As nations gather in Nagoya, Japan, next week, for the world biodiversity conference, a coalition of UK conservation organisations has today published a report using the UK's birds as a barometer of conservation success. In 1994, the UK government identified 26 species of bird that were most in need of conservation help and set in train detailed plans of action for them as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Using population trends from 24 of these, today's report - State of the UK's Birds 2010 - shows that the number of these species in steep decline has now more than halved, and that the numbers increasing has risen from four to six species.
Brussels, 8 October 2010. A report published today confirms that the EU has missed its target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. The assessment of implementing the Commission's Biodiversity Action Plan shows that Europe's biodiversity remains under severe threat from the excessive demands we are making on our environment, such as changes in land use, pollution, invasive species and climate change. Nevertheless, the assessment reveals that significant progress has been made over the last two years. Important lessons learned from implementing the action plan will underpin the EU's post-2010 strategy.
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: "We have learned some very important lessons and managed to raise biodiversity to the top of the political agenda. But we need everyone on board and not just in Europe. The threat around the world is even greater than in the EU. That's why it's imperative that Nagoya delivers a strong global strategy on the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems."
The Biodiversity Action Plan was launched in 2006 with the aim of halting biodiversity loss in the EU by 2010. Today's assessment of progress made on some 150 different actions concludes that while significant progress has been made in a number of areas, the overall 2010 biodiversity target has not been reached.
Targeted actions to reverse the decline of endangered species and habitats have been successful. The Natura 2000 network has been significantly extended and now comprises around 26,000 sites, covering 18% of the EU's land territory. The scope of LIFE+ funding was broadened to cover wider biodiversity issues and support implementation of the EU biodiversity plan. Efforts to protect marine and freshwater ecosystems have been boosted by the new Marine Strategy Directive. This summer the Commission set out the criteria to be used by Member States to assess the environmental status of their seas.
The work of the ongoing study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB) has led to the increased recognition of the economic value of nature's assets. TEEB is already helping decision makers to recognise the value of investing in natural capital.
The Biodiversity Action Plan has helped increase understanding of the drivers of biodiversity loss (such as climate change), how biodiversity and other sectoral activities are interlinked and the important role of ecosystems such as for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Lessons learned will be invaluable in ensuring that renewed efforts to halt biodiversity loss are successful. In March, the EU committed to a new target: to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.
The integration of biodiversity and ecosystem concerns into other EU policies will be central to the post-2010 strategy. The planned reforms of policy areas which have significant implications for biodiversity - such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy - as well as the preparations for the next programming period for EU Regional Policy, offer important opportunities. These are significant both in terms of reducing impacts on biodiversity and as potential sources of financing for biodiversity conservation and restoration.
The new strategy will benefit from a significantly strengthened knowledge base, including a biodiversity baseline that will allow trends beyond 2010 to be clearly established and measured.
Outside the EU, the situation is even more worrying as pressures on biodiversity continue to intensify. Between 12% and 55% of selected vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups are threatened with extinction at global level (Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, 2010). The international community has failed to achieve the global target of significantly reducing biodiversity loss worldwide by 2010. New global targets for biodiversity will be discussed at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, from 18-29 October.
The EU has been working to reduce the impact of its high consumption on the rest of the world, as well as the impact of international trade on global biodiversity and ecosystems. Developments include the signing of the first Voluntary Partnership Agreements designed to combat illegal exploitation of forests. One of the key issues on the agenda in Nagoya will be ensuring that benefits from the use of resources for the development of products such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics are shared with the country they came from.
The assessment contains a wealth of facts and data on actions taken to halt biodiversity loss in all 27 individual Member States and at EU level. It also includes a synthesis comparing the performance of individual Member States and an update of the biodiversity indicators (SEBI 2010). See the EU Biodiversity Action Plan Report 2010
Natural History Museum launches The Big Nature Debate to explore public concerns about biodiversity loss ahead of October Nagoya conference.
British people are worried about the drastic loss of native species, the effects of climate change on global wildlife and over-fishing, according to research commissioned by the Natural History Museum. Yet 85% of those asked did not know that next month officials from 193 countries are meeting in Japan to take importantdecisions about the future of biodiversity, whichcould affect how we protect, manage and make use of the planet's diversity of life for decades to come.
In the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the Natural History Museum is launching The Big Nature Debate to get the public talking about biodiversity and the world around them. Working with International Year of Biodiversity partners the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the debate will be a platform for information, opinion and discussion about biodiversity issues ahead of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) which is being held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. While governments recognise the importance of the problem, the outcomes from the conference will alsorely on ordinary people to understand the issues and help build a more sustainable society. Without this there will be little chance of long-term success.
Dr Robert Bloomfield, Director of the International Year of Biodiversity UK, said 'The rapid loss of biodiversity and natural systems will affect the lives of everyone in coming decades. From our research we know that one in two people in Great Britain, for example, is really worried about the dramatic loss of nearly 500 species of plants, animals and fungi from England in the last 200 years. Two thirds (65%) of people asked would like to know more about issues such as over-fishing and the loss of biodiversity.'
'However, species loss is only one part of the problem. The human race relies on the biodiversity of the natural world to maintain the healthy environment in which we all live. Biodiversity loss threatens the health, wealth and well-being of the world's population and will have consequences for generations to come. It is crucial that we understand the scale of the issues and as a global society respond to them while we still can.'
'We want to get people talking about these issues and inspire them to make a difference. Very few people (12%) know there is an important meeting next month to take decisions about biodiversity. Only 13% of those surveyed could explain what biodiversity - the amazing variety of life on our planet - is, and how we benefit so much from it. With the Nagoya conference next month, The Big Nature Debate could not come at a more important time and we hope to capture the interest of as many people as possible.'
People can visit www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate where they will be able to quiz the experts, debate issues in forums, subscribe to the RSS feed for latest updates and get biodiversity news through the Museum's Facebook page or by following the Museum on Twitter. The site will host thought-provoking blogs from biodiversity experts and other key thinkers on subjects such as what the world might look like in 2050 or if biodiversity loss has reached a crisis point. There is also the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of scientists for a live streamed debate on 7 October 2010.
First BARS newsletter outlining some of the potential changes coming over the next few months.
Pond Conservation have released their summer newsletter - at its summer there are a few words about some of the most abundant, but least popular, creatures in and around ponds at this time of year, worms, flies, leeches and flatworms. Or in Big Pond Dip speak, 'wigglies'. They've also drawn together some new information on some of the mammals most associated with ponds, bats and the little known water shrew. And a request that if you're in a position to make high quality, clean water ponds for BAP species, get in touch as they are now starting to put together the list of sites for the third round of Biffaward grants to support pond creation in the Million Ponds Project.
Nature Map was developed as a strategic planning tool for the South West. It was developed to help guide both conservation practitioners to the areas where the best opportunities exist for restoring and expanding biodiversity; but also as a tool to help guide decision makers, planners and others when considering biodiversity as part of a suite of measures.
Nature conservation is not limited by boundaries and therefore Nature Map principles still apply in helping to guide strategic decisions that influence biodiversity. This is true both in planning and for other uses as Nature Map identifies at a strategic scale the best areas for biodiversity interest and conservation. We therefore encourage local planners to continue to use Nature Map for strategic planning.
Nature Map has been ratified by local Biodiversity Action Plan partnerships, by many organisations and by Biodiversity South West. It was a key evidence layer in the development of the Regional Spatial Strategy. Nature Map is still a key part of the evidence base and as such should still form a material consideration in planning decisions. It is also at the heart of the development of a 5 year delivery plan for biodiversity in the South West, so continues to help shape thinking around delivery of biodiversity, embedding this within a 50 year vision for biodiversity rich places supporting healthy local communities.
11th August 2010
A downloadable version of this text is available via the Nature Map Planning and Development page
Defra have launched its discussion document around the new proposed Environment White Paper which is due to be published in Spring 2011. See the press release below and the following link for more info and to download the full discussion document. They are encouraging debate and comment at all levels so please do circulate.
"Greenest government offers chance for public to input on new environment policy
A new approach to environment policy was signalled today as Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman called for everyone, from birdwatchers to big business, to shape the government's Natural Environment White Paper. The White Paper will be Defra's first environmental White Paper in 20 years and comes at a time when honey bees are facing crisis, 97% of our flower-rich meadow has been lost since 1930 and the last 25 years has seen house sparrow numbers decline by 10 million. The discussion document launched today will gather ideas, knowledge and expertise which will feed into the White Paper.
Launching the discussion document at Kew Gardens Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "We want everyone to contribute their views on the natural environment whether they're concerned at the plight of the songbirds in their garden, the quality of air in their town, flooding problems worsened by people paving over their gardens or the fate of our wider countryside." "We have the opportunity to be the generation that puts a stop to the piecemeal degradation of our natural environment. We want to see a real positive change in the future of our natural environment - one which supports a stronger economy and better quality life. This discussion document will allow everyone to shape the White Paper, in a Big Society approach to policy making so that together we can aim to halt this decline and recognise that nature is our ultimate producer and supplier."
The economy and the natural environment have historically been pitted against each other as if they were competing choices, rather than being mutually interdependent. Reducing the deficit and ensuring the economic recovery are the government's top priorities but greater knowledge of the value provided by natural systems and the high costs associated with their degradation means that the economy and the environment cannot be separated.
This document aims to encourage debate about how best we protect and enhance our natural environment, and the valuable services we derive from it. We are looking for a wide range of views on all of the issues set out in this document, or any others that you think we have missed. The deadline for responses to this document is 30 October 2010 and details of how to respond can be found via the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/
The White Paper is to be published in Spring 2011 and will cover England only.
More information on Defra's biodiversity work programme can be found via the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/"
END OF PRESS RELEASE
New report from Faculty of Public Health and Natural England looks at the role of green spaces in improving wellbeing. Almost one in six people in the UK will suffer from mental ill-health, such as anxiety or depression, in their lifetime. Mental ill-health can cause, and be caused by, health and social inequalities. It accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease in Europe. Poor mental health also costs the economy an estimated £26.1 billion a year, because of the thousands of people unable to work due to their mental illness. Safe, green spaces may be as effective as prescription drugs in treating some forms of mental illnesses, without the costs of side-effects and ever-rising numbers of prescriptions."
Download a full copy of the report - Great Outdoors: How Our Natural Health Service Uses Green Space to Improve Wellbeing (pdf).
Pond Conservation have announced the publication of the final results of the 2009 Big Pond Dip. A summary of the findings (pdf)is available to download and the full technical report can be downloaded from the Pond Conservation website
Remarkably little is known about Britain's 2-3 million garden ponds and the Big Pond Dip is helping to discover more about this mysterious habitat at the end of the garden - it's also great fun.
In its first year the Big Pond Dip has already provided a range of valuable new information about the wildlife of garden ponds. Complementing more detailed garden pond research being undertaken by Pond Conservation, the Big Pond Dip is helping people to make better wildlife ponds in the their gardens - and contributing to the protection of Britain's threatened freshwater wildlife. For example, Pond Conservation's recent research shows that the best garden ponds support more dragonfly species than the average countryside pond.
The Big Pond Dip is running again in 2010 - and they're especially interested to hear from people who did the survey in 2009. You can download the form, and enter your results online to add them directly to the national database.
The Government made a commitment to review the impact of the Biodiversity Duty within three years of it coming into force, to examine how the duty in Scotland contained in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 to "further" the conservation of biodiversity had been implemented and to consider whether this duty should be adopted in England and Wales. Entec was commissioned by Defra in 2009 to undertake a study to inform these commitments. The findings of this report have now been published - download the Biodiversity Duty Review full report (PDF).
The Big Lottery Fund has teamed up with the BBC to launch the Community Wildlife Programme, which brings communities together to improve or protect the natural environment by raising awareness of threatened wildlife or places. The Programme will be officially launched on the BBC's Springwatch show on 8 June at 8pm.
For details see the Big Lottery Fund's Community Wildlife Programme
The programme celebrates the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, by allowing local groups and communities to get more involved with, enhance and protect their local wildlife. So far £2m has been allocated to this programme for just the one year but this may be extended. Grants of between £300 and £10,000 are being provided for one-year projects that:
The Eligibility criteria only permits applications from 'not for profit' organisations, local councils, health bodies and schools etc.
The programme has three funding rounds. The deadlines for receipt of applications for each round are:
The MCCIP website has recently been updated with new marine climate change news and events. Below is a brief summary of the new items that have been added.
For more details on all of the items listed below, simply go to www.mccip.org.uk and go to the links in the latest news and events box on our homepage.
The Environment Agency (EA) has recently published a series of reports on the vulnerability of estuaries to sea level rise. The reports include a science summary, along with two more detailed science reports.
The reports describes the development of new screening tools, which will allow planners and policy makers to rapidly identify the estuaries within England and Wales that are most vulnerable to future change if there are changes in sea level or other climate related factors, like storminess or river flow.
The authors would be interested in any feedback regarding the reports, particularly in terms of any intended or planned use.
If you do have any feedback on the science summary or the two reports then please contact Dr. Sarah Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE NOTE: If you are having problems with this site being blocked, copy and paste the web address shown, removing the word 'blocked' back into your browser and it should work.
New research by scientists based in the UK suggests sea level could rise by 0.6-1.6 metres by 2100. The findings are based on use of a statistical model to estimate the cumulative impact of a variety of warming and cooling agents - both natural and man-made - on twenty-first-century sea level rise.
The researchers say their estimates are in line with past sea level responses to temperature change, and they suggest that estimates based on ice and ocean thermal responses alone may be misleading.
In its 2007 assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that thermal expansion of the ocean and ice melt alone could raise sea level by 18-59 centimetres this century.
Defra recently published its Climate Change Plan', which outlines the Department's approach to both mitigation and adaptation.
The nature of Defra's work means that the impacts of climate change touch on most, if not all, of Defra's policy interests. Our plan explains that, in responding to the challenge of a changing climate, Defra has three clear priorities: securing the basics for human well-being; enhancing the resilience of ecosystems; and, building adaptive capacity.
The Plan outlines how Defra is working to embed adaptation into the Department's policies, programmes and systems. It provides a valuable opportunity to develop a conversation with our many stakeholders on the issues that are facing our key policy areas and how we can work together to ensure successful adaptation.
Defra recently published a discussion document which aims to encourage debate about how we should manage our environment in a changing climate.
The natural environment has emerged as an adaptation priority not only in Defra's Plan but also those of other Government Departments, because in the short term the impacts of climate change will be seen most clearly in natural systems which are vital in supporting our economy and society to adapt. The impacts of climate change on the natural environment are already becoming apparent and over time we can expect to see more impacts on things we value; raising new questions about policy priorities and delivery approaches.
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) published its study into Adapting Institutions to Climate Change on 30 March.
The Commission chose this topic because it believes there is an urgent need to understand how UK institutions should adapt to climate change and initiate actions to build adaptive capacity. The report explores the challenges facing institutions in adapting to climate change by examining existing institutional arrangements for three exemplar areas: freshwater, biodiversity and nature conservation, and coastal zones.
During the course of the study over 100 organisations and individuals submitted evidence or provided information on request. The Commission found that many UK institutions are poorly positioned to adapt to climate change and often have not yet started to think about how it will impact on them. The Commission set out a framework of key components which it believes must be considered in order to help organisations build resilience to climate change and hence adaptive capacity.
An archive of UKCP09 data is now available from the User Interface (UI). The archive makes for more rapid download of large amounts of data, and contains data on the following marine and coastal variables:
It is anticipated that cumulative distribution function (CDF) data for the probabilistic projections over land and marine regions will be made available in the near future.
If there are any relevant events that you would like to highlight on the MCCIP website please contact Paul Buckley at email@example.com
New items will be added to the website next month, but you will still be able to access previous MCCIP E-news items though the news and events archive page.
An updated overview of biodiversity in the UK has been published, which provides an insight into the health of our natural environment.
Biodiversity is the variety of individual species, the genetic diversity within species and the range of ecosystems that support them. These eighteen indicators were agreed in 2007 by the UK Biodiversity Partnership (the Government, the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Non-Governmental Organisations) to summarise some of the key priorities for biodiversity in the UK. The indicators include the population status of key species; plant diversity; the status of priority species, habitats and ecosystems; genetic diversity of rare breeds of sheep and cattle; protected sites; management of woodland agricultural land and fisheries; impacts of air pollution and invasive species; expenditure on biodiversity; and the amount of time given by volunteers to nature conservation activities.
A new publication, Biodiversity and Climate Change - a summary of impacts in the UK, from the Inter Agency Climate change forum which provides a summary of climate change impacts on biodiversity in the UK. Understanding the ongoing impacts of climate change on ecosystems is an essential prerequisite to addressing this challenge. This booklet collates recent evidence about the known interactions between climate change and biodiversity.
Working together for a greener South West - Join the Green Infrastructure Network
Visit www.ginsw.org.uk - a new website encouraging green space links and joined up working the South West.
Are you interested in where our green spaces and natural environment is located and how they interlink? South West England's environment is one of its greatest assets, yet it is under pressure from population growth and development, and at the same time it is often underused and ignored.
This new website aims to create a community that works to conserve, create, link and enhance green space and the natural environment close to where people live during development in order to meet the needs of sustainable communities, both today and in the long term.
The information is aimed at developers, planners, communities and others involved in the planning, delivery and management of green infrastructure in their local area. It is also for anyone interested in the public benefits that natural spaces bring, particularly the role they have in supporting sustainable living.
An online map pinpoints case studies of current activity and the website also provides information on the latest Green Infrastructure news, events and other activities taking place around the region.
www.ginsw.org.uk has been developed by GreenSpace South West, Sustainability South West and Natural England, and is managed by a South West Green Infrastructure Task Group.
For more information, contact Naomi Wright: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 060 1226.
Today the UK Government became the first in the world to publish plans that will set out how every major department will address the challenge of climate change in the UK.
The Carbon Reduction Delivery and Adaptation Plans detail each department's commitment to minimise the damage of climate change, by reducing emissions and by preparing for inevitable change in the UK climate.
These plans are being published alongside a single overview of what Government is doing: Climate Change: Taking Action - Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate.
Publishing the plans Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said:
'These plans demonstrate how each individual department will work to reduce emissions and adapt their own estates, operations and policies.
'There can be no mistaking that some climate change is inevitable and we will need to adjust the way we live our lives to meet these new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities where possible. These plans are by no means the final word, but are a step towards the low carbon, well-adapted society that we need.'
Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said:
"The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that human induced climate change poses a huge threat to the world and we must recognise the challenge this presents to all aspects of our economy and daily activities.
"These plans show Government's clear and unwavering commitment to reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency and providing greater opportunities in the low carbon economy. "The UK is a leader in international efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change. By linking each department's primary objectives to the challenges posed by climate change, government will lead by example."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that countries will experience further warming over at least the next 30-40 years due to past emissions because of the time lag in the climate system. In the UK we are likely to see warmer, wetter winters and hotter drier summers with increased risk of coastal erosion and severe weather. The UK Climate Projections suggest a range of possible temperature rises of +0.8 to +4 degrees by the 2040s for different areas of the UK, compared to the 1961-1990 average temperature. Our actions now will determine how dramatic changes are in the longer term.
Carbon Delivery Reduction Plans set out for each department how the aims of the department relate to climate change, the measures they will be taking to ensure delivery of emissions reductions and the indicators and milestones being used to monitor progress. They are a recognition by Government that it is the responsibility of all departments to respond to climate change reflecting the fact that all activities have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
Departmental adaptation plans include measures to ensure that the
agricultural sector is prepared for the changes in farming practices and
can take advantage of new opportunities; adapting the built environment
- from green infrastructure in urban areas, to how flooding risk is considered; investment to manage flood risk and coastal erosion; heatwave plans; encouraging adaptation skills in the economy from engineering, planning and architecture, to developing new products and services.
Alongside Climate Change Plans, the Government has also today published information on further work to help deal with climate change, including:
This year is a watershed year for biodiversity when we report our progress to the 2010 target to halt biodiversity loss. Whilst we may have fallen short of this target it has achieved a great deal in setting a benchmark for our ambition and generating a tremendous amount of activity and partnership work to begin to realise this target.
On March 15th the European Union Environment Council agreed a new headline target for biodiversity for 2020 - the target reflects the old target for 2010 (halt the loss of biodiversity) but with an inclusion recognising the importance of healthy ecosystem functioning: 'halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss'
First ever audit of all of England's lost and declining native species
Centuries of conservation records go under the microscope
Natural England has launched the most complete audit of hundreds of years of England's wildlife winners and losers to an audience of leading conservationists at the Zoological Society of London today (11 March).
Lost Life: England's Lost and Threatened Species (pdf) identifies nearly 500 animals and plants that have become extinct in England - practically all within the last two centuries. On top of this, nearly 1,000 native species have been given conservation priority status because of the severity of the threats facing them.
Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: "Coinciding with the International Year of Biodiversity, this report is a powerful reminder that we cannot take our wildlife for granted and that we all lose when biodiversity declines. Every species has a role and, like rivets in an aeroplane, the overall structure of our environment is weakened each time a single species is lost. Biodiversity matters and with more and more of our species and habitats confined to isolated, protected sites we need to think on a much broader geographical scale about how we can reverse the losses of the recent past and secure a more solid future for our wildlife."
The Lost Life report highlights how habitat loss, inappropriate management, environmental pollution and pressure from non-native species have all played a part in the erosion of England's biodiversity. All of the major groups of flora and fauna have experienced losses, with butterflies, amphibians, and many plant and other insect species being particularly hard hit - in some groups up to a quarter of species have been become extinct since 1800.
Despite these pressures, conservation efforts have achieved many notable successes in protecting priority species and habitats - including the return of the red kite and the large blue butterfly. Nevertheless, losses continue and 943 native species are now classed as a conservation priority, while the numbers of several hundred more are in significant decline. Some of England's most familiar species - including the red squirrel, common toad, and European eel - face an uncertain future.
To provide long-term support for our wildlife, Natural England is working with a range of partners in the England Biodiversity Group to adopt a "landscape-scale" approach to conservation which goes beyond the conservation of small protected sites and individual species and embraces the management of entire landscape areas and the ecosystems that operate within them. Wide-scale restoration of habitats and ecosystems and linking of habitat areas are seen as key to taking the pressure off the biodiversity hotspots of individual sites and reserves and giving broader support to wildlife in the wider countryside.
Dr Helen Phillips continued: "Current conservation programmes have been central to supporting England's biodiversity and they show that we can reverse some of the losses of the past. But firefighting to rescue species in severe decline can never be a long-term solution. We need a step-change in conservation that goes beyond the targeted work that has gone on to protect individual sites and species, and which focuses on restoring the health of ecosystems across entire landscapes. We have to give wildlife and habitats more room to thrive and only by tackling the problems of environmental decline in this co-ordinated way, and at this sort of scale, can we succeed in halting and ultimately reversing many of the recent declines in biodiversity."
A new approach to managing the UK's land will be vital to meet the challenges of the 21st century, according to the latest report from Foresight, the Government's futures think tank.
The full report can be found together with lots of other stuff at the Foresight web site.
'Land Use Futures' looks at how landscapes and land use could change in the UK over the next 50 years. It concludes that the present way the land system is managed in the UK will need to change. There are already pressures on land, but these will intensify in parts of the country, such as in the South East of England. Shortages in critical public goods - such as water supply, biodiversity, carbon sinks and urban green space - could result unless carefully managed.
The report, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Communities and Local Government (CLG), outlines the findings of an extensive two-year study involving over 300 experts in subjects ranging from ecology, economics, planning and geography.
Its main findings are that land is a versatile national asset playing a crucial role in fostering people's physical and mental wellbeing, and supporting prosperity. But the land system will come under new pressures over the next 50 years from:
Decisions will be needed on crucial issues such as how to balance local and national interests; what is the appropriate mix of market incentives and regulation to guide future land use change, and how government can improve the strategic use of space and assets when land is mostly under private ownership.
Professor John Beddington, the Government's Chief Scientist and the project director said: "Together with our human capital, land is possibly our greatest asset. It supports our prosperity, our wellbeing and forms the bedrock of our cultural and national identity. However, many of the current systems and ideas about what is the best use of land date back to around the Second World War. A land management system fit for the 21st century needs to draw on the latest science and evidence on how changes in the use and management of land interact to affect people and the natural environment, and to reflect the diversity of benefits that land can deliver". "This project is the first even-handed look across such a broad spectrum of land use sectors, spanning rural and urban uses including, agriculture, transport and housing. The analysis highlights the challenges, opportunities and choices we face". "Business as usual is not an option over the long-term. Without being smart about how land is used, we risk missing targets, such as halting biodiversity loss. The effects of climate change and new pressures on land could escalate, seriously eroding quality of life". "These are big issues which require national oversight and the report argues that strategic objectives to guide future land use change are needed. This detailed report finds that Government now needs to find a way to coordinate work across land use sectors, promote the smarter use of land and to reward land owners and managers for sustainable practices."
Drawing on over 35 expert papers, the report sets out how land is used, what it is valued for, the challenges the land system will face and the critical choices for Government.
Findings include where we are now:
The scale of the challenges identified in the report means that Government and the land use community need to take stock. There are critical choices to be made now, including:
People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is producing the traditional orchard inventory on behalf of Natural England to support the traditional orchard Habitat Action Plan. The inventory will complement other habitat inventories available through the Natural England website. It is being produced to national inventory standards agreed with Natural England and is now available to download for free via the Natural England publications download page and via MAGIC from December 2nd.
UK Sand and Shingle Network Newsletter (pdf) with all the latest news and forthcoming events for those with an interest in sand dunes and shingle. The article on page 5 about invasive species may be of particular interest as a follow up to discussions about this at the recent Maritime and climate change adaptation conference.
A new FC report launched last week entitled Combating Climate Change - A Role for UK Forests outlines the role forestry can play in mitigating climate change. The report calls for 25,000ha per year of new forest creation in UK for next 40 years. The report makes for interesting reading especially for those of us interested in biodiversity:
This is a useful report which highlights the importance of natural systems in mitigating climate change. This offers a good opportunity to dovetail delivery of BAP targets for woodland and there is a need to work with FC on the opportunities this may bring.
On 27th November Natural England, on behalf of Government, started a formal consultation on several proposed new marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) based on the presence of qualifying habitats and bird populations specified in the European Habitats Directive. Four of the proposed SACs are located in the South West and these have been identified and their boundaries defined based on their reef and/or sea cave habitat features. The South West sites under consultation are:
The formal consultation closes on 26 February 2010. Please see Natural England's own press release for more details.
Somerset LBAP has published its first newsletter (pdf) outlining some of the progress and work ongoing in the county for biodiversity.
This new report from Environmental Change Network highlights some of the findings from ECN monitoring and research which provide evidence of the sensitivity of natural ecosystems in the UK to variability and change in climate. These include assessments of population dynamics, responses to extreme events (drought), changes to the timing of lifecycle events (phenological changes) and biological responses affecting the carbon cycle.
Biodiversity South West is working with its regional and local partners to pull together a SW Delivery Plan for Biodiversity. The plan is being pulled together as part of regional and local action to deliver the on the asks of the 'Securing Biodiversity - A new framework for delivering priority habitats and species in England' released in November 2008.
The briefing notes outline Phase 2 of the process to draft the new Delivery Plan and places an ask on all LBAP partnerships and other conservation delivery organisations in the SW to select and submit their Priority landscapes for delivery over the next 5 years - the timeframe for the plan. A workshop will be held in December to draw this together and agree our priorities. More detail of this event will be circulated as they become available.
Should you have any queries please contact Naomi Brookes
The new Implementation Plan for the Regional Woodland and Forestry Framework for 2009-12 (pdf 2.2mb) has now been published. It is also available to view and to download from the Forestry Commission website where you will find background information about the Framework and more detailed tables of the actions headlined in the Plan. As you would expect the plan outlines a number of themed actions to help shape delivery of the Regional Woodland and Forestry Framework - with assigned leads. It's worth noting that the framework has a Nature Conservation section which makes links with BAP delivery and the Regional Delivery Plan for Biodiversity in the South West which is currently being prepared.
The Implementation Plan was formally launched by Nick Hoare, Wessex Regional Director of ConFor, at the South West Woodland Show on Friday 11th September.
For more details about the plan please contact Deborah Elton, Policy Implementation Officer at the Forestry Commission (email@example.com).
SITA are delighted to announce that they will be offering a new three-year Enriching Nature Programme that will run from 2010 - 2012.
The Trust has committed £8m in new funds to this programme. There will be three funding rounds per year in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Applicants may request up to £120,000 for an individualproject.
SITA welcome applications to this funding programme from not-for-profit organisations with projects that focus on conserving a species or habitat identified as a priority in the UK BAP process.
Previous successful applicants to SITA Trust's funding programmes can apply for new project sites. To apply for a site which has previously been funded an applicant must wait three years from the date that any funding agreement was signed. If this affects you and you wish to know the date of any previous funding agreement, please call the SITA team on 01454 262910.
Applications to the new fund must be made online using their new online application system. Once you've registered on this system you can revisit your form as often as you wish before submitting it to the Trust for consideration. SITA will not see the form until you have submitted it to them.
For more info on the programme including deadline dates and an application guide visit SITA Trust
A chance to find out a bit more about the national Wetland Vision and different initiatives to make the vision a reality - including the latest news about funding for a series of projects across the country, including three projects in the South West - two focused on the Somerset Levels and Moors and one for the River Fal in Cornwall. Wetland Vision Newsletter (PDF 825kb)
One of the issues Natural England highlighted in the early development of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill was the need to ensure join up between planning on land and at sea. A recently published report for Natural England, the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales and National Trust examines the current and future practice of planning at the coast in the context of marine planning being introduced in the Bill and recent changes to planning on land.
The integration of marine planning with the well-established system of land-use planning presents a unique opportunity to develop a holistic approach to managing coastal environments but could also result in duplication and confusion if not implemented effectively. The study identifies opportunities and also the key obstacles to integration and sets out a series of recommendations which seek to maximise benefits in relation to the remits of the project partners.
Please find details below about the forthcoming UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference and an invitation from Defra to this event. Please note this event is aimed at LBAP Co-ordinators and practitioners and is booked on a first come first served basis.
UK BIODIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP CONFERENCE 2009
I am writing to invite you to the 7th Annual UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference taking place at the University of York on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 October 2009. To register for your place and view full programme details, go to www.keystone-group.co.uk/biodiversity.
The intention of the conference is to bring together the biodiversity community to discuss themes and issues of common concern. The title of this year's conference is The Value of Biodiversity and we are delighted to have been able to combine the annual UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference with Natural England's Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) Seminar.
The programme, amongst other things, will cover the weight to be attached to biodiversity valuation in any successor to the 2010 target; valuing biodiversity within an ecosystem approach; and how we can incorporate valuation, scientific and social evidence into our delivery. Representatives of the four countries will also provide updates on progress to conserve the species and habitats afforded conservation priority under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, has agreed to open the conference.
We are planning to arrange for those delegates that arrive early to have an opportunity to visit a local project on the morning of Wednesday 7 October and, during the evening, there will be a formal reception held at the University. There will also be interactive sessions available over the two days on a variety of subjects linked to the conference theme which we hope will be of interest to you.
The programme includes an Exchange Fair on the first day of the conference, with a wide variety of interest groups linked to the conference theme. If you wish to provide a display for the Exchange Fair, please indicate your requirements on the on-line booking form when you register for your place as a delegate. This year we have also programmed several one minute slots into the plenary session for exchange stall holders to promote their stalls. If your organisation would like to be considered for this opportunity, please indicate on the booking form when registering to attend.
There will be no charge to attend the conference as places are being subsidised by Defra and Natural England. However, attendees are asked to cover the costs of B&B accommodation provided by the University of York at a rate of £50 per night and make their own arrangements with regards to travel.
Defra Biodiversity Policy Unit
For any queries or difficulties in registering for the UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference, contact Susie Davies at:
Keystone Conference & Event Management Ltd
Bownhill, Woodchester, GL5 5PW
An important REN task in 2009 is to complete a new statement of environmental priorities for the South West. Work on this has now progressed to the moment when we need sharp and incisive comments from the REN network (including Biodiversity South West partners) on a draft. In its current form, it is now available on the REN web pages. Also at this location, you can find a web questionnaire for inputting your responses. Please note the closing date for this stage of the process is Friday 28th August.
Our working draft adopts an overarching vision of 'One Planet Living' in the South West and outlines the most important outcomes needed against this goal. To better define the services or benefits the environment provides for the region the priorities are structured around Defra's ecosystems approach. In due course, combined together with sister work streams on evidence and better delivery, the region will have a new environmental toolkit for informing and influencing policy and delivery across the South West.
Next steps in taking forward the 'Priorities' work will be a major focus at RENs 30th September Plenary, after which we will take a new draft out on a wider consultation. Our aim then is to secure a completed Statement by Xmas 2009.
Two documents have been produced by JNCC giving information on Marine Conservation Zones and the work to designate them, and one which outlines the different types of Marine Protected Area. PDFs versions:
Make Birds Count is aimed at people with existing bird ID skills who want to learn more about bird survey techniques and hopefully take part in bird surveys. So of interest to people who would do this voluntarily and professionally.
Free event (tea and coffee provided but bring own packed lunch). Booking essential. Event details on poster (pdf).
A new report on the state of the natural environment in the South West and the challenges it faces launched July 2nd. The report recognises the region's magnificent landscapes, seascapes and biodiversity. However, it goes on to say that there is still much work needed to ensure that these are protected in the long term from multiple pressures including housing development, over-fishing and the predicted effects of climate change.
The State of the Natural Environment in the South West has been produced by Natural England, the Government's advisor on the natural environment. Janette Ward, the Regional Director for Natural England in the South West said: "The region's natural environment underpins the foundations for our economic and social wellbeing. The evidence in this report shows that our natural assets face significant pressures but also demonstrates clearly that targeted action by Natural England and our partners can make a real difference. For example, the Lundy no-take zone is the first area in UK waters where no fishing is legally enforced and surveys already reveal the positive impact this is having on the breeding population of a number of commercial species such as the lobster. This is a brilliant result for the natural environment and for the local fishermen who have supported the no-take zone."
The first section of the report brings together evidence relating to the natural environment in the region while the second section looks in more detail at issues around sustainable land management, marine, uplands, green infrastructure, health, and climate change. The report concludes with a call to action and sets out the specific challenges that lie ahead and details the coordinated action that is needed now, not just by Government but by everyone in the region from key decision makers to the general public.
Janette Ward concludes: "It is not too late to take the decisions needed to put our region on the path to a greener and sustainable future. However, this requires that a healthy natural environment is seen not as a luxury but as a necessity. This report succinctly demonstrates how we all must work together across the region, particularly in these uncertain economic times, to deliver a healthy natural environment for current and future generations to enjoy."
The Forestry Commission has launched consultation on the long term role of the Public Forest Estate in England. The Public Forest Estate extends to about 258,000ha and is made up of over 1,500 different woods and forests across England, which is 2% of the land in England and 18% of the woods and forests. This therefore represents a fairly large resource and a lot of potential BAP habitat. Whilst the consultation makes no hard and fast recommendations, it is a chance for the Forestry Commission to discuss some of the issues and drivers for change that may affect the use/management/role of the Forestry Estate and as such is a good opportunity to influence this thinking.
A regional response from BioSW will be prepared, if you would like to contribute to this please forward any response to Naomi Brookes by Friday 4th September. The consultation document can be downloaded from the Forestry Commission.
The first newsletter from the recently launched Brue Valley Living Landscape Project (pdf), which outlines a bit about the project and its aims and the work of some of its partners.
The Woodland Trust have launched MOREwoods an initiative to get more people involved in planting more trees in their communities. The initiative offers assistance to local communities for woodland planting - please see MOREwoods leaflet for more information.
The first newsletter from the National Trust's Traditional Orchards Project (pdf) which explains a bit about the project and some of the work the National Trust are undertaking with their partners.
On June 19th Defra launched the anticipated UK Climate Projections 2009. These projections build on those released in 2002 and will help us to understand better how the UK's climate will change over the next 100 years.
The projections which show the probability of changes in temperature, rainfall, sea-level, cloud and radiation all show what will happen if we fail to cut our carbon emissions. Three different scenarios are presented based on different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios - high, medium and low. Much of the data is based on the latest climate science from the Met Office. These projections will be a useful tool in helping us to plan our adaptation responses to climate change for biodiversity and to determine the wider impacts of these changes in the wider environment.
The projections are a web based tool, for the main technical information about UKCP09, and the full range of information and support, go to: http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk. Defra's announcement of UKCP09. More UKCP09 information.
The launch of 'Securing Biodiversity - a new framework for delivering priority habitats and species in England' marks a change in the way that biodiversity will be delivered over the next 5 years. This framework recognises the importance of local and regional working, and the fact that delivery takes place at a local scale. It also highlights that it can no longer be business as usual if we are to meet our BAP objectives. To help steer this work each region is being asked to produce a Regional Delivery Plan for Biodiversity.
Biodiversity South West is committed to making sure that the South West Delivery Plan will reflect strategic local priorities and act as a clear direction for biodiversity delivery within the region. This event marks the start point of writing this plan. But it will only be as useful as your input into it. We are committed to ensuring that we get this plan right and for that we need your input. From past experience we want to ensure good buy in and urge you to come and have your say early on in the process and help shape what this plan will look like. This is important as this plan will shape how we move biodiversity delivery forwards in the region, and shape our relationship and communication with national delivery and Biodiversity Integration Groups (national integrated habitat and species groups (BIGS)).
Here is a draft project plan outlining some of the thinking Biodiversity South West Steering Group have put in place to lay the ground for the development of this plan over the next 6 months. There will be a chance to explore this more at the partnership meeting.
The event is being held on June 25th in Exeter at the Riverside Centre, which is only a 15-20 minute walk from Exeter St David's train station. Coffee will be served from 10am and finish at 4pm. There will be plenty of time for networking over lunch. This is a great opportunity for us all to get together and talk about the future shape of biodiversity delivery - this event is open to LBAP co-ordinators, their chairs and partners and other delivery organisations in the region involved in biodiversity work. Please circulate to colleagues who may be interested in this event. A full agenda will follow shortly.
If you want to attend please let Naomi Brookes know with your name, contact details and any dietary requirements by Friday 19th June.
An invasion is threatening the wildlife, economy and health of our countryside says Biodiversity South West. The claim comes as International Day for Biodiversity is marked on 22nd May, this year focusing on invasive non-native species. Biodiversity South West and its partners are worried about their spread across the region and are working to tackle the problem head on.
Invasive non-native species are any animal or plant, not native to the UK that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment and economy. River banks can become dominated by plants such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed, which can crowd out native species, affect the appearance of river systems, prevent access to riversides and even impede the flow of water, increasing the risk of flooding. They can also impact on our lives - threatening our property and can be costly and difficult to control - Japanese Knotweed can grow through tarmac and concrete and is difficult to control leading the government to estimate in 2003 that it would cost an estimated £1.56 billion to control across the country.
Simon Brenman, Chair of Biodiversity South West said: "Invasive non-native species are a serious threat to our native plants, animals and habitats, upsetting the web of life that has evolved over millions of years to make our bit of the planet diverse and distinctive. The problem is steadily getting worse and climate change is only expected to exacerbate the issue. Biodiversity is the key to nature's life support services and we take it for granted at our peril"
Research shows that 60% of invasive plants in the UK are garden escapees. One of the things that the public can do to help is to buy wildlife friendly species for their gardens and to dispose of plant and pond plant waste responsibly either by composting or using your local municipal garden waste scheme. Most good garden centres can give advice on what is good for wildlife, or see Natural England's wildlife gardening tips and leaflets.
You can also take part in one of the volunteer activities being run by environmental bodies across the region including Environment Agency, Natural England and county Wildlife Trusts to tackle the problem of invasive non-native species.
The Tamar Invasive Group was set up in 2001 to control invasive plant species within the Tamar Valley Catchment. The core members of the Group are Natural England, the Environment Agency, Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Cornwall County Council. Work in 2009 is focused on control of all Giant Hogweed within the catchment and control of Japanese knotweed along the main stem of the River Tamar downstream of Polson Bridge. The group has also produced a leaflet on the control of Giant Hogweed.
For further information Contact Hugh Tyler at Natural England firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 060 0318
Cornwall College, Newquay are hosting this lecture by Trevor Renals of Environment Agency on 22nd May 2009 at 3pm. The lecture will set out the issues and potential solutions involving invasive non-native species. Trevor Renal is Environment Agency advisor for invasive non-native species, co-founder of the ground-breaking Cornwall Knotweed Forum and a participant in Defra's review of non-native species policy. Cornwall College Newquay and Environment Agency are working with Volunteer Cornwall to follow the lecture with a short workshop to help establish the role volunteers could play in environmental issues.
For further information contact Kerry Trevenna, Marketing Executive at Cornwall College Newquay email@example.com or telephone 01637 857957
Floating Pennywort, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, is known to have been resent on Exminster Marshes since September 1999. This highly invasive species can grow up to 20cm a day, roots freely from nodes and can form extensive mats from the smallest root fragment, with maximum growth in late summer. The dense mats kill other aquatic species by starving the water body of light, nutrients and oxygen and can also increase the risk of flooding. The removal project began in 2000 with herbicide treatment, followed by mechanical removal and hand digging out of the plants. Nearly ten years after the infestation was first discovered, Floating Pennywort is still present on Exminster Marshes. With continual monitoring and removal it is slowly being brought under control, but it is unclear whether it will ever be eradicated from this important conservation site. The removal programme is co-ordinated by the Environment Agency and part funded by Natural England. For further information contact Mike Williams at Environment Agency firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01392 316033
For further info on Invasive non-native species visit the Environment Agency website
Devon County Council are undertaking an initiative to inform the public about the identification and control of the highly invasive and potentially structurally damaging Japanese Knotweed. A new Japanese Knowtweed leaflet (pdf 1.3mb) written by both the Devon and Cornwall Knotweed Forums is to be sent out to libraries, garden centres and promoted at Devon County Show. The aim of the leaflet is to provide guidance for householders and landowners who have identified Knotweed on their properties and to encourage them to control the plant.
This education initiative follows on from work by DCC to control Japanese Knotweed alongside roads. Records sent into Devon Biodiversity Record Centre by members of the public have been verified, mapped and a treatment programme started. Off-road records have now been verified and mapped in South Hams, East and North Devon. The next stage is to encourage, help and advise landowners and community projects to control Knotweed.
For further information contact Sarah Jennings at Devon County Council email@example.com or telephone 01392 383871
A community project in the village of Lee in North Devon treated 23 sites in the area involving 18 different landowners. The project originated with a public meeting identifying the spread of knotweed as a significant problem. To keep costs down members of the group undertook training so that they could treat the knotweed themselves. Free knotweed treatment was offered to landowners but many made a donation to augment funding from North Devon District Council and North Devon AONB. These sources paid for training, equipment and the chemical needed to undertake the work. For more information on Japanese Knotweed visit Devon Japanese Knotweed Forum.
For further information contact Sarah Jennings at Devon County Council firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01392 383871
Japanese knotweed is one of Britain's most invasive weeds, and is posing a real threat to some of the native flora and fauna of Exmoor. Both Japanese knotweed and its cousin, Himalayan knotweed can be seen along many watercourses on Exmoor, such as the Lyn and the Heddon, and also along hedgebanks and roadside verges. The overall aim of the Exmoor Knotweed Control Project is to control and eventually eradicate knotweed from within the National Park and its associated river catchments. The project is jointly sponsored by the Environment Agency, Natural England, National Trust and Exmoor National Park Authority.
As part of this project over 650 knotweed sites have been recorded across the National Park, most of which are treated each autumn. The project has been running for a number of years and the news at this stage is very positive. Many of the treated sites have significantly diminished in size. In fact in one or two areas we now have a difficult job to even locate the stands. However, while the news so far is positive, the project partners are aware that there is still a considerable way to go. The only way we are going to be able to eradicate this highly invasive species is if we know of all the occurrences within the National Park. If you spot any species of knotweed while out and about on Exmoor please do get in touch. An interactive map showing all known sites on Exmoor can be seen on Exmoor National Park Authority's website.
For further information contact Tara Wright or Bea Davis at Exmoor National Park Authority, telephone 01398 323665.
South-east Dorset is one of the areas in the region which is suffering from invasion by common Rhododendron - Ponticum. Both its internationally important heathlands and its deciduous woodlands are being overtaken by this species. The Return of the Natives is an initiative aimed at clearing the intimidating shrub from waysides and woodlands to allow the public to again enjoy the attractive and native woodland trees and wildflowers along rights of way in East Dorset District Council area. The Project is currently focused on the Ferndown Stour and Forest Trailway which runs alongside a number of woodlands around Hampreston which are heavily invaded by Rhododenron Ponticum. Dr. Lesley Haskins, Project leader explains "we have already started clearing Rhododenron from two old oak woodlands and suddenly trailway users can actually see the trees again and the wildflowers will soon be back for them to enjoy. It is proving so worthwhile, but there is so much more to do." Volunteers able to help should contact Dr Lesley Haskins on 01202 889717.
On Saturday 23rd May the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is giving people the chance to learn about these invasive species and discover more about how to overcome them. The event will be held at Rose Cottage, Harnham Water Meadows (near Salisbury) from 12-3pm. Directions to Harnham Water Meadows
Participants in the day will also learn about two more aggressive aliens; the signal crayfish and American mink. The crayfish, which has already invaded most of Wiltshire's rivers has pushed out our native white-clawed crayfish and spread a fungal plague throughout their population in the process. The American mink was transported to this country at the start of the last century for fur farming and is now indiscriminately eating its way through much of our native wildlife.For further information contact Ruth Clarricoates, at Wiltshire Wildlife
Trust email@example.com or telephone 07522 061 369
The Avon Invasive Weed Forum is an independent forum group which is supported by representatives from; The Environment Agency; Avon and Frome Partnership; Bristol City, South Gloucestershire, and BANES County Councils; BRERC; The Wildlife Trust; British Waterways; and Network Rail. It also has support from several local individuals and local conservation groups. The Forum's main aim is to raise awareness of the issue of riparian non-native invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed, in the Bristol and Avon area. The forum is also working with other organisations to help co-ordinate their control, and also to improve our understanding of where these weeds are by co-ordinating surveys and setting up a public recording system.
To celebrate International Biodiversity Day the Avon Invasive Weed Forum is holding two community events. Friday 22nd May is Halt The Invasion Day! and the forum and volunteers will be clearing Himalayan Balsam from the banks of the River Frome, in Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, where the weed is in abundance. On Sunday 24th May the forum will be joining in The Colliters Brook Trek, a guided community walk exploring the Colliters Brook in Ashton Vale, Bristol. During the walk we will be asking the walkers to take part in an invasive non-native weed survey. This will form part of our plan to survey key watercourses in the former Avon area. Meeting at the Create Centre, Smeaton Road at 10am. Several more volunteer events and surveys will be arranged throughout the summer.
Based in Avon, this initiative is a partnership project between Bristol Zoo (lead), Avon Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency to conserve remaining populations of Britain's only native species of freshwater crayfish the white-clawed crayfish, on a regional scale. White-clawed crayfish have suffered severe declines in Britain, most devastatingly at present due to the spread of non-native invasive crayfish species, such as the aggressive American signal crayfish. Invasive crayfish out-compete our crayfish for resources and carry a deadly disease named 'crayfish plague' which is fatal for native crayfish and quickly wipes out entire populations.
In the past three years, Avon has lost three out of four of its most abundant populations due to plague such as on Bristol's River Frome in 2007, where Avon Wildlife Trust found the population of thousands of crayfish had been lost.
There is currently no recognised way to eradicate non-native crayfish, so the project will actively mitigate the threat by finding suitable refuge waterbodies in which to establish new populations of white-clawed crayfish, known as 'Ark' sites. Bristol Zoo will also trial captive breeding.
As part of the project's communications strategy the zoo will engage with local groups, school children and angling communities and there will be activities for the public to get involved with at the zoo.
A conference is being held in Torbay on the 'Integration of Biodiversity and Geodiversity in Torbay' conference to be held on June 3rd at 9.30am at the Riviera International Conference Centre, Torquay. Although this conference will be looking at case studies in Torbay it will be a good chance to look more broadly at the subject of linking Geodiversity and Biodiversity and the positive links that can be made to bring about delivery on the ground for both areas. In this respect this will be an opportunity to learn lessons that can be applied in other areas.
By the year 2080, the climate of the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase might resemble that of present day Portugal, Natural England states in a report released today. Climate change may bring some benefits to the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase, such as a longer growing season. However, Portugal has arid landscapes where the impacts of drought, floods, and soil erosion are already felt and the country experiences water shortages every other year. The report outlines that the challenge is to make well informed decisions now so that we maximise the opportunities and minimise the threats posed by climate change.
Kate Hall, Sustainable Development Manager at Dorset County Council said: "Natural England's project is really helping us to understand which natural assets are at risk from incremental climate change and extreme weather events. They have brought a range of partners together to think about how changes in the use and management of land can help people and their environment in the future. For example, the creation of more woodland, pasture and ponds in the valleys of the upper Frome, could reduce the incidence of flooding in Dorchester."
Eighty per cent of the water drunk in Dorchester, Blandford and Salisbury comes from the surrounding chalk landscape but there is less water per person now than some Mediterranean countries. Water flows in the River Stour in late summer are predicted to be down by at least 50% in 2080 and the chalk stream network will shrink, with the loss of species such as the Atlantic stream crayfish. The report highlights that one of the solutions would be to create or restore ponds and woods along streams. The woods could then supply fuel, reduce air and water temperatures, and provide shade for humans and animals, while ponds could gravity irrigate new crops such as walnuts and olives.
A thirty per cent increase in autumn rainfall in the last 40 years has already been recorded in the South West. The report states that an increase in erosion of thin chalk soils can also be expected from rainstorms. This would result in damage to both historic monuments, such as the Iron Age hill forts of Maiden Castle and Hambledon Hill, and wildlife, as more silt and phosphate wash into rivers. One of the solutions outlined in the report would be to re-establish chalk grassland, native woodland or hedges on steep slopes. Planting locally native but drought tolerant trees such as oak, hornbeam and small-leaved lime is recommended.
Alistair Fitzgerald who farms at Swallowcliffe near Shaftesbury and contributed to one of the workshops set up by Natural England as part of the project said: "I was frightened about what the future holds and sceptical that we could survive in the climate of 2080, especially if fossil fuels and fertilizers become scarce. But we now have some emerging solutions that give me far more confidence".
The next step in the project is to engage more land managers and planners in the debate, ultimately leading to practical action that will secure a natural environment, local economy and society that is resilient to future climate.
Natural England's Climate Change Project focuses on four of the 159 'Character Areas' in England. 'Character Areas' are parts of English countryside that contain a unique combination of landscape, wildlife, natural and cultural features. Together they provide a picture of the variety of landscapes to be found across England. All four Climate Change reports went live on Tuesday 31st March.
Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase executive summary (pdf)
Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase full report Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase full report (pdf)
The natural environment: adapting to climate change (pdf)
Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase
GAP and DWT conference on re-connecting fragmented landscapes will take place on 22nd - 24th September 2009 at the University of Exeter. Further details, including booking details, are in the conference flyer (PDF)
The Wetland Vision sets out where new wetlands could be created and current wetlands restored over the next 50 years. By turning the Vision into reality we can make space for water in our countryside, help people and wildlife adapt to a changing climate, protect our heritage and reap the many benefits that wetlands can provide.
The Wetland Vision is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, English Heritage, the Environment Agency and Natural England.
Natural England has allocated a further £4,000,000 to the Wetland Vision partnership between 2009 and 2011, (£2,000,000 in each year) in support of landscape-scale wetland projects and the Wetland Habitat Action Plan (WHAP), for which we are the lead partner. This scheme is now open for applications for funding.
The deadline for receipt of applications is 29th May 2009. Please note applications need to be sent to the Regional Biodiversity Co-ordinator via email by this date and also as paper copy to David Henshilwood, Natural England, Juniper House, Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal LA9 7RL to reach him by no later than this date.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss please do not hesitate to contact the Regional Biodiversity Co-ordinator.
Natural England's Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) has opened for new applications for work during 2009/10 and 2010/11. Applications must be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday 29th April to be considered in the first round of funding. The Fund has £3.5m from Defra in the first year for grants and £1.8m in the second year. We welcome applications from voluntary organisations, local authorities, conservation groups and Natural England.
Improving the effects that quarries have on the environment and local communities.
The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund aims to reduce the adverse effects, and improve the benefits, that quarrying has on the environment, local area and its community. It does this by supporting projects that answer the following themes (summarised):
Landscape and Nature Conservation - conservation and improvement of the Landscape, Biodiversity and Geodiversity elements of the natural environment e.g. habitat creation or restoration, rescuing threatened geological features.
Access and Informal Recreation - improving access to the natural environment on or near sites affected by quarrying e.g. footpaths, signage.
Health and Wellbeing - improving the link between quarry sites and local communities e.g. safety, visual impact, engagement of local and wider communities.
Education and Understanding - providing information for public about the effects of quarry sites on the natural environment e.g. interpretative boards, guided walks
Evidence Gathering - about the effects of quarrying on the natural environment and affected communities, showing long term plans to manage and look at conservation issues for the above themes e.g. Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs).
For the 2009 - 2011 grant scheme our specific priorities are:
RSPB and IEEP call for big increase in onshore wind to tackle climate change
The UK could greatly increase the number of onshore wind farms it builds without trashing wildlife.
So says an RSPB-commissioned report from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), which found the UK lagging far behind in the drive for wind power. See the UK can have wind power and wildlife article (PDF 150kb).
Defra have launched a consultation paper that will collect views on two different approaches to enhancing farmland and wildlife habitats. The consultation asks how the environmental and biodiversity benefits of set-aside can be captured, after it was abolished in 2008. The consultation runs until 27th May 2009. For more information see: Defra: Set-aside consultation published and Defra: Environmental Standards for Farming - Consultation, Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC)
The Government has responded to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) Report on Halting Biodiversity Loss and made a response to conclusions and recommendations in this report published last November. The Government has provided feedback on all 12 conclusions reached by the EAC, outlining its proposed actions to address these recommendations. For further information please the government response to the Environmental Audit Committee Report on Halting Biodiversity Loss.
Defra have completed an informal survey of those Local Authorities who have included NI197 in their Local Area Agreements to obtain some key lessons on good practice. It has been drawn together to assist Local Authorirites for this year's reporting round. See a copy of this note (PDF) and see more information about NI197
The Million Ponds Project will create an extensive network of new ponds across the UK. Phase 1 of the Million Ponds Project runs from 2008 to 2012 in England and Wales and aims to create:
The project is a collaboration of major landowners and land managers (see list of species on the project website), co-ordinated by Pond Conservation. A funding scheme with Biffa is also being developed to support projects that are being completed for BAP species - first round applications have to be in by 13th March. For further information see information below.
PTES Annual Mammal Survey Date - today!
Wildlife conservation charity, the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is asking all wildlife lovers to take part in what will be the 7th annual survey of mammals in the urban environment; Living with Mammals.
Since 2003, Living with Mammals has asked volunteers to look out for mammals, and their signs, around their homes, places of work and recreational land. By continuing this work we can gain a better understanding of our wild neighbours and spot changes in their numbers before it is too late to act.
Forestry Commission England and Natural England have lead the development of the Delivery Plan (pdf 4.8mb), which was launched by Huw Irranca-Davies MP on the 15th of December 2008. The Plan sets out what needs to be done to achieve the five Aims of the Strategy as a national level framework.
It is intended to provide guidance and support for delivery at regional and local levels. It focuses on;
For more information please visit the Forestry Commission ETWF page
An update to the NERC S41 habitats and species of principal importance in England has been published. There are now 56 habitats and 943 species on the S41 List. It should be remembered that this list forms the England level cut of the UK BAP list of Priority BAP species and habitats.
The changes reflect changes made to the UK BAP species list by JNCC; updates to species names due to taxonomic changes and new information gathered on the occurrence of species in England.
The amended S41 list can be downloaded from the Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS) website or from the biodiversity section of our library
The Marine and Coastal Access Bill featured in the Queen's Speech at the start of December 2008. The Bill has now been published and will be included in Parliamentary sessions.
To find out more about the Bill and to monitor its progress through Parliament see the Defra website.
The People's Trust for Endangered Species have published its 7th annual assessment of the state of Britain's Mammals. This research compiled by conservation experts across the country reviews the new UK BAP species, the revised legal protection for water voles, focuses on mammal monitoring, on British deer, on bats, on managing invasive species, managing wildlife generally, wildlife disease and reintroductions. The report reveals that the water vole, hazel dormouse, hedgehog and mountain hare are all in decline, while on the plus side the otter and the lesser horseshoe bat are showing increases in their population numbers. To find out more, purchase a copy of the report or download go to People's Trust for Endangered Species.
A workshop hosted by Helen Philips on November 19th 2008 launched 'A New Framework for Securing the future of England's Natural Environment', as part of the England Biodiversity Strategy.
The Framework - sets out the step change in delivery needed by the biodiversity community to halt the continuing decline of biodiversity. It sets a challenge for all levels involved in biodiversity delivery - from national to local - to ensure focus is firmly fixed on delivery of priorities with agreed accountabilities across organisations. The Framework also confirms the need to move to a landscape scale approach to delivery and a move to integrated habitat and species delivery. On the face of it this may sound like business as usual - but the challenge is to focus on co-ordinated and effective delivery that secures our biodiversity for the future. The Framework recognises the importance of regional and local biodiversity partnerships in delivering the ambitions of the EBS. Download Securing biodiversity: A new framework for delivering priority habitats and species in England (pdf 1.2mb).
The Framework makes an ask of regions to produce a Regional Delivery Plan for biodiversity identifying priority delivery needs, primarily through landscape scale working. A key component of this, is linking this with organisational accountabilities for delivery. Biodiversity South West will be leading on this piece of work for the region. News on how this will be taken forward will be posted on these pages as it progresses.
The Environmental Audit Committee have published findings from their inquiry to assess progress towards the biodiversity 2010.
The report - 'Halting Biodiversity Loss' has some interesting lessons. Key findings were:
To see a copy of the report download Environmental Audit Committee report on Biodiversity (pdf 1.3mb) or go to parliament.uk.
To support and assist public bodies, Biodiversity South West, with financial support from Natural England, and input from marine specialist staff across the region, has produced 'Working for Marine Wildlife - Guidance for Public Authorities on Conserving Marine, Coastal, and Estuarine Biodiversity in South West England'. This short document sets out background to the NERC Act duties, how they relate to marine biodiversity, and provides some case studies to demonstrate simple action that public bodies can take to deliver improvements for marine biodiversity.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 strengthened the requirement for Public Bodies to have regard for biodiversity in undertaking their activities. South West England has the longest coastline of any of the English Regions, and a marine environment which is of prime importance for biodiversity. There is less familiarity though with marine biodiversity and marine management so that it is more difficult for public bodies to identify what action they can take to deliver their duties under the NERC Act.