2015 Archive

20 NOVEMBER 2015 - WWF-UK - Court victory shows protecting our precious rivers and wetlands is no longer a ‘last resort’


Today, WWF-UK, the Angling Trust & Fish Legal Judicial Review secured a major step forward for the protection of our most important rivers and wetlands. The Judge recognised the need for urgent action to protect these precious places and the wildlife that lives there.
River Itchen, chalkstream.

As a result of their legal victory today, the Government must evaluate the use of mandatory Water Protection Zones alongside voluntary steps by farmers, which have so far failed to protect these vulnerable places from farm pollution.

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF-UK, said: “This takes the ministerial handcuffs off of the Environment Agency which can now better protect our most precious rivers and wetlands.

“The Government must now act with haste and put necessary measures in place to tackle pollution from farms that is devastating these specially protected sites.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, the Angling Trust & Fish Legal: “This is a win for cherished species like the kingfisher, salmon and trout which are seriously threatened by this pollution.

“This is a clear message to Government that they must stop dragging their feet and they must now take the necessary steps to improve the health of these precious rivers and wetlands.”

David Wolfe QC, said: “Defra and the EA’s new statement should mean that they will now actively consider WPZs as the way of delivering benefits for the environment rather than waiting until other approaches had demonstrably failed before even turning to them.”

5 NOVEMBER 2015 -  the Response for Nature report published by a coalition of leading conservation organisations

In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind for the UK. The resulting State of Nature report [2] revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades.  More than one in ten of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

Public attitudes and support for nature ref lect the range of reasons why nature conservation is important:
88% of the UK population believe that biodiversity is indispensable for the production of goods, such as food, fuel and medicines.
90% feel that our well-being and quality of life is based on nature and biodiversity.
94% agree we have a moral obligation to halt biodiversity loss.

 The Response for Nature reports outlines specific asks for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature.  To ensure its recovery, nature needs the UK Government, or devolved Governments, to take the following common actions now:

  •     Deliver an inspiring vision for nature – nature needs to be a part of our lives.  Government must set a trajectory for nature’s recovery so that, by 2040, we have a country richer in nature and can see people connecting to nature.
  •     Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature – our most important laws that safeguard species and special places, the Birds and Habitats Directives, are under threat.  We must resist attempts from Europe to weaken our laws and ensure the full implementation of legislation that aims to reduce pressures on nature.
  •     Deliver a network of special places for nature on land and at sea – we need special places to be protected and well managed, and linked within a wider landscape with room for people and nature.
  •     Recover threatened species targeted through programmes of action – we must halt species extinction, but more than that, we should be restoring priority species to favourable conservation status, where populations recover to a healthy state.
  •     Improve the connection of young people to nature for their health and well-being and for nature’s future.  
  •     Provide incentives (or other financial measures) that work for nature – we need to reward those who enhance our natural world, and make those responsible pay when we take more from it than we put back.
  •     Support people working together for nature – we all have a part to play in saving nature.  Each and every one of us needs to take care about, and take action for, nature – before it’s too late.

A full copy of the Response for Nature report can be downloaded from ;


2 NOVEMBER 2015 - With 90% of the UK’s ash trees about to be wiped out, could GM be the answer?

The Guardian reports on options for breeding disease resistant ash trees, making an interesting read



In 1986, after a fire and explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released radioactive particles into the air, thousands of people left the area, never to return. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 5 have found that the Chernobyl site looks less like a disaster zone and more like a nature preserve, teeming with elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar, and wolves. "It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident," says Jim Smith of the University of Portsmouth in the UK. "This doesn't mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming, and forestry, are a lot worse." The relative abundance of elk, roe deer, red deer, and wild boar within the exclusion zone are now similar to those in four uncontaminated nature reserves in the region, the researchers report. The number of wolves living in and around the Chernobyl site is more than seven times greater than can be found in those nature reserves. "These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposure," the researchers conclude. They note that these increases came at a time when elk and wild boar populations were declining in other parts of the former Soviet Union. "These unique data showing a wide range of animals thriving within miles of a major nuclear accident illustrate the resilience of wildlife populations when freed from the pressures of human habitation," says Jim Beasley, a study co-author at the University of Georgia.

Web Reference: Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005132553.htm

Journal Reference:

    T.G. Deryabina, S.V. Kuchmel, L.L. Nagorskaya, T.G. Hinton, J.C. Beasley, A. Lerebours, J.T. Smith. Long-term census data reveal abundant wildlife populations at Chernobyl. Current Biology, 2015; 25 (19): R824 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.017

2 SEPTEMBER 2015 - RSPB Wallasey Wild Coast Project

The RSPB have been working on their habitat creation project at Wallasey Island for several years, and have recently reached the stage of making breaches in the old sea wall. They have a very informative web page about the project here http://www.rspb.org.uk/wallaseawildcoast/ and it looks like an interesting place to visit. Just upriver from the RSPB Project is the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve at Lower Raypits and Lion Creek, which was subject to similar habitat creation works in 2012, supervised by Mark Iley our Essex Biodiversity Project Coordinator, which is now maturing and also worth visiting. These adjacent projects will make a very big difference to the ecology of the coast and estuaries, a real Living Landscape.   

13 AUGUST 2015 - August 13th is Earth Overshoot Day this year

—In less than eight months, humanity has used up nature’s budget for the entire year, with carbon sequestration making up more than half of the demand on nature, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.

Global Footprint Network tracks humanity’s demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature’s ability to provide for this demand (biocapacity). Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

The costs of this ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day, in the form of deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter will significantly amplify the former, if current climate models are correct.

Read the full Press Release from Global Footprint Network

2 June 2015 - Free Invertebrate Identification Training Workshops - Surveyors wanted for Thames Terrace Invertebrates

A partnership project between Essex County Council, Buglife, Essex
Field Club and the University of East London has been working to
increase awareness and improve habitat quality for Thames Terrace
Invertebrates as part of the Greater Thames Marshes Nature
Improvement Area.

Free training workshops have now been arranged for 20 June, 1 Augist and 8 August - please see the leaflet for details - LEAFLET ( PDF 580KB)

We are looking for volunteers -
Are you interested in getting involved in surveys on some of the sites on
which habitat improvements have been carried out?
Belton Hills LNR, Hadleigh Country Park, Vange Hill, West Canvey Marshes,
Wat Tyler Country Park
Or are you interested in learning more about the NIA Thames Terrace
Invertebrate work?

• We are currently looking for people who are interested in getting involved
in order to plan a series of free identification workshops this summer
(2015) to provide field survey identification skills for flagship species
including the shrill carder bee, phoenix fly, wasp hoverfly, and horehound
long-horn moth
• Workshops will comprise talks from Essex Field Club, Buglife and
University of East London on Thames Terrace Invertebrates, the Nature
Improvement Area project, and identification skills
• There will also be the opportunity to practice the skills you have been
taught during site walks with experts Peter Harvey (Essex Field Club), Jamie
Robins (Buglife) and James McGill & Stuart Connop (UEL)

If you are interested, please get in touch with either Stuart
Connop (University of East London) or Jamie Robins
(Buglife) for more details:
0208 223 4985
01733 201 210


New research has discredited the popular belief that street lighting is attractive to common bats. The study, carried out by scientists from the University of Exeter and Bat Conservation Ireland, found that bat activity was generally lower in street-lit areas than in dark locations with similar habitat. The findings have important implications for conservation, overturning the previous assumption that common bats benefited from street-lights because they could feed on the insects that congregated around them. Read More at Science Daily

26 FEBRUARY 2015 - Natural Harlow 2014 Annual Report

A comprehensive report about the wide range of biodiversity work carried out in Harlow during 2014 is now available on this link


From woodland managment to Bat and Badger rescue, and much else as well, the volunteers and staff have achieved an impressive amount this year, read all about it. 


Work to try to stabilise the population of White-Clwed Crayfish in the face of the invasive non-native species of crayfish which have been introduced into the UK has been proceeding for some time. A new summary sheet has been published to set out the scope of the work so far, and mapping out future work with the hope of developing projects and funding. The document can be downloaded from this link -  Crayfish Strategy (PDF 220KB)  

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