Category Archives: Environment

Cambridge College lawn becomes a wildflower meadow

A famous University of Cambridge view is set for a change as a pristine lawn maintained for centuries is transformed into a wildflower meadow.

King’s College Chapel and its sloping lawn down to the River Cam have become one of the city’s best-known images.  It is popular with tourists, featuring in thousands of Instagram posts, and is widely used to promote the city.

Head gardener Steve Coghill said it was hoped the meadow would bloom in May and create a “biodiversity-rich ecosystem”….

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-51179488

Too many honey bees threaten wild bee numbers

Come springtime the Brussels region’s environment agency Bruxelles Environnement will take up the beehives it manages at nature sites in Brussels, and remove them permanently.

The move forms part of a plan by the region to tackle the recent huge growth in members of the public keeping bees – a trend inspired by concerns about pollution, climate and biodiversity. Bees have become something of a mascot for this movement, in part because they are an excellent barometer of environmental conditions, and in part because of their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity.

But it’s possible to have too much biodiversity, and the honey bee – a variety essentially created by Man for Man – now represents a threat to its wild cousin….

https://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels-2/90095/brussels-wants-to-stop-unfettered-growth-in-beehives-wild-honey-biodiversity-hives-pollution-climate-apiarist/

Pesticides found to starve fish ‘astoundingly fast’

Report from The Guardian:-

“The Silent Spring prophecy that pesticides could “still the leaping of fish” has been confirmed, according to scientists investigating the collapse of fisheries in Japan. They say similar impacts are likely to have occurred around the world.

The long-term study showed an immediate plunge in insect and plankton numbers in a large lake after the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides to rice paddies. This was rapidly followed by the collapse of smelt and eel populations, which had been stable for decades but rely on the tiny creatures for food. … ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/31/fishery-collapse-confirms-silent-spring-pesticide-prophecy

The State of Nature in Wales

The State of Nature, a summary for Wales:-

“Changing agricultural management has had the biggest single impact upon nature in recent decades.

Our measure of species’ distribution, covering a broad range of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, has declined since 1970, with more species decreasing than increasing. The rate of this change in nature appears to be increasing: our statistics indicate that over the last decade nearly half of the species for which we have data have shown strong changes in distribution.  8% of species in Wales are threatened with extinction.”

https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-Wales-summary.pdf

https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/populations-of-uks-most-important-wildlife-have-plummeted-since-1970

Full report:-
https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

Full report summary:-
The State of Nature Report 2019-Summary

Verges are plantlife rich

The charity Plantlife says “An astonishing number of wild plants grow on our road verges, some of which are threatened or near threatened.  Proper management of verges is critical if these species are to avoid extinction. Includes a list of known plants found on a road verge in the UK.”

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/publications/road-verges-last-refuge-for-some-of-our-rarest-wild-plants.

“Of the 1,596 species we looked at 724 or 45.3% grow on verge habitats.  If we add in hedgerow and ditch habitats, the total rises to 809 species or over 50.7% of our flora.”

Roadside verges – campaign progress

A BBC report:- “A long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials.

Several have taken the message on board. An eight-mile “river of flowers” alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

So are we likely to see more from the “meadow movement” in the future?”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48772448?SThisFB&fbclid=IwAR2LDmFN9VeCz2lcc5g6OnWnbeF7jLCaIjfLvZu95GBNOsU5_1JGPpUEPoM

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/blog/whats-in-store-for-the-road-verge-campaign-in-2019

 

Do a Pollinator Monitoring Survey

“The Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership (PMRP) aims to establish how insect pollinator populations are changing across Great Britain.

We are working with existing recording schemes that focus on pollinating insects, and have established new large-scale surveys under the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme banner (PoMS)

PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Together with long-term occurrence records collated by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society and Hoverfly Recording Scheme, these data will form an invaluable resource from which to measure trends in pollinator populations and target our conservation efforts.

With reports of dramatic losses of insects occurring across the globe, and concern about what this means for wider biodiversity and ecosystem health, there has never been a more important time to document evidence of change in populations of pollinating insects.

FIT Counts: if you can spare ten minutes to sit and watch insects and flowers you can carry out a FIT Count (Flower-Insect Timed Count)! This simple survey collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower, ideally chosen from our list of 14 target flowers. FIT Counts can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks, in warm, dry weather any time from April to September. If you can carry out several counts at one location during that time you will be adding extra value to your survey records. All the information you need is provided on their web site:”

https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring

 

Change to Monmouthshire’s mowing practices

“As spring approaches, Monmouthshire’s grounds maintenance service will work to support the environment and provide a boost for wildlife by modifying mowing practices. Teams will mark open spaces with blue or white topped stakes to highlight areas likely to be suitable habitats which have been identified by council staff, residents or through the council’s partnerships with local groups. These include Bee Friendly Monmouthshire, Bees for Development and Gwent Wildlife Trust as part of the Nature Isn’t Neat project funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Plan for Wales …”

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/2019/03/councils-grounds-teams-provide-boost-for-environment-with-mowing-change/?fbclid=IwAR1HfthE0OVjdmjisTWNMZgrgUAvU_eHJhgheRNZkb7sw2yU9Gu-DF1Ri_A

Strips of wildflowers could cut pesticide spraying

Strips of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying.   Guardian newspaper report:-

“The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops.

Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying.  The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology…. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/31/stripes-of-wildflowers-across-farm-fields-could-cut-pesticide-sprayinghttps://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1369

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1369

 

Buy organic to help curb global insect collapse.

A Guardian newspaper article ,,,  “Buying organic food is among the actions people can take to curb the global decline in insects, according to leading scientists. Urging political action to slash pesticide use on conventional farms is another, say environmentalists.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/13/buy-organic-food-to-help-curb-global-insect-collapse-say-scientists