Hello and welcome to this weeks Sunday Recap. Unfortunately it’s been a rather bleak week wildlife news wise as well as weather wise as summer truly slips away.
Ash Dieback found in North West for the First Time
Earlier this week, the Forestry Commission confirmed that ash dieback had been found in the North West for the first time, with new sites appearing in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. Spotted in 2012, ash dieback is caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea (C.fraxinea) and causes leaf loss and crown dieback; often proving fatal for the tree. Ultimately this news is of major concern to the Commission as it shows that disease has spread significantly and now 851 locations have been confirmed as having the disease. It is feared that the disease may now be unstoppable, and has the potential to wipe out the UK’s 80 million trees.
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Campaign to Protect Trees Where Historical Events Took Place
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for trees this week however, with the Woodland Trust launching a campaign for a legally binding National Tree Register. The purpose of this would be to protect ancient trees from destruction during future development as they currently have no listing status to protect them like historical buildings. Not only will it help protect them but this campaign will help celebrate the country’s most notable trees, who have been there at some of our greatest historical moments. For example the Ankerwycke yew tree in Runnymede, Surrey, is believed to be about 2,500 years old and have been in sight of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Under current law Tree Preservation Orders can be applied for to protect trees, yet the owner of the land can still cut down the tree and pay a fine. If this campaign is successfull it will help conserve and promote some of our most iconic trees.
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Plight of Worlds Endangered Species is Getting Worse
The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, published on Monday revealed that the fate of our endangered species was looking ever more bleak, as despite international efforts to slow down their decline are failing. The United Nations report warned that there is little sign that the rate of extinction will be slowed by the target date of 2020. Out of 56 targets, only 5 were improving with habitat loss thought to be a major contributor to the problem. The sudden extinctions of many species of flora and fauna are causing geologists to consider declaring a new epoch called the Anthropocene, as the mass extinctions occurring will be evident in the fossil record.
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Invasive Mussel Found Near Heathrow
Last week we reported on the invasive oak processionary moth in London, unfortunately this week we are bringing you the news of another invasive species which has been identified as one of the greatest threats to British wildlife.
The Quagga Mussel, originally from the Ukraine, was discovered at Wraysbury Reservoir by the Wildlife and Wetland Trust last week. Although their full grown size is less than 5cm, their destructive power should not be underestimated. As prolific breeders their ability to colonise areas is already evident in the Hoover dams turbines where they are threatening to block off Las Vegas water supply.
Back home, conservationists are also concerned about their ability to filter water, which upsets the natural balance of their environment as they digest pollutants and release toxic faeces with the potential to harm wildlife and humans. If they spread they are also likely to indirectly cost millions of pounds in tax and water bills in an effort to protect water supplies, as once established their vast colonies are notoriously difficult to remove.
The Wildlife and Wetland Trust are advising all water users to remember the motto “clean, check, dry” when they pack up their equipment to help slow the spread. Anyone who finds the species should report it via: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/alerts/index.cfm?id=5
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