‘Forgotten’ elm tree set to make a comeback

Elm tree by Spacing Magazine under creative commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

BBC NEWS reports the elm tree can return to the British countryside, given a helping hand, according to a new report. More than 20 million trees died during the 1960s and 1970s from Dutch elm disease. In the aftermath, the elm was largely forgotten, except among a handful of enthusiasts who have been breeding elite elms that can withstand attack. The research is showing promise and there is reason to be hopeful, said the Future Trees Trust charity.

Report author, Karen Russell, said mature specimens have been identified that are hundreds of years old, and have mysteriously escaped the epidemic. And a new generation of elm seedlings are being bred, which appear to be resistant to the disease. 

Beavers to be released in plan to ease flooding and aid biodiversity

The GuardianThe Times, and The Telegraph report three families of beavers are to be introduced on land managed by the National Trust as part of plans to ease flooding and improve biodiversity. Two Eurasian beaver families will be released next spring into enclosures at Holnicote estate on Exmoor, in Somerset, and another group will arrive at Valewood on the Black Down estate, on the border of West Sussex and Surrey.

Beavers were hunted to extinction 400 years ago in the UK for their fur, meat and scent glands. In recent years there has been a series of controlled reintroductions, including one by the government in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, as solutions are sought to tackle flooding.

Photo by Pat Gaines under Creative Commons.

‘Failure on pretty much every aspect’: Government condemned as UK set to miss key environmental goals

The Independent reports ‘As rivers become toxic and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account,’ say campaignersThe UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020, according to an investigation that found it had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment.

Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling carbon emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, as well as increasing tree planting and biodiversity. Boris Johnson promised to “do extraordinary things on the environment”, yet the country’s green credentials are in disrepute, according to the investigation by Greenpeace’s journalism unit Unearthed and the Financial Times. 

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

‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn

The GUARDIAN writes report claims 400,000 insect species face extinction amid heavy use of pesticides. The “unnoticed insect apocalypse” should set alarm bells ringing, according to conservationists, who said that without a halt there will be profound consequences for humans and all life on Earth. A new report suggested half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 as a result of the destruction of nature and heavy use of pesticides.

The report said 40% of the 1million known species of insect are facing extinction. The analysis, written by one of the UK’s leading ecologists, has a particular focus on the UK, whose insects are the most studied in the world. It said 23 bee and wasp species have gone extinct in the last century, while the number of pesticide applications has approximately doubled in the last 25 years. 

Photo by zapad1 under creative commons.

Farmland birds see decline of 55 per cent in the last 50 years, Defra reveals due to lack of hedgerows and use of pesticides

The Telegraph reports farmland birds have seen a decline of 55 per cent in the last 50 years, Defra has revealed, as a lack of hedgerows and overuse of pesticides are given the blame.

For some birds, farming has been particularly devastating; corn buntings, grey partridges and tree sparrows, all of which are highly dependent on farmland, have experienced declines of more than 90 per cent since 1970.

Turtle doves have seen their numbers halve in the five year period of 2012 to 2017, with long term declines of 98 per cent.

Defra has been monitoring 19 species of farmland birds, and has found that over the shorter term the fall has been less drastic – bird numbers overall fell by 6 per cent between 2012-17.

Moth populations in steady decline in Britain, study finds

The GUARDIAN reports long-running survey finds 1976 heatwave boom has been followed by dropping numbersMoths are declining in abundance by 10% each decade in Britain but the average weight of moths caught in traps is still double what it was in 1967, according to a new study.

Researchers studying the biomass of moths caught in the world’s longest-running insect survey said their findings suggested that if there had been an “insect armageddon” in Britain, it had occurred before scientific recording began in 1967. 

Pumpkin waste in UK predicted to hit scary heights this Halloween

THE GUARDIAN reports Britons are expected to generate record levels of food waste over Halloween this year. More than 8m pumpkins – equivalent to more than 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin flesh – will be heading for the bin because the majority of consumers will not eat it. About 40% of consumers buy fresh pumpkins to hollow out and carve to celebrate Halloween, but 60% of those admit they do not use the flesh, according to research by the stock cube brand Knorr and the environmental charity Hubbub. 

High court to hear challenge to total ban on ivory trading

While antique traders argue otherwise, campaigners say removing ban would hamper global efforts to fight poaching.

The high court will hear an attempt to block a total ban on ivory trading this week, ahead of the imminent Brexit deadline and amid fears from conservationists that any change could revitalise elephant poaching.

Antique traders, who argue that sales of “cultural heritage” objects have no impact on the market for illegally-plundered tusks, are challenging the government over the 2018 Ivory Act which attracted cross-party support.

Atlantic salmon numbers are falling in British rivers

iNEWS reports according to the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s Missing Salmon Project, less than five per cent of salmon that leave Britain’s rivers return. Time was when salmon swam through the Thames in London, en route to their Berkshire breeding grounds. Indeed, the river was once described as a “fishful river”, and a 14th-century law was passed for the saving of its salmon.

Today, although many kinds of fish have multiplied in the Thames in the past few decades, you’d be lucky to find the majestic salmon there. But it’s not just the Thames that is lacking salmon. Wild Atlantic salmon have significantly declined in other British rivers.