Shetland’s wonderful webcams

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Screengrab of the Soteag Cliff Cam.

During the lockdown, many of us will have turned to the live feeds from webcams located the world over to provide a little escape from what’s happening around us. Undoubtedly operators of these cameras will have seen a significant increase in traffic. Many of the visitors will be wildlife enthusiasts who will have found that there are plenty of feeds to choose from, whatever their wildlife interest is. Cameras operated by charities, businesses or private individuals provide us with a glimpse of somewhere else. And at this time we could all do with some of that!

One such network is the system known as Shetland Webcams set up by Andy Steven who used to be Shetland’s tourism chief. The network has been up and running for 10 years and more recently it has benefited from investments from crowdfunding and commercial sponsorship. As a result, the network of (at the time of writing) 13 cameras covers 11 locations and includes a feed from 60 North Radio and a binaural sound feed. Together these give virtual visitors an opportunity to enjoy Shetland in a range of different ways.

For wildlife enthusiasts, some of the locations for the cameras on Shetland provide views of a wide range of species. On the shore, gulls can be seen making their way over the rocks while seals and even otters can occasionally be seen in the shallow waters. The Puffincam not only provides views of the stunning landscape but also views of the nesting birds. Currently, due to the lockdown, the Puffincam has had to utilise the feed from another camera to provide views of their nesting burrows. But despite this, you can still keep an eye on these engaging birds.

Even with the lockdown restrictions in place, the network of cameras continues to provide not only a fascinating insight into the lives of birds but also a link to another place. Somewhere many of us would love to visit and enjoy – in short, an escape – something many of us are looking for at this moment in time.

With more and more evidence that engaging with nature and the natural world provide major benefits for both mental and physical health, maybe views like this can go some way to offset the problems caused by the lockdown – however necessary the lockdown is.

Whatever reason you have to visit the Shetland Webcam site let’s hope that the views it provides prove to be beneficial and enjoyable. Although we all strive to reduce screen time, during times like these I think we can all be excused. And lets also thank those who set up these services and keep them up and running. Long may they continue.

The latest report on UK’s breeding birds shows mixed results.

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Greenfinches by Edmund Fellowes

The latest Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) report, covering population trends for the UK’s bird species, is released today. This report is a celebration of the dedication of the volunteers who give up their time and take part in bird surveying; collectively they walked 14,996km whilst actively surveying in 2019. 

The distance walked in 2019 is the equivalent of walking from the BTO’s headquarters in Norfolk to Palmer Land in Antarctica! Since the survey began in 1994, the total distance walked by BBS volunteers is a staggering 299,701km, almost seven and a half times around the World! But what has it told us?

The report covering the population changes of UK’s breeding birds shows that one of our most widespread and common bird is in trouble and disappearing from large parts of the country, and how skilled volunteers are helping to monitor the changes as they unfold.

The Greenfinch is a familiar bird, being a frequent visitor to garden feeding stations across the UK, but how much longer might this be the case? The 2019 Breeding Bird Survey results show an alarming decline. During the last 23 years, the Greenfinch population has fallen by 64%.

The main driver behind this change is a parasite that causes a disease called trichomonosis. Known as a disease in cage birds for some time, it was first noted in British finches in 2006. Infected birds become lethargic, have fluffed-up feathers and are unable to swallow food. Transmission between birds can be via contaminated food and water, e.g. at garden feeding stations. Good feeding station hygiene, with regular cleaning and disinfecting can help to slow the spread. The Trichomonas gallinae parasite is a parasite of birds and does not pose a health risk to humans or their mammalian pets.

In contrast, the UK’s commonest bird, the Wren, just got even more common with an increase of 30% over the last 23 years as reported by the Breeding Bird Survey. This translates to around 11,000,000 Wrens across the UK, as calculated using BBS trend changes and historic estimates and published in another bird monitoring report, APEP. A run of mild winters no doubt contributing to the 30% increase since 1994 as revealed by the BBS Report.

It is now possible to monitor the population changes for 117 bird species and it is all thanks to the dedication of the thousands of BBS volunteers who go out every spring to survey the UKs’ birdlife.

Sarah Harris, BBS Organiser, said “I am always amazed by the power of citizen science, the dedication of volunteers and in turn, the difference their observations can make to conservation and research. The Greenfinch is still found across the UK and you might be forgiven for thinking nothing is amiss, but as the BBS shows, nothing could be further from the truth – thanks to all those who take part we are able to keep an eye out for changes in bird populations.”

Paul Woodcock, Biodiversity Evidence Specialist at JNCC,  said, “The report really highlights the huge contribution made by BBS volunteers up and down the country, and shows that the high quality data can help understand when, how and why bird populations are changing. Thank you to everyone involved”

Mark Eaton, RSPB’s Principal Conservation Scientist, said “Greenfinches are fantastic little birds, and the flashes of green and yellow used to be a common sight at our bird feeders. The food we put out for these little seed-eaters has become increasingly important over the years, as food availability in the wider countryside has reduced. Continuing to provide food is important but you can help them, and other birds, by cleaning your feeders and water sources every couple of weeks with a mild disinfectant.”

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey is a partnership jointly funded by the BTO, RSPB and JNCC, and the report is published by BTO annually on behalf of the partnership.

The full report can be accessed here for trends on all 117 species covered by the Breeding Bird Survey.

Southern Scotland’s biggest community land buyout launches crowdfunding campaign to create vast new nature reserve

Tarras Valley Tom Hutton (medium)
Tarras Valley by Tom Hutton

An initiative to create a vast new nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway through southern Scotland’s largest community land buyout is being launched today, with a £3 million crowdfunding campaign to help purchase 10,500 acres of Langholm Moor.

The ambitious plan by charity The Langholm Initiative to create the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, by purchasing wildlife-rich and culturally important land from Buccleuch Estates, has received a huge boost as the John Muir Trust announced it is donating £100,000 to kickstart the appeal.

The project has received widespread support due to its positive goals of tackling climate change, boosting nature restoration and supporting community regeneration.

The crowdfunder launched today on Go Fund Me at www.gofundme.com/langholm-moor-buyout aims to raise just over half of the £6m valuation on the land.

Kevin Cumming, the Langholm Initiative’s project leader, said: “Our community plans here have international significance. At a time of climate emergency, we are committing to undertake direct climate action – including restoration of globally precious peatlands and ancient woodlands, alongside the creation of new native woodlands.

“Langholm moor is home to a host of iconic wildlife such as black grouse, Short-eared owls and merlin, and is a stronghold for hen harriers – the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK.

Black Grouse Kevin Cumming (medium)
Black grouse by Kevin Cumming

“At this critical stage we are asking for the help of the public. We know it’s a big ask at a time like this – but if people can support us by donating to this project we will be ensuring a more positive future for our children.”

Langholm, a once thriving textile centre, has seen this industry decline in recent years. The people of this small town, nestled in the beautiful and dramatic Southern Uplands, have a deep connection to the land, which has never been sold before.

The community wants to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to have control over their own future. It is hoped that through community land ownership and the creation of a nature reserve, a foundation can be laid for local regeneration, supporting eco-tourism and bringing visitors to the area.

Mike Daniels from the John Muir Trust said: “We are extremely excited about this project. Its ambition and vision is what has attracted us to it and today we are pledging £100K to support the community’s purchase of the land.

“The protection and restoration of wild places and the regeneration of rural communities goes hand in hand and we are delighted to support this inspiring initiative. We call on other organisations to follow our lead and support the Langholm Initiative.”

Kevin Cumming said: “We are extremely grateful to the John Muir Trust for their support. It is the highest compliment for them to offer a significant financial pledge and demonstrates great confidence in the project.”

Much of the support for this project has centred on the ambition of a community to place the environment at the heart of its regeneration.

A summary of the Langholm Initiative’s business plan is available at www.langholminitiative.org.uk. Other plans for the project include the development of small-scale modern business units in existing disused buildings, appropriate renewable energy and responsible nature-based tourism.

Kevin Cumming said: “The community’s regeneration is a vital part of this process. The land holds huge cultural value to local people, many of whom are excited about the possible community ownership of it.”

A number of other national organisations have offered support to the project.

With the land jointly valued at just over £6m, The Langholm Initiative has also applied to the Scottish Land Fund for £3m towards the purchase, with the other half of the purchase price to be generated through the crowdfunding appeal.

Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell about 25,000 acres of its Borders Estate last year.

The Langholm Initiative was formed in 1994, as one of south Scotland’s earliest development trusts. The charity facilitates projects that make a real, lasting difference to the local area and the lives of the people that live there.

To support the appeal, visit www.langholminitiative.org.uk.

Chance of a rosy future with record year for roseate terns

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Roseate tern © Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
  • 2019 saw a record-breaking 122 pairs of roseate terns, Europe’s rarest breeding seabird, on Coquet Island.
  • Three webcams now installed on Coquet Island provide a window into the life of roseate terns and puffins.

In 2019 there was a record-breaking 122 breeding pairs of roseate terns, Europe’s rarest breeding seabird, on Coquet Island. The previous record was 118 pairs in 2018.

Roseate terns almost went in extinct back in the 19th century because of the demand for their feathers in ladies’ hats. In 1989 there were still only 467 pairs across the whole of the UK, and Coquet Island has become one of the key sites for helping populations to recover.

Since taking over management of the Island in 1970, the RSPB has used a wide range of methods to bolster roseate tern numbers: installing nest boxes, trialling new techniques such as gull-scarers and ‘aerolasers’ to deter other birds, and building up lost habitat, to name a few.

Paul Morrison, RSPB Northumberland Coast Site Manager, said: “When I first started working on Coquet Island 35 years ago, I could walk over most of the Island without seeing a roseate tern. Now it’s a joy to hear their noisy chatter every time I step out of the lighthouse!

“There’s always a lot more work to do, and roseate terns still face a long uphill battle – but every year I feel more and more optimistic that with the help of our incredible volunteers and members, roseate terns will one day become a common sight around the UK coastline. In the meantime, please do check out the live webcams to see roseate terns strut their stuff on their ‘terrace’ or settle into a nest box – or look out for our puffin ‘runway’!”

Please visit www.rspb.org.uk/coquetisland to see the web cameras. The web cameras, and much of the roseate tern conservation work, has been made possible through the EU funded Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project. The LIFE Project (www.roseatetern.org) is a partnership between the RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland and North Wales Wildlife Trust focused on protecting the remaining three colonies in the British Isles and restoring five historical sites for future recolonization.

The RSPB is also asking for people to submit their own archived images of puffins as part of their citizen science project, Puffarazzi – please visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/projectpuffinUK to see how your photos could help protect these iconic clowns of the sea.

Volunteers isolate at Highlands ‘lost world’ to save thousands of young trees

Trees for Life look after the grove of trees I set up via their Plant a Grove scheme to offset my carbon footprint. So it’s good to read that the good work of the charity is continuing despite the current situation.

Patrick Fenner, Louise Cameron and Emma Beckinsale tend the young trees at Dundreggan (medium)
Patrick Fenner, Louise Cameron and Emma Beckinsale tend the young trees at Dundreggan

A team of six people from Trees for Life have been voluntarily isolating themselves at the charity’s flagship Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston, near Loch Ness in the Highlands since 23 March – to save more than 100,000 native young trees from being lost due to the coronavirus crisis lockdown.

The trees – including Scots pine, rowan, juniper, hazel, holly and oak, as well as rare mountain species such as dwarf birch and woolly willow – have all been grown carefully from seed in Dundreggan’s specialised nursery, and were due for planting out on the hills this spring.

Dozens of volunteers help to propagate and grow over 60,000 trees a year at the nursery, from seed collected across the estate. These trees are then planted out at Dundreggan and other Highland sites to restore Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife.

“We were all set for another busy season of preparing thousands of young native trees for planting on the hills by our volunteers, when the coronavirus crisis forced the postponement of this spring’s tree planting – meaning tens of thousands of young trees have not left our nursery as planned,” said Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Manager.

“But nature isn’t in lockdown. All these precious trees have been coming into leaf, and we need to take care of them – especially in the dry weather we’ve been having. Without regular watering, they would all die. We also needed to start sowing new seed now, to ensure a supply of trees for future planting seasons.”

So Doug – with colleagues Abbey Goff, Emma Beckinsale, Patrick Fenner, and trainees Catriona Bullivant and Louise Cameron – opted to voluntarily isolate themselves at Dundreggan rather than at their homes when the national lockdown was announced.

Doug and his colleagues aren’t leaving Dundreggan except for a few essential reasons, such as collecting prescriptions. Food is arriving at the rewilding estate via supermarket deliveries.

Doug added: “The local Redburn Cafe has started local takeaways, so they’re an occasional treat! No one has visited us for weeks now, except for delivery drivers and the postie. We’re here in isolation for the long-haul if needs be – together with a growing forest for the future.”

Trees for Life plans to open the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan in 2022. This is expected to welcome over 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore the wild landscapes, discover Gaelic culture, and learn about the region’s unique wildlife including golden eagles, pine martens and red squirrels.

As well as being an internationally important forest restoration site, Dundreggan is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species. Discoveries include several species never recorded in the UK before, or previously feared extinct in Scotland.

Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. So far its volunteers have established nearly two million native trees at dozens of sites, encouraging wildlife to flourish and helping communities to thrive. See www.treesforlife.org.uk.

Bring the outdoors to your living room with RSPB Zoom backgrounds!

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One of the free Zoom backgrounds © Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

The RSPB has released 15 free images of its nature reserves for people to use as Zoom backgrounds! Covering everything from lighthouses to lakes across all four countries, there’s something for everyone.

Once downloaded, you can share a screengrab with the hashtag #NaturePhotoBomb to celebrate nature and the outdoors – even if you have to stay at home.

Nic Scothern, RSPB’s Deputy Director – Engagement, said: “Over the last few weeks many of us have had limited or no access to the outdoors, making the outdoors more precious to us than ever. By sharing these beautiful images, we hope to give people a way to make nature part of their virtual social life and recreate some of that sense of peace that comes from a natural setting.

“Are you settling in for a team meeting? Try out an awe-inspiring snow-capped Ben Griam! Or if you’re about to sit down for a virtual tea with your parents, why not bask in the peaceful glow of mist rising off the reedbed at Minsmere? Let us know what you come up with using the hashtag #NaturePhotoBomb, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Reserves in person once they reopen.”

Are mindfulness and environmentalism linked?

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Undoubtedly there are those who find environmental issues a bore. The mere mention of climate change will cause them to glaze over and carry on, safe in the knowledge that science will save us. That or climate change was all made up anyway. But for many (myself included) I’m convinced that the planet is facing the most crucial and potentially catastrophic period of change it has ever faced. I won’t list all of the ills that are befalling our world, you’ve undoubtedly heard them all before. Suffice to say that the future looks bleak for all of us – regardless of how much money you have!

So what has this got to do with mindfulness you might ask, let alone with the website of a photographer?  Well, it is my opinion that those of us who enjoy and value the world share more than a common passion. It is accepted that there is a direct link between nature and good mental and physical health. And that it’s this link may also be the foundation on which we can build to safeguard our world.

It was only a few years ago that the UK government published a study by Natural England that said  that ‘taking part in nature-based activities helps those suffering from mental health problems like depression, anxiety and stress.’ In it, the phrase “green care” was used to describe the benefits, and since then, the ‘natural health service’ has grown in popularity.

And it’s not just one study. The University of Exeter published a paper in 2017 on research carried out with the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland. They found that people who live in areas alongside birds, trees and shrubs are less likely to suffer many mental health problems.

Recently people have also seen that there are ways to build on these recognised benefits. They do this by linking with the practice of mindfulness (the meditative discipline that focuses on an awareness) with a connection with your surroundings at a given moment in time. And it would seem it has gained in popularity helping those who want to, use the method to focus on an awareness of the present moment and environment. This may sound simple, but the idea is to do this while accepting those feelings, sensations and thoughts can come and go in the mind while meditating.

Many of us see the desire to get closer to nature and to enjoy the natural world, as a way to unwind and to relax. Increased awareness and appreciation of nature can only help to underline the importance of safeguarding our environment, and this is where these two threads weave together.

For many years I’ve been concerned about what we are doing to our planet, and I’m just as guilty of as anyone else. Having practised mindfulness, and having become more aware of the activism of many people in trying to save the planet, I am now doing as much as I can to ‘do my bit’. So, although I still have to travel around to cover assignments, I carbon offset my fuel use. I’ve reduced meat consumption, the use of plastics, only use of green power suppliers and support campaigns and organisations who fight to overcome the climate catastrophe.

2020 is the year I’ve committed to these principals (but in reality, I was doing many of these things long before) but the new decade will also see me try to use my photography to highlight issues – good and bad. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us all more time to fully consider our future and that of our planet. Sadly I can’t change the world, but I for one will do whatever I can to save it for future generations. 

This weekend, wake up to the symphony of the Dawn Chorus!

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Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
  • Sunday 3rd May is International Dawn Chorus Day – a day to celebrate the early morning swell of birdsong!
  • In this unprecedented time when many of us have limited access to the outdoors, you only need to open your window to enjoy this natural phenomenon.
  • 40 million birds have disappeared from the UK since 1970, but there are many ways you can help, from providing some water to putting up a bird feeder.

This Sunday, 3rd May is International Dawn Chorus Day! While early morning bird song continues through to June, this day is a wonderful reminder to celebrate the daily treat of a birdsong choir. Starting about an hour before sunrise (around 4:30am) birds take advantage of the still, quiet air to trumpet, squeak and caw to attract a mate or warn off rivals from their territory. Don’t worry if that’s a bit early for you, though – they often continue singing until about 7am so you can catch their final encore.

Many of us have limited or no access to the outdoors right now, so it’s the perfect time to throw open your windows and let the birdsong in. Even if you don’t have a garden, you will still be able to enjoy the majesty of this natural alarm clock, especially with the current reduction in noise pollution. You may even be able to hear spring migrants who have flown across continents to get to the UK – swifts and swallows often travel all the way from Africa!

These are some of the birds you may be able to hear as part of your local dawn chorus:

  1. Blackcap – a warbling verse
  2. Dunnock – fast and squeaky bursts
  3. Robin – short, laid-back verses with a ‘liquid’ quality
  4. Song thrush – rich and confident calls
  5. Willow warbler – a soft, gentle whistle
  6. Wren – packed, bold and loud
  7. Chiffchaff – helpfully sounds like ‘chiff chaff’
  8. Skylark – a pleasant burble sometimes minutes long
  9. Great tit – a two-note ‘tee-cher tee-cher’ call
  10. Woodpigeon – a wonderfully recognisable ‘coo’ call
  11. Cuckoo – the males’ recognisable ‘cuck-oo’
  12. Nightingale – high, low and rich notes

Sadly, bird populations in the UK are declining, and many of the birds who lend their song to the Dawn Chorus are struggling. For example, cuckoos have declined by 65% since the 1980s, while in the last 60 years the sweet song of the nightingale has seen a 90% reduction.

The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help – there’s a whole list on the RSPB website, including putting out suitable food scraps, hanging bird boxes or even making a bird bath from an upturned bin lid!

Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB, says: “Waking up to the glory of the dawn chorus is one of the most uplifting parts of spring, particularly at this uncertain time. The alarm clock choir of robins, wrens, blackbirds, song thrushes and our other brilliant birds is utterly inspirational and a reminder of how nature can lift our spirits. So many people are taking solace from it.

“But while the impact of the current lockdown means that many of us are hearing birdsong more loudly than ever before, we must remember that 40 million birds have been lost from UK skies in just 50 years – and we all have a part to play in saving this wonder for future generations. Let’s look after our birds as much as they are helping us.”

There are a whole range of ways you can help, so please head to the RSPB website (www.rspb.org.uk) for some inspiration. Or join in our celebration of the Dawn Chorus on social media, using the hashtag #DawnChorusDay.

Twitter – @Natures_Voice | Facebook – @RSPBLoveNature | Instagram – @rspb_love_nature

To find out more, please visit www.rspb.org.uk/dawnchorus

British Cuckoo completes 22,000 mile odyssey in record time.

Sadly my sponsored cuckoo Raymond didn’t make it beyond August 2019 so it’s good to read that Carlton II has arrived back in the UK.

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Cuckoo by Steve Ashton

A Cuckoo called Carlton II has just arrived back in England having spent the last ten months travelling to and from the Congo rainforest, becoming the first of the BTO’s satellite-tracked cuckoos to return to this country in 2020. 

Aided by favourable southerly winds, he completed the last leg of his mammoth journey in record time, Ivory Coast to southern England in seven days. In doing so, he leap-frogged two other tracked cuckoos, named PJ and Senan, currently stopping over in Spain and North Africa respectively.

Carlton II was fitted with a high-tech satellite tag in May 2018, by scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology at SWT Carlton Marshes, Suffolk, to allow them to follow his every move. We have lost almost three-quarters of our breeding Cuckoos during the last 25 years and, as Cuckoos spend more time outside of the UK that they do in it, it is vital to understand where they go, the journey they take to get there, and any pressures they face that might be contributing to their decline.

Carlton II spends the summers in Suffolk and the winters in Gabon, Central Africa, and travels over 5,500 miles between the two, dodging many hazards, such as high winds, sand and hailstorms, ferocious thunderstorms, drought and lengthy sea-crossings. Since having his tag fitted Carlton II has flown over 22,000 miles on his migration.

Dr Chris Hewson, BTO lead scientist on the project, “It is great to see Carlton II getting back to the UK so quickly. Taking just a week to cover more than three thousand miles from Liberia to Berkshire is an awesome feat and something even  swifts don’t manage. This shows us just how quickly these harbingers of spring can get here from tropical Africa when conditions for their journey are good It’s a journey so full of hazards that it’s always a relief when they get back,  no matter how fast or slow. These Cuckoos have taught us so much about their lives, giving answers but also raising more questions as to what might be behind their decline.”
Anyone can watch the Cuckoos as they make their incredible journeys at www.bto.org/cuckoos

Protecting and restoring nature is more essential than ever

Skomer Puffin Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales (c) Mike Alexander
Skomer Puffin Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales © Mike Alexander

The Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 46 charities across the UK – are, like others, dealing with unprecedented challenges caused by coronavirus. Restoring nature in the UK – one of the most nature depleted countries in the world – has become harder than ever during the pandemic. At the same time, people are seeking solace in nature to relieve the hardships caused by the lockdown.

Many Trust staff are furloughed and those that remain in post have found valuable time is being lost to a proliferation of illegal activities such as shooting wildlife and fly-tipping. Meanwhile, vital conservation work has had to be put on hold – leading to an explosion of invasive non-native species, deterioration of rare wildflower meadows, stalled wildlife reintroductions and potential loss of species such as dormice from some areas.

Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“People are discovering that they want and need to connect to nature more than ever – they’re finding solace at their local nature reserve, using our inspiration to help wildlife in their gardens and balconies and educating their children about the natural world. Huge numbers of people are enjoying our webcams showing springtime nature, barn owl chicks hatching and puffins emerging from burrows. But it is local nature – in walking distance or short bike ride from home – which is particularly important for peoples’ mental and physical health at this time.

That’s why it’s The Wildlife Trusts, who care for 2,300 reserves – most of them close to where people live – that are at the sharp end of trying deliver this public service. But these are desperate times for our movement as income from visitor centres and fundraisers has crashed yet the demands of caring for thousands of nature reserves are higher than ever. We’re also heartbroken that so much valuable work restoring large areas of land has been put on hold and some species will lose out as monitoring and reintroduction programmes stall.

With the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills all now delayed, we have profound concerns about whether these critical pieces of legislation will become law – and enforcement bodies will be in place – before the Brexit transition period comes to end on December 31st.  The challenges faced by the natural environment have never been greater and we need both government and public support.”

Current issues that Wildlife Trusts are struggling to deal with include:

  • Management of rare and historic wildflower meadows – non-maintenance leads to deterioration and this will take time to repair
  • Absence of species protection, species monitoring and special wildlife surveys
  • Delay in legislation across governments – in England, for example, to the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills
  • Lack of habitat restoration so nature recovery stalls
  • Badger vaccination has stopped
  • Land advisory work stopped
  • No site visits to check planning applications – leading to a possible swathe of knock-on effects once lockdown is lifted
  • No beach cleans will lead to pollution problems particularly for marine mammals
  • Gaps in marine data collection
  • Necessary cancellation of all public events and education and community sessions, preventing outreach into vulnerable communities and risk of an ever-increasing disconnect between young people and the natural world
  • Flytipping, vandalism and theft on nature reserves
  • Illegal shooting of rare birds
  • Lack of management of invasive non-native species will now require a big effort once social distancing rules are relaxed

Craig Bennett explains:

“The work of The Wildlife Trusts is critical. We live in one of the most nature depleted countries in the world at a time when there’s a big public conversation about the importance of nature – and access to it – in our everyday lives. It feeds our souls and nourishes us in good times and in bad. Caring for nature benefits us all in many ways.

“The Wildlife Trusts can be a vital part of our nation’s recovery from the current health crisis. Nature brings health benefits and offers solutions to the other great emergency facing humanity – climate change – so it must be protected and allowed to recover. I’d urge people to support their local Wildlife Trust wherever they are in the UK.”

Over 60% of the population live within a 3 mile walk of a Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

For inspiration, nature ideas during lockdown and wildlife webcams (these have had a 22-fold increase in views on this time last year) scroll here www.wildlifetrusts.org/looking-after-yourself-and-nature.  Please see editor’s notes for examples of how The Wildlife Trusts’ work is being affected by coronavirus.