Another great summary from Inkcap Journal. As a Subscriber this is great, think about subscribing yourself

June 4, 2021 Off By Richard Powell OBE
Inkcap Journal
Welsh Nature & Flamingo Land
By Inkcap Journal – 04 Jun 2021 – View online →
Welcome to Inkcap Journal, a newsletter about nature and conservation in Britain. This is your Friday digest. You can still read this week’s investigation on whether English councils are managing their road verges for wildflowers. While this newsletter is free, Inkcap Journal is totally funded by its readers. Please consider  supporting our journalism by making a monthly or yearly donation; all members receive occasional bonus content. National news Habitats | Around 60 percent of natural features in Wales’ protected sites are in an “unfavourable condition”, according to a new report from Natural Resources Wales. Only 20 percent are doing well. The story was covered by the BBC and Cambrian News. “The wildlife that calls them home cannot survive and thrive if the sites are not in good condition,” said Katie-Jo Luxton, director of RSPB Cymru. “Repeated budget cuts from Welsh Government have resulted in Natural Resources Wales failing to deliver the management or monitoring needed and we are haemorrhaging wildlife as a result.” Wildflowers | Road verges cover 1.2 percent of Great Britain according to a new study – equating to an area the size of Dorset that could be used to grow wildflowers and create habitats for wildlife. The researchers used Google Earth and Google Street View to come up with the figure, reports the Guardian. Christian Vassie, chair of the climate change committee for York City Council, responded with a letter, pointing out that the public has a role to play: “In many places the cutting isn’t done by local government, but by local residents, farmers and adjacent landowners, often before wildflowers have a chance to seed.” For more details on this subject, check out the investigation that we published earlier this week. Bees | A new programme by the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association aims to help beekeepers breed desirable traits into their apiaries, including a tolerance for cold weather. By encouraging keepers to create more resilient bees, the organisation hopes to persuade them to breed their own queens rather than importing them from abroad. Imported bees are recognised as a threat to native species, reports the Telegraph, with fears that they could bring over the small hive beetle, a parasite that devastates colonies, which exists in Italy but not yet in the UK. The Guardian also published a paean to the wonder of bees this week. In other news: More farms are converting to organic produce due to growing demand driven by the pandemic, reports Cornwall Live The National Trust is experimenting with more environmentally friendly tree guards, reports the Daily Mail, in an effort to avoid plastic. The UK ranked last in Europe for bathing water quality in 2020, reports the Guardian. Defra responded here. Across the country Loch Lomond | Flamingo Land is back! Plans for a theme park on the banks of Loch Lomond were seen off a few years ago, after it was opposed by 60,000 people – thought to be the  greatest ever number of negative responses received for an application in Scotland, reports the Times. But the company has now returned with an amended blueprint, which they say will create 200 jobs in a “world-class” tourist destination. The Scottish Greens have vowed to fight the project. “We sent Flamingo Land packing once before and I’m confident that we’ll do the same again,” said MSP Ross Greer. England already has a Flamingo Land. Credit: Jeremy Thompson Somerset | Natural England has downgraded the environmental condition of the Somerset Levels and Moors SSSIs due to water quality issues. Phosphate levels are three times higher than they should be, causing biological harm and producing algae and duckweed that is harmful to wildlife, according to the agency. Agriculture and the water industry are the main sources of this pollutant. Norfolk | Tensions over the controversial Norwich Western Link road are rising, following the announcement that its costs have risen by £45m, to a total cost of £198m. Just over £20m of that has been marked for environmental mitigation, including more green bridges and tunnels for wildlife. This follows heavy criticism from ecologists and conservationists, with particular concerns over the impact of the scheme on barbastelle bats. The Norfolk branch of the CPRE has urged the council to scrap all plans for the 3.9 mile road, arguing that the project is unlikely to be completed anyway due to “inevitable legal challenge”. Local residents have voiced concerns about the impacts on ancient trees. Elsewhere: Highways England has announced that it will create the largest community woodland in the east in Essex, alongside the route of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing – and was subsequently accused of “greenwashing” by campaigners. Reservoirs in the Brecon Beacons are being increasingly polluted by landslides, causing tap water to emerge with the colour of “a mild rosé wine”, reports the BBC. Golden eagles are breeding again in Orkney after almost 40 years, according to the BBC. Plans to expand an intensive chicken farm near Oswestry are set to be rejected due to environmental concerns, reports the Shropshire Star. Sewage is seeping into a nature reserve in Sutton Coldfield, causing damage to its wetland habitats, reports the Birmingham Mail. Donkeys are being used to re-establish a rare wildflower in Devon, reports the Guardian. A new urban woodland is to be planted in Glasgow, with ten new trees for each Glaswegian, reports the Scotsman. A former wasteland in Shropshire that was transformed into a wildlife haven is to be formally designated a local nature reserve, reports the Shropshire Star. Reports Food | Last week saw the release of a report called Rootz Into Food Growing. A collaboration between Ubele, OrganicLea, Black Rootz, Land In Our Names, it surveys the knowledge and experiences of growers from Black communities and communities of colour in London, as well as the challenges they face. It concludes with a list of recommendations from the research participants. As the report notes, literature around BPOC farmers in Britain is sparse, so this is an important contribution. Climate | WWF has released a report looking at the impacts of climate change on 12 species from across the globe, including several native British species such as mountain hares. The Guardian and the Telegraph covered the findings, with the Welsh and Scottish angles covered by Nation.Cymru and The Scotsman. Carbon | The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) has released a briefing on how ecological restoration can help to capture carbon in order to tackle climate change. It is a thorough and detailed literature review, full of useful bits of information – the table comparing the carbon capture potential of different ecosystems is particularly helpful. Science Agriculture | A team of Austrian scientists have published the results of a three-year experiment into how strips of semi-natural grassland improve the biodiversity of agricultural land. They found that pollinators responded, but slowly and depending on traits such as size and habitat preferences. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, and there’s a blog about it on the website of the British Ecological Society. Seabirds | Many seabirds are struggling to breed as ocean temperatures rise, according to a study published in Science. This is because breeding success depends upon the availability of food sources, which is being impacted by the warmer climate. Analysis of 50 years’ worth of data shows that declines have been worse in the northern hemisphere. Grazing | A study in the Journal For Nature Conservation examined the impacts of changing grazing pressures on the vegetation of calcareous grassland, which is of high conservation importance, over a 41-year period. The findings suggest that “vegetation communities are robust to changes in grazing seasonality providing that sufficient grazing pressure is provided within the year.” This particular study focuses on Martin Down, which is located on the borders of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. Driftwood Fairies | At Inkcap Journal, we were excited to note the launch of another nature-based newsletter a couple of weeks ago. The Nature Gatherer, run by freelance journalist Chris Baraniuk, examines the intersection of nature and culture. This week’s article looks at the phenomenon of fairy doors in woodlands – and it has already provoked quite a discussion on Twitter about the role of humans in shaping their surroundings. In a similar vein, the actor Mark Rylance has said that the arts can help to solve climate change by telling stories that persuade people to “fall in love with nature again”. Regeneration | The Forest Policy Group, an independent think-tank in Scotland, looks at the potential role for landscape-scale natural regeneration in restoring Scottish forests. There is strong evidence that this is the most ecologically beneficial solution, they write, and yet “at the moment, this outcome is not being targeted specifically by Scottish Government policy or incentives, nor is it a clear priority for research.” Moths | Moths typically don’t get as much love as butterflies; but printmaker Sarah Gillespie is trying to change that. The Guardian has published a series of her prints this week – this selection of images may help you to see these insects in a new light. Further reading: Is Springwatch being derelict in its duty to raise awareness of the threats facing nature? Journalism professor emerita Ros Coward thinks so. Guardian writer Phoebe Weston goes on a nighttime adventure in a woodland near Totnes with the writer Chris Salisbury. Happy days Archaeology | This week brought a very exciting animal related-discovery: archaeologists have discovered prehistoric animal carvings, thought to date from the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, in Scotland for the first time. The pictures, which include deer, were discovered inside a cairn in Argyll, reports the BBC. “It is remarkable that these carvings in Dunchraigaig Cairn show such great anatomical detail and there is no doubt about which animal species they represent,” said Dr Tertia Barnett, principal investigator for Scotland’s Rock Art Project at Historic Environment Scotland. Inkcap is 100% reader-funded. If you value independent environmental journalism, please consider supporting Inkcap by becoming a paid subscriber. EmailFacebookTwitter