Read the results below of the seahorse numbers in the 1829 – 2019 Survey

and the context to Global Warming

Seahorse numbers and their context to global warming in the British Isles


Farmland Birds

If we want to bring back farmland birds, restore a farmland pond, new research shows Less than 70 years ago, ponds were a common feature of the farmland landscape, and were routinely managed just like hedgerows. Since the 1950s, many ponds have been filled in to reclaim more land for farming, however, the large number have been left unmanaged, meaning they have become overgrown with trees and bushes, making them dark and inhabitable to many species.

WWT has been working with the Natural History Museum and University College London on research that shows reinstating traditional pond management methods, of tree and mud removal, can benefit not only pond species, but also farmland birds.

Ponds restored by the Norfolk Ponds Project Post EU exit Regulatory Framework – Final – Jan 2020 were compared to neighbouring unmanaged and overgrown ponds; restored ponds contained twice1 as many bird species and almost three2 times as many birds, as the overgrown ponds.

Bird species at the restored ponds included skylark, linnet, yellowhammer and starling, all species that are Red Listed in the UK because they have declined drastically in recent years. There were 95 sightings of these four species in and around the restored ponds, which compared to just two sightings of yellowhammer and none of skylark, starling or linnet at the unrestored ponds.

As well as attracting threatened species, researchers found that the restored ponds attracted twice as many bird species – 36 compared to 18 at the unrestored ponds. The total number of birds visiting was also greater at restored ponds with almost three times as many birds attracted to the restored ponds. This was shown to be linked to the abundant insect food resources emerging from restored ponds.

According to lead researcher, Jonathan Lewis-Phillips of UCL’s Pond Restoration Research Group:”Restored ponds are teeming with insects, and because different ponds have insect peaks on different days, birds can move from pond to pond, and get the food that they need. A network of high-quality ponds is therefore brilliant for birds in the breeding season”.

With a network of restored ponds across the landscape, birds were able to move between insect emergence events, providing an ongoing insect food resource during the breeding season.

The research comes at a time when farmland birds are under huge threat, having declined by 55 per cent in the last 50 years, largely due to changes in agricultural management to increase food production, according to the recent State of Nature 2019 report. State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report

As well as providing a beneficial habitat for woodland birds, farmland ponds also provide important landscape feature, and act as stepping-stones for other wildlife including frogs and dragonflies. Despite this, a separate report published earlier this month by the RSPB, WWF and the Wildlife Trusts highlighted that there is a no meaningful protection for farmland ponds in the new Agriculture Bill.

Hannah Robson, Wetland Science Manager at WWT said: “Our research shows how important it is to restore and manage ponds in farmland. Here in Gloucestershire, preliminary evidence suggests we have lost around two-thirds of our farmland ponds since 1900. That’s why we have been working with Farming & Wildlife Advisory group (FWAG South-West) and local farmers to restore a number of ponds across different farms on the Severn Vale this winter.

“Even following long periods of dormancy, overgrown farmland ponds can quickly come back to life, with plants, amphibians and insects starting to colonise them in a matter of months. That is why this research could be an important pointer of where the UK’s environmental and agricultural policy should focus post Brexit.”

Carl Sayer of University College London Pond Restoration Group said: “The research on birds was inspired by Norfolk farmer Richard Waddingham. His constant belief has always been that farming and wildlife can co-exist and with wildlife declining at an alarming rate, at no time in history do we need to make this work more than now. Restoring farmland ponds is clearly part of a positive way forward”.


Bumblebees are going extinct
due to ‘climate chaos’, scientists warn

The much-loved bumblebee is going extinct in Britain, Europe and North America, scientists have warned.

A new study from the University of Ottawa found ‘the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in a given place’ has declined by an average of over 30% over the course of one human generation. This means the bees are finding it difficult to establish new communities and survive to create a new generation of insects. ‘We’ve known for a while that climate change is related to the growing extinction risk that animals are facing around the world,’ said Peter Soroye of UCL, who has just published a paper on the plight of the bumblebee.‘In this paper, we offer an answer to the critical questions of how and why that is. We find that species extinctions across two continents are caused by hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures.’

We have now entered the world’s sixth mass extinction event, the biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended the age of the dinosaurs.

Bumblebees are important because they pollinate plants and therefore help to feed the other species which live here on Planet Earth.
‘Bumblebees are the best pollinators we have in wild landscapes and the most effective pollinators for crops like tomato, squash, and berries,’ Soroye added.‘Our results show that we face a future with many less bumblebees and much less diversity, both in the outdoors and on our plates.’ The researchers discovered that bumblebees are disappearing at rates ‘consistent with a mass extinction’. ‘If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish forever within a few decades,’ Soroye continued.

The technique

‘We know that this crisis is entirely driven by human activities,’ Soroye said.
To assess the bee situation, researchers developed a way of predicting extinctions of animals based on local increases in temperature. The team applied their model 66 species of bumblebee in Europe and North America to find that ‘populations were disappearing in areas where the temperatures had gotten hotter’.

It’s hoped the system could now be used to identify other species at risk of extinction.

Beavers to return to Sussex

  Photo by David Plummer

These natural ecosystem engineers, which help so much with natural flood
management and water quality, were hunted to extinction in the UK in the
16th Century.
But, thanks to The Sussex Beaver Trial, a partnership led by Sussex
Wildlife Trust and the rewilding project at the Knepp Estate near Horsham,
there will be a re-introduction of two pairs of beaver in either late
spring 2020 or in the autumn, in Knepp’s Southern Block.

The Beavers will be released under Natural England licence in two
locations within a large enclosed area for a five-year period to see how
they settle into and adapt to their new environment. The beavers will have
over 250 hectares of land, including extensive swathes of willow,
available to them, where they can roam and do what they do best – natural
coppicing and natural flood management.

We are grateful to everyone who helped to make this project possible.

Read more about this exciting project



Sir David Attenborough
warns of climate ‘crisis moment’

“The moment of crisis has come” in efforts to tackle climate change, Sir David Attenborough has warned.

What does Sir David mean by ‘the moment of crisis’?
He’s highlighting the fact that while climate scientists are becoming clearer about the need for a rapid response, the pace of international negotiations is grindingly slow.The most recent talks – in Madrid last month – were branded a disappointment by the UN Secretary-General, the British government and others.

Decisions on key issues were put off and several countries including Australia and Brazil were accused of trying to dodge their commitments.

The UK is hosting what’s billed as a crucial UN summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow in November. Ahead of that gathering, governments worldwide are coming under pressure to toughen their targets for cutting emissions.

Assuming promised changes are delivered as promised (and there’s no guarantee of that), there could still be a rise in the global average temperature of more than 3C by the end of the century, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The latest assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays bare the dangers of that. It suggests that a rise of anything above 1.5C would mean that coastal flooding, heatwaves and damage to coral reefs would become more severe. The latest figures show that the world has already warmed by just over 1C.

Sir David has a blunt explanation for why this matters: “We actually depend upon the natural world for every breath of air we take and every mouthful of food that we eat.”

We’re already living in a changed world,” according to Professor Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading, a scientist whose depictions of global warming have often gone viral on social media. A landmark report last year warned that as many as one million species of animals, insects and plants are threatened with extinction in the coming decades.

First stranded Orca found in almost 20 years
in the Wash

The first stranded Orca in England and Wales since 2001 has been found by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).The 15ft (4.5m) long juvenile male killer whale was discovered in the Wash on the coast of Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

ZSL said it was likely the whale died a few weeks ago and it has taken blubber, liver, muscle and kidney samples.

Researchers also found a large fragment of plastic in the whale’s stomach, but it was not the cause of its death.Orcas are a priority species for research by ZSL as they are top predators that can absorb significant concentrations of marine pollutants.The team also collected teeth to accurately age the animal and said genetic analysis will help determine which population the animal came from.

ZSL said: “As this is such a rare case, subsequent analysis will inform UK marine mammal research for years to come.”

125 years of the National Trust, nationwide
12 January – throughout 2020

12 January marks 125 years since the National Trust was founded, an anniversary celebrated by a year-long exhibition at Croome Court. Titled The Acorn to Oak Exhibition, the exhibition will showcase artist Jilly Oxlade-Arnott’s paintings of National Trust properties. Another exciting development is the planned transformation of Birmingham’s Roundhouse, a former 19th-century canal-side stables that will become a centre for anyone wishing to explore the city’s famous canals in 2020.

Read the latest Newsletters from the Seahorse Trust

MCZ special newsletter summer/winter 2019 

Newsletter spring summer 2019 

Newsletter spring 2018 Curio special

Parents Countryside Survey

A recent survey of 2,000 parents, carried out by OnePoll, on behalf of CPRE revealed that:

85% of parents in England think that every schoolchild should be able to experience the countryside first-hand as part of the national curriculum.
96% think it is important for children to spend time in the natural world, including the countryside (with 69% saying this is very important and 27% saying it is quite important)

Views with which BNA would concur.

Freshwater Habitats Trust, Conference
European Pond Conservation Network

18-23rd May 2020, London

The 9th European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN) conference will be held over 18-23rd May 2020 at University College London (UCL), London, UK. The conference will combine pond biology, hydrology and landscape ecology with pond conservation practice and welcomes both scientists and conservation practitioners to the meeting. The conference will include a field trip, hosted by the Freshwater Habitats Trust, to the New Forest National Park, which harbours many ancient ponds and rare species.


The latest management guidelines have been launched this week and are being sent to all councils and highways authorities across the UK

Click the report below to read

Plantlife managing grassland verges campaign document

Sir David Attenborough Honorary Fellow and Vice President of BNA, has made a short film about the latest warnings of declines in wildlife

Please read the report below

NATURE RECOVERY by David Attenborough