Category Archives: News

Natural England announces proposed expansion of Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Leith Hill photo by Charles under creative commons

Natural England announced Thursday 24 June that the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is to be considered for boundary expansion. Securing this designation would allow the area to benefit from greater protections, so that more of England’s beautiful landscapes are safeguarded for future generations.

On the doorstep of London, an extension to the Surrey Hills AONB boundary would give greater access to the natural environment. This would help preserve its rural heritage, promote tranquillity and give more access to nature for the benefit of people’s health and well-being.  

Sussex seabed set to be leased from Queen to create marine park

Sky News reports the first-of-its-kind project will aim to help regenerate vital habitats, fight climate change and boost the economy. The area was once home to a vast kelp forest, stretching across 172 square kilometres, but 90% of it has been lost in recent decades.

The move could also be the first step in an even bigger project: the creation of a Sussex Bay marine park stretching along the entire coast of East Sussex and West Sussex.

Sea eagles at Loch Lomond for first time in 100 years

Sea eagle photo by yrjö jyske under creative commons

BBC News reports the eagles, the UK’s largest bird of prey, have since been observed searching for suitable nest sites, suggesting they intend to stay. It is believed that this is the first time sea eagles have settled at Loch Lomond since the early 20th Century.

Persecution and habitat changes led to their extinction across the UK some time soon after 1918. Their reintroduction to Scotland, first in the 1970s and again in the 1990s and early 2000s, has been a conservation success.

Raccoon dogs may be Britain’s next non-native pest, study finds

Raccoon dog photo by Tambako The Jaguar under creative commons

The Guardian reports they are cute and furry, and could become the UK’s next major non-native pest. Raccoon dogs, an exotic member of the fox family that is native to Japan, China and Siberia, are one of the most destructive invasive species at risk of becoming established in Britain, experts say.

A “horizon scanning” study funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs identified the raccoon dog and the raccoon as the only mammals on a list of 20 invasive species likely to reach UK shores and destroy native wildlife or bring disease. 

UK to trial ‘highly protected marine areas’ in win for ocean campaigners

The Guardian reports the UK government has announced plans to increase protection of wildlife and habitats by banning fishing and other damaging activities from a handful of selected marine sites off the coast of England.

The pilot scheme of at least five highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was welcomed by the Wildlife Trusts as a “historic” move that would allow degraded underwater habitats to recover and set a new standard for marine protection. 

Kittiwakes are dying out due to climate change and overfishing, RSPB warns

ITV News reports climate change and overfishing are threatening England’s native seabirds – the kittiwakes. Their numbers have halved since the 1960s. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is warning about the devastating impact of humans on England’s native Kittiwake.

Its message coincides with World Oceans Day. Dr Euan Dunn, from the RSPB said: “The sea is warming dramatically around us and that is unravelling the food web, particularly hitting sand eels, the staple diet of kittiwakes, very dependent on this small shoaling fish.” 

‘Observe, don’t disturb’ – the warning to staycationers not to disrupt wildlife while on holiday

ITV reports with crowds expected to flock to the coast for a ‘staycation’ this summer, the police and conservation experts are appealing for people to protect the wildlife and environment.

With uncertainly surrounding international holidays growing after Portugal was removed from the travel green list, more people are expected to opt to spend their summer here. It’s prompted police and groups such as the RSPB to ramp up their efforts to protest nesting birds and seals along the region’s coastline.

Andy Bloomfield, a conservation worker at Holkham said that it’s really important that people don’t try and get too close to the terns there as doing so can put the species at risk. 

How the humble hedge works hard to protect Britain’s urban environment

The Conversation reports National Hedgerow Week was created to highlight the immense contribution hedgerows make in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and urban air pollution.

With 50% of hedges lost since the second world war due to building development and large scale farming, there has never been a more important time for people to start planting and protecting these high-functioning mini nature reserves in our towns and countryside.

The Climate Change Committee government advisory body says the UK needs to plant 200,000km of new hedgerows if it is to meet its 2050 net zero target.

Healthy hedgerows are essential habitats for biodiversity, supporting over 2,000 species, including the hedgehog and several European protected animals, notably the dormouse, great-crested newt and most species of bat. 

Wild night out: how a nocturnal walk in the woods can reconnect us with nature The point of these night-time wildlife expeditions

THE GUARDIAN reports more than 80% of us live under light-polluted skies but it’s not too late to embrace the darkness.  For most of us, the transition from light to dark is a quiet one, but in the woods on the Dartington estate near Totnes, twilight brings with it a burst of energy.

It is 8.30pm and this is rush hour. There is a cacophony of screeching, snuffles and scuffles, as songbirds return to nests for a night of rest, while nocturnal creatures such as badgers and foxes are taking their first tentative steps out, off to find food and mates under the cloak of darkness.