Nature Matters

    10 2017

    H E A D L I N E

    PRESS RELEASEDEFRA : dated 3 Dec 2017

    Blue Belt extended to protect rare seabirds

    Government announces two new marine Special Protection Areas and extensions to four other sites to safeguard rare seabirds.

    Nearly 150,000 rare seabirds – including the iconic little tern and black-throated diver – will be better protected as the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas extends by over 650 square miles, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey announced today.

    A newly classified marine Special Protection Area (SPA) will come into force along a 24 mile stretch of coast from Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay in Cornwall. The area – equivalent to almost 55,000 football pitches – is the UK’s most important site for the wintering black throated diver. This new protection will help to minimise disturbance to the feeding areas and marine habitats the birds rely on, providing a safe haven where they can spend the winter.

    A further marine SPA has been announced in the Irish Sea between the Isle of Man and Anglesey – home to over 12,000 Manx shearwaters – while four other sites have been extended around the UK, ranging from Liverpool Bay in the north-west of England, Poole Harbour on the south coast, and the Outer Thames Estuary near London. Marine SPAs are sites given special status to protect populations of rare, vulnerable and migratory birds. These latest designations will help to safeguard the feeding grounds of over one quarter of the UK’s breeding population of little terns and bring the UK’s total number of marine SPAs to 106.

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  • 11 2017

    CITIZEN SCIENCE

    OPENER invites you to shape environmental researchOPAL

    The Badger Trust is very disappointed at the the Welsh Government’s decision to cull badgers in attempting to reduce bovine TB on a small number of persistently infected farms in Wales. The policy was announced on Tuesday 20 June by Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.

    You may have collected data on earthworms, pond dipped or searched for bugs under your plant pots through OPAL surveys; now a new initiative is looking for new ways in which you can contribute to scientific research on the major environmental challenges facing the planet. This year long project, called OPENER, will identify ways that researchers can involve people at all stages of the research process.

    Funded through NERC’s Engaging Environments programme, OPENER aims to bring together citizen scientists, professional scientists, businesses and others who have a passion for researching the natural world. It is focused on building capacity through training in citizen science (for both researchers and members of the public) and developing so called local 'communities of practice' (interest groups) to prepare for a nationwide programme of public engagement with environmental sciences.

    The UK has a rich history of citizen science, in which non-experts collect vital data to inform scientists on the state of the environment. OPAL has been a key part of this movement, involving close to a million people in surveying their local hedges, ponds, gardens and more.

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  • 12 2017

    BRIGHT FUTURE FOR PLANET EARTH?

    A brightening world: Study shows rise in global light pollutionAstronomy Now

    Five years of advanced satellite images show that there is more artificial light at night across the globe, and that light at night is getting brighter. The rate of growth is approximately two percent each year in both the amount of areas lit and the radiance of the light.

    An international team of scientists on Wednesday reported the results of a landmark study of global light pollution and the rise of light-emitting diode (LED) outdoor lighting technology. The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, finds both light pollution and energy consumption by lighting steadily increasing over much of the planet. The findings also challenge the assumption that increases in the energy efficiency of outdoor lighting technologies necessarily lead to an overall decrease in global energy consumption.

    The team, led by Dr. Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany, analyzed five years of images from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, operated jointly by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The data show gains of two percent per year in both the amount of the Earth’s surface that is artificially lit at night and the quantity of light emitted by outdoor lighting. Increases were seen almost everywhere the team looked, with some of the largest gains in regions that were previously unlit.

    “Light is growing most rapidly in places that didn’t have a lot of light to start with,” Kyba noted. “That means that the fastest rates of increase are occurring in places that so far hadn’t been very strongly affected by light pollution.”

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