marine conservation regulations too little too late
WWF-UK News 25 June 2007
The UK's marine
environment is set to benefit from new legal protection – but it will
only cover a limited range of the precious wildlife and habitats in our
The UK government has
adopted new EU marine regulations that will allow for offshore special
areas of conservation to be designated for wildlife which is considered
of European importance. But the regulations will fail to provide
protection for many nationally important marine habitats and species.
The EU regulations will
promote protection for sites such as the Darwin Mounds, an area some
185km north-west of Scotland that has extensive ancient cold water
corals, and the Rockall Bank, a rocky outcrop that rises to the island
of Rockall in the Atlantic and supports over 900 species. Biodiversity
in these areas will be managed against human threats, which in turn will
increase their resilience to climate change.
WWF wants to see a new
Marine Act that includes a duty to develop a national network of marine
protected areas and a series of highly protected marine reserves. They
are calling on the government to publish an ambitious timetable for
implementing such a network
England’s trees key to
DEFRA News Ref: 191/07,
20 June 2007
A vision of how England’s
trees, woods and forests can yield environmental, social and economic
benefits for future generations was set out today by Barry Gardiner,
Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs.
A new Strategy for
England Trees, Woods and Forests shows how long-term sustainable
management of trees, woods and forests can help people and wildlife
adapt to a changing climate and how people can make the most of their
local woodlands. It also highlights the way in which woodlands protect
and enhance natural resources, improve urban environments, and promote
better markets for sustainable woodland products and services.
The new strategy can be
A delivery plan to
implement the strategy will be produced by the Forestry Commission and
Natural England in partnership with other key organisations.
Brown bears almost extinct in
Reuters 20 June 2007
Brown bears face
extinction in Europe's Alps with only 38 known to remain in the mountain
region, environmentalists said on Wednesday, a year after the shooting
of a wayward bear shocked animal lovers.
"The population is too
small to ensure its survival," the World Wildlife Fund's Austria branch
said in a statement.
"We don't know of a
single bear in Germany any more," WWF spokeswoman Claudia Mohl said.
Brown bears are an
officially protected species in the European Union but their survival
has been jeopardized by habitat destruction from economic development
throughout the Alpine mountain region.
agencies told to work together
The Herald, 20 June 2007
The nine government
agencies which regulate and promote rural Scotland were yesterday told
they must work together, as the new SNP administration put on hold its
plans to merge the biggest two rural quangos.
Michael Russell, the
Deputy Environment Minister, met with chairs of nine quangos and
government agencies in Granton-on-Spey, and set them a target of
becoming a single rural and environmental service within a year -
Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency,
Forestry Commission Scotland, Forest Enterprise, Cairngorm National Park
Authority, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, the
Deer Commission Scotland, the Crofters Commission, Scottish Executive
Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate, and the Animal Health Agency.
There is an expectation that local councils will also become involved in
The intention is to
improve regulation by the main bodies that impact on farmers, estate
owners and others who work the countryside, some of whom complain of too
much duplication. The new administration at Holyrood intends these
agencies across rural Scotland to share more offices so that they
co-ordinate their links to rural businesses.
Ross Finnie, the LibDem
MSP who was Rural Development Minister for eight years, yesterday said
there could be less duplication, but it would be a mistake to force
together agencies that have different purposes.
Miliband sets out ‘Access All Areas’ plan for English coast
DEFRA News Ref: 187/07,
19 June 2007
Plans to open up the
whole of England’s coastline to the public for the first time were set
out by Environment Secretary David Miliband. At present parts of the
English coastline are out of bounds to walkers who find their routes
blocked and are forced to make long detours inland.
Ministers favour a strip
allowing access along the full length of the coast (see option 4 below),
as well as access to headland, coves and beaches so that a continuous
route will always be available as close to the coast as possible. They
want people to have their say on Natural England’s recommendations, to
help shape final government proposals.
The consultation seeks
views on four options:
Use existing rights of
way legislation to create a footpath all round the coast.
Extend open access
using the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to give access to
types of land which are considered coastal — e.g. beach, dunes,
with landowners using existing mechanisms such as those for
New legislation to
allow Natural England to designate a coastal corridor providing a
continuous route along which people can enjoy access to the coast.
The consulation documents
can be found at
The deadline for
responses to the public consultation is 11 September 2007
Biodiversity is crucial in the fight against climate change
Defra News Release Ref:
169/07 12 June 2007
The crucial role of
biodiversity in tackling climate change was today highlighted by Barry
Gardiner, Biodiversity Minister, at an international conference at the
Mr Gardiner launched,
Biodiversity indicators in your pocket 2007, a set of 18 indicators
which tracks the UK’s progress against international biodiversity
targets. This is the first time that a comprehensive set of biodiversity
indicators has been published for the UK. A specific indicator has been
developed to monitor how changes in climate, particularly temperature,
is influencing biodiversity.
Defra has also published
a review of current research into climate change and biodiversity in
England: “England Biodiversity Strategy: towards adaptation to climate
change”. The report reviews the evidence of climate change on
biodiversity in England and considers options for adapting policies to
reduce these impacts.The evidence in the report on how temperature
changes impact on biodiversity, also supports the findings of the
biodiversity indicator on climate change.
Key findings of the
There were very large
declines in bird and butterfly populations in the 1970s and 80s but
since 2000 these long term declines appear to have been arrested.
Since 2000, there have
been improvements in the extent of protected areas, sustainable
fisheries, sustainable woodland management, biological river quality and
expenditure on both UK and global biodiversity.
The Spring Index shows
that the mean dates of flowering of hawthorn, horse-chestnut and first
sighting of the orange-tip butterfly were 10-12 days earlier between
1998-2006 compared with 1900-1947.
indicators in your pocket 2007 publication and associated data are
presented on the JNCC website:
Conserving biodiversity is
key to tackling climate change say scientists
Royal Society 12 June 2007
Protecting biodiversity and
natural resources will be crucial to tackling and adapting to climate
change, top scientists will say at an international meeting today.
The meeting at the Royal
Society the UK national academy of science will bring together, for the
first time, leading scientists, economists, social scientists and policy
makers to discuss the role that biodiversity plays both in the climate
system and with helping people to cope with the impacts of climate change.
David Read, Vice President
of the Royal Society said: "We often hear about the impacts our changing
climate is having on the natural environment. But biodiversity will also
provide an important defence against the effects of climate change. This
means it is vital that strategies to deal with climate change planting
crops for biofuels or building flood defences for example protect
biodiversity rather than it being the last thing to be considered."
It has been suggested that
preserving pristine forests may be a win-win solution in combating climate
change and conserving biodiversity. Forests play an important role in
slowing-down climate change by removing and storing carbon dioxide from
the atmosphere. Research in the Amazon suggests that intact forests are
more resilient to the drying that is expected to happen as a result of
climate change than forests that have become fragmented due to
Biodiversity can also help
people adapt to the impacts of climate change. Salt marshes, healthy
mangrove forests and other coastal wetlands will provide protection
against extreme weather events, rising sea-levels and coastal erosion.
The meeting aims to
identify key areas in which environmental, sustainable development, social
and climate change policy can be coordinated to maximise opportunities for
dealing with climate change and conserving biodiversity. The conclusions
of the meeting will inform international negotiations on biodiversity and
The workshop is jointly
funded by the Royal Society, Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra), Department for International Development (DFID), the
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew,
Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Met Office Hadley
Centre and Met Office Consulting.
Pair charged over dolphin
BBC News Online 10 June
Two men have been charged
with disturbing a dolphin after Kent Police received several 999 calls.
Locals had expressed
concern about Dave the dolphin - who has become a huge draw for tourists
after being seen off Folkestone over the past year. Kent Police's Marine
Unit has issued several warnings that anyone getting too close to Dave
could be arrested.
Michael Jukes, 26, and
Daniel Buck, 25, both from Folkestone, were arrested at about 0530 BST on
Saturday and were charged under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. They
were freed on unconditional bail to appear at Folkestone Magistrates'
Court on 14 June, police said.
Animal welfare charities
have previously expressed concern over swimmers, kayakers and other
watercraft users possibly causing distress or alarm to Dave.
‘Time is right’ to bring
beavers back to Scotland
Sunday Herald 10 June 2007
After seven years of
political delays, beavers now look set to be reintroduced to Scotland. The
new environment minister, Michael Russell, wants to bring the
tail-slapping, dam-building, tree-gnawing mammals back. And he's prepared
to risk the wrath of landowners to do so.
In one of his first acts as
an SNP minister, Russell will this week ask Scottish Natural Heritage
(SNH) to draw up new plans to reintroduce the beaver. The wildlife agency
originally applied for a trial reintroduction in 2000, but was turned down
in 2005 by Labour and LibDem ministers after a series of delays.
"The beaver is a part of
our natural heritage which was destroyed by man," Russell told the Sunday
Herald. "I think the time is right to ask SNH to make new proposals,
taking into account the objections that led to the refusal, and I look
forward to considering them as soon as they can be brought forward."
He pointed out that SNH's
previous proposal had had "strong backing" and that beavers had been
successfully reintroduced in over 20 European countries. "Given the loss
of species worldwide we are going to have to learn a lot about
reintroduction," he said.
"Getting more practical
experience will be crucial, and a project such as this - in which we can
learn from others and make our own contribution to restoring Scotland's
biodiversity - seems to me to have many positive
Rhona Brankin, Labour's
shadow cabinet secretary for rural affairs, and a former environment
minister, said: "I welcome this issue being reopened. But I have a huge
concern that public funding isn't diverted from the protection of native
species which are endangered, like the red squirrel."
The National Farmers Union
Scotland said it was not against a trial reintroduction, but was concerned
that beavers, once released, would be difficult to control.
China clay converted to
BBC News Online 8 June 2007
A £2.5m project to convert
china clay waste tips in central Cornwall into native woodland has
started. Species like conifers will be replaced with tree species native
to Cornwall. About 340 hectares (837 acres) of native broadleaf woodland
will be planted in areas which have been used by extractive industries for
The project between Imerys
and Natural England will also see more than 400 hectares (988 acres) of
woodland brought into sustainable management. The project is due to be
completed in 2008.
Protect our seas - Marine Protected Areas
needed now, says Natural England
Natural England News 7 June
Natural England, the Government's wildlife and
landscape advisor, has called for the creation of new Marine Protected
Areas, and wants the Government to give it the power to identify,
designate and manage these sites and have the ability to prosecute those
who damage them.
Natural England's Chair Sir Martin Doughty,
said: "As a nation we have let ourselves down with a system that has
created only one Marine Nature Reserve in England in over 25 years. This
is unacceptable; experience from other countries shows Marine Conservation
Zones will help our seas recover from damage and adapt to climate change.
"Our rare, beautiful and dramatic wildlife
does not stop at the coast. Hidden beneath the surface it is all too easy
to forget the immense biodiversity of our seas and ignore the intensive,
long-term harm it has suffered. We need to care for it as much as we do
the environment on land with areas that have complete protection, some
that are used sensitively and some that can be fully exploited.
"We are keen to start working with communities
and industry to identify the important areas for us to notify and protect
as soon as possible. If we get the responsibility and powers we are
calling for we pledge to have the first Marine Conservation Zones within
three years and want a fully representative network in place in England's
inshore waters by 2012."
Following endorsement from its Board
yesterday, Natural England will bid for the powers and responsibility to
create a suite of Marine Protected Areas in English inshore waters in
response to the Government's consultation on the Marine Bill.
Facing slaughter, the bison that battled back from extinction
The Times 2 June 2007
The last wild herd of
American buffalo in the United States are facing slaughter from the
cattle ranchers who reduced them to the brink of extinction in the 19th
Century. The Board of Livestock around Yellowstone National Park in
Montana has agreed to kill a group of 300 bison, including nearly 100
newborn calves, which are being blamed for spreading disease among
A public outcry has
forced a stay of execution until early next week while a final attempt
is made to drive the buffalo deep into the park and away from
neighbouring ranch land. The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), which
advocates the right to roam for wild bison, is planning to use civil
disobedience tactics to stop any such killing.
Unlike other herds in the
US, the Yellowstone bison are pure-bred and neither fed nor managed by
park rangers. Their number has grown to around 3,800 from the 23
surviving buffalo who found refuge on the highlands of Montana a century
Hunters and cattlemen had
forced the bison from the Great Plains during the 19th Century where
their population had once been estimated at up to 100 million.
Ms Seay (BFC) said: “The
buffalo are now trying to come back and reclaim their land by roaming.
This is a conflict with the cattle industry, just as it was in the 19th
Century, which is once again dictating whether the buffalo should live
“Most of the land around
Yellowstone is publicly-owned which the ranchers get [to use] cheap[ly].
If any animals are going to be moved off, it should be the cattle.”
Mr Bodner a local rancher
and the Stockgrowers Association’s natural resources director, dismisses
such views as sentimental nonsense from an environmental lobby which has
little sympathy or understanding of rural needs.
Montana’s fragile cattle
industry is desperately worried about a recent outbreak of brucellosis,
a disease known to be carried by the Yellowstone bison. Another such
case would mean they lose their coveted disease-free status and force
them to conduct expensive tests of any beef being exported over state
lines. The disease, which causes pregnant cattle to abort, is also cited
by the US Fish and Wild-life Service as a reason for its recent decision
allowing hunters to kill around half the bison herd in the National Elk
Refuge in Wyoming.
But Ms Seay claimed that
the only recorded proof of brucellosis being transmitted from bison to
cattle was in artificial laboratory conditions. She added bison only
became infected by the disease because they caught it off cattle.