hedge for squirrels in Jersey
States of Jersey Government has started to plant more than 16,000 trees
and bushes in a diagonal line linking a colony of red squirrels at St Brelade,
in the south-west of the island, with another at St Martin, in the north-east.
The imaginative scheme is intended
to allow native populations to mix and share their genes. The existing
groups are at risk of extinction due to their dwindling territories.
Red squirrels are not native to
Jersey - they were introduced from England and France - but they are much
loved locally. The competitive north American grey squirrels have never
been introduced but there are now only about 400 red squirrels left. They
have suffered from the loss of thousands of trees from Dutch elm disease
and the ravages of the great storm of 1987 which destroyed much of the
red squirrels' habitat. Remaining woods are too small and fragmented to
support colonies of the squirrels. Traditional varieties of trees and hedgerow
shrubs have been chosen for the new mating corridor to provide habitats
and food supplies.
Louise Magris, the state biologist
in charge of the project, said that the corridor was the best way to solve
the problem: "We hope that the new tree corridor will secure the future
of our red squirrels."
purchase spearheads new coastal vision
The Essex Wildlife Trust is leading
a joint venture to purchase Abbotts Hall, a 700 acre arable farm on the
Blackwater Estuary near Colchester. The Trust is supported by its national
body The Wildlife Trusts and an impressive range of conservation partners.
As global warming leads to rising
sea levels around Britain, important habitats such as salt marsh and grazing
marsh will be squeezed out. The Essex Trust plans to revert more than 200
acres of arable land back to marshes to support wildfowl like Brent geese
which overwinter here, wading birds like redshank and lapwing which nest,
and birds of prey like the Hen Harrier. It is a visionary project, of national
importance, which, if successful, will link together over 25 kilomteres
of Essex coast.
Over 300 acres of Abbotts Hall will
remain as arable land. The Trust plans to farm this in as wildlife-friendly
way as possible by restoring hedgerows, copses, ponds, ditches and grass
strips to show how farmland wildlife and particularly birds like songthrush
and skylark, which are in such desperate decline, can flourish alongside
profitable arable farming. This will be one of the first of a network of
arable farms which The Wildlife Trusts aim to establish in the UK to influence
grant aid for other farmers who want to farm in a way which is more environment
friendly than the current subsidy systems dictate.
Simon Lyster, Director General of
the Wildlife Trusts said "Abbotts Hall will be a national flagship for
The Wildlife Trusts as the largest coastal management project we have ever
undertaken and it will be the largest area of arable land a Wildlife Trust
manages anywhere in the UK".
John Hall, Director of Essex Wildlife
Trust said "This is a tremendous opportunity to show habitat restoration
on the coast and to show that both farming and wildlife can be supported,
but we will need a lot of support from our members, the public and the
local community to ensure the potential for wildlife and people at Abbotts
Hall is fully realised."
The Essex Wildlife Trust has been
able to consider this ambitious project because of the legacy left by the
late Joan Elliot and crucially further support is required from public
donations to raise the last £60,000 towards the purchase and £170,000
for conservation works.
defences to protect 2000 acres of Norfolk
A £1.25 million project, the
first in a programme to protect coastal wildlife reserves from rising sea
levels and more frequent and violent storms, will be constructed at Burnham
Overy and Wells on the north Norfolk coast.
The new defences will mean that
occupiers of 52 homes can sleep at night - and so can 10,000 wildfowl and
breeding birds, including avocet and brent, pink-footed and white-fronted
geese. The 2,175-acre area will benefit from a £1 million central
government grant, the first under the revised system which now takes account
of the conservation value of endangered areas, under EU rules.
The announcement is seen as a precursor
to other schemes which will be needed to protect wildlife reserves, including
the Cley-Salthouse area. John Sharpe, the RSPB's conservation officer,
said yesterday: "This vital decision sets a precedent that will ensure
funding is found for schemes such as the urgently needed Cley-Salthouse
need our help
The London Biodiversity Action Plan
was launched recently, with a list of one hundred animals and plants which
will need special protection to thrive in the future.
The London Biodiversity Partnership
says that the 100 species signify the health and wealth of wildlife in
the London region. The list includes not only well known favourites such
as the hedgehog, skylark, and water vole but also black redstart, pipistrelle
bat, large garden bumblebee, small blue butterfly, and hornet robberfly.
"Despite huge urban development,
London is one of the best cities in the world for wildlife," said Lesley
Hilton, chairman of the London Ecology Committee. "However, many species
are declining. The London biodiversity action plan will help to manage
and protect wildlife so future generations can continue to enjoy nature
in the city."
London is the first British city
to have a mayor with a statutory responsibility to draw up a biodiversity
action plan. The report is intended to assist the new mayor in meeting
his environmental responsibilities under the Greater London Authority Act
when he or she takes office. The project also imposes a duty on companies,
councils and organisations to take into account the 100 species and their
habitats when building roads and railway lines to redevelopment sites.
Like all great cities, London has
a network of lakes, meadows, gardens, derelict land, rail embankments and
overgrown cemeteries, which are surprisingly rich in wildlife, with more
than 2,100 flowering plants and ferns growing wild. The scarce emerald
damselfly can be seen at Rainham marshes and the rare hornet robberfly
is found on grazed land along the east Thames corridor.
Other little-known species found
in the capital include the German hairy snail, which grazes on Thames-side
rubbish, and London rocket, a plant that was common around the time of
the Great Fire and can still, it is believed, be found near the Tower of
London, although it was last recorded in 1974.
Biodiversity Action Plan
A £6 million scheme to renew
facilities at one of the world's best-known wild bird centres has turned
it back into one of the most popular tourist attractions in the south-west.
The Millennium Commission grant,
covering half the cost of the project, enabled the building scheme to be
launched. It includes a viewing tower giving views across the reserve to
the river Severn and beyond to Wales and the Forest of Dean. It has proved
so popular that visitors have to book a place on a tour of the tower to
ensure they get to the top. The building uses sustainably sourced timbers,
recycled metals and other materials chosen for their energy efficiency
and low impact on the environment.
The complex now boasts a spectacular
visitor centre, reached by a boardwalk over a lake, a much bigger shop,
wildlife art gallery and the Water's Edge restaurant, where local produce
is on the menu. A reedbed filtering scheme processes and cleans all water-borne
visitor waste and even the electricity is bought from a renewable source.
Trust spokeswoman Claire Warner
said: "None of us could believe how smoothly it all went. We have two full-time
teachers and schoolchildren can come to study as part of their curriculum.
"But we still have a link with the
earlier days of the trust as the original cottage which Sir Peter lived
in when he came here in 1946 is still in the grounds and we hope to turn
it into a museum ... The response to the project has been overwhelming.
Some regular visitors cannot believe the transformation. We are currently
working on an official opening in February but we are open now for anyone
to come and see what a difference the project has made."
Staffordshire County Council has announced
that it will launch a five-year plan to restore Cannock Chase to its former
glory in Spring.
The programme, 'Saving Cannock Chase',
will cost £725,000, of which £522,000 will come from the National
Lottery, the remainder being funded by a partnership of the county council,
English Nature and the Countryside Agency. The project has already begun
with cutting back the bracken which invaded the Chase during the 20th century
and ruined most of its native heathland. Spraying with an approved herbicide
has been trialed in the Oldacre Valley and Brindley Heath areas over the
past few months and the results of the programme are expected in the Spring,
when the project will be launched officially.
Sue Sheppard, project officer for
Saving Cannock Chase, said that the country park was Staffordshire's most
significant area of heathland and that as such should be preserved. However,
she said activities such as farming and forestry as well as the invading
bracken were all threats to the traditional landscape.
"The heathland vegetation on the
Chase has been managed since 1974, but there has never been the resources
to fully reverse the decline, which is what Saving Cannock Chase aims to
do," she said.
at home in Stafford town centre
Following recent evidence of otters
living in the centres of Gateshead and Edinburgh (Conserv@tion December
1999), the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has recorded evidence of otters
in Stafford over the past 23 months. The general improvement in river water
quality has led to otters returning to town centre waters where they have
not been seen for decades.
"Otters are enjoying a recovery
at the moment and expanding their range from traditional strongholds in
Wales and Shropshire," says Trust Otters & Rivers Project Officer,
Nick Mott. "Stafford is extremely significant in terms of otter activity
and represents a major focal point as they explore out from the west. The
Sow and Penk rivers that drain most of western Staffordshire actually meet
up in the town of Stafford before going on to join the River Trent at Shugborough."
"What's exciting is that otters
have become resident in the area, using Doxey Marshes to the west and Baswich
Meadows to the east as major feeding areas for their night time forays,"
The Otters & Rivers Project
is working in partnership with the Environment Agency and Severn Trent
Water to restore stretches of suitable habitat for otters with the aim
of providing secure resting and breeding sites along the Sow and Penk river
corridors. There is also an opportunity for Stafford Borough Council and
its 'Riverscape' project to undertake enhancements for otters, fish species
and water voles.
The 'Forest of Burnley' project is
offering trees free to landowners.
The deal is available to anyone
able to help the project by providing at least a quarter-acre of land and
manage the trees for ten years. "It is an exceptionally good offer and
we hope people will join the scheme," said Burnley council's project officer
Simon Goff. "We will also organise a Tree Spree later this year to enable
householders to plant trees in their gardens."
The initiative is intended to get
the Forest back on target in its aim to plant one million trees, which
has met setbacks recently.
English Nature has objected to the
foresting of 150 acres of North West Water land at Worsthorne. The land
concerned is part of the South Pennines Special Protected Area, which is
an important bird habitat which EN feels would be damaged by planting.
The original £250,000 scheme is likely to be much curtailed by any
At a 460 acre site at Dunnockshaw
the Forest project has spent £20,000 drawing up a major study on
the impact the scheme would have on wildlife and the environment, including
widespread consultation with bodies such as the Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds and the Forestry Commission. It hopes that 250 acres of the 460
acre site may be planted but this depends on Woodland Grant support and
a decision is expected soon.
The Forest scheme, which has already
had £1.7million grant support from the Lottery Millennium Fund, has
so far planted 275 acres of land - a quarter of a million trees.
The latest Site of Special Scientific
Interest to be named in Cleveland is one of only two to be listed for its
Lovell Hill Pools is the result
of mining subsidence. The combination of shallow ponds, swamp vegetation,
willow carr and scrub is a rich habitat because it provides sheltered breeding
and feeding sites. Dragonflies and damselflies, including the rare Variable
Damselfly, are found here.
"Thirteen species of dragonfly may
not be unusual for the New Forest but very uncommon if you live in the
North-East," says Ken Smith, a consultant with the Industry and Nature
Conservation Association, a partnership of industrialists and conservationists
on Teesside. "Even so, there are 13 species to be found at the ponds. Several
are migrants, but nine species breed there."
"I think there may be one other
SSSI in the country designated for the protection of invertebrates. You
usually get SSSI's designated for areas which have birds and flowers so
this is quite an achievement."
Not all local residents appreciate
the area for its invertebrates. Rita Skillcorn, a resident of the nearby
village of Dunsdale, near Guisborough, said: "It is a beautiful area and
from your window looks the perfect place to have a picnic, but there are
always too many flies.''