2014 Archive

22 DECEMBER 2014 - Secret Spaces: the status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014

The Wildlife Trusts have released their latest report on the conditon of Local Wildlife Sites, based on a survey of 48 of the 53 Local Wildlife Site partnerships across England. The survey, which is the seventh in a series of surveys conducted by The Wildlife Trusts, found that more than 11% of 6,590 Local Wildlife Sites monitored in the period 2009 – 2013 were lost or damaged. Forty five partnerships reported that they urgently need more resources to ensure the effective identification, management and protection of Local Wildlife Sites in their area and to combat the causes of neglect, inappropriate management and development pressures that threaten these sites. 

Although of sufficient importance that they have to be identified and protected by local authorities through Local Plans,  there are significant failings to either adopt such policies or properly implement them. In Basildon a recent decision by the Council will result in the loss of a Local Wildlife Site which provided a rich wildflower grassland habitat.

The Wildlife Trust webpage provides further information and two report documents that can be downloaded   http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/localwildlifesites


atural England has published the latest of its reports on the impact of Ash Dieback Disease, and options for how to respond to it in the future management of woodland. The report can be download for the webpage at, "Assessing and addressing the impacts of ash dieback on UK woodlands and trees of conservation importance (Phase 2) (NECR151)"

Some of teh key findings are that alternative species of trees need to be chosen with care. Tree Species that are good alternative hosts for the other species that live on Ash trees are not necessarily the best for maintaining overall ecosystem function. There is no obvious closely similar species.

The overall conclusions are as follows

With regard to the alternative tree species considered within this report the following
conclusions may be made:
• Those species that may support the greatest number of ash-associated species (oak
and beech) will not replace the ecological functioning of ash within woodlands. They
will cause a major change in the functioning of the woodland, for example increasing
shade and slowing down nutrient cycling.
• With regard to ecological functioning, alder, lime and rowan are most similar to ash
with oak and beech most dissimilar and sycamore, field maple and aspen
intermediate. The exception to this is for successional processes where beech and
oak are more similar to ash in being late successional species of similar height and
with similar gap colonisation strategies (particularly beech).
• Elm is able to support a large number of ash-associated species but has already
declined in distribution due to Dutch elm disease. Alder is currently being affected by
Phytophthora alni and may decline. These tree diseases may limit the suitability of
these two species as alternative tree species to ash. Other tree species may of
course also be affected by diseases not yet known to be a problem.
• Native species generally support more ash-associated species than non-native tree
species, with the exception of sycamore which supports as many ash-associated
species as some native tree species. Some of this difference may be due to poorer
data availability for many non-native species.
• Non-native ash species may support some ash-associated species, but this is largely
based on expert judgement rather than known records of ash-associated species
using these tree species. Some of the non-native ash species, particularly
Manchurian ash, are also susceptible to ash dieback, limiting their suitability as
replacements for ash.
• Elm, oak, hazel, aspen and sycamore support the greatest number of ash-associated
species that are most at risk (those with a high level of association with ash and a
high level of conservation concern).
• For the alternative tree species assessed in this project we have identified those
which have little data on the use made of them by ash-associated species. If these
tree species are planted to replace ash then it should be done in the knowledge that
we do not know the potential ecological impact of such plantings.
With regard to the management scenarios considered within this report the following
conclusions may be made:
• In the first ten years thinning (management scenario (5)) is predicted to be better
than felling with natural regeneration promoted for obligate and highly associated ash
• In the short-term (1-10 years) management scenarios (5) thinning; (6) felling with
natural regeneration were predicted to be intermediate in their impact on obligate and
highly associated ash species compared to scenarios (1) non-intervention and (2) no
felling with natural regeneration promoted which are predicted to be best for ash-
associated biodiversity and scenarios (3) felling and (4) felling and replanting which
are predicted to be worst for ash-associated biodiversity.
147• In the long-term (50-100 years) there is predicted to be little difference between the
six management scenarios in their impact on obligate and highly associated species.
• Under the management scenarios tested partially associated ash species are
predicted to decline initially following the arrival of ash dieback but after 50-100 years
the majority of partially associated species are predicted to be unchanged in
abundance compared to current population levels due to an increase in the
abundance of other tree species which they utilise.
• After 50-100 years some partially associated ash species are predicted to have
greater abundance than at present, as ash dies out and is replaced with alternative
tree species that the partially associated species are more highly associated with.
• Partially associated species show some very species specific responses to the
management scenarios, illustrating the importance of knowing which ash-associated
species are present on a site and which alternative tree species they will use if
partially associated ash species are to be conserved.
• The results suggest that for the majority of partially associated ash species, if the
correct management is undertaken the impacts of ash dieback on partially associated
species can be mitigated.

24 OCTOBER 2014 - Dreissena bugensis, Quagga Mussel - A new Invasive Species

The Quagga Mussell is the latest candidate Invasive Species, and has been featured in the national news. The Non-Native Species Secretariat has a page on the Quagga Mussel and we have two factsheets to download.

An identification guide (PDF 760KB)

A Biosecurity Guide (PDF 78KB)


Work is well under way on the RSPB'  coastal engineering scheme at Wallasea Island, which will be the largest project of its type in Europe,  creating new wetland landscapes, marsh, saltflats, lagoons and pasture, making habitat for internationally important wildlife and a resource for people to visit. The RSPB has its own Wallasea Isalnd web page and there is another website at Carnyx Wild with more information, photographs and video.    

6 October 2014 - UN biodiversity report highlights failure to meet conservation targets

International efforts to meet targets to stem the loss of wildlife and habitats are failing miserably, according to a UN report.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, published as nearly 200 countries meet on Monday in South Korea in a bid to tackle biodiversity loss, paints a damning picture of governments’ efforts to meet a set of targets agreed in 2010 to slow the destruction of species’ habitats, cut pollution and stop overfishing by the end of the decade.

Conservationists said the lack of progress, nearly halfway to the 2020 deadline for the targets, was a troubling sign and a reality check.

Read the full story at The Guardian

4 October 2014  - Global biodiversity targets won't be met by 2020, scientists say

From The Guardian
World leaders are failing in their pledge to cut the rate at which wildlife lose their homes, according to the the first ever progress report on targets to slow biodiversity loss by the end of the decade. Conservationist called the lack of action a “troubling sign” and a “reality check”.

Governments agreed on a set of targets in 2010 to stem the destruction of species’ habitats, increase the number of nature reserves and stop overfishing, but an international team of more than 30 scientists say in a report that, almost halfway towards the 2020 deadline, the Aichi targets are unlikely to be met.

Writing in the journal Science, in the same week that a major report by WWF suggested the world had lost half its animals over the past four decades, the scientists say that the state of biodiversity and the pressures on it are getting worse, not better.

A pledge to halve the loss of natural habitats by 2020 will be missed, as will an attempt to reduce fishing to sustainable levels, and a target of having 10% of the world’s seas made into protected areas.

Dr Richard Gregory, one of the paper’s authors and head of species monitoring and research at the RSPB, said: “World leaders are currently grappling with many crises affecting our future. But this study shows there is a collective failure to address the loss of biodiversity, which is arguably one of the greatest crises facing humanity.

“The natural environment provides us with food, clean water and other natural resources we need for survival, and much more besides to feed our souls and inspire us.”

He called the lack of progress a “a troubling sign for us all.”
Read the full article at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/03/global-biodiversity-targets-2020-habitat-wildlife-scientists-say

1 October 2014

Essex Wildlife Trust awarded funding under the NBN Data Capture Initiative 2014

 Essex Wildlife Trust Biological Records Centre has received funding from the NBN Trust to digitise data from the Environment Agency on riverine habitats in Essex. This funding is part of a larger bid to the Government’s Release of Data Fund, which aims to tackle the so called ‘Data-Deficit Disorder’, whereby lack of knowledge about the natural world leads to undervaluing of natural resources, and bad decision making when considering ecological impacts. It is expected that 500,000 species records from over 5000 discrete taxa, will be digitised from the 15 datasets chosen to receive funding.

 This funding is particularly important for us as it allows us to digitise historic data that will be relevant and useful to our current partnership work with the Environment  Agency and Essex Biodiversity Project under the Catchment Restoration Fund. We recently undertook surveys of several river catchments in Essex and the historic data that we will digitise under the Release of Data Fund will enable us to compare our recent surveys to the historic data for these catchments and highlight any changes that  have occurred. The results of our current work are already available on the Essex Rivers Hub website, so now we will have historic data to show how our rivers change over time.

 The project is due to be completed by 31 March 2015.

 More information about this project can be found on the NBN website:

 30 September - The Living Planet Report

The latest edition of the Living Planet Report is reported in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf under the headline that Earth lost just over 52% of its number of wild animals in the past 40 years. Evidence of our unsustainable way of life is also revealed showing that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels. http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/ecological_footprint/

The WWF website offers the report as a download http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/
and features a video from Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International

And read this interestind commentary by George Monbiot

4 July 2014 - Essex Rivers Hub

The Essex Rivers Hub project has developed increasingly over the last few months with a wide range of partners attending the last meeting and a new partnership agreement being drafted. The website is being slowly populated as more walkovers are carried out and the information is collated and uploaded, with the suggestions of many more projects all over Essex. In September, the Hub will be holding three workshops based in Little Baddow, Wickford and Nayland where invited parties will be able to discuss what they would like to see for their local rivers; from these workshops, objectives will be determined which can eventually be fed into the River Basin Management Plan which aims to improve the quality of our rivers. For more information on this and to see the progress that has been made, please visit the Essex Rivers Hub website: www.essexrivershub.org.uk

3 July 2014 - Whale and Dolphin Watch

July 26th – August 3rd is this year’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch and we’d like to ask you to get involved and help us with cetacean-spotting over this period.

 We have some events online already and you may be able to join one of these in your area, but we’re also looking for people to set up their own watches to increase our observations around the whole of the UK. It’s really easy to put an event together, we provide the data collection forms, posters with which to advertise and we list the event online. We’re also here to offer advice on how and where to collect data if you haven’t done this before so all you need is a willingness to contribute to our knowledge of cetaceans and access to the coastline.

If you think you might like to be involved, whether that’s organising a (private or public) event or attending a pre-arranged event then please see the watch list on our website: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw-2014-watch-list/.

You can also help us by spreading the word. If you think you might know any interested people, community groups, organisations or you just have a really great place to advertise then I have attached some documents for you to share. If you would like printed copies of any of these then please send a request to: outreach@seawatchfoundation.org.uk.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon,

Kathy James,
Sightings Officer
Sea Watch Foundation
Paragon House
Wellington Place
New Quay
SA45 9NR  
Tel: 01545 561227

 4 June 2014 - Biodiversity offsetting

The Guardian  reports the deliberations of a meeting at London Zoo on Tuesday June 3rd about the merits or otherwise of biodiversity offsetting, which is said to have split the conservation community like no other issue.

It says, "The offset debate is central to future British nature conservation because environment secretary, Owen Paterson, is keen to have laws passed here which would allow ancient woods, wetlands and sites of special scientific interest to be destroyed to make way for road, housing and rail developments in return for new woods being planted or areas being flooded."

Wildlife conservation bodies are hightly sceptical;

“It is a license to trash. It make the assumption that you can swap nature. We lose things when we offset things. It reinforces the belief that we can keep going with business as usual”, said Hannah Mowat, of Fern, which tracks EU forest policies. “Destruction of complex and site specific biodiversity cannot be offset. It is time to be clear that offsetting will not tackle biodiversity loss but may impoverish communities."

“It can be used as a tool of great benefit but it can be dangerous”, said former head of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper. “Where there is no alternative, biodiversity offsets can be useful. But offsetting can be abused. If governments want to use this as a window-dressing for a pro-growth agenda, as I fear that Britain does, it can be very dangerous."

2 June 2014 - Forestry Commission Tree Health Seminars July 2014

The Forestry Commission is holding three Tree Health Seminars in July for those with an interest in forestry. Each indoor seminar will be led by Forest Research scientists, who will provide the latest findings on a range of current tree pests and diseases, as well as horizon scanning some potential threats. The seminar will cover:

  • Acute Oak Decline
  • Chalara ash dieback
  • Sweet Chestnut blight
  • Phytophthora ramorum (Bakewell and Oakham)
  • Dothistroma needle blight (Horringer)
  • Oak Processionary Moth
  • Asian Longhorn Beetle
  • Bronze Birch Borer
  • Emerald Ash Borer

Dates and venues are as follows:


Tuesday 8th July - 0930 to 1630hrs  

Venue:  Agricultural Business Centre, Bakewell, Peak District 


 This event is supported by the Peak District National Park Authority.

Note: Teas and coffees will be supplied. There is a café on site for the purchase of lunches or bring your own. Car passes will be issued on registration.


Thursday 10th July - 0930 to 1630hrs  

Venue: Victoria Hall, Oakham, Rutland


This event is supported by CONFOR


·         Teas and coffees will be supplied food for lunch may be purchased in Oakham.

·         Long-stay Public Car Parks available at Burley Road LE15 6DH, South Street LE15 6BG, Westgate LE156BH, Catmose LE15 6HP see link: Oakham Car Parking


Thursday 17th July - 0930 to 1630hrs  

Venue: Horringer Community Centre, Horringer, Suffolk


 This event is supported by the Norfolk & Suffolk Working Woodland Group

 Note: Teas and coffees will be supplied please bring a packed lunch


Each seminar is free however, places are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

To book your place contact Teresa Betterton by email at eandem@forestry.gsi.gov.uk


4 April 2014 - Save Our Vanishing Grasslands

The Wildlife Trusts have launched a campaign to improve protection of species rich grassland, drawing attention to the continuing and serious rates of loss of this nationally rare habitat. Such "unimproved" (for agriculture) grasslands are not only good for wildlife but also for farming and food production, being valuable sources of pollinators. These grasslands also hold a great deal more water in the soil than "improved" grasslands, and can play an important part in flood reduction.

The Wildlife Trusts' webpage contains more details and links to a 6 page report that can be downloaded. There is also a petition to sign which will be presented to the Environment Secretary asking for more statututory protection for the remaining sites and a higher priority in policy.   


The Forestry Commission has published an updateed map showing the known distribution of Ash Dieback disease as at 24 February 2014. The number of affected sites are;
Nursery sites - 26
Recently planted sites - 345
Wider environment, e.g. established woodland - 261
Total: 632 

Though concentrated in the Eastern part of the country the disease is clearly now widespread. This Spring will show us the emerging pattern of spread, but perhaps more imporatant is to keep a watch for trees that appear to be resistant.  See http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara for the full details. 

6 FEBRUARY 2014 - Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries Marine Conservation Zone

This inshore marine conservation zone was designated on 21 November 2013. Designated specifically for four features: to maintain in favourable condition ‘intertidal mixed sediments’ and ‘Clacton Cliffs and Foreshore’ and to recover to favourable condition the ‘Native Oyster’ and the ‘Native Oyster beds’.

A map of the MCZ can be downloaded from the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/marine-conservation-zone-2013-designation-blackwater-crouch-roach-and-colne-estuaries.

An explanation of the features of the area and the meaning of the MCZ designation can be read at http://www.seachangesailingtrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Blackwater-Crouch-Roach-and-Colne-MCZ-Factsheet.pdf

The role played by Essex Wildlife Trust in securing this designation is set out at http://www.essexwt.org.uk/news/2013/12/02/essex-marine-conservation-zone-designate

15 JANUARY 2014 - The Mosaic Approach: Managing habitats for species

Natural England has published online, "The Mosaic Approach", which forms a key component of species conservation strategy and helps deliver Biodiversity 2020. It is an approach they are embedding within conservation delivery mechanisms and would encourage others to do likewise in order to protect and enhance England’s species.

Presented as a series of interactive presentations these guides encompass:

  • Introduction to the Mosaic Approach
  • Mosaic Approach – Woodland
  • Mosaic Approach – Brownfield/Open Mosaic Habitats
  • Mosaic Approach – Lowland Grasslands
  • Mosaic Approach – Lowland Heathland
  • Mosaic Approach – Saltmarsh

Additional Mosaic Approach guides covering rivers and streams and wetland habitats will be available shortly with an Upland guide to follow later.

The presentations introduce the Mosaic Approach; most species require a range of elements within a site or a wider landscape in order to complete their life cycle.  Many of these elements, such as small patches of bare ground, tall flower-rich vegetation, or scattered trees and scrub, are often absent from the English landscape, and even from some of our most important wildlife sites. This has contributed to serious declines in many species, with some now close to extinction. Providing a mosaic of these elements in the landscape would go a long way towards meeting the needs of many of these species, enabling them to thrive once again and, in turn, would help to deliver a key aim of Biodiversity 2020.

14 JANUARY 2014 - The Essex Rivers Hub

The Essex Rivers Hub is a project that has been developed in partnership between the Essex Biodiversity Project, Essex Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency. The aim is to provide up to date information about the quality of the rivers in Essex, the surrounding environment and a way for people to get involved. 

Improving our water environment is a challenge for everyone. Achieving the standards set out in the EU's Water Framework Directive will be a tall order, and we will only succeed by working together. The website provides information on the work already carried out, future proposed work, and case studies for landowners householders and schools about how to improve rivers, and how to get involved.

View the website at  http://essexrivershub.org.uk/



Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/biodiversity-2020-a-strategy-for-england-s-wildlife-and-ecosystem-services - is the Government’s strategy for people and wildlife in England. Published in 2011 it replaces the previous England biodiversity strategy and is part of the United Kingdom Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

A Google + page, Biodiversity 2020 - https://plus.google.com/109941339763068283056/posts - has also been set up to act as a bulletin board for related news, such as the release of related reports. 

5 JANUARY 2014

Biodiversity indicators

2013 biodiversity indicators have been published by the government and can be downloaded from here

This compendious document looks at many specific indicators, but to choose the one for Priority Species, between 1970 and 2010 populations of priority species declined to 42% of the original index value, and within the index over this long term period, 30 per cent of species showed an increase and 70 per cent showed a decline. Between 2005 and 2010, populations of priority species declined by seven per cent relative to their value in 2005.

Public sector spending on biodiversity in the UK peaked in 2008-9 at 0.037% of GDP and fell to 0.030% in 2012-13, a fall in money terms from approximately £590million to £490 million.

Living Ash

A new project, The Living Ash Project, has been established to identify and secure ash trees that show good tolerance to Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus – the fungus that causes ash dieback (formerly known as Chalara fraxinea) – and use these individuals to form the nucleus of a future breeding programme. In total, including in-kind contributions from the many partners, the project will cost approximately £1.2M and will take around six years to complete. It is intended to involve the public in the identification and monitoring of healthy Ash trees. The website can be seen at http://livingashproject.org.uk/

© Essex Biodiversity Project 2012
Essex Wildlife Trust, The Joan Elliot Visitor Centre, Abbotts Hall Farm,
Great Wigborough, Colchester, Essex CO5 7RZ, United Kingdom