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Helping hedgehogs in our towns & cities: a free guide from Hedgehog Street - PTES

Hedgehogs are declining: the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report revealed that the population of the nation’s favourite mammal has fallen by half in the British countryside since 2000. Now, the two wildlife charities behind this report, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), who together run Hedgehog Street, have published a free guide aimed at land managers to help halt the decline in urban environments.

The guide, titled ‘Hedgehog Ecology and Land Management’, is aimed at those involved in the management of both public spaces and private amenity land. So for anyone working in green spaces within a town or city, including parks, schools, churchyards and recreational spaces, this illustrated booklet will provide some useful pointers about how you can help. Offering clear and detailed advice, it shows the different ways land can easily be managed to become more hedgehog-friendly.

Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer at Hedgehog Street says: “Even though hedgehogs are listed as a UK ‘Priority Species’ under the NERC Act 2006, there’s no current legislation addressing the causes of their decline. In order to help support wild hedgehog populations in both urban and rural areas, and ultimately halt the ongoing decline, we need to change the way we manage our land. Small management changes can dramatically improve areas of land for hedgehogs and other species, potentially reversing the dramatic decline we’re seeing and also enriching biodiversity more broadly. The decline of hedgehogs in our towns and cities appears to be slowing, but we have still lost around a third since the millennium. We want to work with managers of all types of urban green spaces and encourage them to make those few changes to land management practices that will help to bring hedgehogs back to the urban landscape – making hedgehogs a common sight once again.”


New sites for rare beetle discovered – Butterfly Conservation 

One of the UK’s most highly threatened and unusual beetles has been discovered in a number of new locations in the Cotswolds thanks to an innovative conservation scheme.

Image: Butterfly ConservationThe Rugged Oil Beetle, which is said to resemble a walking black olive, has been found in six new sites in Gloucestershire over the last year, following conservation work which is part of the Back from the Brink (BftB) project.

Image: Butterfly Conservation

The beetle, which secretes a toxic oil from its legs to deter predators, is notoriously difficult to spot as it is restricted to just a handful of sites in Southern England and Wales and only comes out at night in late autumn and winter.

The Back from the Brink project, made possible thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to save 20 species from extinction and benefit over 200 more through 19 projects that span England.

Funding for the BftB project has paid for workshops in which volunteers have been trained to identify the beetles.

Over the autumn and winter these volunteers set out under the cover of darkness, armed with torches, to scour promising sites for the beetle.

Despite several fruitless searches, six new sites for the beetle were discovered taking the total number of Rugged Oil Beetle locations known in the Cotswolds to 17.


World's biggest terrestrial carbon sinks are found in young forests – University of Birmingham

More than half of the carbon sink in the world’s forests is in areas where the trees are relatively young – under 140 years old – rather than in tropical rainforests, research at the University of Birmingham shows.

Image: University of BirminghamImage: University of Birmingham

These trees have typically ‘regrown’ on land previously used for agriculture, or cleared by fire or harvest and it is their young age that is one of the main drivers of this carbon uptake.

Forests are widely recognised as important carbon sinks – ecosystems capable of capturing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide – but dense tropical forests, close to the equator have been assumed to be working the hardest to soak up these gases.

Researchers at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) have carried out fresh analysis of the global biosphere using a new combination of data and computer modelling in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Drawing on data sets of forest age, they were able to show the amount of carbon uptake between 2001 and 2010 by old, established areas of forest.

They compared this with younger expanses of forest which are re-growing across areas that have formerly experienced human activities such as agriculture or logging or natural disturbances such as fire.

Previously it had been thought that the carbon uptake by forests was overwhelmingly due to fertilisation of tree growth by increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

However, the researchers found that areas where forests were re-growing sucked up large amounts of carbon not only due to these fertilisation effects, but also as a result of their younger age. The age effect accounted for around 25 per cent of the total carbon dioxide absorbed by forests. Furthermore, this age-driven carbon uptake was primarily situated not in the tropics, but in the middle and high latitude forests.


More Brexit news for you

New report warns that a “no deal” Brexit outcome poses the worst threats to the environment – The Wildlife Trusts

Leaving the EU without a deal could create real risks to the environment

A new report produced by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, has warned that leaving the EU without a deal could create real risks to the environment.

The report looks at the potential impact of different Brexit outcomes on environmental policy, using the benchmarks set by the Greener UK coalition. The key findings are that a “no deal” outcome from the Brexit negotiations could have risks both in terms of environmental impacts in the short term, and potentially significant deregulatory pressures in the medium and long term.

You can read the full report here


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