Category Archives: Uncategorised

Number of butterflies in the UK at a record low, survey finds

Freshly emerged male silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) on cross-leaved heath, Ash Ranges. 5 June 2020. This butterfly is a U.K. BAP Priority Species.

The Guardian reports Butterfly Conservation, which counted butterflies and moths between 16 July and 8 August, said the results, released on Thursday, marked the lowest numbers since the Big Butterfly Count started 12 years ago and called for urgent action to be taken.

It is the latest warning sign for butterflies – which, as well as forming a vital part of the food chain, are considered significant indicators of the health of the environment – after decades of decline. Since 1976, 76% of butterflies have declined either in abundance or distribution. 

Wolves ‘must be reintroduced to UK to fight climate crisis even if farmers lose sheep’

European Wolf photo by Lawria under creative commons

The Mirror reports wolves should be reintroduced into Britain to help fight the climate crisis, according to one of Britain’s leading conservationists. Without Roy Dennis’s efforts, there would be fewer red squirrels, no beavers and no osprey or red kite introductory programmes. And the 81-year-old is showing no signs of retiring.

He explained how we must see the benefit to the whole of society by sharing the countryside with large carnivores again, even if it means farmers could lose the odd sheep, and explained how the extinction crisis can only be addressed with “bigness.” 

For peat’s sake: the race is on to save Britain’s disappearing moorland bogs

The Observer reports tinally recognised for its environmental benefits, the UK’s ‘Cinderella habitat’ is at the heart of a major conservation drive… About 92% of England’s blanket bog is in the north of the country, mostly in Yorkshire. But this vital and delicate part of the ecosystem is disappearing, in many cases having been deliberately drained to graze sheep and shoot grouse, and now the moorland is etched with deep channels through which, each year, hundreds of tonnes of crucially important peat is simply being washed away by the weather. 

Does feeding garden birds do more harm than good?

Goldfinch and red poll on garden feeder

The BBC reports the regular feathered visitors to the bird feeders I hang in a particularly lovely tree outside my kitchen window are a welcome dose of colourful nature in a sometimes repetitive daily schedule. So the suggestion that my conscientiously topped-up supply of “premium mixed wild bird seed” is anything other than a positive boost for local wildlife has come as something of an unwelcome surprise. But evidence has been building recently that supplementary feeding could disrupt a delicate ecological balance beyond our windowsills and gardens. 

Snowdonia Hawkweed: ‘One of most threatened in the world’

The BBC reports on cliffs above Bethesda that can only be reached with specialist mountaineering gear, grows one of the most endangered plants in the world. The exact location is a closely-guarded secret, but even sheep are unable to get to it, meaning they cannot eat the last of the Snowdonia Hawkweed. Their grazing has wiped the plant out in six of seven areas it once thrived. But from the verge of extinction, it is thought three plants spotted on a cliff in 2002 may have doubled their number.

“For some of the rarest plants, the only places they can sustain themselves is away from grazing and humanity, on the most inaccessible ledges and cliffs,” said horticulturist Robbie Backhall-Miles, who is trying to revive them.

Light pollution from street lamps linked to insect loss

Clifden Nonpareil moth photo by Bill Stanworth

The BBC reports scientists say light pollution may be contributing to “worrying” declines in insects seen in recent decades. In a UK study, artificial street lights were found to disrupt the behaviour of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillars numbers by half.

Modern LED streetlights appeared to have the biggest impact. There is growing evidence that insect populations are shrinking due to the likes of climate change, habitat loss and pesticides. Factors are complex and varied, including the steady loss of forests, heathlands, meadows and marshes, overuse of pesticides, climate change and pollution of rivers and lakes. 

Trees should be planted without plastic guards, says UK study

The Guardian reports planting trees without plastic tree guards should be standard practice, a UK study has found, as leading conservation charities and landowners seek sustainable alternatives to reduce plastic waste.

The Woodland Trust has announced it is aiming to stop using plastic tree guards by the end of the year. It is trialling plastic-free options at its Avoncliff site in Wiltshire, including cardboard and British wool. The charity plans to plant 10 million trees each year until 2025.

Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said: “As one of the nation’s largest tree planters, by committing to go plastic-free in terms of the use of tree shelters, we are set to be the trailblazers in this field – catalysing a permanent change to the tree-planting world.” 

Builders to buy ‘biodiversity credits’ from farmers

The Daily Telegraph reports example given of Alscot Estate which has been approved by Warwickshire County Council to sell biodiversity ‘units’ to developers wanting to make up for the loss of wildlife at nearby projects.

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson is one customer which has bought credits to mitigate the effect of new homes in Warwick.  Under the Environment Bill, developments in England are required to deliver net improvements to biodiversity with developers needing to do this on the site itself or by investing in projects offsite such as the Alscot Estate.

As a last resort, they will be able to buy “biodiversity credits” from the Government which will invest the funds in habitat projects.