The Daily Mail reports arable soils in England and Wales are becoming less fertile, according to a new study. Almost 40 per cent of arable soils are being ‘degraded’, meaning they have too much clay and not enough carbon or organic matter.
The findings are based on a new ‘soil health index’ that classifies soils by the proportion of organic matter they contain compared with clay, which is too dense and compact to generally be suited to plant growth. Researchers say the index is a good predictor of how much carbon soils can take up and store and a general indicator of how well they are functioning. It could help farmers or policymakers improve the natural services soils provide, such as food production, flood protection and carbon storage.
The GUARDIAN reports …. a warm welcome? Britain’s milder weather is attracting exotic guests. While we may celebrate their arrival now it should also alert us to what’s ahead. Mediterranean egrets balancing on the backs of cows, multicoloured moths the size of a human hand, and impossibly exotic bee-eaters hawking for insects under English skies. All are here as a direct consequence of the climate crisis, which has allowed continental European species to extend their ranges northwards, and then make the leap across the Channel to gain a foothold in southern Britain.
The BBC reports climate change has affected the numbers of about a third of the bird species seen in UK hedgerows and gardens, according to a new study. Research by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has shown an increase in some garden birds like goldcrests as they profit from warmer temperatures.
But it said increased UK temperatures had had an impact on the decline of birds such as cuckoos and turtle doves. Both species have seen population drops of more than 80% in the past 30 years.
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.
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.
2017 was the seventh worst year for butterflies in Britain since records began more than 40 years ago. Grayling and grizzled skippers had their worst year on record.
Habitat loss has caused the long-term falls in butterfly populations. However, scientists say the recent dramatic declines are due to climate change, pesticides such as neonicotinoids and nitrogen pollution.
Grizzled skipper numbers have more than halved since the 1970s while the grayling’s population has shrunk by 63% in the last decade. The large white – once so common it was a pest – fell by 19% in 2017.
Read The Guardian’s story for more information.