed to intensive farming and the associated loss offlower-rich habitats, which provide food, nesting, and breeding sites.

In a bid to decrease the environmental impact of agriculture, the 2014 EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) defined a set of habitat and landscape features that farmers needed to incorporate in order to receive basic farm payments.

Access the paper: Cole, L. J. et al. A critical analysis of the potential for EU Common Agricultural Policy measures to support wild pollinators on farmland (open access) Journal of Applied Ecology


British moths declining but aphid numbers stable - Rothamsted Research

Analysis of 24 million individual insects paints a complicated picture of changing population dynamics

Suggestions of an imminent ‘insectageddon’ have received a great deal of attention recently, but many scientists have questioned the accuracy of such predictions.

Now a study of more than 24 million individual insects caught over a period of almost half a century has revealed a greater understanding of their populations - and whether they really are being driven to an impending extinction.

In this new report, data collected by the Rothamsted Insect Survey from 137 insect traps sited across Great Britain between 1969 and 2016 provides very different narratives for the two insects groups under investigation.

Comparing 47 years’ worth of data collected from 1969 onwards, moth numbers have declined by 31% - however, this long-term downward trend was punctuated by several shorter periods of partial recovery, painting a complicated picture of moth population dynamics.

For aphids, the story is very different, and despite their totals fluctuating wildly from one year to the next, their overall number has remained pretty much constant across the decades.

Published in a special issue of the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity which focuses solely on the purported ‘insectageddon’, the study perfectly illustrates the dangers of comparing data from just a handful of years.

Read the paper: Bell, J.R., Blumgart, D. and Shortall, C.R. (2020), Are insects declining and at what rate? An analysis of standardised, systematic catches of aphid and moth abundances across Great Britain. Insect Conserv Divers, 13: 115-126. doi:10.1111/icad.12412


Pesticides impair baby bee brain development - Imperial College London

Pesticides can impair brain growth in baby bumblebees, affecting their ability to perform a simple learning task as adults, according to a new study.

Imperial College London researchers used micro-CT scanning technology to reveal how specific parts of bumblebee brains grew abnormally when exposed to pesticides during their larval phase.

Most previous studies have tested the effects of pesticide exposure on adult bees because these individuals directly collect pesticide-contaminated nectar and pollen. However, this study shows that baby bees can also feel the effects of the contaminated food brought back to the colony, making them poorer at performing tasks later in life.

Micro-CT image of a bumblebee brain. Credit Dylan Smith / Imperial College LondonMicro-CT image of a bumblebee brain. Credit Dylan Smith / Imperial College London

Lead researcher Dr Richard Gill, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: “Bee colonies act as superorganisms, so when any toxins enter the colony, these have the potential to cause problems with the development of the baby bees within it.

“Worryingly in this case, when young bees are fed on pesticide-contaminated food, this caused parts of the brain to grow less, leading to older adult bees possessing smaller and functionally impaired brains; an effect that appeared to be permanent and irreversible.

“These findings reveal how colonies can be impacted by pesticides weeks after exposure, as their young grow into adults that may not be able to forage for food properly. Our work highlights the need for guidelines on pesticide usage to consider this route of exposure.”

Access the paper: Smith Dylan B., Arce Andres N., Ramos Rodrigues Ana, Bischoff Philipp H., Burris Daisy, Ahmed Farah and Gill Richard J. Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees Proc. R. Soc. B


Scientific Publications

Glemarec, G., Kindt-Larsen, L., Scherffenberg Lundgaard, L. & Larsen, F. Assessing seabird bycatch in gillnet fisheries using electronic monitoring. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108461 


Jarvis, L.E., Hartup, M. & Petrovan, S.O. Road mitigation using tunnels and fences promotes site connectivity and population expansion for a protected amphibian. (open access) Eur J Wildl Res 65, 27 (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s10344-019-1263-9

Mill, A. C. et al. The challenges of long‐term invasive mammal management: lessons from the UK. Mammal Review DOI: 10.1111/mam.12186


Ross T. Shackleton, Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Petr Pyšek, Louisa E. Wood, David M. Richardson, Assessing biological invasions in protected areas after 30 years: Revisiting nature reserves targeted by the 1980s SCOPE programme, Biological Conservation, Volume 243, 2020, 108424, ISSN 0006-3207, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108424.

Natalia B. Zielonka, Robert W. Hawkes, Helen Jones, Robert J. Burnside & Paul M. Dolman (2020) Placement, survival and predator identity of Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata nests on lowland grass-heath, Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2020.1725421


Goumas Madeleine, Boogert Neeltje J. and Kelley Laura A. Urban herring gulls use human behavioural cues to locate food. R. Soc. open sci.

Devarajan, K., Morelli, T.L. and Tenan, S. (2020), Multi-species occupancy models: review, roadmap, and recommendations. Ecography. doi:10.1111/ecog.04957

Ole Næsbye Larsen, Magnus Wahlberg, Jakob Christensen-Dalsgaard Amphibious hearing in a diving bird, the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis). Journal of Experimental Biology 2020 : jeb.217265 doi: 10.1242/jeb.217265

Whitton, TA, Jackson, SE, Hiddink, JG, et al. Vertical migrations of fish schools determine overlap with a mobile tidal stream marine renewable energy device. J Appl Ecol. 2020; 00: 1– 13.

Verhoeven, M.A., Loonstra, A.J., McBride, A.D., Macias, P., Kaspersma, W., Hooijmeijer, J.C., van der Velde, E., Both, C., Senner, N.R. and Piersma, T. (2020), Geolocators lead to better measures of timing and renesting in Black-tailed Godwits and reveal the bias of traditional observational methods. J Avian Biol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/jav.02259

Burgess, M.D., Finch, T., Border, J.A., Castello, J., Conway, G., Ketcher, M., Lawrence, M., Orsman, C.J., Mateos, J., Proud, A., Westerberg, S., Wiffen, T. and Henderson, I.G. (2020), Weak migratory connectivity, loop migration and multiple non-breeding site use in British breeding Whinchats Saxicola rubetra. Ibis. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/ibi.12825


David Tickner, Jeffrey J Opperman, Robin Abell et al Bending the Curve of Global Freshwater Biodiversity Loss: An Emergency Recovery Plan, BioScience, biaa002,

McLachlan Jessica R. and Magrath Robert D. Speedy revelations: how alarm calls can convey rapid, reliable information about urgent danger Proc. R. Soc. B.

Schwenk Kurt and Phillips Jackson R. Circumventing surface tension: tadpoles suck bubbles to breathe air Proc. R. Soc. B


Julie A. Mustard, Anne Gott, Jennifer Scott, Nancy L. Chavarria, Geraldine A. Wright Honeybees fail to discriminate floral scents in a complex learning task after consuming a neonicotinoid pesticide. Journal of Experimental Biology 2020 : jeb.217174 doi: 10.1242/jeb.217174 Published 6 February 2020


D'Urban Jackson Tim, Williams Gareth J., Walker-Springett Guy and Davies Andrew J. Three-dimensional digital mapping of ecosystems: a new era in spatial ecology. Proc. R. Soc. B

Keen Sara C., Cole Ella F., Sheehan Michael J. and Sheldon Ben C. Social learning of acoustic anti-predator cues occurs between wild bird species. Proc. R. Soc. B


Animal and wildlife news.

I-Spy on nature reserve - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Volunteers with Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Catch My Drift project at East Chevington have been using trail cameras at various points on the site to identify and monitor some of its more elusive residents including otters, foxes and red squirrels.

The cameras have also helped the team identify the presence of the invasive signal crayfish, which was introduced from North America. It out competes our native white-clawed crayfish and spreads crayfish plague, a fungus-like disease.

Vole © Catch My Drift ProjectThe Project, funded by players of the National Lottery via a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working to improve the land and habitat for people and wildlife on its 185-hectare East Chevington nature reserve. It is titled ‘Catch my Drift’ as a nod to the reserve’s history as it was once the East Chevington Drift Mine (1882 - 1962) and East Chevington Opencast Coal Site from 1982 - 1994.

Vole © Catch My Drift Project

The footage collected will allow Catch My Drift project leader Sophie Webster to gain an understanding of how these animals are using the site, which will, in turn, help her develop an overall management plan for the site.

As well as using the standard method of attaching cameras close to animal tracks, the team, led by Sophie, has been installing small mammal camera boxes which have allowed them to monitor their presence during winter when they cannot carry out live humane survey trapping to help them identify key areas where birds of prey may feed and which species they may be feeding on.



Cornwall's hedgehogs are disappearing - you can help them - Cornwall Wildlife Trust

You can probably remember when they were a familiar sight at night in gardens and hedgerows but that’s a fast-fading memory, as hedgehog numbers have halved in the countryside in the last 20 years alone.

Hedgehog without a home Photo by Tom MarshallTo reverse this rapid decline Cornwall Wildlife Trust have launched an appeal to raise £25,000 to fund vital research, education, and lobbying work and coordinate hedgehog-saving, county-wide conservation action.

Hedgehog without a home Photo by Tom Marshall

Cheryl Marriott, Head of conservation at Cornwall Wildlife Trust says, “Unfortunately many Cornish children are now saying they’ve never seen a hedgehog in real life. It’s a desperate situation and if we don’t act now hedgehogs could be lost forever.”

Laurence Miller, a 12 year old volunteer from North Cornwall, says “I don’t want hedgehogs to disappear forever so this is why I volunteered to help them by doing surveys for Operation Hedgehog.”

Hedgehogs are an important indicator of environmental health, as they feed on insects at the bottom of the food chain. A falling hedgehog population is a warning sign that nature is out of balance.

There are many reasons for their dramatic decline: the over-tidying of gardens and increased use of pesticides that have not only decimated their food supply but actually poisoned these gardeners’ friends, increased housing developments, intensification of farming, loss of habitat and food supply, the destruction of Cornish hedges.


Government sets out next phase of strategy to combat bovine tuberculosis - Defra

Strategy includes field trials of a cattle vaccine, plans for badger vaccination and improved testing

The government has today set out plans for the next stage of its strategy to eradicate bTB, including field trials of a cattle vaccine, plans to vaccinate more badgers against the disease and improved testing to intercept bTB earlier.

As a result of a globally significant breakthrough by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the government will now accelerate the work towards deployment of the cattle vaccine within the next five years.

The commitment is part of the government’s response to an independent review of its 25 year bTB strategy, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray.

bTB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England faces today. More than 30,000 cattle are slaughtered each year due to infection from bTB and a cattle vaccination could become a powerful tool in the battle against the disease following the necessary testing and approvals to ensure its safety and efficacy.

Independent scientific analysis has shown that badger culling has resulted in significant reductions in the spread of the disease to cattle with disease incidence coming down significantly in the two areas analysed, with reductions by sixty-six and thirty-seven percent. However intensive culls, which currently cover fifty seven percent of England’s High-Risk Area for the disease, are only one phase of the long-term bTB strategy to eradicate the disease by 2038.

As wider preventative measures are introduced, the response to the Godfray review sets out an intention to begin to phase out intensive badger culling.

badgers (Greg Newman / pixabay)  

Wildlife and Countryside Link response to the shift in Government's bovine TB strategy - Wildlife and Countryside Link

Wildlife and Countryside Link welcomes much of the Government’s response today to the Godfray review of its bovine TB strategy, and Defra’s announcement of an increased focus on cattle and badger vaccination and enhanced cattle testing and biosecurity.

Zoe Davies, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: "The Government’s updated plans to tackle bovine TB are a positive response to the concerns highlighted by Professor Sir Charles Godfray and conservation and welfare groups alike. There is a lot to like in these proposals. A much-needed switch to vaccination and phasing out culling should help tackle the disease more effectively and avoid thousands of badger deaths. Improved testing should reduce the main spread of the disease from cow to cow. But the government must ensure these moves are implemented quickly, rather than wait an indeterminate period for ‘the weight of disease in wildlife’ to fall. The main criticism of the Godfray review was that the Government has focussed too much on wildlife in its bovine TB approach, so today’s welcome words must be followed by a rapid shift in approach if this disease is to be eradicated."



Renewed General Licence brings greater protection for Scotland’s wild birds - Scottish Natural Heritage

Eleven species of birds, including rooks, black-headed gulls and collared doves will have stronger protection from April 1, when they will be removed from General Licences, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced today (7 February).

Lesser black-backed gull (image: SNH-Lorne Gill)All wild birds are protected by law. General Licences allow certain birds to be killed without the need to apply for individual licences - for example, to prevent serious damage to crops, to protect public health and to help prevent predation of other, at-risk bird species. General Licences can only be undertaken where non-lethal means have been tried and proved ineffective. They cover relatively common situations when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species.

Lesser black-backed gull (image: SNH-Lorne Gill)

In six weeks’ time, the renewed licence rules mean those seeking to control birds not included on the updated list will be legally required to apply for a licence.

The amendments to General Licences follow a public consultation which received over 700 responses. An additional SNH review of the latest available evidence shows that while many wild bird populations are in a healthy condition, a range of pressures, including climate change, means others have decreased, and are in need of greater protection.

The licence review also concluded that the control of greylag geese, a species already listed on the licence, should be extended to year-round control, to help minimise widespread agricultural damage to grass pasture and emerging crops.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, said: “We want to make sure our licences remain relevant, evidence based and fit-for-purpose and our new General Licences will better balance current conservation research with the needs of licence users. Our role is to help wild birds thrive, but we must also safeguard the public from health and safety risks, as well as make sure farmers can protect their crops.”

SNH has also introduced greater transparency around the use of traps, which require individual users to register to increase understanding of how General Licences are used.
More detail on the changes planned for new 2020 General Licences are available here.

Responses: New Scottish general licences provide both certainty and concern - British Association for Shooting and Conservation (plus response from Scottish Gamekeepers Association)

Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, said: “It is of vital importance that users of the general licences in Scotland make themselves aware of the new terms and conditions. BASC is opposed to the revocation of general licences on certain designated sites, a list of which can be found here. We do not believe these changes are required and that this could over-burden the licensing process. We do not believe applying for permission in this instances is required and that this could over-burden the licensing process. We are meeting SNH next week and will seek to ensure that the process will be adequate and allow our members operating on protected sites to act as and when required .”

In response to the changes, a Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “The changes as regards SPAs are nothing other than a cave-in to Wild Justice who are motivated by causing as much disruption and frustration to shooting as possible. SNH itself has admitted there is no evidence to suggest General Licences are causing adverse impacts on SPAs but that ‘potentially’ they could. This is not justifiable or proportionate. There are lots of things in life that could ‘potentially’ happen. That doesn’t justify licensing everything. This is a response, in our view, motivated more by fear of legal challenge than the conservation of wildlife.


Bisterne lapwing recovery recognised in Purdey conservation awards - Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

The efforts of Bisterne Estate in recovering their breeding lapwing (or pee-wit) was given national acclaim this month, with a “highly commended” ranking at the annual Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation, hosted by His Grace the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House in London.

(image: Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust)(image: Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust)

The 4,000-acre Hampshire estate is a partner in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s LIFE+ Waders for Real project, an EU-funded programme involving scientists, farmers and the local community working together to reverse the decline of breeding waders in the Avon Valley. Since 2015 they have seen annual productivity increase from 0.49 to 0.80 lapwing chicks fledged per pair (lapwing need to produce 0.7 chicks per pair to maintain a stable population). In plain words, that means the lapwing population is self-sustaining at Bisterne. The fact that the estate is bucking the national trend with a growing population of breeding lapwings is a real team effort, but starts with three people intent on making it a haven for waders.

Hallam Mills, whose family have owned the land since 1792, has a passion for making Bisterne a conservation hotspot and has long subscribed to Higher Tier Stewardship. He encourages everyone involved in managing the estate to do so with conservation in mind. Martin Button, the Arable and Environmental Manager, has implemented conservation measures, resulting in good quality water meadow habitat, the right meadow grass length, nectar and pollen mixes, and improved soil quality. The success of their wading birds has been driven by gamekeeper Rupert Brewer, who having seen lapwing decline nationally by over 80% since 1960, was given the chance to do something about it, which he grabbed with both hands!


Puffin numbers stable despite last summer’s wash-out as sufficient pufflings successfully hatch on Farne Islands - National Trust

Puffin numbers on the remote Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, appear to be stable despite extreme rainfall threatening numbers, a National Trust survey has found.

There were fears that the population would be affected after devastating rainfall flooded numerous burrows on the islands last year. On 13 June at least 300 young puffins - called pufflings - died when 5in (12cm) of rain fell on the islands in just 24 hours. However, the survey, which involved checking a proportion of burrows, revealed only a marginal decrease in the population, with a total of 43,752 breeding pairs recorded in 2019, less than a 0.5% decrease on the results from the 2018 survey.

The Atlantic puffin, at home on the Farnes for breeding season. (Credit Paul Kingston NNP)The Atlantic puffin, at home on the Farnes for breeding season. (Credit Paul Kingston NNP)

National Trust ranger, Thomas Hendry says: “When we were hit by such heavy rainfall we were really concerned that numbers would be significantly affected, which given these birds are declining in numbers across the world was a devastating prospect. However, it appears that we had enough pufflings hatch successfully to literally weather the storm, and we can conclude numbers appear to be stable.”

Puffins have traditionally done well on the Farnes thanks to the work of the rangers, protection of the marine areas around the islands, a lack of ground predators and the availability of suitable nesting areas. Numbers on the islands have increased over the past 26 years, with 37,710 pairs recorded in 1993. Numbers then peaked at 55,674 pairs in 2003 before a sudden crash in 2008 when extremely low numbers of sandeels – their preferred food supply - meant the number of breeding pairs dropped by a third, before slowly recovering.

To gain better understanding of what’s happening, the 11 strong ranger team have begun monitoring the puffin population annually, having previously carried out the survey once every five years.


Seabird declines may be slowing - Scottish Natural Heritage

The decline in Scotland’s breeding seabird numbers may be slowing down, a new report suggests.

The latest biodiversity indicator published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) uses data largely collected by volunteers to look at numbers of 11 species of breeding seabird.

Guillemots at Fowlsheugh ©Lorne Gill / SNHGuillemots at Fowlsheugh ©Lorne Gill / SNH

The results show that, having declined by more than 30% from 1986 to 2011, population levels have since remained fairly stable.

Overall numbers have declined by an average of 32% since 1986. Only two of the species have maintained or increased in breeding numbers over the period (common gull and common tern).

Arctic skua, whose breeding stronghold is the Northern Isles, has experienced the largest decline of 78%. Their decline has been linked to changes in the availability of sandeels, which has also affected Northern Isles populations of kittiwakes and terns. Declines are also apparent for herring gull and great-black backed gulls across Scotland.

While below earlier levels, there are signs of some populations such as guillemot and black-legged kittiwake stabilising, with some colonies showing increases.

Common tern and Arctic tern numbers increased since the last report. Terns are known to be highly variable in breeding numbers and it is too early to say if this trend is going to continue.

Seabirds are not only vulnerable to changes in the seas around Scotland, many migrate across the Atlantic and technology is beginning to improve our understanding of their movements.


Goshawk success and reduction in wildlife crime frames 2019 bird of prey picture in the Peak District - Peak District National Park

The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative has published its 2019 breeding season report.

The report brings together data on key birds of prey or ‘raptors’ nesting within the Dark Peak - a largely upland region of the Peak District National Park.

Results from the 2019 season include the fledging of goshawks from all eight nests monitored within the study area, along with the return of hen harriers once again to a nest in the Peak District.

This news was tempered by the death of one of the two young hen harriers a few days after fledging, from what are thought to be natural causes. The second youngster and both adults were also not seen again from about the same time.

Of particular note was that two of the eight successful goshawk nests monitored saw the first confirmed fledging following around two decades of failed attempts in the same locations, with co-operation on the ground between raptor groups and gamekeepers supporting the successful results.

Cases of reported wildlife crime activity against raptors in the study area also dropped from several incidents in 2018, to one suspected buzzard poisoning case plus one suspected theft of young from a peregrine nest in 2019. One further peregrine nest was deserted for unexplained reasons following egg-laying.

Challenges remain for the peregrine in the study area. There were just five confirmed nesting attempts, with seven chicks fledged from three successful nests.

Whilst 11 merlin nests achieved 41 fledged young, well above target and high enough to encourage an increase in the population, the number of breeding pairs remains unstable and saw an overall drop of a third on year-on-year averages since 2012, with both unsuccessful nests and vacant territories recorded. The reasons for these declines remain unclear, but are in line with wider UK trends.

You can view the full report here: Bird of Prey Initiative 2019 report


HS2 Ltd caught using pest controllers to scare birds from nesting - Woodland Trust

A pest control contractor employed by HS2 has been spotted flying hawks over Broadwells Wood in Warwickshire to deter birds from nesting in an astonishing move that “smacks of a cowboy operation, not a Government infrastructure project”, says the Woodland Trust.

The HS2 rail project is set to damage and destroy 108 ancient woods. Credit: Phil Formby / WTMLBut while the practice is highly dubious the more worrying question is why when HS2 has publically committed to translocating soils from this ancient woodland as part of their compensation package. This can only be done when the wood is dormant – late autumn/early winter. Attempting to clear the wood of nesting birds indicates HS2 is intending to fell this wood much sooner. This is completely against what HS2 has committed to do.

The HS2 rail project is set to damage and destroy 108 ancient woods. Credit: Phil Formby / WTML 

Luci Ryan, lead ecologist for the Woodland Trust said: “Alarming as it is that a Government scheme would use such a damaging method, and without disclosing it, we’re more concerned about why and what comes next? The wood is currently teeming with life – bluebells emerging, badgers busy in their setts and birds prospecting. Works should not start until October when the wood is dormant, so it begs the question why attempt to prevent birds nesting now unless contractors wish to bring the bull dozers in this spring? By employing tactics that skirt the law, HS2 yet again appears to be a cowboy operation and not an exemplar of best practice expected of a Government-backed project.“

The fight was lost to protect the irreplaceable ancient2 Broadwells Wood near Warwick, and HS2Ltd has permission to fell 3.2 hectares to make way for phase one between London and Birmingham. But the work should not begin until late autumn when the wood becomes dormant to allow for HS2’s unproven method to move the ancient soils. It is also illegal for anyone to intentionally damage or destroy a nest whilst it is being built or in use.



Progress for pollinators hailed - Scottish Natural Heritage

Considerable progress was made to help bees, butterflies and other pollinators thrive across Scotland in 2019, a new report shows.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published details of work being carried out by the organisation and more than 30 partners towards delivering the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland.

Close up of bee on thistle, ©SNH/Lorne GIllClose up of bee on thistle, ©SNH/Lorne GIll

Pollinators are vital for our biodiversity, but populations face challenges due to changes in land use, habitat loss, diseases, pesticides and climate change.

The aim of the strategy is to make Scotland more pollinator-friendly, halting and reversing the decline in native pollinator populations.

From the John Muir Pollinator Way to roadside verges in Dundee and Aberdeen, green roofs in Edinburgh to planting in Kirkwall, the report details progress across the country to ensure a nature-rich future for our pollinators.

During the year around 50 new wildflower meadows were established, with projects also working to create bee and bug houses, improve habitats, plant pollinator-friendly trees and shrubs and transform roadside verges, brownfield sites and railway routes.

The report also highlights progress in raising awareness and understanding of pollinators, including work with the farming sector, safeguarding bee health and the provision of identification courses, advice and guidance.

SNH projects in 2019 included the launch of five new pollinator trails on National Nature Reserves and the development of guidance and advice for the construction and planning sector.


Dragonflies and damselflies bounce back from tough year - Durham Wildlife Trust

Black darter mating with common darter (c) Mal WilkinsonBlack darter mating with common darter (c) Mal Wilkinson

A survey into numbers of dragonflies and damselflies in the Durham Wildlife Trust area has shown that the insects have bounced back spectacularly after a challenging 2018.

The Trust-led project entered its fifth year in 2019 and surveys were carried out by volunteers who adopted sites in their local area and recorded dragonfly and damselfly larva and adults.

The previous year, 2018, was a year of extreme weather that had a significant impact on dragonflies in the Durham Wildlife Trust region. Firstly, during the whole of March, a large Arctic air mass stretched from Russia and the Far East to the British Isles (the ‘Beast From The East’) and brought with it significant snowfall and icy conditions, which had an adverse impact on some dragonfly and damselfly species.

Then June 2018 was the hottest on record since 1915 and the hot weather continued well into September, resulting in many wetland and pond areas drying up completely, which destroyed both eggs and larvae.

The weather in 2019 was very different and the region was awash with dragonflies and damselflies. First to emerge at the end of April was the large red damselfly, easy to identify partly as they are bright red and black. The last to be seen, at the Trust’s Rainton Meadows reserve near Houghton le Spring, in November was the migrant hawker, which survived two weeks of frost before finally bowing out.

Michael Coates, the Durham Wildlife Trust Trustee who organises the surveys and training for volunteers, said: “The survey effort this time has been truly outstanding. Watching dragonflies is an experience I think everyone would enjoy. The information gathered enables Durham Wildlife Trust to get a clearer picture of how dragonflies and damselflies are faring in Durham against national trends and helps the Trust monitor the wetland habitats these insects rely on. Dragonflies and damselflies are ideal indicators of wetland health because their larvae develop over quite a long period of time in the water.‘’


Gnats a first! Fly and fungus finds flabbergast naturalists - Woodland Trust

A rare rainforest fungus and two tiny fly species never before seen in the UK have been discovered at Woodland Trust Scotland sites on the West coast.

Credit: Jan Hamilton / Lorn Natural History GroupCredit: Jan Hamilton / Lorn Natural History Group

An insect survey at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in Lochaber has recorded two species of fungus gnat previously unseen in Britain. While at Dunollie Wood in Argyll local naturalists found hazel gloves fungus.

Fungus gnats at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest near Spean Bridge

Fungus gnats are a large group of tiny flies whose larvae feed on mushrooms and fungi.

Boletina gusakovae is more usually found in Finland and Russia, and Mycetophila idonea in Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and Luxembourg.

“My guess is that these two have always been here, or at least for a long time, but just not found before,” said surveyor Ian Strachan.

The insects were captured in 2018 using Malaise traps – which look a little like a backpacker’s tent, and funnel flying insects into a collection jar. Two traps were in place over four months. It is a massive task to separate all the individual insects caught. Ian is still painstakingly separating out the samples and taking advice from a dozen different experts to help with identifications.

The new-to-Britain flies were represented by just one male of each species, out of over 1,500 fungus gnats Ian had in turn separated out from tens of thousands of other insects in the sample.


Rare Wormwood moonshiner beetles found - Buglife

Wormwood moonshiner on Field wormwood (c) Brian EvershamWormwood moonshiner on Field wormwood (c) Brian Eversham

2019 proved to be a fantastic year for one of the UK’s rarest beetles, the elusive Wormwood moonshiner (Amara fusca). The beetle was found at two new sites with dedicated volunteers taking part in the Back from the Brink Shifting Sands project, which sees nature conservation partners working together to safeguard the future of rare Breckland wildlife.

The Moonshiner is named for its habit of emerging at night to feast on the ripening seed heads of Field wormwood (Artemisia campestris), a fellow rare speciality of the Brecks. The beetle hadn’t been seen in the UK since 2011, until a new population was discovered in 2018 on green space within a Mildenhall housing estate. It was recorded at three Breckland sites in 2019. Volunteers returned to College Heath Road in Mildenhall this autumn and found an incredible 72 beetles, the second highest count for the species on record.

Volunteers were even more excited to find two new sites for the Wormwood moonshiner in the following weeks, with a single beetle found at Forestry England’s Mildenhall Warren, on a large mature Field wormwood plant. A month later, two beetles were found on Brandon’s London Road Industrial Estate, on Field wormwood plants which had made their home in the car park of an industrial unit. This followed the designation of the industrial estate as a County Wildlife Site & Roadside Nature Reserve, thanks to the collaboration of Shifting Sands partners.


Funding and new partnerships.

Thousands of trees to be planted in England's towns and cities - Defra

Government to support tree-planting schemes through £10m Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

Thirteen projects in urban communities across England have been awarded a share of the £10m in the first round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

Across the country over 22,000 large trees and 28,000 small trees will be planted in urban areas, from Thanet to Middlesbrough, and Merseyside to Bristol. These will help areas improve health and wellbeing, as well as playing a crucial role in the fight against climate change, supporting the UK’s journey to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Government is committed to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year across the UK by 2025, and the fund is helping increase canopy cover in and around our towns and cities where they bring a wide range of benefits.

Launched in May 2019, the £10 million scheme will see 130,000 trees planted across England’s towns and cities by 2021.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, to tackle air pollution and help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050. But for local communities they are so much more. They allow green spaces to come together, help both physical and mental wellbeing, and connect children and young people with nature. Our manifesto sets our ambition to have every new street lined with trees, and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund complements this ambition, benefiting thousands of people for years to come.”


Environment Minister Edwin Poots visits Belfast’s Window on Wildlife to announce £2.2 million for 24 environmental projects across Northern Ireland - RSPB

New Environment Minister Edwin Poots visited Belfast’s Window on Wildlife in Belfast Harbour Estate to announce that 24 environmental projects across Northern Ireland will share £2.2 million of monies generated by the carrier bag levy.

The Environment Fund 2020/21 uses the proceeds of the carrier bag levy (introduced in April 2013) to enable not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental outcomes across Northern Ireland.

A portion of the money will assist RSPB NI ‘s reserve and conservation staff across RSPB NI’s network of reserves and priority landscapes to maintain ASSI land in favourable condition and improve habitats for breeding wading birds such as lapwings, snipe, curlews and redshanks as well as help to connect young people to nature through educational visits across Northern Ireland.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to announce this significant funding, derived from the carrier bag levy, which will enable organisations to continue to protect our landscape, habitats and species and promote health and well-being so that we can all enjoy our natural environment. Prior to the carrier bag levy being introduced in 2013, 300 million single use bags were used each year in Northern Ireland, filling up landfill, suffocating our seas and damaging our habitats and wildlife. The £2.2m generated from the levy will help socially-conscious organisations protect and enhance our environment and showcases my Department’s commitment to find innovative and simple solutions that have big benefits. I want to see even more practical measures that will make a real difference and ensure we leave our environment in an even better shape than we found it.”


Environmental Education, Recreation volunteering and citizen science.

The ‘bog squad’ celebrates six years of success in protecting Scotland's peatlands - Butterfly Conservation

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation celebrates six years of the incredibly successful ‘Bog Squad’ initiative this March. Begun in 2014 this ‘Squad’, of volunteers established and managed by Butterfly Conservation Scotland, is tasked to carry out rehabilitation works on damaged peat bogs across the Scottish Lowlands. These volunteers are working on the front lines in the battle against the climate crisis.

Scotland’s bogs are vast stores of carbon laid down by slowly decaying vegetation in wet, acidic conditions over thousands of years. Unfortunately, many of Scotland’s bogs have been damaged by attempts at drainage and burning, causing them to become net carbon emitters.

Scottish peat bogs are also key wildlife habitats providing homes for species such as the bog specialist Large Heath butterfly, which has declined in range across the UK by over 50% since 1976. Other increasingly rare butterflies such as the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak benefit from lowland bog habitat too.

Since 2014 Bog Squad volunteers have been putting in huge efforts to save our peatlands and their habitats. Restoration work has focussed on blocking old drainage ditches and removing water-sapping invasive scrub, allowing Sphagnum mosses, the driving force behind peat formation, to flourish again. Funded by the SNH-led Peatland ACTION project, the Bog Squad have carried out work at 26 bogs across Scotland with 330 hectares of bog improved. Nearly 300 individual volunteers have joined in to carry out this vital work.


Recognition for 40 years’ service as a volunteer ranger - Peak District National Park

A volunteer ranger has clocked up over one thousand days of volunteering and received recognition for 40 years of commitment to the Peak District National Park.

Geoff Truelove (83), from Glossop, completed his ranger training in 1979, and joined the conservation volunteers in August 1980. He has volunteered his free time during four weekend days every month, plus midweek days, since then.

Geoff remembers the first task he worked on: “It was building steps to the foot bridge over the River Wye, in Monsal Dale. The steps are still there and as good as ever.”

Ranger Neil Hanshaw presented volunteer Geoff Truelove with a certificate marking 40 years’ service to the Peak District National Park.(image: Peak District NPA)Although he worked full-time in the electricity supply industry, for the past 40 years Geoff has managed to fit in his shifts as a ranger and a supervisor to dedicate his spare time to helping look after Black Hill, Bleaklow and the Longdendale area, and help visitors appreciate the National Park landscape.

Over this time Geoff has taken part in literally hundreds of conservation activities including: planting trees, clearing Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam, creating a viewing platform at Monsal Head, and building two footbridges at Torside Reservoir working with the RAF and Concordia – an international youth group. He has also helped with Moors for the Future Partnership’s monitoring work – obtaining water samples and measurements for Manchester University on Bleaklow and Black Hill.

Geoff said: “I get heavily involved in all the activities and find it rewarding at the end of a task to know that it has been completed according to plan and is a job well done.”


A visit to the zoo is good for you! - The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)

Blackpool Zoo has teamed up with mental health charity, Lancashire Mind, to champion mental wellbeing for all.

The new partnership has been launched to find out if a visit to the zoo is good for you and if visitors’ wellbeing improved throughout their visit. It links the zoo’s work to provide an educational and fun environment with Lancashire Mind’s work to promote its five ways to wellbeing.

The survey will take place during selected days on February half term and the results will be collated and analysed to see how wellbeing improved throughout the day.

Nicola Benstead, PR and Marketing Executive at Blackpool Zoo, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with Lancashire Mind to carry out this research. We see families, couples and groups of friends enjoying their visits every day and we wanted to see if we could quantify how a visit to Blackpool Zoo can improve mental wellbeing. Good mental health is so important and with so many distractions in daily life it is really important for people to take time out and enjoy themselves. We look forward to seeing the results!”


Record numbers take part in citizen science to protect whales and dolphins off Scotland’s west coast - Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

New year-round expeditions to shed light on spectacular Hebridean marine wildlife

Record numbers of volunteers took part in research expeditions organised by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust last year, helping to launch a new year-round programme of monitoring marine mammals and basking sharks in the Hebrides.

For the first time, the conservation charity carried out marine surveys from its specialized research yacht Silurian during the winter months – with crucial data collected every month of the year about the presence and behaviour of some of the country’s most spectacular marine wildlife.

Scotland’s west coast seas are globally important habitats for cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoise – plus the endangered basking shark. But so far there has been little year-round data about these animals in the region.

Common dolphin, Hebrides (copyright: HWDT)Common dolphin, Hebrides (copyright: HWDT)

“Our new winter surveys and the contribution of our wonderful volunteers offer us the opportunity to study the year-round presence and distribution of some remarkable species for the first time,” said Becky Dudley, Marine Biodiversity Officer at the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. “Our established summer expeditions, when most species are present in Hebridean waters, remain vital. But embarking on year-round surveys will shed new light on marine wildlife, and help us answer questions such as whether minke whales are present in the Hebrides all year, and if distribution of harbour porpoise changes between summer and winter.”

As well as increasing understanding of cetacean and basking shark behaviour, this groundbreaking research helps detect trends and changes in the marine environment – including increases in underwater noise pollution and emerging threats like entanglement. All of this scientific evidence can then be used to inform action to protect marine wildlife.

In 2019, Silurian covered over 5,000 nautical miles during 23 research expeditions – stretching from as far north as Cape Wrath, south to Islay and Jura, and as far west as the Flannan Isles. Highlights during 2019 included two exciting encounters with killer whales. One was with Busta, a well-known male from a group called the Northern Isles Community, mainly seen around Orkney, Shetland and Scotland’s north coast. The other, off Ardnamurchan, was with males John Coe and Aquarius – part of a pod known as The West Coast Community, which is most often seen in the Hebrides and is at imminent risk of extinction.


National Trust launches year of action to tackle ‘nature deficiency’ - National Trust

The National Trust is launching a series of activities to help people engage more with their natural surroundings, as new research released by the conservation charity, shows those with an active ‘engagement’ with nature are more likely to help tackle the nature crisis.

An early morning walk in the woods at Fell Foot, Cumbria (National Trust images / John Millar)An early morning walk in the woods at Fell Foot, Cumbria (National Trust images / John Millar)

This includes a new weekly guide to every day nature connection and a public awareness campaign, including billboards by roads and in railway stations, on the first day of spring.

The launch comes a day after Parliament debated the Environment Bill – the Government’s flagship new law to help restore nature. And, last October, the State of Nature report revealed why this is needed as 41 per cent of species are in decline since 1970 and that 15 per cent of species are under threat from extinction, painting a bleak picture for wildlife in the UK.

But, new research published today (27 February) by the conservation charity shows that; those who make small, every day connections with nature are much more likely to take action to protect it.

Some of the simple actions to help nature that were examined in the study include putting food out for wild animals such as birds, making homes for wildlife, planting pollinator plants and picking up litter.

Moreover, simple activities such as actively listening to birdsong, smelling wildflowers and watching butterflies and bees are activities that are strongly linked with taking action.

However, research shows that only a fraction of the population take part in these simple pleasures – with figures also worryingly low among children.


‘Responsible dog owners always welcome’ says National Park as lambing season nears peak - North York Moors National Park Authority

Dog owners are among the many millions of visitors who flock to the North York Moors National Park every year, but as the lambing season reaches its peak, the National Park Authority is reminding dog owners of their responsibilities.

People with dogs on lead on path at Dundale - photo by Mike KiplingLivestock worrying can have devastating consequences for farm animals and their owners, as well as other wildlife. Dog attacks on animals, especially sheep, can result in the loss of unborn lambs, serious injury and death. Often, the stress of being chased by a dog is enough to kill a sheep and flocks have been known to severely injure themselves while trying to escape an attack.

People with dogs on lead on path at Dundale - photo by Mike Kipling

There are also serious consequences for owners of dogs who have been found worrying livestock. You may end up being sued for compensation and, in some circumstances; farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs that are endangering their sheep.

The North York Moors National Park Authority wants dogs and their owners to be safe and happy while out and about, and so is urging all dog owners to be mindful of their actions.

Debbie Trafford, Head of Recreation and Ranger Services at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape with 26 miles of incredible coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, but it is also a working landscape that supports over 1,000 farmers. It is therefore vital that dog owners are careful and protect both their pets and the livestock who live here. Look out for sheep when walking your dog, and always put your dog on a lead when there may be sheep nearby. Responsible dog owners are always welcome in the National Park, but even the gentlest family dog can harm sheep if running loose.”


National Whale and Dolphin Watch: the great success of a citizen science project casting light on status and distribution of cetaceans in British waters - Seawatch Foundation

The Sea Watch Foundation’s 2019 National Whale and Dolphin Watch event (July 27th – August 4th) revealed striking biodiversity with an impressive thirteen species of cetaceans seen around the British Isles, a number which has only been recorded twice before in the history of the event. The total number of sightings (over 2,000) collected exceeded last year’s by 500 and was the highest reported so far.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2019 volunteer observers looking out for whales and dolphins at Essex Wildlife Trust Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, England. Photo credit: Tiffany Rogerson / Essex Wildlife TrustFor the past 20 years, Sea Watch Foundation has monitored the dolphins, porpoises and whales around the UK, documenting abundance trends, identifying conservation threats, and advising on the best ways to protect the populations both within and outside the Special Areas of Conservation. For the past 17 years this has been spearheaded through an annual national recording event, the National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW), which marks the long-lasting collaboration between citizen scientists, wildlife enthusiasts, the general public, and researchers alike.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2019 volunteer observers looking out for whales and dolphins at Essex Wildlife Trust Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, England. Photo credit: Tiffany Rogerson / Essex Wildlife Trust 

Scotland recorded the highest number of sightings particularly along the western coast and on the Inner and Outer Hebrides. In England, the greatest number of sightings were collected in the South around Cornwall and South Devon with similar numbers also collected in Yorkshire and the North-East. In Wales, the highest number of sightings was collected on the West coast.

“The most memorable sightings from this past year’s Watch week include fin whales off Tiumpan Head in the Outer Hebrides, feeding groups of short-beaked common dolphins off Berry Head in Devon, humpback whales sighted off Penzance in Cornwall and off Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, as well as long-finned pilot whales and large pods of Atlantic white-sided dolphins sighted around Shetland”, says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer and lead organiser of last year’s national event for the Sea Watch Foundation.

Another great success of last year is the larger number of effort sightings (associated by detailed information on several environmental parameters) being collected, which accounts this year for 70% of all sighting records reported during the event.


Call to join hunt for oysters - an elusive national treasure - University of Portsmouth

A five-year-old native oyster with a juvenile oyster growing on it (c) ZSLAmateur and professional photographers are being asked to capture one of Britain’s national treasures most of us will only have seen on a dinner plate – the native oyster.

A five-year-old native oyster with a juvenile oyster growing on it (c) ZSL

It is hoped underwater images of the oyster (Ostrea edulis) might restore Britain’s ‘cultural memory’ for a species perilously close to being lost forever.

Native oysters have suffered a 95 per cent decline in population over the past 200 years due to a devastating cocktail of overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and the introduction of diseases.

Oyster expert Dr Joanne Preston, a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth, and conservationists at ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which is running the photography competition, launched the Native Oyster Network in 2017 to help restore the native oyster in Europe.

Dr Preston said: “Oysters are the engineers of the sea, providing the right conditions for a wide range of marine life to thrive, but we are losing them at an alarming rate. We have lost our cultural memory of the native oyster reef habitat in Europe. This competition is a fantastic opportunity to find, document and celebrate the remnant oyster reefs in our temperate coastal waters.”


Government Policy and Annoucements plus reactions.  

PM confirms HS2 will go ahead alongside revolution in local transport - Department for Transport

HS2 will go ahead alongside radical improvements to local transport networks all across the country, the PM confirmed today (11 February).

In a statement to Parliament he set out that after careful consideration of the independent Oakervee review, the decision has been taken to proceed with HS2. With the right reforms in place, HS2 will become the spine of the country’s transport network, bringing our biggest cities closer together, boosting productivity and rebalancing opportunity fairly across the country.
In response:

The Wildlife Trusts state HS2 decision will destroy precious wild places - The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts call for a redesign.
Today the Government gave the green light to the High Speed 2 rail project, without acknowledging the devastating impact on the hundreds of precious wild places and the wildlife that depends on them – that lie in the path of the route. The Wildlife Trusts recently published a report evidencing the vast scale of the destruction and impact that HS2 will cause to nature. 'What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ assessed the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.

Last week, The Wildlife Trusts delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the project to be reappraised. The letter was signed by 66,000 people.

Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy, says: “Nature is paying too high a price for HS2. We urged the Government to re-consider in the light of The Wildlife Trusts’ report which evidenced the serious risk that HS2 poses to nature – and to take notice of over 66,000 people who wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to review HS2. Today’s announcement means that it is more critical than ever that the whole project is redesigned – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal.”

Woodland Trust say HS2 will shoot a poison arrow through the heart of the environment - Woodland Trust

HS2 will shoot a poisoned arrow through the heart of our ancient woods and their wildlife, the Woodland Trust said today.

The Trust, which made a 16-page submission to the Oakervee Review including thousands of comments from supporters, says today’s announcement shows its expert opinion, that of other NGOs and the concerns of the public worried about the destruction of the irreplaceable habitat has been utterly disregarded.

More than 46,000 people added their voice to the Trust’s campaign calling for ancient woodland to be spared. Review deputy Lord Berkeley published an independent dissenting report into the review earlier this month which said the environment had not been properly taken into account.

Some 61 ancient woods along the HS2 route are earmarked for total or partial destruction while a further 47 will suffer damage from noise, vibration, light and pollution.
Adam Cormack, head of campaigning at the Woodland Trust, said: “HS2 will shoot a poisoned arrow through the heart of our ancient woods and their wildlife, becoming a permanent reminder of backward environmental thinking. Future generations won’t forget the disregard shown for the environmental costs of HS2, especially at a time when recognition has never been greater of the need to protect the environment in the face of the climate and nature emergency.”


Defra sets out review into releasing gamebirds on protected sites - defra

Defra has set out the details of a review into the way the release of gamebirds on protected sites is managed.

The review will look at areas including the number of gamebirds released and their impact on protected sites, the consenting process, and whether further safeguards could be provided to protect sites. There will be no immediate changes for owners or occupiers of land.

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

Whether they will do so in any given case will depend on whether they may have a significant effect on the specific SPA or SAC in question. This will depend in turn on the nature of the activities, the features and condition of the SPA or SAC, the distance from the SPA or SAC where the activities are carried out and the possible effects of the activities. While not accepting the argument that current laws do not provide for appropriate assessment in such cases, Defra committed to undertake a review to consider the legislative arrangements around the relevant activities and whether there are ways in which their effectiveness could be improved.

Defra will meet with interested stakeholders to give them the chance to input their views into this review. Once the review has concluded, Defra will consult with stakeholders on any substantive changes that are being recommended.


Defuse the ‘weather bomb’ with better protection and stronger resilience says Environment Agency Chief Executive - Environment Agency

Sir James Bevan urges “twin track” approach to flood management and will warn against the “wrong kind of development” on flood plains in speech.

A new ‘twin track’ approach focused on better flood protection and resilience is needed to deal with the climate emergency following weeks of record breaking river levels and flooding across the UK, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency will argue today (Tuesday 25 February).

In a speech at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit in central London, Sir James Bevan will say that while we must continue to build and maintain strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded, in a climate emergency, communities will also need to become more resilient so that when flooding does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage and life can get back to normal much quicker.

Sir James will say:

“First, we must continue to do what we have been doing for some years now: building and maintaining strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded.

But in the face of the climate emergency, we now need a second, parallel, track: making our communities more resilient to flooding so that when it does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage, and life can get back to normal much quicker.

The best way to defuse the weather bomb is better protection and stronger resilience. We need both.”

The Environment Agency is already spending £2.6bn building new flood defences that will better protect 300,000 properties by 2021 and over £1bn to maintain existing defences in England. Over 200,000 properties have already benefitted. Of that £2.6bn, 55% is going to reduce flood risk from rivers and 45% is reducing risk on the coast. The investment programme will also better protect nearly 6,000 miles of motorways and local roads, 300 miles of railways and over 700,00 acres of farmland.


Eustice unveils plans for future greener farming - Defra

New details of flagship Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme unveiled in Environment Secretary's vision for future farming.

Environment Secretary George Eustice has today (Tuesday 25 February) called on farmers and land managers to share their views on the government’s flagship green farming scheme outside the EU.

Speaking ahead of the National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) annual conference tomorrow (Wednesday 26 February), the Environment Secretary has announced that farmers will be at the forefront of reversing environmental declines and tackling climate change as they reshape the future of farming in the 21st century.

The government will today publish new details on its future Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM), which will see farmers paid for work that enhances the environment, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife.

Moving away from a system that pays farmers for the total amount of land farmed, the scheme will instead pay for ‘public goods’ that benefit society, such as clean air and water.

In his speech at the NFU Conference tomorrow, Environment Secretary George Eustice is expected to say: “We can all agree that we want British farming to be sustainable in the truest sense of the word, an industry which is profitable, competitive, and productive while feeding the nation and taking care of our landscapes too. This week we’ve published more detail on our plans for the future and specifically on Environment Land Management, outlining how we hope to work with our farmers, and what to expect. Now more than ever, efforts for the environment are absolutely critical, and no group has more power to reverse environmental decline than our farmers.”

The new proposals unveiled today will include three ‘tiers’ of entry to the scheme, enabling anyone from any farm or land type to participate at the right level.


Innovative Scheme to conserve newts and promote sustainable development is rolled out across England - Natural England

Scheme to protect great crested newts expands across the country.

Natural England has announced today (25 February) that an innovative and strategic approach to great crested newt licensing is being rolled out across 37 local authorities in Essex, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Greater Manchester, South Midlands, and parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Great crested newts have seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years despite being protected under UK and EU law, with approximately 50% of ponds in the UK lost in the 20th Century. It is an offence to disturb the species, and landowners or housing developers must apply for a licence before undertaking any building work on or around its pond habitat.

The ‘District Level Licensing’ scheme better protects this iconic, orange-bellied amphibian by working at a landscape rather than at site-by-site scale and using conservation payments from developers to create new habitats in locations that will benefit the species.

The scheme also benefits local people and authorities by avoiding costly delays for developers, helping to ensure homes are built and local authorities can deliver their plans.

The ‘District Level Licensing’ (DLL) scheme is currently already available across 32 local authorities in Woking, South Midlands, Kent and Cheshire. Today’s move means that developers and consultants will be able to access the scheme across a further 37 local authorities, more than doubling its availability.

Jen Almond, Natural England’s District Level Licensing Programme Manager said: “I am delighted to announce the further expansion of our scheme. District Level Licensing is transforming an area of regulation from one that has been problematic for great crested newts and people into a real conservation success story.”

The scheme is already being successfully being adopted by developers across the country. Barratt Homes’ Chilmington Green Development was the very first development in Kent to join the scheme there. Once complete, Chilmington Green will include over 5,500 new homes, four primary schools, land for community and leisure use, open green space, and local recycling facilities, as well as six new ponds placed in the best locations for great crested newts.


Protecting Scotland’s environment - Scottish Government

Environment strategy published.

A new strategy to ensure Scotland’s nature is protected and restored with flourishing biodiversity has been published.
By 2045 the strategy will help to transform Scotland and secure the wellbeing of the environment and biodiversity by restoring nature and ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change. This will mean Scotland:

  • plays a full role in tackling the global climate emergency and limiting temperature rise to 1.5C˚

  • uses and re-uses resource more wisely, bringing an end to the throwaway culture

  • promotes a sustainable economy that conserves and grows our natural assets

  • supports a healthy environment that delivers a fairer, more inclusive society

To ensure environmental standards are maintained once the transition period ends, an independent public body to oversee compliance with environmental law will be established.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland’s natural environment is our greatest national asset and it is fundamental to our future, our health, our quality of life and our economy.”

Responses from:

RSPB Scotland welcomes new strategy to restore nature - RSPB

The Scottish Government have today published a new Environment Strategy which aims to restore nature and end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045. RSPB Scotland welcomes the new document, particularly the recognition that nature is fundamental to Scotland’s wellbeing, and must be restored.

This publication is a positive first step to protect and restore Scotland’s environment for future generations. However, in order to ensure that the strategy delivers on its progressive ambitions, the Scottish Government must now develop a robust, well-resourced action plan for achieving each of the outcomes. Embedding the strategy in law, with targets for nature’s recovery, is also necessary to provide a shared goal across all sectors of society to achieve a better future for Scotland’s nature, climate and people.

Trust welcomes new Environment Strategy for Scotland - Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Trust has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s Environment Strategy and the announcement that a new independent watchdog will be created to ensure environmental standards are maintained after Scotland leaves the European Union.

Jo Pike, Chief Executive, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “The Scottish Government’s Environment Strategy rightly underlines that the climate emergency and the crisis facing nature are intrinsically linked. Nature is our life-support system. Limiting climate change and reversing biodiversity loss are vital, not just for our natural environment, but for Scotland’s economy and our health and wellbeing.”


Government’s ambition to enhance the environment takes crucial step forward - Defra

Transformative Environment Bill moves a step closer with Second Reading.

The UK’s green future outside the European Union will move a step closer today (Wednesday 26 February) with the Second Reading of the Environment Bill.

Opening the Bill’s Second Reading, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the Bill is a keystone in the government’s vision to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.

The Bill was introduced on 30 January as a key part of this government’s commitment to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth.

By freeing ourselves from future changes to EU law, we will be able to lead the way at home and abroad to deliver global environmental change.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: The Prime Minster is clear - and so am I - we will deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth. This transformative Bill is at the heart of our work. It will see us recycling more and wasting less, breathing cleaner air, planting trees, safeguarding forests, and supporting nature recovery as we work to tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions. And this is just the start. 2020 is a massive year for our natural environment and the UK will take its place at the head of the world’s table when we host the COP 26 climate change conference in Glasgow, driving real change across the planet."

The Environment Bill sets out how we plan to protect and improve the natural environment in the UK, legislating to ensure the environment is front and centre in our future policy making.


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Browse the Training Directory online here for short courses (up to 10 days long), or here for longer courses, distance learning and centres and providers

The Directory includes a wide range of courses providing certification in practical skills such as chainsaw use, need to learn how to identify dragonflies, or want to find out the best way to get the community involved in your project then this is the section to read.    We include details of many professional courses in the online short courses pages. There are also sections for longer courses, training centres and other events (eg conferences).

Search for your next CPD course here.


Calendar of short courses and professional events happening in: May 2020


Introduction to Arboriculture (Tree Surgery) Award (Level 1) at Capel Manor CollegeEvents

15/05/2020 The ARB Show 2020 2 Days
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Arboricultural Association. Contact:

16/05/2020 Pensthorpe Bird & Wildlife Fair 2020 2 Days
Norfolk, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust. Contact:

19/05/2020 23rd European Forum on Urban Forestry - Urban Forestry for a Resilient Future 4 Days
Manchester, Community Forest Trust. Contact:


Access and Rights of Way

19/05/2020 Law and Practice 3 Days
Knuston Hall, Northants, IPROW. Contact:
Modification Orders, Public Path Orders, Maintenance, Enforcement. £740 members, £854 non-members


Administrative and Office Skills

05/05/2020 ArcGIS: Introductory 2 Days
Southampton, GeoData, University of Southampton. Contact: 023 8059 2719
This course introduces the underlying principles of Geographical Information Systems and examines the processes involved in the capture, storage, analysis and presentation of spatial data. This course is intended for those who have little or no GIS knowledge or who wish to undertake some formalized training in ArcGIS having been largely self-taught in the past.

11/05/2020 Hydroelectric and Marine Energy Generation 5 Days
Machynlleth, Wales, Centre for Alternative Technology. Contact: 01654 704966
Get to grips with the technological aspects of hydroelectric and marine energy, examine resource availability and limitations, and explore the environmental impacts of energy conversion and installation. Look at the policy background, economic issues, planning, social and legislative aspects of energy provision from onshore, inshore and offshore technologies.

12/05/2020 ArcGIS: Advanced 2 Days
Southampton, GeoData, University of Southampton. Contact: 023 8059 2719
In this course the basic functionality of the main elements of ArcGIS (ArcMap, Catalog and ArcToolbox) is expanded upon and some extensions are introduced. Topics covered include: geodatabases; advanced labelling and symbology; advanced editing; using model builder; GIS customization with Python; extensions, online data, manipulating coordinate systems and spatial analysis/statistics tools.

13/05/2020 Biodiversity Net Gain Through Development 1 Day in Birmingham, CIEEM.
This course provides training on designing biodiversity net gain for development projects. It is based on the UK's good practice principles for biodiversity net gain (CIEEM/IEMA/CIRIA, 2016) and the associated practical guidance (CIEEM/IEMA/CIRIA, 2019). Please see links at the bottom of 'Description' to download the above-mentioned documents.

20/05/2020 Calculating and Using Biodiversity Units with Metric 2.0 1 Day in London, CIEEM
This course is based on the Biodiversity Metric 2.0 (Natural England, 2019). It provides training on undertaking biodiversity unit calculations for a development and its impacts on biodiversity. It also provides training on utilising biodiversity unit calculations to support designs of Biodiversity Net Gain, and good practice when using Metric 2.0.

20/05/2020 Managing Solar Parks for Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services Day
Webinar, CIEEM. Contact:
Within this webinar we will (1) outline the opportunity to manage solar parks for ecosystem benefits; (2) introduce natural capital and ecosystem services concepts; (3) highlight how appropriate management could provide business benefits and deliver to policy stipulations and goals, (4) and finally introduce and demonstrate the SPIES DST.

27/05/2020 Calculating and Using Biodiversity Units with Metric 2.0 1 Day in London, CIEEM.
This course is based on the Biodiversity Metric 2.0 (Natural England, 2019). It provides training on undertaking biodiversity unit calculations for a development and its impacts on biodiversity. It also provides training on utilising biodiversity unit calculations to support designs of Biodiversity Net Gain, and good practice when using Metric 2.0.

28/05/2020 Introduction to UK Habitat Classification 2 Days in London, CIEEM
This course will enable delegates to plan for and conduct a UK Habitat Classification Survey. This practical event is very hands-on and includes exercises throughout.

Above courses with CIEEM. Contact: 01962 868626


Community Engagement and Environmental Education

06/05/2020 Advanced Facilitation Training - London 1 Day
St Luke's Community Centre, London, Talk Action. Contact: 0203 488 7010
An exciting and challenging day that looks?deeply at group dynamics and the role you play as a facilitator. This course helps facilitators to deal with power, conflct and big personalities. From £289

08/05/2020 Bat Walk Leader Training 1 Day
Newton Abbot, Wild Ideas. Contact: 07786444816
A fun session in which you will learn how to plan and run a bat walk. The session will include: An introduction to bats; Identifying a good route; Health and Safety; Using a bat detector; Identifying bats. We will carry out a Bat Walk, to practise using the detectors and identifying the bats as we go.

18/05/2020 Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders 7 Days
Pucks Oak Barn, The Street, Compton, nr Guildford, GU3 1EG, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01483 663300
Train with us to become a qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader accredited by the Open College Network West Midlands.

18/05/2020 Woodland Activity Leader Training 7 Days
Tower Hamlets, Wild things!. Contact: 01309 690450
Gain the skills and confidence you need to lead your own Outdoor Learning sessions on this practical course. This WALT takes place in the heart of London in the very special nature reserve of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

20/05/2020 Introduction to Forest School 1 Day
Brockhill Country Park, Sandling Road, Hythe, Kent. CT21 4HL, Kent Country Parks. Contact: 03000 413500
This one day course will give you an insight into what Forest School is, and the importance of outdoor experiences for learning.

21/05/2020 Engaging Communities on Climate Change - London 1 Day
St Luke's Community Centre, London, Talk Action. Contact: 0203 488 7010
The 'climate emergency' is high on agendas, but it can be a struggle to get people to discuss and engage with these issues. Whether you're an individual, or an organisation looking to reach out, this will teach you how to overcome concerns and enable them to act on climate change. From £289


Countryside Management Techniques

01/05/2020 Sustainable woodland management OCN Level 3 3 Days
Greenwood Centre, Ironbridge, Small Woods Association. Contact: 01952 432769
A course designed for woodland owners and managers who want to manage their woodlands to balance wildlife, economic and social benefits. Theory and definition of sustainability, Woodland types and structure, Practical woodland management, adding value with Woodland crafts and products, Woodland Biodiversity, undertaking the benefit of woodlands on human wellbeing.

01/05/2020 Woodland Conservation and Management 5 Days
FSC Orielton, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 623920
This course is aimed at professionals and amateurs with an interest in practical management techniques as well as the ecology and history of woodlands. You will visit a variety of woodlands to examine their different management regimes and the effect on woodland flora and fauna. The course includes identification of trees, shrubs, woodland plants and other indicator species.

04/05/2020 Woodland Management 2 Days
Cotehele, Lynher Training Ltd. Contact: 01822 832902
Classroom and outdoor session looking at tree identification, type & growth characteristics with a view to planning & managing a woodland..

16/05/2020 Woodland Ecology 2 Days
Greenwood Centre, Ironbridge, Small Woods Association. Contact: 01952 432769
This course is designed to provide an understanding of woodland ecology to support woodland management decisions. The course will include: principles of ecology, identifying woodland vegetation types and associated key woodland species, species inter-dependency, population dynamics, biotic and abiotic threats, Woodland monitoring to?benefit woodland management.

22/05/2020 Ecology 1: An Introduction 3 Days
Machynlleth, Wales, Centre for Alternative Technology. Contact: 01654 704966
Gain a broad knowledge and understanding of the key principles of Ecology. Through seminars and fieldwork you will examine the cycles and energy flows that power the ecosystems of our planet, the complexities of food webs, the interrelationships and competition both between and within species and population dynamics.


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

09/05/2020 Outdoor First Aid 2 Days 2 Days in Aberdeen
Outdoor First Aid Course, 2 Days, 16 Hours. For all types of outdoor practitioner and featuring multiple outdoor scenarios. Covers all National Governing Body requirements for First Aid.

09/05/2020 Outdoor First Aid 2 Days 2 Days in Glasgow
Outdoor First Aid Course, 2 Days, 16 Hours. For all types of outdoor practitioner and featuring multiple outdoor scenarios. Covers all National Governing Body requirements for First Aid.

23/05/2020 Outdoor First Aid 2 Days 2 Days in Edinburgh
Outdoor First Aid Course, 2 Days, 16 Hours. For all types of outdoor practitioner and featuring multiple outdoor scenarios. Covers all National Governing Body requirements for First Aid.

Above three courses with First Aid Training Co-operative. Contact: 07585723763

23/05/2020 Expedition Care Programme First Aid 1-2 Day
Surrey, Adventure Lifesigns Ltd. Contact:
This is a one or two day first aid course developed for those who will be travelling remotely or may have limited access to emergency services. These would all be based at our head office in Surrey.


Identification and Field Survey Skills - Herpetology, Fish and Invertebrates

01/05/2020 Surveying Terrestrial Invertebrates for Biological Recording 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course is designed for countryside professionals or amateur naturalists insterested in the surveying and recording of the invertebrates of terrestrial habitats. Field excursions will include a range of collecting and surveying techniques and workshop sessions will help improve your identification skills. *MMU

02/05/2020 ARC Newts and Other Amphibians 2 Days
FSC Bishops Wood, Field Studies Council and ARC. Contact: 01299 250513
This course focuses on the identification and ecology of British newts, but also looks at frogs and toads. We will make good use of the ponds and other habitats on the FSC Bishops Wood campus to practice identification and survey techniques, carrying out both aquatic and terrestrial surveys.

02/05/2020 ARC Reptile Survey Techniques 1 Day
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council and ARC. Contact: 01306 734501
This one-day course will cover reptile identification and ecology, an introduction to legislation, survey methods and survey planning. It will give participants a good understanding of the principles behind reptile surveying and will include a site visit to demonstrate best practice. Weather permitting, reptiles may be encountered during the course.

05/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in York
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

06/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Peterborough
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

Above two courses with Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102

07/05/2020 Intro to Invertebrates 1 Day
Stirling, TCV Scotland. Contact: 01786 476170
On this course you will be taught how to identify common invertebrate groups and species. We will also learn about their habitats and life histories.

09/05/2020 Introduction To Reptiles and Amphibians 1 Day
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course introduces all the species of reptiles and amphibians found in Britain, and how to find and identify them. We will hunt for animals on campus and at nearby sites to practise identification and surveying. The programme has to be weather dependent and reptile sightings cannot be guaranteed.

10/05/2020 Reptile Ecology and Survey Techniques 1 Day
Tyland Barn, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622 662012
Discover how to identify reptiles and learn about their habitat requirements. Then search for them in a nearby nature reserve.

12/05/2020 Working Towards a Great Crested Newt Licence 3 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
The course provides a balance of classroom and field-based sessions for those interested in acquiring a great crested newt licence. Coursework covers: species identification, the legislative framework and the ecology of great crested newts. Practical sessions will give participants hands-on experience of the relevant survey methods and practice in habitat assessment.

12/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Gartcosh, Scotland
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

12/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Epping Forest, London
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

Above two courses with Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102

12/05/2020 Great Crested Newts - Ecology, Survey and Licensing 2 Days
Forest Green, Surrey, Species Recovery Trust. Contact: 01722 322539
A two day practical course giving participants an introduction to: The identification and ecology of Great Crested Newts; The legislation protecting them; Application of the Habitat Suitability Index; Survey standards and techniques, including Environmental DNA; Interpretation of survey results; Mitigation measures.

13/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days
Peterborough, Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

15/05/2020 Identifying and Recording Land Snails 3 Days
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
Based in the classic snail country of the North Downs the weekend includes searching for land snails in their appropriate habitats with follow-up identification at the centre. There is an excellent key to snails produced by FSC. Unlike some invertebrate groups there is a limited number of species making it an accessible group to learn but, at the same time, the species are sensitive to conditions of habitat so are useful environmental indicators, both for conservation and archaeology.

15/05/2020 Soil Mesofauna 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course, unique in the UK, has developed a reputation for excellence over the last few years. It introduces the fascinating and complex world of soil biodiversity and identification of soil mesofauna, in particular the identification of springtails and soil mites. The course is led by leading UK experts in these groups.

16/05/2020 Learn to Love Spiders 1 Day
FSC Epping Forest, Field Studies Council. Contact: 020 8502 8500
If you're interested in spiders, then this day is for you! It's a day for people who are fascinated by spiders but don't know where to start with them. It's a very gentle introduction to the world of spiders and the art (and science!) of telling one kind from another. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: A Guide to House and Garden Spiders.

18/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Ecology and Surveying 1 Day
Nr Swanage, Dorest, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course on ecology and survey techniques for GCN. Includes surveys - putting equipment out in the evening and checking the next morning.

18/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days
York, Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

19/05/2020 Great Crested Newts and Developments 1 Day
Nr Swanage, Dorest, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course covers GCN legislation, mitigation techniques with case studies and licensing.

20/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days
Peterborough, Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

22/05/2020 ARC Reptiles and Amphibians 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council and ARC. Contact: 01743 852040
This course covers identification and ecology of all (native and introduced) reptile and amphibian species, as well as survey techniques. The course starts Friday evening with an introductory talk and survey on campus. We will also visit local amphibian and reptile sites over the weekend to practise identification and surveying, and to discuss habitat requirements. The programme has to be weather dependent and reptile sightings cannot be guaranteed. We will be visiting ponds at night to count amphibians, so a good torch is essential. *MMU

23/05/2020 Spider Identification 5 Days
FSC Dale Fort, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 636205
Based at the stunning location of Dale Fort, this course will focus on field identification of spiders of woodland, grassland and coasts. There will be follow up sessions in the lab, allowing spiders to be identified more fully. It is suitable for beginners as well as improvers. The tutor is the co-author of the recently published WILDGuide Britain's Spiders.

23/05/2020 Bumbles (and other pollinators) 1 Day
Newton Abbot, Wild Ideas. Contact: 07871 343 872
We'll start with some basic bumblebee identification and ecology, while our second session will focus on how to make your garden bumble-friendly.

25/05/2020 Identifying Freshwater Invertebrates for Biological Surveying and Recording 5 Days
FSC Flatford Mill, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01206 297110
Climate change has underlined the importance of monitoring freshwater ecosystems. This course is designed to help professional surveyors and amateur naturalists increase their understanding of the large and diverse group of invertebrates that inhabit our rivers and ponds. Illustrated talks and field excursions will demonstrate the latest practice in sampling methodology and preservation of specimens.

26/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Gartcosh
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

26/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Epping Forest, London
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

27/05/2020 Great Crested Newt Survey: Working Towards a Licence 1.5 Days in Peterborough
Covers identification, ecology, distribution and surveying for the great crested newt. Participants are able to obtain a reference for a licence on successful completion of the course.

Above three courses with Froglife. Contact: 01733 602102

27/05/2020 Reptile Ecology, ID and Surveying 1 Day
Nr Exeter, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course covers ecology, ID, surveying and handling and includes a field trip to find reptiles. There will be reptiles to handle a the end of the session.

27/05/2020 Reptiles - Ecology & Survey 1 Day
Witley Common, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01372379523
Spend a day learning about the reptiles of Surrey with expert, Jamel Guenioui, SWT Ranger and the Reptiles Officer of the Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group (SARG).

30/05/2020 Butterflies and Day Flying Moths 1 Day
Bushy Park, London, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
Search for a variety of species of butterfly and day flying moths and learn how to identify them. Learn about the different stages of butterfly and moth life-cycles and lifestyles, focusing on the importance of larval food plants and flowers for nectar. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. Based in Bushy Park.

30/05/2020 Learn to Love Pond Life 1 Day
FSC Epping Forest, Field Studies Council. Contact: 020 8502 8500
Epping Forest is home to over 100 temporary and permanent ponds supporting a wide range of species from insect larvae to amphibians. Join us as we discover what lives in the ponds. Using nets we will catch invertebrates, then learn how to identify them and facts about them. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: Freshwater Name Trail.

31/05/2020 Early Summer Butterflies and Moths 5 Days
The Kingcombe Centre, Dorset Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01300320684
Discover the diversity of early summer butterflies and moths across Dorset’s famed landscape of chalk downlands, pastures, woodlands and coast.


Identification and Field Survey Skills - Mammals

01/05/2020 Tracking Weekend Course 3 Days
Oxfordshire, Woodland Ways. Contact: 01234 351006
Please visit our website for further information.

02/05/2020 Discovering Bats 1 Day
FSC Epping Forest, Field Studies Council. Contact: 020 8502 8500
Learn about the 17 breeding species of British bat and how to identify them, then use detectors on the evening walk. Learn identification techniques with the assistance of some live bats and about their biology, evolution and environmental requirements. On the evening walk we will identify some of our common bats in flight. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: A Guide to British Bats.

05/05/2020 Beaver Ecology and Surveying 1 Day
Otterton, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course covers ecology, surveying and field signs. Includes field visit to wild beavers in Devon.

11/05/2020 Water Vole Survey, Assessment and Mitigation 2 Days
Wildwood Trust, Herne Common, Herne Bat CT6 7LQ, Wildwood Trust. Contact: 01227 711471
Aimed at professional ecologists. It provides a solid grounding in water vole ecology, survey, assessment and mitigation.

14/05/2020 BCT Bat Ecology and Conservation 1 Day
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
This one-day course is designed for those new to bat work, providing a comprehensive foundation to bat biology, ecology and conservation. You will learn about the different UK species, range and distribution, bat conservation and threats, bat taxonomy, physiological adaptations, life histories, foraging ecology, life cycle, roosting requirements and bat identification.

14/05/2020 Using Bat Detectors 1 Day
Juniper Hall, Dorking, Bat Conservation Trust. Contact: 020 7820 7169
This course introduces the use of bat detectors for professional bat surveys. It includes different types of detector systems, the range of detectors available, advice on choosing the most appropriate detector and making recordings. Using real broadcast echolocation calls, this course demonstrates how to perform basic identification in the field.

15/05/2020 BCT Using Bat Detectors 1 Day
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
This one day course will cover the different types of detector systems (heterodyne, frequency division, time expansion and full spectrum), the range of detectors available from the different manufacturers, choosing the most appropriate detector for your surveys and how to make recordings.

15/05/2020 Bat Ecology and Surveying 2 Days
Exeter, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
A comprehensive 2-day course covering ecology, surveying, ID, legislation and more. Includes field visits and emergence survey.

15/05/2020 Bat Ecology and Conservation 1 Day
Juniper Hall, Dorking, Bat Conservation Trust. Contact: 020 7820 7169
Designed for those new to bat work, this course gives a comprehensive foundation to bat biology, ecology and conservation. You will learn about the different UK species, range, distribution, bat conservation and threats, bat taxonomy, physiological adaptations, life histories, foraging ecology, life cycle, roosting requirements and bat identification.

26/05/2020 Dormouse Ecology and Surveying 1 Day
Nr Exeter, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course covers ecology, surveying and field signs. Includes field visit to carry out a nest box check.

29/05/2020 British Mammals 1 3 Days
Denmark Farm, Betws Bledrws, Lampeter, Life Long Learning, Aberystwyth University. Contact: 01970 623111
This course on British Mammals is one in a series.  It focuses on the gnawers, nibblers and crunchers.


Identification and Field Survey Skills - Ornithology

01/05/2020 Songbird Identification 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This three-day bird identification course is held in late spring to ensure that there will be plenty of birds whilst the comparative lack of leaves will, hopefully, mean that those which are heard can also be seen. The course is aimed at anyone who watches birds, but would like to improve their identification skills by sight and sound, using field notes and sketches as an important aid to observation. *MMU

01/05/2020 Introduction to Bird Survey Techniques 1 Day
Exeter , Richard Green Ecology Ltd . Contact: 01395 239234
This classroom-based course covers when a bird survey may be required and provides an introduction to key skills, experience and knowledge necessary for undertaking a range of professional bird surveys in the UK.

01/05/2020 Spring Birds in Pembrokeshire 5 Days
FSC Orielton, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 623920
May is an important month for both resident and migratory species. You will visit coastal, woodland and wetland habitats, learning to identify birds by sight and sound and examining their general ecology. The fee includes a visit to Skomer Island with its internationally important seabird colonies. On the last morning there may be an opportunity to visit the world famous gannetry on Grassholm (boat fees for Grassholm are not included), please contact us for details.

03/05/2020 Dawn Chorus Walk & Breakfast 1 Day
Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01372379523
Enjoy the magic of birdsong in the woods by joining us at 4:30am. We will have an expert identifying birds through their song before leading a walk through the woodland in appreciation of this mystical music.

05/05/2020 Protecting Birds in Quarries 1 Day
Marshalls Stainton Quarry, Maltby, South Yorkshire, RSPB/Nature After Minerals. Contact: 01767 693308
Information on the law relating to the protection of birds and their nests, the legal obligations of site owners. The ecology and habitat requirements for key species, and how to manage the locations birds will choose to feed and nest in, to encourage them away from planned extraction areas.

06/05/2020 Bird Surveying Techniques 1 Day
Nr Exeter, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Course covers bird survey techniques, data collection and presentation and a field visit.

15/05/2020 An Introduction to Bird Watching 3 Days
FSC Rhyd-y-creuau, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01690 710494
The aim of this course is to identify many of the more common breeding birds of North Wales by sight and sound. This will be a relaxing course, suitable for beginners. We will walk in some of the lovely places in the beautiful Conwy Valley. There will be a short introduction to the course in the classroom on the first evening and an opportunity to get out early in the morning to sample the dawn chorus in nearby woodland habitat.

15/05/2020 Bird Survey Techniques 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
Birds survey techniques are vital as birds are often seen as a good measure of the 'health' of the environment and the data produced from sound, long term, surveys are essential to measure population trends. This is a course for the keen amateur ornithologist or wildlife professional who would like to learn some basic bird survey techniques. Early summer in the Welsh Borderlands provides a good range of habitats for birds and there will be the opportunity to practice both woodland and farmland surveys, including habitat assessment, in the countryside around FSC Preston Montford. *MMU

15/05/2020 Bird Songs and Calls 3 Days
FSC Malham Tarn, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01729 830331
Learn a variety of ways to accurately identify birds with an emphasis on recognising songs and other types of call. We will also cover some visual ID and you will learn to interpret bird behaviour and calls as an effective way to discover what other wildlife is around.

16/05/2020 Introduction to Birds 1 Day
FSC Amersham, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01494 721054
An introduction to identifying common (and occasionally less common) birds using sight and sound. No prior experience is necessary, just an enthusiasm to get out and have a go. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: Top 50 Garden Birds.

16/05/2020 Bird Identification 1 Day
Greystones Farm Nature Reserve, Greystones Ln, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham GL54 2BA , Cotswolds Conservation Board. Contact: 01451 862000
Identification skills will be taught by a combination of field-work (two walks) and class-room sessions directed at the 10 to 20 common Cotswold bird species encountered outdoors, through their appearance and range of calls, plus information about the species themselves, from their habits, behaviours, anatomy and other useful information.

22/05/2020 Whitsun Birds 5 Days
FSC Dale Fort, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 636205
The aim of the course is to build confidence in bird identification, in an easy going and digestible way, starting with resident and common migrants. The focus will be on watching and identifying birds 'in the field', getting to grips with birds typical of the West Wales coast, and hopefully through this finding and identifying scarcer migrants and possibly something even rarer.

22/05/2020 Birds for Beginners 3 Days
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
An introduction to identifying common (and occasionally less common) birds using sight and sound. This course will visit a wide range of habitats in the Surrey Hills to develop your confidence and practise your new found skills. This is a course for beginners so no prior experience is necessary just an enthusiasm to get out and have a go.


Identification and Field Survey Skills - Plants and Habitats

01/05/2020 Spring Wildlife Watch 5 Days
Orielton Field Centre, Pembroke, Clive Hurford / Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 623920
Learn about the variety of wildlife in stunning Pembrokeshire. See the fauna and flora including badgers, bats, migrant birds and spectacular displays of spring flowers! Coast & woodland walks make this a memorable experience including a visit to Skomer Island with its internationally important seabird colonies.

01/05/2020 Coastal Lichens 4 Days
FSC Millport, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01475 531420
Lichens in Scotland are conspicuous and diverse, and they form an important part of our natural heritage. This course is a hands-on exploration of coastal lichens with an emphasis on how they can be identified. We will focus in detail on understanding the most important characters for identifying lichens, so that participants can gain confidence in using keys and identification guides for themselves.

02/05/2020 Urban Wild Plants 1 Day in The Regent's Park, London
Wild plants in urban areas are often very different to their counterparts in the countryside. You will be introduced to non-natives of the London area that you are less likely to experience elsewhere in the UK. You will be introduced to some basic identification skills and keys. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: Non Native Invasive Plants of Britain and Ireland.

02/05/2020 Introduction to Identifying Deciduous Trees in Summer 1 Day in Bushy Park, London
Trees form an imposing and ecologically important part of the landscape of the British Isles but they are much more interesting if we know their names! During this course, we will learn how to correctly identify deciduous trees, and will become familiar with the more commonly-found ones. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: The Tree Name Trail. Based in Bushy Park.

Above two courses with Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501

03/05/2020 Discovering Veteran Trees of Epping Forest 1 Day
FSC Epping Forest, Field Studies Council. Contact: 020 8502 8500
There are well over 50,000 trees within Epping Forest that are classified as veteran trees of considerable age and beauty that support a diverse array of organisms. You will study these amazing trees, measure and age a few and observe some of the creatures associated with them. Caring for these trees is important and we will discuss techniques used in their management. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: The Tree Name Trail.

03/05/2020 Woodland Mosses for Beginners 1 Day
Tyland Barn, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622 662012
Learn more about the complex lives and identification of mosses.

04/05/2020 Phase 1 habitat mapping 1 Day
Exeter, Devon, Ecology Training UK. Contact: 07818073660
Learn about how to use the number and colour codes, carry out a Phase 1 and produce a map.

06/05/2020 Early season/vegetative grass and sedge identification 1 Day
Old Sarum, Salisbury, Species Recovery Trust. Contact: 01722 322539
A one-day course giving participants confidence in identifying key grasses when not in flower, a good feel for grass groups of neutral and unimproved calcareous grassland and their use as indicator species and a chance to learn memorable features, allowing grasses in any condition to be identified to species level.

07/05/2020 Identifying Trees in Leaf 0.5 Day
High Elms, Bromley, idverde. Contact: 01689860571
A short indoor tutorial followed by a walk around High Elms Country Park to practise identifying trees in leaf. Led by Steven Lofting, RSPB biodiversity advisor to idverde.

08/05/2020 Lichens in the Dales 4 Days
FSC Malham Tarn, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01729 830331
Start to identify lichens on this introductory course. The Malham Tarn area is rich in lichen species, over 300 having been collected within 3 miles of the field centre. A wide range of forms is present, occurring on rocks, trees and soil, allowing the beginner to form a useful and informative collection of material.

09/05/2020 An Introduction to Ferns 1 Day
Tyland Barn, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622 662012
Discover how to recognise ferns of woodlands using leaf shapes and other distinctive features.

12/05/2020 Introduction To Grassess 1 Day
FSC Bishops Wood, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01299 250513
Grasslands are complex systems whose flora is determined by a range of factors including soil type, drainage, altitude and management. The species of grass present can help tease apart these characteristics and help determine the status: how natural, unimproved and diverse the site, and inform management decisions. However grasses for many people are dishearteningly similar and difficult to tell apart.

13/05/2020 Woodland Plant Identification 1 Day
A course visiting a fantastic woodland site, with a rich and diverse ground flora full of ancient woodland indicator species (AWIs). Previous courses have seen over 20 AWIs (including Town Hall Clock and Herb Paris) as well as many other interesting plants. Identifications will be made in comparison with similar or related species and emphasis will be placed on the key characters that are required to distinguish these species. How to assess Ancient Woodland status will be discussed during the day, along with the ecology and historical uses of many of these plants. As the site is generally level the only requirements for this course are an enthusiasm for plants and moderate walking ability.

13/05/2020 Introduction to Grasses 1 Day
Grasslands are complex systems whose flora is determined by a range of factors including soil type, drainage, altitude and management. The species of grass present can help tease apart these characteristics and help determine the status: how natural, unimproved and diverse the site, and inform management decisions. However grasses for many people are dishearteningly similar and difficult to tell apart. This course will help lay solid foundations enabling the individual to understand terminology commonly used in guidebooks though it will focus on identifying species in their vegetative state - commonly required for year-round recognition.

Above two courses at FSC Preston Montford with Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040

14/05/2020 An Introduction to Phase 1 Habitat Surveys 1 Day
Sheffield, Wildscapes CIC. Contact: 0114 303 5123
Join ecologist Julie Riley for a day's training on Phase 1 Habitat Survey techniques - an essential skill for quickly surveying and mapping habitat types.

14/05/2020 Ancient Woodland Indicators 1 Day
West Horsely Place, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01372379523
This is a one day course that will introduce you to ancient woodlands and their indicators.Participants should have a basic knowledge of plants and common plant families but it will be suitable for beginners who have some prior knowledge and understanding of plants such as ecologists, consultants and other interested parties.

15/05/2020 Identifying Grasses in Spring 4 Days
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
This course is designed to enable anyone to identify grasses by their vegetative (non-flowering) characteristics and should be especially valuable to those engaged in botanical survey work, teachers of ecology as well as to amateur botanists. You will develop your skills through laboratory work, field visits to a variety of habitats and practice with botanical keys.

15/05/2020 Vegetative Grass Identification 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course aims to dispel the myth that grasses are one of the more difficult plant families to identify. Participants will be introduced to simplified dichotomous keys to demonstrate that most species of grass can be identified through the observation of a few diagnostic characteristics on non-flowering plants at any time of year. This field-based course will visit a wide range of habitats and should be invaluable to those carrying out botanical surveys including Phase 1 and NVC.

15/05/2020 Botany Beginnings: Wildflowers 3 Days
This two-day introductory course is aimed at those who want to learn how to identify wildflowers independently. We will cover anatomy, terminology, and common families, and will teach methods of identification, including the use of keys, in a relaxed and passionate manner. There will be many handy tips and plenty of indoor and outdoor practical activities to aid learning.

15/05/2020 Botany Beginnings: 'Light' Wildflowers 1 Day
Ideal for those who would like to learn more about wildflowers but do not wish to get too involved with keys, detailed terminology or hand lenses. We will move at a steady pace, using simple books, and spend a relaxing day discovering the specialist flowers of the limestone dales as well as common species that can be found around your home.

Above two courses at FSC Malham Tarn, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01729 830331

15/05/2020 Woodland Plants - Identification and Survey 1 Day
Garston Woods, Dorset, Species Recovery Trust. Contact: 01722 322539
A 1 day course giving participants the skills and confidence to identify a wide range of woodland plants (including grasses and bryophytes) and the knowledge to carry out Phase 1 and NVC woodland survey

16/05/2020 Common British and Irish Plant Families 1: Cabbage, Carrot, Lily and Rose 1 Day
The Regent's Park, London, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
One of four sessions, each of which will focus on 3-5 common wild plant families. You will be introduced to each family and their main vegetative and floral characteristics and then practice identification skills, using keys, and examine the plants in the field.

16/05/2020 Introduction to Orchids 1 Day
Tyland Barn, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622 662012
Discover wild orchids, their life cycles, how they are pollinated, relationships with fungi, where to find them and how to identify them. Includes visits to orchid sites in mid Kent.

16/05/2020 Wildflowers and Ferns of Limestone Woodland 1 Day
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course will enable you to identify a large number of flowers found on limestone, many of which are unique to this part of the county and include seven members of the Orchidaceae. You will spend most of the day in two nature reserves, Dolgoch and Blackbridge quarries with their limestone cliffs and relics of past quarrying. Flowers, ferns and mosses now cover the old spoil heaps and quarry floors.

19/05/2020 Introduction to Phase One Habitat Survey 2 Days
London, CIEEM. Contact: 01962 868626
This course will enable you to plan for and conduct a Phase 1 Habitat Survey. This practical event is very hands-on and includes exercises throughout.

20/05/2020 TVERC Recorder Field Day - Harcourt Hill 1 Day
Harcourt Hill, OX2 9AZ, Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre. Contact: 01865 815451
Our FREE recorder field days are informal peer-to-peer learning experiences where naturalists can spend a day in the field together sharing their knowledge.

21/05/2020 Plant Identification and Botanical Keys 1 Day in Wales
This one day course will give participants the confidence to identify a wide range of common plant species using plant components, such as stem, leaf, bract, inflorescence, roots/bulbils, reproductive organs and hairs as identifying features. Training will also cover using botanical keys to identify plants.

21/05/2020 Botany for Beginners 1 Day Nr Bristol,
This one-day course focuses on recognising the common plant families and building skills in ID for common/indicator plant species of grassland and woodland habitats.

Above two courses with CIEEM. Contact: 01962 868626

22/05/2020 Discovering the Flora of Chalk Grasslands and Woodlands 3 Days
FSC Juniper Hall, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
It is aimed at anyone who would like to learn more about identifying moths from chalk and limestone grassland habitats.

22/05/2020 An Evening at Ham Fen 0.5 Day
Ham Fen Nature Reserve, Kent Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01622 662012
An exciting opportunity to visit Kent's last remaining Fen.

22/05/2020 Woodland Plants 4 Days
FSC Slapton Ley, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01548 580466
Woodlands in May are at their most attractive, with trees in fresh leaf, carpets of spring flowers, freshly unfurled ferns, and most plants looking their very best. Being in a range of woodlands will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to learn about woodland species from many plant groups, including trees, ferns and woodland grasses, in beautiful locations.

22/05/2020 Mountain Plants of North Wales 3 Days
FSC Rhyd-y-creuau, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01690 710494
A fascinating introduction to the ecology of some of Britain's rarest and most ancient plant communities. Arctic alpines now survive in just a few shady upland refuges such as the spectacular mountains of Snowdonia. Suitable for beginners or experienced botanists. Involves off-path mountain walking (up to 1,000m with steep ascents and descents).

22/05/2020 NVC Grasslands 4 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) provides a formal description of British Plant Communities with many practical uses for site assessment and management. The course will introduce the background to the development of the NVC and visit a wide range of grassland types to demonstrate how the system works. Participants will be introduced to the standard field survey methodology of the NVC in a range of grassland habitats, use dichotomous keys and computer programmes to aid the assignment of field generated data to units of the NVC, be helped to understand the dynamics of community development especially in relation to edaphic and management factors. *MMU

22/05/2020 Wild Flower Identification: The Top 20 Flower Families 4 Days
FSC Flatford Mill, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01206 297110
This course is for anyone with a recent or renewed interest in wild flowers, who would like to learn how to identify them correctly. By close examination and gaining an understanding of the floral structure of the major flower families that make up over three quarters of our British flora, you will gain huge strides forward in your confidence and competence as a budding field botanist.

23/05/2020 Phase One Habitat Survey and Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Workshop 2 Days
Stirling, TCV Scotland. Contact: 01786 479697
This popular 2 day course will benefit ecologists, land managers, rangers, planners, environmental consultants and students. You will learn how to correctly assess a habitat type using the Phase 1 survey methodology, to map and write this up competently and to understand how to read Phase 1 habitat maps

23/05/2020 Orchid Hunting in the Chiltern Hills 1 Day
Warburg Nature Reserve, Chilterns, Species Recovery Trust. Contact: 01722 322539
Join Leif Bersweden, author of The Orchid Hunter, for a day of orchid hunting in the Chilterns AONB, one of the most orchid-rich locations in the country. We could find as many as fifteen different orchid species, including old favourites like Bee Orchid, Fly Orchid and Greater Butterfly Orchid as well as more mysterious species like Bird's-nest Orchid.

23/05/2020 Mini Bioblitz at St Michael's Church, Ford, Shropshire 1 Day
Shropshire, Growing Confidence Project. Contact: 01743852040
Come along and help us to survey the church grounds. Bring along any identification equipment or books as well as your knowledge, skills and/or enthusiasm! There will be experts on hand to learn from as well as plenty of opportunities to get involved in the survey work yourselves.

25/05/2020 Identifying Coastal Plants 4 Days
FSC Dale Fort, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01646 636205
Designed to help the beginner, this course will give participants practical experience in the identification of saltmarsh and sand dune plants. There will be time to carry out vegetation surveys and consider the process of ecological succession. This is an accredited course suitable for professionals or interested amateurs. *MMU

28/05/2020 Using a Flora 5 Days
FSC Preston Montford, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01743 852040
This course is for anyone who wants to be able to name wild flowers correctly but knows how difficult this can be. It's a buttercup, but which buttercup? A cranesbill, but which cranesbill? The answers can be found in the flora, generally used in conjunction with an illustrated field guide. By using simple techniques and field guides we aim to identify a wide range of plant families and species, without being put off by the terminology found within Floras. *MMU

28/05/2020 Tree Identification 1 Day
Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01372379523
In this beginners course we will have a classroom session introducing the evolution and biology of trees before venturing into the woods for a practical ID session.

29/05/2020 Trees and Tree Identification in Summer 3 Days
FSC Flatford Mill, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01206 297110
Trees and woodlands are some of the most prominent and ecologically important features of our landscape. Recognising different species increases our enjoyment of these beautify organisms immeasurably. This course aims to build up your confidence in identifying trees to individual species level, focussing on identification by becoming familiar with diagnostic features, getting to grips with the terminology of the different shapes of leaves and other botanical features.

30/05/2020 Tree Identification: Summer 1 Day
The Regent's Park, London, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01306 734501
Do you know how to identify trees in London's parks and gardens? There is a great variety of trees in our Parks and we will focus on the native and broadleaved trees. An introduction to the classification, identification and naming of trees, you will learn how to identify them using practical studies and sharpen your observational skills.

30/05/2020 Tree Identification 3 Days
FSC Rhyd-y-creuau, Field Studies Council. Contact: 01690 710494
Introducing and focusing on the skills needed to identify trees native to the British Isles, as well as many common non-native species. Over the weekend both the broad-leaves and the conifers will be covered. By the end of the course you will be able to identify the more common trees to species level with confidence!

30/05/2020 BLS Introduction to Lichens 1 Day
FSC Malham Tarn, Field Studies Council and BLS. Contact: 01729 830331
Discover the world of lichens through this one-day course, which requires no previous knowledge. The day will offer both classroom and site fieldwork to introduce what lichens are, and learn to recognise some of the more common species. The use of simple charts and keys will also be introduced to help you identify species with confidence.

31/05/2020 BSBI Identifying Wildflower Families Workshop 1 Day
Holyrood Education Centre, Edinburgh EH8 8HG, BSBI. Contact:
Beginners' workshop to help you learn to identify wild flowers through recognising their families and to build confidence in using keys. Price includes the "The Pocket Guide to Plant Families" booklet by Faith Anstey.



02/05/2020 Photography - Beautiful Bluebells 1 Day
Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01372 379523
Spend an enlightening day with professional photographer Adrian Davies learning various photographic techniques ensuring you capture the best pictures of the native bluebells that cover the ancient woodland of the Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve.

05/05/2020 Photographing the Natural World of Kingcombe 3 Days
The Kingcombe Centre, Dorset Wildlife Trust. Contact: 01300 320684
This new course will be a mixture of talks, demonstrations and fieldwork, based around the Kingcombe and Powerstock Common area. It will include tips, techniques and ideas for improving your photography of flowers, insects, habitats and birds. Taught by Paul Williams, author and professional photographer.


Practical Countryside Skills

30/05/2020 Dry Stone Walling 1 Day
Rhyd y Creuau Feils Studies Centre near Betws y Coed in North Wales, Wales Branch of Dry Stone Walling Association . Contact: 01766 513213
Aimed at beginners and content varies and includes some or all of dismantling a section of wall and rebuilding to the coping (top )stones.


Practical Countryside Skills - Machinery

02/05/2020 NPTC Assessments - Climbing 1 Day in Newton Abbot
Assessment only through NPTC

04/05/2020 Chainsaw - Award Aerial Cutting using Free-fall Techniques Unit 308 (was CS39) (NPTC) 2 Days in Plymouth
Anyone using a chainsaw in a tree. You must already have NPTC Maintenance and Cross Cutting, Felling Small Trees (CS30 and 31), and NPTC Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue. (CS38) qualifications. First Aid training strongly recommended.

06/05/2020 Chainsaw - Aerial Tree Pruning Unit 307 & Aerial Tree Rigging Unit 309 (previously CS40/41) (NPTC) 5 Days in Gidleigh
This is an advanced course for tree surgeons who already hold units 201,202,203,206,306 &308 (were CS30,31,38 & 39) as well as reasonable tree climbing experience and their own equipment. First Aid training is strongly recommended.

06/05/2020 NPTC Assessments - Climbing 1 Day in Newton Abbot
Assessment only through NPTC

06/05/2020 Woodchipper (Lantra) 1 Day at Saltram House
1 day for all users - practical assessment with short questions at end of course. Refresher training is recommended every 3 to 5 years

Above courses with Lynher Training Ltd. Contact: 01822 832902

09/05/2020 Tree Felling with Axe and Crosscut Saw 1 Day
Greenwood Centre, Ironbridge, Small Woods Association. Contact: 01952 432769
Fell a mature Oak tree using traditional techniques with a felling axe and cross cut saw safety and efficiently. The course promotes the continuation of this most ancient skill and suitable for woodland owners, project managers and Social Foresters who are working with groups where chain saws are not permitted.

11/05/2020 Chainsaw - Maintenance & Crosscutting (Lantra) 4 Days at Saltram House
Anyone using a chainsaw for work or domestic purposes. Operators who wish to continue to felling trees, or to use a chainsaw in trees should attend the five day maintenance cross cutting and felling small trees training course in preparation for the NPTC assessment.

11/05/2020 Chainsaw - Maintenance, Crosscutting & Felling to 380 mm (Units 201,202, 203) (was NPTC units CS30 & 31) 5 Days in Roadford

11/05/2020 NPTC Assessments - Chainsaw 1 Day in Roadford
Assessment only through NPTC

Above courses with Lynher Training Ltd. Contact: 01822 832902

14/05/2020 LANTRA Brushcutter/Trimmers - Maintenance and Operation 1 Day at Breakheart Quarry. Dursley, GL11 6ER
This course is designed for anybody with some experience of using brushcutters and/or trimmmers or who has previously gained their LANTRA certificate and would like to refresh their skills. The course is suitable for employees or volunteers in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, landscaping and grounds maintenance.

18/05/2020 LANTRA Level 2 (Intermediate) Dry-stone Walling Course 8 Days at Stanway Stone, Nayles' Barn, Cutsdean, Cheltenham
Learn techniques/skills required to strip down/rebuild 2.5 m2 of dry-stone wall, incorporating a cheek end. Applicants must meet at least ONE of the following: Hold a LANTRA Level 1 certificate + MINIMUM 6 months experience working as a dry-stone waller or minimum 2 years' working as a full-time dry-stone waller.

Above two courses with Cotswolds Conservation Board. Contact: 01451 862000

21/05/2020 Practical Wasp Control 1 Day
Bury St Edmunds, Pest Solution. Contact: 01284 766362
This is a one-day course aimed at those who want to wasp control to their portfolio.

26/05/2020 NPTC Assessments - Pesticides 1 Day
Albaston, Lynher Training Ltd. Contact: 01822 832902
Assessment only through NPTC


Updates and Additions to other sections of Training Directory this month

Longer courses


Introduction to Arboriculture (Tree Surgery) Award (Level 1) by Capel Manor College


Environmental Education

The Woodland Wayer by Woodland Ways


Hobby and Craft

Northern Forests Year Long Course by Woodland Ways


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Garnock Connections is encouraging people to connect with their local heritage, both cultural and natural. We have a wealth of wildlife recording equipment that people within the project area can borrow for free. This includes binoculars, bat detectors, identification guides and more. Email or call 07595 655174 for more information.

Skern Lodge is an outdoor education and activity provider based on the North Coast of sunny Devon. We invite thousands of school children, college students, apprentices, business managers, and families to our residential centre all year round to enjoy diverse, tailored, and bespoke development courses and programmes. – 01237 475992 –


CAT is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change. Gain new skills on our short courses, study for an environmental Masters degree or bring your university or school group to explore the importance of action on climate change. 01654 705950

Beach Academy Wales connects schools, families and groups to the coast and blue planet through its beach-based Environmental Education programme, Family Events and Outdoor Activities year-round. Information and tickets from or the shop at Rest Bay, Porthcawl where beach equipment can also be bought and hired.  


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