The Daily Telegraph reports the willow tit is the fastest-declining resident bird in the country, and one of the lowest in number, and the numbers have been in sharp freefall because their preferred habitat, shrubland, has been destroyed because of an obsession with neatness…. Government quango Natural England is also planning to compel local authorities to create more ‘untidy’ habitats for creatures including the Willow tit.
Willow tit photo by yrjö jyske under creative commons.
BBC News reports a budget designed to fund improvements to Britain’s countryside is set to be raided, the BBC has learned. Cash will be diverted away from ambitious conservation projects and towards protecting farm businesses. The government previously promised that the £3bn currently paid to farms under EU agriculture policy would be wholly used to support the environment. Ministers had said that, after Brexit, farmers would have to earn their subsidies. Farmers would secure the case by undertaking actions such as large-scale forestry or catching flood waters. But many farmers complained that they’d go bust unless the environmental actions were made easier to achieve.
The Daly Telegraph, BBC News, The Guardian, and The Financial Times report all of England’s rivers have failed their pollution quality tests, meaning the country’s waterways are some of the dirtiest in Europe. The report from Defra found that no river in England is free from chemical pollution. New sampling methods from the Environment Agency found that in all surface water sampled, persistent chemicals were present and being consumed or absorbed by aquatic life.
River Wey photo by Malcolm Oakley under creative commons.
The Daily Telegraph reports cows have been introduced to Wanstead Park in Northeast London for the first time in 150 years to help regenerate the rare acid grassland. The English Longhorns have been carefully selected from City of London Corporation’s 200-strong herd and will be kept in a smaller zone within the park by cutting-edge GPS collars that send an audible signal to the cows when they stray too far.
The Daily Telegraph reports the Wildlife Trusts have called for a new ‘wildbelt’ designation that would allow land to be protected for nature. The Government has promised a radical shake-up of planning laws that it says will speed up development across the country by giving “automatic” permission to new homes and hospitals. But conservationists and rural groups fear a spread of low quality housing across the countryside which fails to protect wildlife or provide green spaces for everyone.
BBC News reports conservation experts are calling on the prime minister to commit to protecting nature. The Making Space for Nature panel has written to Boris Johnson advocating “bigger, better and more joined up spaces for nature”. The letter was headed by Prof Sir John Lawton, who chaired a review of wildlife sites in 2010.
The UN’s latest global biodiversity report shows that the world has failed to fully meet any of its targets to halt damage to natural habitats. The announcement follows a report by WWF and the Zoological Society of London that shows animal populations globally have plunged by 68% in the last 50 years.
The Telegraph reports Jack Wallington has a dream… to bring back a wide diversity of wildlife to the heart of our urban areas. The article includes detail of local rewilding initiatives in London to increase biodiversity.
With a million species at risk of extinction, David Attenborough explores how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all, including putting us at greater risk of pandemic diseases.
This is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Sir David Attenborough photo by ukhouseoflords under Creative Commons.
The Guardian reports “ghost hedgehogs” are starting to appear on roadsides in Dorset to highlight the plight of hedgehogs killed by fast-moving vehicles. The hedgehogs, made of white-painted wood, are being put up by the Dorset Mammal Group after one small village, Pimperne, reported more than 20 squashed hedgehogs on its roads in just one year. It is hoped that the spectral hedgehogs, like the ghost bike memorials where cyclists have lost their lives, will encourage motorists to slow down and drive with more care.
Hedgehog not squashed photo by Gillian Thomas under creative commons.
The BBC reports a rodent-eating predator seems an unlikely hero for the red squirrel. But conservationists in Wales are being encouraged by news the native pine marten may be helping their cause. Research from Queen’s University in Belfast suggests that numbers of red squirrels are on the increase in areas where pine martens also live. The reason given is that pine martens prey on grey squirrels far more than they do on red squirrels.
Red squirrel photo by Mrs Airwolfhound under creative commons.