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British Naturalists’ Association

The National Body For Naturalists

FOUNDED 1905

© The British Naturalists’ Association 2014

WILDLIFE NEWS


The Seahorse Trust Newsletter

is available to download Here>>

More than three-quarters of the UK’s butterflies have declined in the last 40 years with some common species suffering significant slumps, a major scientific study has revealed.


Report, by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)

Chris Packham Hon FBNA and Vice-president of Butterfly Conservation , said: “This report reveals that UK butterflies are in real trouble. Yet again we are presented with sobering evidence that our much-cherished wildlife is in dire straits.”

As a society we are guilty of standing idly by as once common species, never mind the rarities, suffer staggering declines. This is a situation that should shame us all.

“The future of the UK’s butterflies does not have to be bleak. This report shows conservation work can and does turn around the fortunes of our most threatened butterflies.”

The newly launched Garden Butterfly Survey will attempt to lift the lid on how garden butterflies are faring.


The UK’s estimated 22 million gardens represent an area roughly the size of Somerset, and at a time when butterflies face unprecedented threat, they offer a potentially huge and vitally important habitat.


The Garden Butterfly Survey will encourage participants to count garden butterflies every month of the year as climate change has seen butterfly flight periods change with some species now flying into the winter.


Anger over Natural History Museum

plans to bulldoze wildlife garden

One of London's top visitor attractions, the Natural History Museum, is planning to bulldoze its unique living exhibit - home to more than 3,000 species of plants and animals - as part of a multi-million pound revamp of the institution.


The wildlife garden, which occupies a compact one-acre site on the west side of the museum building, was set up by a team of scientists 20 years ago to recreate the dozen or so habitats of lowland Britain. Animals that make their home in the garden range from moorhens and great tits through to smooth newts and damselflies, while plants include bee and common spotted orchids.


The plans will see a metres-wide path built right through the middle of the garden, where visitors currently enjoy the iconic central pond, and surrounding wetland and grassland habitat, all teeming with wildlife. As a result more than 50% of the garden will be either lost or uprooted.


Scientists and other specialists at the museum, represented by the union Prospect, have firmly opposed the destruction of the garden and say that mature habitats can’t simply be dug up and successfully moved. They add that the plans go against ethos of sustainability on which the institution prides itself.


The garden hosts organised educational visits by thousands of school children annually and important research on the impact of climate change on native species takes place there. In recent years the garden has served as an ark for rare species of wildlife threatened by development elsewhere.

See more details of this and the petition HERE >>

Skunk Cabbage

Britain is under attack from a silent invader that is taking over our ponds and streams - the American skunk cabbage. This popular ornamental plant for garden ponds was first introduced to the UK in 1901. In recent years, sightings of the American skunk cabbage in the wild have increased by 84%. If left to its own devices, the skunk cabbage has been known to wipe out all native flora around it.

 

The plant was introduced into cultivation in the United Kingdom in 1901 and has escaped to become naturalized in marshy areas in Britain and Ireland, for example in Hampshire and Surrey, including Wisley Gardens, and in the north and west of the UK.


If you spot skunk cabbage in the countryside report it to the Environment Agency.

Martin Bravenboer - Public Domain

Sussex Wildlife Trust is making an urgent appeal to its members and supporters to help protect dormice living in the county.


This charming nocturnal mammal faces many threats and challenges to its continued survival including damage to woodland and hedgerows caused by housing and other development, the decline in coppicing their woodland habitat and changes in agricultural practice.


Work to allow dormice to move freely to source food, nesting material and provide protection from predators is already underway at three Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves, West Dean Woods near Chichester, Marline Valley near Hastings and Selwyn’s Wood near Heathfield.

In addition to habitat management, monitoring of dormouse numbers will also take place, providing valuable data in planning for the future protection of this charismatic animal. ‘Not only are dormice rare and extremely shy but they are also nocturnal so you are unlikely to see one in the wild. To thrive, they need living conditions with a good mix of tree species, well managed hazel coppice, green corridors to move along and an understorey of honeysuckle and bramble as a source of food, nesting material and to provide vital cover from predators.

Dormice Decline

Photo: D Middleton SWT