Sky News reports a £2m research project that aims to tackle the biodiversity crisis in the UK and help restore the landscape has been launched. Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the four-year partnership hopes to reverse habitat loss in meadows and woodlands caused by farming, urban development, climate change, and pollution.
Taking place at 100 sites, including South Downs and Stonehenge, researchers will examine how different plants, animals, and other organisms in ecosystems work together.
The Independent reports researchers for Natural England carried out a comprehensive survey of the role different types of natural habits in Britain play in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, looking at forests, grasslands, heathlands, salt marshes and seagrass meadows and how much they store in their soils, sediment and vegetation.
They found that undisturbed woodlands and peat bogs had the highest rates of carbon sequestration, with a hectare of ancient woodland capable of storing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide each year that would be emitted from 13 plane journeys between London and Rome. A 10-metre deep fenland peat bog can store eight times as much carbon as the equivalent area of tropical rainforest.
The Independent reports the amount of woodland across England could be doubled from its current level of 10 per cent without impacting other important habitats, high quality arable farmland or peat bogs, detailed new mapping has revealed. The map, drawn up by Friends of the Earth and mapping consultancy Terra Sulis shows how much forest and other areas of woodland exist in rural areas in every local authority in England, and highlights potential new areas for tree planting.
The BBC reports moving ancient woodlands cut down to make way for HS2 is a fundamentally flawed idea, leading ecologists say. The company behind the new rapid rail connection between London and the north of England is cutting down trees in the course of the construction. HS2 say the woods are not being destroyed because their soils are being “translocated” to other places.
The Guardian reports by buying and managing small wooded plots, enthusiasts are bringing biodiversity back to the countryside.
Tamara and Steve Davey cannot help but grin at the suggestion they are “miniature rewilders”. Standing proudly in the weak sunlight on the fringes of Dartmoor national park, the full-time grandmother and taxi company owner delight in their eight-acre woodland. Robins, tits and siskins chortle in the trees. Nightjars are welcome visitors in the summer. Seven bat species have been recorded in their small plot. There’s a badger’s sett somewhere in the hillside scrub. And the couple feel at peace.
THE GUARDIAN reports half of the nation’s farmland needs to be transformed into woodlands and natural habitat to fight the climate crisis and restore wildlife, according to a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government.
Prof Sir Ian Boyd said such a change could mean the amount of cattle and sheep would fall by 90%, with farmers instead being paid for storing carbon dioxide, helping prevent floods and providing beautiful landscapes where people could boost their health and wellbeing. Boyd said the public were subsidising the livestock industry to produce huge environmental damage.
THE TELEGRAPH reports the government department, in partnership with the University of Oxford, has travelled to the country to pick up rare seeds to plant in arboretums and transfer them to our forests, where they will provide a welcome array of bright colours in autumn.
Japanese Maple photo by Scott McCracken under creative commons.
The Sunday Times reports living close to trees and fields can reduce stress and potentially prolong lives, according to Scottish scientists. A study found that people who live near woodlands and green spaces were three times less likely to be under emotional strain.
They were also more likely to engage in healthy pursuits, such as walking and wildlife spotting. The findings have reinforced calls for more urban woodlands, particularly in deprived communities where rates of mental illness tend to be high.
Tunnel in trees at Witley Common by Richard August under creative commons.