Nature Matters


Photo: Llyr Hughes


Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct


This beautiful mountain plant, that once clung to the cliff edges in Eryri (Snowdonia) has successfully returned to the wild in Wales after becoming extinct in 1962.

The trial reintroduction of Rosy Saxifrage Saxifraga rosacea, led by us, marks a special moment for nature recovery. The plants, which have been maintained in cultivation, have direct lineage to the 1962 specimens.

It is now flowering at a location close to where it was last recorded in the wild – and there are plans in place to boost its numbers now the first trial has taken place

The species was first recorded in Wales in 1796 by J.W.Griffith (Clark, 1900) and there are up to five records from the 19th century. In the 20th century, there are three records, all in Eryri.

But, it is thought that Rosy Saxifrage slipped into extinction in Wales, primarily as a result of plant enthusiasts over collecting the species, particularly in the Victorian era. Atmospheric pollution is also considered to have played a role. Rosy Saxifrage is not a great competitor with stronger growing plants, so it was impacted by the nutrient enrichment of its favoured mountain habitat.

Uploaded: 26 May 2024


  • Photo: Pixabay


    UK Government Confirms Wylfa as Preferred Nuclear PowerPlant

    Wylfa in Anglesey is the government's preferred site for a large-scale gigawatt nuclear power plant.

    Wylfa in Anglesey is the government’s preferred site for the UK’s third mega-nuclear power station - putting North Wales in prime position to benefit from a boost to its economic prosperity and support the UK’s long-term energy security.

    The government is kickstarting talks with global energy firms to explore building the new power plant, which could provide enough clean and reliable power for the equivalent of around 6 million of today’s homes for 60 years. It brings the UK closer to its ambition for up to a quarter of its projected electricity needs to come from homegrown nuclear power by 2050, to strengthen the nation’s energy independence.

    The government is exploring building a major nuclear power station, similar in scale to Hinkley in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. The aim of this new project would revive the nuclear history of Wylfa and claims to bring thousands of jobs and investment to the area, to provide a boost to the local economy.

    Uploaded: 22 May 2024


    • PHOTO: Pexels/Pixabay


      UN Regional Climate Weeks Cancelled

      Climate Home News

      A week ago the UN climate chief, Simon Stiell, made an urgent appeal to governments for more funding for the UNFCCC at a gathering of ministers in Denmark. The ramifications of the “severe financial challenges” he mentioned are now becoming clearer.

      This week, the UNFCCC confirmed that this year’s Regional Climate Weeks will be cancelled. Events for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East will be put on hold until further notice because of a lack of funds.

      Dulce Marrumbe, head of partnerships and advocacy at WaterAid’s regional office for Southern Africa, says this decision is "hugely disappointing". Last year's climate weeks attracted 26,000 participants and brought together policymakers, scientists and other experts from the multiple regions - with key contributions feeding into the COP28 summit agenda, she writes for Climate Home.

      "If the world’s most vulnerable are not at the table, then UN climate talks are no longer fit for purpose," she argues.

      The UNFCCC warned in a quarterly update that its struggle for funding also puts at risk its work on education, youth empowerment and promotion of gender balance in the negotiations and climate action more broadly.

      Uploaded: 29 March 2024

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      • E N V I R O N M E N T

        Environment Agency accused in High Court over chicken manure pollution on the Wye

        NM Editor

        Campaigners are taking the government to court for failing to stop chicken farm manure from polluting one of the UK's most important rivers.

        The River Wye flows for some 150 miles along the Welsh/English border.

        But the area has seen huge expansion of poultry farming in recent years with 20 million birds being raised at any one time.

        River Action is the campaigning group which accuses the government body - the Environment Agency - of failing in its duty to enforce laws designed to protect waterways from agricultural runoff.

        The EA denies the claim.

        Lawyers for the campaigners will tell a judicial review at the High Court in Cardiff that farmers have been allowed to dispose of excessive amounts of chicken manure on their land - far more than crops or other plants could possibly absorb - which then seeps into surrounding streams.

        Charles Watson, founder of River Action, said: "If you were building cars and were allowed to do that with all your waste it would be an appalling scandal.

        "That's what's happening on the Wye.

        "Industrial waste is being dumped into nature and it has been done at such a level that it is now causing an ecological disaster. It has got to stop."

        Uploaded: 07 February 2024

          Clinging on by a claw


          Wildcats really are on the brink of extinction in the UK. We want to see them thriving once more so we're giving Saving Wildcats £100,000 over six years, to breed and release wildcats into the Cairngorms National Park.

          Last summer Saving Wildcats released 19 wildcats into the Caingorms. They're being monitored through GPS-radio collars and over 100 wildlife camera-traps so we can see where the wildcats are, and how they're enjoying their new home.

          Back at the centre, the process began again! The wildcats were paired up in spring and delighted everyone by producing the next generation of kittens to be released into the wild.

          Thirteen feisty wildcat kittens were born in total and while they were tiny their mums looked after them until they were independent enough for the next stage.

          The kittens are now in large pre-release enclosures, which are full of foliage and dens. The cats are moved in one-by-one when they’re old enough and health checked, vaccinated and acclimatised to ensure their transfer from mum to new home is as stress-free as possible. They then have very little interaction with humans, so they remain as wild as possible to maximise their survival in the wild.

          This is our best chance to save wildcats in the UK. A donation today could help release a wildcat back to the wild and take us one step closer to saving them.

          Uploaded: 06 February 2024

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          • PHOTO: Hartpury University

            International Hedgehog Conference comes to Hartpury University

            Hartpury University will welcome 200 people from nine different countries this weekend for the International Conference for Hedgehog Rehabilitators.

            Lucy Bearman-Brown, one of the organisers of the conference at Hartpury said: "With this conference we wish to bridge the gap between hedgehog researchers and hedgehog carers internationally. We hope to establish a strong and respectful collaboration between the scientists and the care practitioners with the purpose of improving hedgehog conservation. It is essential that we work together and strengthen our teamwork to help save the declining hedgehog population."

            The conference, last held in Denmark, serves to present the most recent hedgehog research and hedgehog conservation initiatives from all over Europe to inspire and inform all participants at the conference.

            Uploaded: 9 January 2024

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            • PHOTO: The RSPB Magazine



              Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey. Every year, hundreds of thousands of nature lovers like you take part, helping to build a picture of how garden birds are faring.

              1. Choose an hour between 26 and 28 January

              2. Only record the birds that land in your patch

              3. Record the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time

              Get your free guide and stock up on supplies, with 15% off and free delivery on food and feeders at the RSPB shop.

              Uploaded: 29 December 2023

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              • PHOTO: Buglife/OpenStreetMap

                Putting Welsh Bugs on the Map- a world first!


                Wales has become the first country in the world with a map of its most important areas for insects and other invertebrates – a vital source of information to help guide nature recovery in Wales. Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is launching the ‘Important Invertebrate Areas: Putting Bugs on the Map in Wales’ report at the Senedd today. The network of 17 Important Invertebrate Areas (IIAs) has been identified by the charity working closely with experts and using millions of records collected by naturalists.

                Wales is home to iconic and threatened species found nowhere else in Britain, such as the Cliff Mason Bee (Osmia xanthomelana) now only known from two short stretches of Welsh cliff top, and the Critically Endangered Scarce Yellow Sally Stonefly (Isogenus nebecula) which is only found in the River Dee and was once feared once being feared extinct.

                The IIAs, which are home to nationally or internationally significant invertebrate populations and their habitats, took nearly five years to map. They cover 1,344km2 of Wales. Although this is just 6.5% of the country, they are home to over 10,800 species of invertebrate, including 7 of Britain’s endemic species – those found nowhere else in the world. The IIAs are also home to threatened species, including the stunning Blue Ground Beetle (Carabus intricatus), Britain’s rarest snail – the Glutinous Snail (Myxas glutinosa), and the Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius)- our largest spider.

                Buglife Cymru Manager, Clare Dinham, said, “Wales’ Important Invertebrate Areas, from the Llŷn Peninsula to the South Wales Coast, are home to some of our most special species. But many are under threat. We hope that the new IIA map will help people to learn about and celebrate their local wildlife. And also understand what they can do to help nature recover.” J

                amie Robins, Programmes Manager, said, “To secure a better future for our invertebrate populations and help nature to thrive, it is essential to know where our most threatened species live. We’ve started the job by mapping IIAs for Wales, but this is only the beginning. We need decision makers to recognise the important role that invertebrates play and use our IIAs to prioritise much needed conservation action.”

                The full map of IIAs can be explored on the Buglife website, with freely accessible profile documents for each of the 17 IIAs that explain why they are important, the threats they face and what needs to be done to enable their special inhabitants to thrive.

                Uploaded: 28 December 2023

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                • PHOTO: KONRAD WOTHE

                  Happy Holidays from Rainforest Rescue

                  Dear Friends of the Rainforests,

                  People around the world are looking forward to the holidays as a quiet time to catch their breath and relax. For us, it's the perfect time to take stock of the past year.

                  First and foremost, we're grateful. There are our partners in the rainforests who encourage, motivate and inspire us. We consider it a great privilege to work with these grassroots organizations and amplify their messages to a worldwide audience. Together we've achieved a lot for the preservation of nature in 2023.

                  "The voices of the Indigenous forest guardians are heard throughout the world thanks to Rainforest Rescue," say our partners in the Indonesian province of Papua on behalf of numerous local groups.

                  "Rainforest Rescue has done more to protect our forests than the United Nations," says environmental activist Lamin Seidi Cani from Guinea-Bissau. He says it with a chuckle – but he's serious.

                  Recent successes like those in Panama and Ecuador – where people power took on the mining and fossil fuel industries and won – are a huge motivation. We are also encouraged by the fact that the sell-off of rainforests in the Congo Basin for oil exploration was halted in 2023.

                  Please support our work with a donation. It is people like you who make our work for the rainforests possible. A heartfelt "thank you" from our many partners on the ground – and from all of us here in Hamburg and Berlin.

                  Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

                  Kind regards from Marianne Klute und Bettina Behrend, Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald eV)

                  Uploaded: 23 December 2023

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                  • RENEWABLES

                    New wind energy record set as turbines generate 21.8 gigawatts of electricity


                    RenewableUK is highlighting a new wind energy generation record of 21.8 gigawatts (GW) of clean electricity, which has been confirmed National Grid ESO.

                    The record was set in the half-hour period between 8.00-8.30am this morning, providing 56% of Britain's electricity. This beats the previous record of 21.6GW set on 10th January this year.

                    RenewableUK's Chief Executive Dan McGrail said: "Setting a new wind energy record is a great achievement to celebrate during this festive period. Wind power is taking centre stage in our modern clean energy mix, strengthening our energy security and keeping Britain powered up at the coldest, darkest time of the year.

                    “In the new year, the renewable energy industry will be working closely with the Government to ensure that we maximise investment in new projects, most critically through the next auction for new clean energy projects, to lower everyone’s energy bills and get us to net zero as fast as possible. We’re calling for Ministers to be ambitious when they set out new parameters in March for next summer’s auction, which we hope will secure a record amount of new renewable energy capacity and boost jobs in the sector”.

                    Although the latest statistics represent a new electricity generation record, the highest percentage of electricity generated from wind in a half-hour period is 69% on 19th November this year.

                    Uploaded: 21 December 2023

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                    • RENEWABLES

                      Big boost for Britain’s renewable energy sector after RWE takes over 3 major offshore wind projects

                      RenewableUK announced today that German-owned company RWE* has acquired three large offshore wind farm projects in the UK:

                      - Norfolk Boreas (1.38 gigawatts)

                      - Norfolk Vanguard East (1.38GW)

                      - Norfolk Vanguard West (1.38GW)

                      …. all of which had been put on hold by Vattenfall.

                      RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Dan McGrail, said:

                      “RWE’s decision to take over these massive projects is a huge vote of confidence in Britain’s world-class offshore wind industry. These projects will bring billions in private investment to the UK, boosting our energy security and providing low-cost power for consumers in the years ahead.”

                      This announcement comes just a day after Ørsted announced that it has reached Final Investment Decision on Hornsea 3, the biggest offshore wind project in the world - and on the same day that wind energy generation in the UK hit a new record high.

                      RenewableUK states that this shows Britain is regaining its position as the leading market for offshore wind investment, after the disappointment of this year’s CfD auction.

                      The UK is now on track to secure a record amount of capacity in next year’s auctions for new renewable energy projects.

                      [*RWE = Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk]

                      Uploaded: 21 December 2023

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                      • UN CLIMATE MEETING - COP28

                        30 November to 12 December 2023


                        COP28 is the 28th annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting where governments will discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change.

                        The summit is being held in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 30 November until 12 December 2023.

                        COP stands for "Conference of the Parties", where the "parties" are the countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.

                        It is hoped COP28 will help keep alive the goal of limiting long-term global temperature rises to 1.5C.

                        This was agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

                        The 1.5C target is crucial to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change, according to the UN's climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

                        Long-term warming currently stands at about 1.1C or 1.2C compared with pre-industrial times - the period before humans started burning fossil fuels at scale.

                        However, recent estimates suggest the world is currently on track for about 2.4C to 2.7C of warming by 2100, although the exact numbers are uncertain.

                        Holding COP28 in Dubai is controversial because the UAE is one of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations.

                        It has appointed the chief executive of the state-owned oil company, Sultan al-Jaber, president of the COP28 talks.

                        Oil - like gas and coal - is a fossil fuel. These are the main causes of climate change because they release planet-warming greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide when burned for energy.

                        Mr Jaber's oil company plans to expand production capacity.

                        Documents leaked to the BBC suggest the UAE planned to use its role as host to strike oil and gas deals.

                        Mr Jaber has previously argued that he is uniquely well-placed to push for action from the oil and gas industry, and that as chairman of renewable energy firm Masdar, he has also overseen the expansion of clean technologies like wind and solar power.

                        Uploaded: 29 November 2023

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                        • WORLD OCEAN DAY

                          Celebrate and take action on 8 June 2023

                          One Ocean, One Climate, One Future - Together

                          Today marks World Oceans Day, an annual day first proposed in 1992 to mark the importance of making a conscious effort to protect the world’s oceans and its inhabitants. This year’s theme is ‘Planet Ocean: tides are changing’ and sees the UN join forces with ‘decision-makers, indigenous leaders, scientists, private sector executives, civil society, celebrities, and youth activists to put the ocean first,’

                          World Ocean Day unites and rallies the world to protect and restore our blue planet! World Ocean Day supports collaborative conservation, working with its global network of youth and organizational leaders in over 150 countries, and providing free and customizable promotional and actionable resources. World Ocean Day is powered by the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council.

                          Uploaded: 08 June 2023

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                          • S U R V E Y

                            National Water Vole Monitoring Programme

                            Photo: Hugh Clark

                            This week volunteers in all corners of England, Scotland and Wales are being called to help save one of Britain’s fastest declining mammals, by taking part in a nationwide water vole survey which runs until 15th June.

                            Wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) runs the annual survey which requires volunteers to visit a local waterway and record their findings online.

                            The survey is part of PTES’ National Water Vole Monitoring Programme, which was set up in 2015 to try and combat the decline in water vole populations.

                            Water voles have suffered one of the most serious declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century, but with the help of volunteers their fate can be turned around.

                            Uploaded: 19 April 2023

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                            • E V E N T S

                              Hedgehog Awareness Week

                              30 April – 6 May 2023
                              BHPS and Hedgehog Street

                              Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and takes place every year. It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.

                              This year the charity is asking people to ‘Think Hedgehog!’ Look at your garden or greenspace (or local park, school grounds, etc) and imagine how useful or dangerous it might be if you were a hedgehog – is it a hedgehog disaster or a des-res?

                              There are lots of hazards that can be removed or improved such as: - Poisons and pesticides that could directly harm hedgehogs and destroy their food chain. - Uncovered drains – hedgehogs can fall into these and become stuck so make sure yours are covered up. - Litter is a problem for all wildlife and while this is (hopefully) not an issue in your own garden, it very likely is in the wider environment. Contacting local landowners where litter is an issue can help; remember to point out the danger to wildlife. - Netting can become entangled in hedgehog spines: make sure sports nets are put away and garden netting is at a height that hedgehogs can safely pass under. - Always carefully check for hedgehogs before mowing, strimming or lighting a bonfire pile that they might have made a nest in.

                              Uploaded: 28 March 2023

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                              • WORLD'S OCEANS

                                Historic Agreement reached


                                Nations have reached a historic agreement to protect the world's oceans following 10 years of negotiations.

                                The High Seas Treaty places 30% of the seas into protected areas by 2030, aiming to safeguard and recuperate marine nature. The agreement was reached on Saturday evening, after 38 hours of talks, at UN headquarters in New York.

                                The negotiations had been held up for years over disagreements on funding and fishing rights. The last international agreement on ocean protection was signed 40 years ago in 1982 - the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

                                That agreement established an area called the high seas - international waters where all countries have a right to fish, ship and do research - but only 1.2% of these waters are protected. Marine life living outside of these protected areas has been at risk from climate change, overfishing and shipping traffic.

                                Uploaded: 06 March 2023

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                                • Photo: Ford Motor Company


                                  Ford to switch to all electic within 7 years

                                  Mike Armitage

                                  Ford Motor Company is carrying out what it calls major restructuring. This will result in the loss of 4,000 jobs in Europe, 1,300 of these in the UK; this is a big change and amounts to shedding a third of its total European workforce.

                                  Ford also announced that by 2030, all of its European car production will be fully electric vehicles. It has already expanded work at its gearbox plant in Halewood, Merseyside but earlier losses included the closure of its South Wales engine plant in Bridgend.

                                  The manufacturing of cars in the UK has fallen in recent years. Honda closed its Swindon plant in 2021 and BMW will switch production of its Electric Mini from Oxford to China.

                                  The concern is that the UK Government has no plan for the greening of the car industry. It lost a key player in Britishvolt, the electric battery manufacturer in which it had invested heavily, when it collapsed recently.

                                  Uploaded: 14 February 2023

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                                  • Photo: UN/COP27

                                    CLIMATE CHANGE

                                    COP 27 - UN Climate Change Conference

                                    Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 6 to 18 Nov 2022
                                    UN and BBC

                                    World leaders are set to discuss action to tackle climate change, at the UN climate summit in Egypt. It follows a year of climate-related disasters and broken temperature records. The new UK prime minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed he will now attend, having previously said he would not.

                                    What is the UN climate summit? - UN climate summits are held every year, for governments to agree steps to limit global temperature rises.

                                    They are referred to as COPs, which stands for "Conference of the Parties". The parties are the attending countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.

                                    COP27 is the 27th annual UN meeting on climate. It will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November.

                                    Why are COP meetings needed? - The world is warming because of emissions produced by humans, mostly from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.

                                    Global temperatures have risen 1.1C and are heading towards 1.5C, according to the UN's climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

                                    If temperatures rise 1.7 to 1.8C above 1850s levels, the IPCC estimates that half the word's population could be exposed to life-threatening heat and humidity.

                                    To prevent this, 194 countries signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, pledging to "pursue efforts" to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.

                                    Uploaded: 04 November 2022

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                                    • Photograph: Ahmed/Pexels

                                      MARINE ENVIRONMENT

                                      Turning the tide for manta rays

                                      Fauna & Flora International

                                      It can be easy to forget that our ocean is home to a staggering 80% of all life on Earth. For every sighting from the shore, every ripple on the surface, every encounter in the shallows – there are many more wonders lying beneath the waves.

                                      And of all these weird and wonderful creatures, the magnificent manta ray is surely one of the most extraordinary.

                                      Boasting a wingspan of up to an astonishing 29 feet, these gentle giants are a true marvel to behold as their ghostly forms glide gracefully along beneath the rolling waves.

                                      When it’s time for dinner, their incredible creativity comes on show: congregating in groups of up to 150 frenzied filter feeders with mouths agape, these amazing animals can be seen somersaulting, barrel rolling and swimming in tandem in a captivating cyclonic pattern.

                                      And after swimming up a storm, what could be better than a revitalising deep clean?

                                      Pulling up at a coral reef cleaning station, helpful parasites are on hand to meticulously clean the rays’ gills and skin. Many rays have even been known to return to their favourite cleaning station over and over again!

                                      But a storm is brewing.

                                      As with so many of our ocean’s inhabitants, the pressures imposed by humans are reaching an unprecedented scale.

                                      Considered a delicacy by some, rays are relentlessly fished for their meat and are increasingly being targeted for their gills. Each year it is estimated that thousands upon thousands of these poor creatures are killed to be used in traditional medicines.

                                      To make matters worse, manta rays typically give birth just once every couple of years to only a single pup. They simply cannot compete with the rapid rate at which their kin are being killed.

                                      These powerless rays need protecting.

                                      It’s time to turn our attention to the ocean. Before it is too late.

                                      In Myanmar, where manta rays are present at many of the marine sites FFI operates in, we are forming a key action plan to protect rays and other threatened marine life forms. We have plans to step up our efforts to safeguard these incredible creatures and the areas they inhabit - but we urgently need your support.

                                      Uploaded: 04 November 2022

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                                      • Photo: pixabay


                                        Government’s landmark green hydrogen announcements will kickstart major roll-out of new clean super-fuel


                                        Commenting on the Government’s launch of the application window for the first joint allocation round of financial support for green hydrogen projects, with funding available from both the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund and the Hydrogen Business Model, as well as the appointment of the UK’s first Hydrogen Champion Jane Toogood, RenewableUK’s Policy Analyst for Emerging Technologies Laurie Heyworth said:

                                        “The Government’s landmark announcement on the way in which British companies will be able to access funding for green hydrogen projects will kickstart the private investment we need to build up a whole new industry in the years ahead. The Hydrogen Business Model operates in a similar way to Contracts for Difference which have turbo-charged the growth of wind energy in the UK and enabled rapid and massive cost reductions. Green hydrogen will add vital flexibility to our future energy system as it can be used in a wide range of ways to replace expensive gas.

                                        “Our deep-dive report into the benefits of green hydrogen, published in May, shows that the UK is already a world leader in this innovative technology and that with the right policies in place we can meet the Government’s target of installing 5GW of green hydrogen electrolysers by 2030, as well as creating thousands of highly-skilled jobs, building up a British supply chain and exporting our goods and expertise worldwide.

                                        “We’re looking forward to working closely with the Government’s new Hydrogen Champion, Jane Toogood, on measures to speed up the roll-out of green hydrogen as a clean super-fuel which will help us to decarbonise sectors such as transport and energy-intensive industries where progress has been too slow so far”.

                                        Uploaded: 20 July 2022

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                                        • Photo: ITV


                                          Environmentalist Aneeshwar Kunchala stole hearts on Britain’s Got Talent


                                          Mini environmentalist Aneeshwar Kunchala stole hearts on Sunday night’s episode of Britain’s Got Talent with his passionate poetry about wildlife and conserving the planet, as Amanda Holden dubbed him ‘the perfect person to follow in David Attenborough’s footsteps’.

                                          Schoolboy Aneeshwar, seven, was unveiled as the first of Britain’s Got Talent’s Golden Moments, a new segment where each judge surprises an unsuspecting act, nominated without their knowledge, and invites them to audition at the London Palladium.

                                          Judge David Walliams travelled to his school in Warrington, Cheshire, to surprise him and dressed up as a panda to ask him onto the show in front of his excited schoolmates.

                                          Dressed in what is soon likely to become an iconic outfit, Aneeshwar donned camo trousers, a grey jumper, blue baseball cap and rucksack (complete with attached binoculars, naturally) and wore a head mic set for his audition.

                                          Uploaded: 19 April 2022

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                                          • R E S E A R C H

                                            OTTERS: The number of otters is declining according to new national survey in Wales

                                            Big national survey found fewer signs of the mammal on nearly all Welsh waterways.

                                            A survey has found a decline in the number of otters in Wales. In the late 1950s and 60s otter numbers suddenly declined and it was thought it was as a result of pollution from pesticides but their numbers improved again after the pesticides stopped being used.

                                            This recent report by Cardiff University and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) found evidence of a significant decline in otter populations for the first time.

                                            Researchers looked for signs of otters, such as footprints, spraint and hiding places and found them at only 70% of the sites visited across Wales - down 22% since the last survey carried out in 2010.

                                            Dr Eleanor Kean, a ecologist who worked on the survey, said this piece of work was important to check on the otters numbers.

                                            "We're not back to situation we saw in the 1970s but it is a warning to us that something may be going wrong," said Liz Halliwell, from NRW.

                                            Halliwell added that the otter was "an important biological indicator of the health of rivers and wetlands".

                                            The results are being described as a "wake-up call" about the state of UK rivers and the pollution. Researchers will now look at otter numbers in other parts of the UK.

                                            Uploaded: 02 February 2022

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                                            • R E S E A R C H

                                              Technology to prevent octopus over-fishing being developed at Aberystwyth University

                                              Aberystwyth University/BBC

                                              A new global database of octopus genes is being developed in an effort to protect them from overfishing as it is believed that some species are misidentified and inaccurately recorded when caught.

                                              The volume of fishing of octopuses, squid and other cephalopods, has increased significantly over the past 60 years.

                                              But a lack of data about what is being caught - and where - has led to fears over the future of some species, as well as the sustainability of what is considered to be an important, protein-rich food source in some communities. The plan is to create an app for those in the seafood sector to accurately track where the animal has come from and how sustainable the species is.

                                              Prof Paul Shaw said the project was "essential" in preventing overfishing

                                              "We can learn a lot from the methodology and new technology that will be developed and it's very welcome to see a Welsh university on a worldwide stage doing this type of research."

                                              The development of the database is being led by scientists at Aberystwyth University, with funding of £567,000 from the US government and will involve teams from countries including South Africa, Japan and Mexico.

                                              "So, while the team will focus on cephalopods, the longer-term aim is to provide a comprehensive system to enable any seafood item to be harvested, distributed and processed through to the consumer in a clearly identifiable and sustainable way."

                                              The project will also set up a citizen science network to gather new data on octopus populations from portable environmental DNA kits. This can be collected by taking seawater samples - offering an indication of which organisms are prevalent or in the vicinity.

                                              Octopuses live in all of the world's oceans, but are most abundant in warm, tropical waters

                                              This work will be led by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. They will work with a range of partners to produce a traceability tool that will allow for a better understanding of the species caught, the source of the product, and confirmation of its legitimate path from fishery to fork. Fourteen industry partners, from fishers to seafood processors, will help inform and test the design of the traceability tool.

                                              Uploaded: 06 December 2021

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                                              • PHOTO: Mike Armitage

                                                E V E N T

                                                NATIONAL TREE WEEK

                                                27 November - 5 December 2021
                                                The Tree Council

                                                National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration. Across the country, people will be planting thousands of trees to mark the start of the winter tree planting season.Trees and hedgerows are some of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against climate change. And the good news is that we can all make a difference by planting a tree! Whether you plant a tree in a pot on your doorstep, a hedge in your garden or organise a community event at a local park, every tree will help us grow a greener future together.

                                                Uploaded: 29 November 2021

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                                                • SATELLITE

                                                  Launch of Landsat 9

                                                  Landsat 9 is the latest satellite in the Landsat series. It will continue Landsat’s record of Earth’s ocean and land surfaces. To reduce the build time and a risk of a gap in observations, Landsat 9 largely replicates its predecessor Landsat 8. Landsat 9 is a partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey and will continue the Landsat program’s critical role in monitoring, understanding and managing the land resources needed to sustain human life. Today’s increased rates of global land cover and land use change have profound consequences for weather and climate change, ecosystem function and services, carbon cycling and sequestration, resource management, the national and global economy, human health, and society. Landsat is the only U.S. satellite system designed and operated to repeatedly observe the global land surface at a moderate scale that shows both natural and human-induced change.

                                                  “Continuing the critical observations made by the Landsat satellites is important now and their value will only grow in the future, given the long term environmental changes we are seeing on planet Earth.” — John Grunsfeld, former NASA Associate Administrator for Science

                                                  Uploaded: 28 September 2021

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                                                  • Thank you, Hedgehog Champions!

                                                    'Hedgehog Street'(PTES/British Hedgehog Preservation Society)

                                                    This month 'Hedgehog Street' is celebrating its inspiring and dedicated Hedgehog Champions. In the ten years since Hedgehog Street launched, Hedgehog Champions have been making their gardens hedgehog havens, as well as engaging with neighbours and local communities. The PTES and BHPS are wowed by their efforts. The incredible milestone of 100,000 Hedgehog Champions is fast approaching so they wanted to take this opportunity to thank Champions for their continued commitment to our prickly pals.

                                                    Now is the perfect time to reach out to neighbours, friends and family, and continue raising awareness of the plight of hedgehogs. The PTES and BHPS have produced some brand-new downloadable resources for Champions to use. They have two new top tips posters which would look perfect on community notice boards as well as libraries, shops - you name it. They have been so impressed by the incredible work of young people and school groups that they have produced a hedgehog certificate for these inspiring young Champions.

                                                    Uploaded: 24 August 2021

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                                                    • Two new AONBs proposed as part of government push to 'protect 30% of England’s land'

                                                      Daily Mail Online

                                                      Britain is to get its first new beauty zones in 26 years with the Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge set for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) designation under plans to protect 30% of UK land by 2030.

                                                      The Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge will be considered for AONB status, the UK government revealed today.

                                                      AONB is an official government designation given to land protected by law, to conserve and enhance its natural beauty.

                                                      The government is also planning extensions to the existing Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs, both of which surround London.

                                                      It is likely to take several years for the areas to be granted AONB status because every local authority involved will have to be consulted before Environment Secretary George Eustice makes the final decision.

                                                      Existing protected areas – which include AONBs, National Parks and National Scenic Areas – already comprise approximately 28 per cent of land in the UK.

                                                      But an additional 2.2 per cent – more than 500,000 hectares – will be protected too by 2030 in a bid to support 'the recovery of nature'.

                                                      Uploaded: 25 June 2021

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                                                      • RenewableUK calls for bold action in new Net Zero Strategy


                                                        Responding to the Climate Change Committee’s two progress reports published today, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn said:

                                                        “The Climate Change Committee is right to highlight the opportunity for the Government to show leadership ahead of COP26 by continuing to set out a bold, detailed and comprehensive plan in its new Net Zero Strategy, to be published later this year.

                                                        “The UK needs a more detailed road map to get to Net Zero, so the CCC is spot on in recommending that Ministers set clear, firm targets to ramp up onshore wind and solar deployment between now and 2030. We are confident that, with a few enabling actions, we could develop 30 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2030.

                                                        “Regular auctions for contracts to generate clean power and reforms to the planning system to empower communities to choose modern turbines are the keys to unlocking vital new projects, just as the CCC has identified.

                                                        “Delivering on climate change commitments must be put right at the heart of every Government department as a matter of urgency. This is a landmark year in what will be a decisive decade in taking action against the biggest threat to our way of life”.

                                                        Uploaded: 23 June 2021

                                                        • Photo: Psubraty

                                                          JOINT PROJECT

                                                          Project Godwit


                                                          With less than 50 pairs breeding at a handful of sites in eastern England, the RSPB is working with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to help prevent the second extinction of black-tailed godwits as a breeding species in England.

                                                          In partnership with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), this five-year project, funded by the EU LIFE nature programme, aims to increase the population of breeding black-tailed godwits in the UK.

                                                          The UK is home to a small breeding population of black-tailed godwits of around 60 pairs. Thanks to their vulnerable population, these large wading birds are red-listed in the UK and possess Near Threatened status globally, meaning they are likely to be threatened with extinction in the near future.

                                                          Historically, numbers of breeding black-tailed godwits in the UK declined drastically at the beginning of the 19th century, to the point where they became extinct as breeding birds. This was probably as a result of the draining of natural wetlands and hunting.

                                                          After an absence of more than a century, however, black-tailed godwits of the limosa subspecies returned to breed in England in the 1930s and started breeding regularly on the Ouse Washes in 1952.

                                                          After reaching a peak of 65 breeding pairs on the Ouse in the early 1970s and with the species just starting to colonise the Nene Washes, a series of spring floods saw numbers halve by the late 1980s. Now the majority of this population is found at the Nene Washes, where 42 pairs were recorded in 2016.

                                                          In recent years, the breeding population has continued to be affected by increased flooding in the spring and summer (particularly on the Ouse Washes), and predation, both of which can result in the loss of nests and chicks.

                                                          This five-year project, funded by the EU LIFE nature programme, aims to increase the population of breeding black-tailed godwits in the UK.

                                                          A small number of the islandica subspecies also now breeds regularly in Orkney and Shetland.

                                                          Uploaded: 05 April 2021

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                                                          • APPEAL

                                                            Our Lost Seabirds

                                                            There is no time to lose...

                                                            The UK’s seabirds are struggling and they need our help to survive. BTO’s new campaign – Our Lost Seabirds – aims to turn the tide.

                                                            With public support, the BTO are piloting a monitoring training programme to engage and support vital volunteers. They’ll be on the frontline in efforts to protect 25 seabird species, collecting the evidence they need to take urgent action.

                                                            Uploaded: 27 March 2021

                                                            • HOW YOU CAN HELP
                                                            • RENEWABLES

                                                              Renewable energy generation overtakes fossil fuels for first year ever


                                                              Air quality and the dangers of high concentrations of ambient air pollution is of growing concern in our day-to-day lives.

                                                              Statistics released by the UK Government show that in 2020, renewable electricity generation outperformed fossil fuels for the first year ever. Renewables provided 43% of the UK’s electricity while fossil fuels generated 38.5%.

                                                              The figures, published in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Trends report, show that onshore and offshore wind provided more than half of the UK’s renewable power in 2020 by generating 24.2% of the UK’s electricity needs (13% from offshore wind and 11.2% from onshore wind). Renewables and nuclear together generated 59%.

                                                              The report notes that renewable generation has increased year on year and the latest annual record was driven mainly by high levels of generation from wind which increased by 18% compared to 2019.

                                                              A total of 312.8 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity was generated by all sources in 2020.

                                                              Renewables generated 134.3TWh, an increase of 11% compared to 2019.

                                                              Fossil fuel generation fell by 14% to 120.5 TWh. Renewable electricity generation outstripped fossil fuels in each quarter of 2020 apart from Q3 when it was slightly below.

                                                              Wind generated 75.7TWh (40.7TWh from offshore wind and 35TWh from onshore).

                                                              BEIS also released statistics covering the final 3 months of 2020, showing that wind generated 24.9% of UK electricity in Q4 (14.1% offshore and 10.8% onshore).

                                                              Renewables overall provided 40.5% (34.4TWh) in this period.

                                                              The report notes that Covid reduced industrial demand for electricity in 2020. As a result, total generation from all sources fell by 3.7% from 324.8TWh in 2019 to 312.8TWh in 2020.

                                                              Uploaded: 26 March 2021

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                                                              • image: © ZSL

                                                                MARINE CONSERVATION

                                                                Native oysters restored to UK waters
                                                                Stephanie Deas

                                                                4,000 native oysters are being returned to UK waters as part of an ambitious restoration project, which for the first time is spanning coastal regions across England, Scotland and Wales. The Wild Oysters Project, a partnership between ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and British Marine aims to help restore healthy, resilient coastal waters around the UK by bringing back these ‘ocean superheroes’ from the brink of extinction.

                                                                Earning themselves the title ‘ocean superheroes’, native oysters (Ostrea edulis) provide huge benefits to our coastal waters by helping to clean our seas and acting as an important habitat for marine wildlife. Declining by 95% due to human activities, native oyster populations have continued to decrease since the 1800s, meaning their benefits to the ocean have been lost.

                                                                The first mature native oysters have now been housed in nurseries, a micro habitat acting as a maternity ward to the next generation of oysters, suspended underneath marina pontoons in the North East of England. These oysters will begin reproducing over the next few months, releasing millions of baby oysters, known as larvae, into the ocean. This is the first step in the project’s aim to restore native oysters, increasing wild populations around the British coast and see the return of healthy coastal waters.

                                                                “These oysters will produce the next generation of the oyster population, by releasing larvae which will settle onto the seabed,” explained Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager, ZSL.

                                                                “Despite their small size oysters are capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day, the oysters will almost immediately begin their important work helping to create cleaner water and increase marine biodiversity in the UK.”

                                                                The project, which spans the UK, has begun by installing 47 nurseries with 1,300 native oysters underneath marina pontoons in Sunderland Marina and Port of Blyth, North East of England. Partnering with Groundwork North East and Cumbria, along with the Environment Agency North East, local Project Officers will help to care for the newly placed oysters.

                                                                Uploaded: 24 March 2021

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                                                                • Where are Wales’ bumblebees?

                                                                  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust
                                                                  Project Officer - Clare Flynn
                                                                  Skills for Bees: Cymru

                                                                  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust needs your help to search out bumblebees across Wales.

                                                                  The wonderful Welsh landscape is home to some very special bumblebees. Wales has 23 out of the 24 UK species, including some of the rarest.

                                                                  In the mountains, it has one of Britain’s most beautiful bees – the bilberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola). On the flower-rich grasslands of the south coast, it has some of the last remaining populations of the UK’s most threatened bumblebee, the shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum).

                                                                  Bumblebees are a familiar and popular sight in gardens and play a vital role in pollination, but just like everywhere else, in Wales most have suffered declines. They continue to face pressures including the loss of their flower-rich habitats, use of harmful chemicals, and climate change.

                                                                  The first step to successfully conserving Welsh bumblebee populations is to know where they are hanging on, and how many remain. But for many species, there is very little up-to-date data on this – the BBCT/Skills for Bees: Cymru needs your sightings as a matter of urgency. The attached leaflet gives details of how you can help.

                                                                  Uploaded: 10 March 2021

                                                                    Download BBCT Skills for Bees Cymru leaflet (PDF format)

                                                                    MANAGING PM2.5 EMISSIONS WITH EARTHSENSE

                                                                    Managing levels of PM2.5 from wood burning smoke emissions through combined air quality modelling, real-time sensor measurements, and data services

                                                                    Air Quality News

                                                                    Air quality and the dangers of high concentrations of ambient air pollution is of growing concern in our day-to-day lives.

                                                                    With remote working still in place for most of the country together with colder winter temperatures, it is inevitable that the usage of domestic wood and coal burners and open fires increases, contributing to a rise in local levels of particulate matter (PM2.5), a pollutant which contributes to and worsens health problems including asthma, COPD and diabetes.

                                                                    Identifying and mitigating PM2.5 emissions from activities including wood burning stoves, open fires, bonfires, waste burning and restaurants, may be the transforming factor that enables large scale improvements in public health.

                                                                    This is an area that the air quality specialist, EarthSense, has been supporting as part of a cutting-edge project with Leicester City Council, which utilises their full air quality monitoring service including sensors, modelling and guidance. This system is designed to clearly communicate the consequences of burning wood at specific times and places for the residents of Leicester.

                                                                    To do this, a collection of data was used to feed into the model, including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for calculations of how pollution flows throughout urban canyons and buildings in Leicester, source apportionment to identify each of the particulate matter sources, a traffic layer as well as a wood burning smoke estimate created by EarthSense for the Council. Leicester City Council also used MappAir®’s historic pollution data and up to three-day air quality forecasting, which was used to notify members of the public of days predicted to experience unsafe levels. The highest concentrations were measured on cold days likely to increase usage of log burners or public celebrations such as bonfire night. The EarthSense solution is designed to deliver guidance in advance of high pollution events, and behavioural changes for personal and community benefit. For a real-time, local understanding of local PM2.5 emissions, the project also uses EarthSense’s flagship product, the Zephyr® sensor with an established network of 11 units including 6 static units around Leicester, 1 outside the city boundary together with mobile units connected to electric vehicles and bicycles.

                                                                    Uploaded: 26 February 2021

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                                                                    • GOVERNMENT PLANS 10% ETHANOL FUEL ROLL-OUT

                                                                      UK to introduce E10 petrol in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions

                                                                      Air Quality News

                                                                      According to the Department for Transport (DfT), E10 fuel, which is a mixture of petrol and ethanol and is made from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood, could cut transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road.

                                                                      The two petrol blends that are currently widely available in the UK contain no more than 5% ethanol, but the new fuel will have up to 10%.

                                                                      The E10 fuel will be widely available at petrol stations across the country from September 2021.

                                                                      A small number of older vehicles including classic cars, and some from the early 2000s, will continue to need E5 fuel, which is why supplies of E5 petrol will be maintained in the super grade.

                                                                      The DfT has said that this project will also boost job opportunities in the North East, securing up to 100 jobs with the reopening of AB Sugar’s Vivergo plant.

                                                                      Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: ‘We’re going further and faster than ever to cut emissions from our roads, cleaning up our air as we accelerate towards a zero-emission transport future.

                                                                      ‘Although more and more motorists are driving electric vehicles, there are steps we can take to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will help drivers across the country reduce the environmental impact of every journey, as we build back greener.’

                                                                      Dr Mark Carr, Group Chief Executive of AB Sugar, added: ‘We are delighted to be re-opening the Vivergo Fuels site today located in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse on the back of the Government’s decision to move forward with E10.

                                                                      ‘We’ve long been calling for this introduction as E10 is one of the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective ways of the UK reducing its carbon emissions whilst providing an economic boost to sustaining the British biofuels industry and the local and national economy. We will be recruiting around 85 highly skilled green jobs in addition to the core team that remained in place during its closure in the North East of England and re-opening a new market for wheat farmers in the UK.’

                                                                      Uploaded: 26 February 2021

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                                                                      • BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH

                                                                        29 - 31 January 2021


                                                                        Once again the RSPB is running its Big Garden Birdwatch this coming weekend and it's a great way to boost your mood in January.

                                                                        Pick a time

                                                                        You can choose any hour between 29 and 31 January. So whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you can still take part.

                                                                        Note down what you see

                                                                        Count the birds you see in your garden or from your balcony. This year the advice is to take part in the safety of your own home. This could include a birdwatch from your window if you overlook a green space or courtyard. Ignore any birds that are in flight. To avoid double-counting, just record the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not a running total.

                                                                        Submit your results

                                                                        You can submit your results online on the RSPB website from 29 January until 19 February. You can find this by using the ‘Learn More’ link below.

                                                                        Every count is important so, if you don’t see anything, please still submit your results. Finding out which birds don’t visit your area is as important as understanding those which do.

                                                                        Uploaded: 27 January 2021

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                                                                        • BADGER CULL

                                                                          Experts challenge Chief Veterinary Officer on UK’s badger cull

                                                                          Leading bTB experts are concerned the Government is misleading the public and the profession on key facts surrounding the UK’s controversial badger cull

                                                                          James Westgate | Vet Times

                                                                          A group of leading bTB experts has expressed concern that the Government is misleading the public and the veterinary profession about key facts surrounding the UK’s controversial badger cull.

                                                                          In a letter to CVO Christine Middlemiss, a group of leading vets – including Iain McGill, the former government scientist who blew the whistle on the BSE cover-up in the 1990s – also raise concerns that comments made about the science behind the cull threaten to undermine confidence in the independence of the CVO’s advice to Government.

                                                                          For the past seven years, targeted culling of the protected species has been a central part of the Government’s strategy to eradicate bTB by 2038 – a policy that has seen more than 100,000 badgers killed across 52 different areas at a cost of more than £60 million to the taxpayer.


                                                                          In the letter – which you can read online – the authors challenge comments made by Dr Middlemiss during an interview in which she discussed phasing out the cull, as well as the use of whole genome sequencing and the strength of evidence it provides about the role badgers play in the spread of bTB.

                                                                          The letter also questions Dr Middlemiss’ advice regarding culling in Derbyshire, which began this year, despite research on found-dead badgers in the northern edge area by Malcolm Bennett, from the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, suggesting badgers were not driving the cattle epidemic in the region.

                                                                          ‘Extremely concerned’

                                                                          The letter reads: “Were you not aware of Prof Bennett’s findings and conclusions in this regard? If you were aware of this, we can understand why you might have withdrawn your support for culling in Derbyshire in 2019, but why did you then go on to authorise culling in 2020?

                                                                          “Given the above inconsistencies, we are extremely concerned your statements may have misled the public, the farming industry and members of the veterinary profession, and threaten to undermine confidence in the independence of the CVO’s advice to Government.”

                                                                          The letter also questions the use of pie charts in the APHA’s epidemiology reports, which are based on risk pathway questionnaires (disease risk forms [DRFs]) completed by the attending vet. It continued: “These DRF pie charts are being quoted as if they represented fact by multiple authors to incriminate badgers as the source of the overwhelming majority of herd breakdowns.”

                                                                          Defra response

                                                                          In response to the letter, a Defra spokesman said: “BTB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers more than £100 million every year.

                                                                          “No one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely. That is why we are accelerating other elements of our strategy, including vaccination and improved testing, so we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling in England.”

                                                                          Uploaded: 03 January 2021

                                                                          INSECT DECLINES

                                                                          Investigating the links between human activities and global insect declines

                                                                          UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)

                                                                          UKCEH is leading a major four-year study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, which will bring together data and expert knowledge from around the world to assess the impact of different threats on all insect groups.

                                                                          The new £2.2 million project could enable more reliable assessments of how human activities cause global insect declines, as well as better predictions of future species trends.

                                                                          Despite widespread reports of reduced insect populations, there is currently limited evidence to link species losses to specific threats says Dr Nick Isaac of the UKCEH, who is leading the study.

                                                                          The project will bring together diverse sources of data including expert knowledge to assess the impact of individual threats – including agricultural intensification, climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species – on all insect groups across the world.

                                                                          Uploaded: 22 December 2020

                                                                          BE KIND TO BEES

                                                                          Project Roundup and #BeeKind

                                                                          The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

                                                                          The Bumblebee Conservation Trust currently have eight projects based around the UK, four partnership led projects and three new projects starting in 2021.

                                                                          In 2020, they provided advice to help landowners improve several hundred hectares of land to make better habitat for bumblebees! They brought their Bee ID events online, reaching out to hundreds of volunteers and the general public. They also introduced BeeWalk in 2020 which was deemed a success given the social distancing and COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and are looking forward to producing the 2020 BeeWalk Report.

                                                                          They have a new Skills for Bees: Cymru project starting in January to increase the training and surveying of bumblebees. And following the successes of the amazing habitat creation under the Short-haired reintroduction project they will 'Bee connected' next year.

                                                                          During 2020, they have been providing monthly tips on how to #beekind and choose the best plants for bumblebees in your garden.

                                                                          Uploaded: 22 December 2020

                                                                          DARK SKIES

                                                                          Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors designated Dark Sky Reserves

                                                                          Mike Armitage

                                                                          Both the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks have been designated International Dark Sky Reserves, creating the largest dark sky area in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe. Combined, the two parks cover 3,500 square kilometers.

                                                                          Dark sky designation is granted by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), the foremost authority on light pollution, based in Tucson, Arizona. To be designated, an area must undergo a rigorous process to prove the exceptional quality of its nocturnal environment as well as showing strong community support, encouraging the take-up of dark-sky-friendly lighting and facilitating educational activities. The parks hope the status will help prevent future light pollution and boost out-of-season tourism.

                                                                          Both have some of the darkest skies in the country, with little to no light pollution making thousands of stars, meteors and the Northern Lights visible.

                                                                          There are now eleven IDA dark sky reserves in England, Scotland and Wales: - Galloway Forest Park, an International Dark Sky Park, Scotland (2009) - Exmoor National Park, an International Dark Sky Reserve, England (2011) - Northumberland and Kielder Water and Forest Park, an International Dark Sky Park, England (2013) - Brecon Beacons National Park, an International Dark Sky Reserve, Wales (2013) - Isle of Coll International Dark Sky Community, Scotland (2013) - Elan Valley International Dark Sky Park, Wales (2015) - Snowdonia International Dark Sky Reserve, Wales (2015) - Moffat International Dark Sky Community, Scotland (2016) - South Downs International Dark Sky Reserve, England (2016) - Yorkshire Dales International Dark Sky Reserve, England (2020) - North York Moors International Dark Sky Reserve, England (2020)

                                                                          Uploaded: 09 December 2020

                                                                          SUSTAINABLE FOOD AWARD

                                                                          Brighton and Hove receive UK’s first Gold Sustainable Food Place Award

                                                                          Soil Association

                                                                          Brighton and Hove is the first UK location to receive the prestigious Gold Sustainable Food Place Award recognising pioneering work around good food. The Sustainable Food Places Network is a rapidly growing movement of people in towns, cities, boroughs and counties across the UK working to make healthy, sustainable and local food a defining characteristic of where they live.

                                                                          Through local food partnerships involving local authorities, charities, businesses and community groups, the Network is using good food to tackle some of the biggest social, economic and environmental issues today, food poverty and obesity and the decay of our high streets and the disappearance of family farming to climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and waste.

                                                                          Brighton and Hove was the first city in the UK to create a citywide food strategy, the first to have food growing written into planning guidelines for new residential developments and the first to require all Council food procurement to meet minimum health and sustainability standards.

                                                                          Uploaded: 30 November 2020

                                                                          CLIMATE CHANGE

                                                                          MOCK COP

                                                                          Mike Armitage

                                                                          Young environmental activists from around the world are meeting virtually to call for greater action on climate change.

                                                                          UN Climate Change talks - known as COP26 - were due to be held in Glasgow this year and were delayed because of COVID-19. So these hundreds of young people decided to create their own. Unlike the UN summit, the youth-led Mock COP is not based in an actual place. Instead talks are being hosted virtually across multiple time zones, reducing carbon emissions by 1,500 times that of previous COP events, according to the organisers.

                                                                          Josh Tregale, 18, from the UK, decided to defer his place at university to get more involved with environmental work. He says he wants to set an example for how COP could be run in a low-carbon way.

                                                                          "At a normal COP summit, delegates fly in from around the world. They can emit more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 - whereas ours will emit around 39 tonnes of CO2," he said. "If each year those carbon savings were made by government meetings that could have a huge impact."

                                                                          From last week until 1 Dec 2020, 350 young environmental activists from 150 countries will hold discussions and will hear from a range of climate experts to produce a final statement of their demands. We are living in a climate emergency and they feel they cannot wait until the UN Climate Change talks can take place in a years time.

                                                                          Uploaded: 28 November 2020

                                                                          KICK THE BADGER CULL

                                                                          Bradford on Avon Town Council ban badger culling and hunting on its land

                                                                          John Baker

                                                                          Gazette & Herald

                                                                          WILTSHIRE Against The Badger Cull has praised Bradford on Avon Town Council for stating it will not allow badger culling and hunting to take place on its land as part of a new wildlife protection policy.

                                                                          Local members of the Wiltshire Badger Group urged other local town and parish councils, as well as Wiltshire Council, to follow Bradford on Avon's lead.

                                                                          In a statement issued on Thursday, the group said: "Whilst we recognise most culling does of course take place on private farmland, we are delighted to see local councils such as Bradford on Avon Town Council take a progressive stance to protect the wildlife and the environment.

                                                                          "We now urge other parish councils and indeed Wiltshire Council to make a similar stand and also ban hunting and culling on their land."

                                                                          The town council's environment and planning committee recently approved a wildlife protection policy that would ban badger culling and hunting on its land.

                                                                          The council said: "Very pleased that the Bradford on Avon Town Council Environment and Planning Committee voted in favour of the Wildlife Protection policy tonight, which commits the Council to refusing consent to hunt or cull across Town Council lands, to using and supporting non-lethal methods of species control, and to helping to guide others in the same direction.

                                                                          "It's a signal of intent and leadership for others in the local area, following the example set last year by Bath and North East Somerset - and it would be great to see other parish councils in the local area and indeed Wiltshire Council follow suit.”

                                                                          Uploaded: 14 November 2020

                                                                          CLIMATE CHANGE

                                                                          UK Ban on sales of fossil fuel cars brought forward

                                                                          Mike Armitage

                                                                          The UK Government has brought forward [by 10 years] the year in which the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned to 2030.

                                                                          Also, the year in which the sale of new hybrid cars will be banned has been brought forward to 2035.

                                                                          Uploaded: 14 November 2020

                                                                          GREEN HORIZONS

                                                                          Mark Carney: Net zero transition represents 'greatest commercial opportunity of our time'

                                                                          Green Finance Institute

                                                                          The UN's Climate Change Envoy and former Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said that reaching net zero emissions requires a "whole economy transition" that represents "the greatest commercial opportunity of our time".

                                                                          With a keynote address from Mr Carney, the summit will focus on the role of financial services in supporting a green recovery and an economy-wide transition to net zero. It will also explore how capital can be mobilised at the pace and scale needed to meet the UK’s and international commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050.

                                                                          The Green Horizon Summit – The Pivotal Role of Finance is taking place at Mansion House, as a virtual event from 9 – 11 November 2020, the original dates for the postponed UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which has been deferred to November 2021 in Glasgow due to COVID-19.

                                                                          Uploaded: 10 November 2020