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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs single departmental plan - Defra Corporate report

Published 14 December 2017 

Our single departmental plan sets out our objectives and how we will achieve them.

The environment is fundamental to all that we do, and we must protect and enhance it. The job of Defra group is to make our country a great place for living. We do this by supporting our superb food, farming and fisheries industries, enhancing our beautiful rural environment, and better protecting against flooding, disease and other natural threats.

Our objectives

1. A smooth and orderly exit from the EU

2. A cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy

3. A world leading food and farming industry

4. A rural economy that works for everyone, contributing to productivity, prosperity and wellbeing

5. A nation better protected against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards, with strong response and recovery capabilities

Our finances

 

Industry calls for ‘Gove guarantee’ on agri-environment schemes - Wildlife Trusts, on behalf of coalition of organisations*

Farming and green organisations have come together to seek a guarantee from Michael Gove that farmers and land managers who sign up to agri-environment schemes before the UK leaves the EU are not penalised post-Brexit.

The CLA, NFU, TFA, CAAV, FWAG, GWCT, the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and the National Trust have jointly written to the Environment Secretary calling for a commitment to ensure those in England with a Countryside Stewardship agreement are not at a disadvantage when the Government launches a new and improved system of environmental land management payments after EU exit. 

Defra Ministers have suggested that post-Brexit, there will still be support for achieving environmental outcomes which will be simpler and more effective. Due to this expectation, the organisations argue that some farmers and land managers do not want to limit their ability to access improved schemes in the future by committing to five-year agreements under the current Countryside Stewardship.

The organisations ask for a guarantee from Mr Gove to provide confidence to the sector and to ensure farmers and land managers continue to engage in schemes which deliver positive environmental results.

Read the letter to Michael Gove in full.

*The organisations supporting this call are the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), National Farmers Union (NFU), Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), RSPB England, The Wildlife Trusts, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Trust and Farm Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG).

 

 

Making sense of clicks and squeaks: Mammal Society launches Ecobat - Mammal Society

Bats make high pitched calls inaudible to the human ear. These secret sounds can be recorded using specialised equipment, and the approach is frequently used to help determine whether bats are likely to be adversely affected by proposed developments such as new housing or roads. However, there are currently no standardised techniques interpreting these data. This makes it difficult to assess the likely impacts of developments, or to choose between two alternative locations for a development.

Pipistrelle bat by James MillerPipistrelle bat by James Miller

The Mammal Society is launching a new Web-based tool, Ecobat, which addresses the need for a more robust way of interpreting the results from acoustic surveys for ecological assessments.

Ecobat offers users an easy, standardised, and objective method for analysing bat activity data. It allows ecologists to compare data across sites on both a regional and national basis, generating a numerical indicator of how important surveying results, such as a bat activity are for that site. It can therefore enable better decision to be made about the development potential or conservation value of the location.

A key aspect of Ecobat is that it has been made available free and open-source and as the underlying algorithms are already developed it could be easily expanded to new geographic regions and species groups. Prof Fiona Mathews, Chair of the Mammal Society says “A big incentive to use Ecobat is that it gives ecologists — for free — ready to use graphs that help them assess how likely it is that a roost is close by. The system is built on the data submitted by the ecological community, so the more Ecobat is used, the better the outputs become”.

Ecobat can be accessed at www.ecobat.org.uk

Read the research paper (open access): Lintott PR, Davison S, van Breda J, et al. Ecobat: An online resource to facilitate transparent, evidence-based interpretation of bat activity data. Ecol Evol. 2017;00:1–7. Doi: 10.1002/ece3.3692

 

New raptor persecution maps to help tackle wildlife crime - defra

New technology will help crack down on crimes against raptors in England and Wales.

A buzzard in flight (image: defra)A buzzard in flight (image: defra)

Raptor persecution maps for England and Wales have been published to enable the police to clearly see where the highest incidents are taking place and focus enforcement efforts in the areas that need it most.

The maps present the number of shootings, trappings, poisonings and nest destructions that took place across England & Wales between 2011 and 2015 and will be updated annually, providing an invaluable intelligence tool to help fight crimes again birds of prey.

North Yorkshire will be a priority area as the most incidents occurred there (39), followed by Norfolk (17), Cumbria (11), Derbyshire (11), Lincolnshire (10), Suffolk (8) and Northumberland (8).

Wildlife Minister Thérèse Coffey said: "Birds of prey are a vital part of our animal landscape, icons of our cultural heritage and key to boosting local economies by attracting visitors to England and Wales. These maps highlight hotspots across the country for crimes against these precious birds, enabling the police to crack down with increased enforcement in areas where it’s needed most – building on the valuable work land management, conservation and shooting organisations are already doing to help protect iconic birds of prey."

These maps build on this valuable work and will help boost the fight against those who continue to commit crimes against raptors. In the five year measurable period there have been 262 incidents in England and Wales: 146 of these caused by shooting and 66 by poisoning.

The majority of incidents took place against buzzards (108), followed by owls (40), red kites (39) and peregrine [falcons] (34). 

 

Response: New maps a ‘valuable tool in fight against raptor crime’, says BASC - British Association for Shooting and Conservation

BASC believes the publication of the first comprehensive raptor persecution map for England and Wales will allow enforcement to be effectively targeted.

While a previous map showed only incidents involving the poisoning of protected raptors, the new interactive map also now includes for the first time incidents of shootings, trappings and nest destruction.

 Christopher Graffius, BASC’s acting chief executive, said: “For the fight against raptor persecution to be successful, it is essential that credible intelligence is available to enable enforcement to be focused in the most effective manner. This map should serve as a wake-up call for those who are doing a disservice to the entire shooting community by committing crimes against birds of prey. The message should now be heard loud and clear that illegality has to stop. BASC fully supports the publication of this map and hopes it will prove to be a valuable tool in the fight against raptor crime.”

BASC, as members of the RPPDG, has worked with other rural organisations, the RSPB, the police and government agencies to publish the information.

Ian Grindy, chair of BASC’s game and gamekeeping committee, said: “For too many years, the extent of persecution has been hidden. BASC hopes that by pulling together all the available data in this interactive map, organisations are in a better position to put an end to this illegal activity once for all. A clear step has been taken towards driving these criminals into full view.”

 

Scientific Publication

John Lusby, et al., Breeding ecology and habitat selection of Merlin Falco columbarius in forested landscapes Bird Study  doi: 10.1080/00063657.2017.1408565

 

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