Kenfig ‘super-rare’ fen orchid numbers rise to 4,000

The BBC reports a project to save a “super-rare” orchid from extinction has seen numbers rise from 200 to 4,000 in eight years. Concern for the future of the fen orchid prompted action among the sand dunes at Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Bridgend, in 2011.

Wardens can no longer count them in one day as there are so many, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The success has been attributed to the work of wardens and volunteers managing the 1,300-acre (530-hectare) reserve.

River Thames worst of London’s freshwater sources to contain high levels of antibiotic resistant genes 

I News reports central London’s freshwater sources contain high levels of antibiotic resistant genes, with the River Thames having the highest amount, according to research by UCL.

The Regent’s Canal, Regent’s Park Pond and the Serpentine all contained the genes but at lower levels than the Thames, which contained genes providing resistance for bacteria to common antibiotics such as penicillin, erythromycin and tetracycline. Experts have called for more research into better water treatment methods as a result of the findings.

New trial gives hope to Britain’s endangered curlews

Discover Wildlife reports, recently dubbed the ‘panda of UK conservation’ by ministers, the curlew is classed as a priority species in the UK, where it faces an uncertain future. Here, their population has seen an overall decline of 42 per cent between 1995 and 2008.

Understanding the fragile state of Britain’s curlew population, experts at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) decided to intervene, taking a hands-on approach.

The charity rescued over 50 curlew eggs from nests on military airbases in Norfolk, where they would have been destroyed under licence to protect air safety. The chicks were raised at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre, before being released onto reserves in Gloucestershire when they were old enough to fly.


Restore UK bogs’ to tackle climate change

The BBC reports restoring peat moors degraded by farming may prove a relatively inexpensive way of tackling climate change, a report shows.

Wet peat bogs store carbon that’s been sucked from the air by plants, but many bogs have been drained for farming. As drained peat dries, CO2 is produced – so in that sense peat’s causing a climate problem like cars, planes and factories. But statisticians say parts of the peat problem may be relatively cheap and easy to solve. They say the benefit of blocking up drainage ditches and bringing back vegetation to the moors shows benefits way higher than the cost.

‘Rush to rewild’ could put wildflower-rich meadows at risk

The Scotsman reports a “rush to rewild” the UK’s landscapes could put the rich array of wildflowers found in already-rare meadows at risk, plant experts have warned. While rewilding, which aims to return land to a more “natural” state, can provide opportunities for the UK’s wild plants, many will still need grazing or other kinds of disturbance such as ploughing or cultivating to thrive. 

Wildflower meadows are some of the UK’s most species-rich habitats, but are found on less than 1 per cent of the country’s land area, wildlife charity Plantlife said ahead of National Meadows Day on Saturday. More than 97 per cent of meadows have been lost since the 1930s and the remaining fragments have poor legal protection, the charity warned.

Why are England’s roadsides blooming?

The BBC report a long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials. The group said the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows in less than a century – with roadside verges particularly hard-hit.

It said safety and access considerations along with a desire for “neatness” and the logistics of litter-picking had resulted in authorities adopting an overzealous approach to keeping verges short.

Roadside verge photo by Natural England under creative commons.

Hello exotic egrets, farewell mountain butterflies as fauna revolution hits UK

The Observer reports colourful creatures are moving north from Europe into a warming Britain, but indigenous rivals risk being lost for ever

Cattle egrets – birds once so exotic we rarely saw them north of the Mediterranean – are now nesting in a heronry near my home in Somerset. Flocks of them often gather in the nearby fields, feeding among Jerseys and Holsteins. They look as if they are quite at home on this side of the Channel – which nowadays they are.

Living near trees can spruce up your health, says Scots study

The Sunday Times reports living close to trees and fields can reduce stress and potentially prolong lives, according to Scottish scientists. A study found that people who live near woodlands and green spaces were three times less likely to be under emotional strain.

They were also more likely to engage in healthy pursuits, such as walking and wildlife spotting. The findings have reinforced calls for more urban woodlands, particularly in deprived communities where rates of mental illness tend to be high.

Tunnel in trees at Witley Common by Richard August under creative commons.