Weekly Roundup 11/01/15

Welcome to this weeks review of what has been going on in the world of wildlife news. The new year is now in full swing as everyone slowly returned to work this week with resolutions either firmly abided by or firmly in pieces. This year we will be working in conjunction with Wildlife Sightings (@wildlife_uk) and using the most popular images that our readers have sent in on the Roundup. The first image is Mick Vogel’s (@mickvogelphoto) Frosty Morning Goldfinch



UK Flowers Blooming Early

Whilst you might have been spending new years day nursing a sore head, botanists were out taking part in the annual New Years plant hunt by the Botanical Society for Britain and Ireland. It might come as little surprise that  after 2014 was the UK’s warmest year on record, it seemingly had had a knock-on effect on our plants.

Typically textbooks state that there should be between 20 and 30 different species in bloom at the start of the year. However the start of 2015 saw 368 species in bloom, raising further questions regarding the impact of climate change to the UK. To put that in perspective that is 15% of the flowering plants of Britain & Ireland.

The organisers of the count have acknowledged the higher numbers may be influenced by a larger amount of volunteers taking part however this is unlikely to account for such a large quantity of different species recorded. As we are presently halfway through another mild winter, this raises serious questions about climate change, and botanists fear that if February brings a sudden cold snap those flowers that have bloomed unseasonally could be badly hit.

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British Trees Under Threat

It is not only early blooming flowers which may be threatened by climate change. Our native trees could also be under threat from a new wave of diseases caused by climate change and global trade in plants.

Experts are warning that Britain could experience a similar situation to the USA whose woodlands have been obliterated by beetle populations which have exploded in the warming temperatures. In Britain it is likely to be a combination of beetles, fungi and bacteria which could cause damage to populations of oak, beech, birch, and Scots pine amongst others.

It is feared that some of the instigating threats may already be here as experts warn urgent action is needed to prevent our landscape becoming radically altered. However a number of techniques could be used to prevent this, ranging from genetically-modified trees to using friendly bacteria already present. Even planting more natural forests instead of the single-species plantations more commonly seen currently could prevent an onslaught against our native species.

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Appeal for Koala Mittens

No, this is not a joke. Conservation groups have been urgently appealing for people to make cotton mittens for koalas whose paws have been burned in wildfires. What started as a regional campaign quickly became global, with people sending their home-made mittens from Europe, the USA and Canada and amazingly saw enough mittens reaching the charities involved. IFAW, one of the charities involved is now looking at making pouches for possums, kangaroos and wallabies who are also at risk from wildfires.

Injured Koala wearing mittens. Image from IFAW

Injured Koala wearing mittens. Image from IFAW

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Emily Stewart
Owner of Inspirewildlife - a site dedicated to sharing positive conservation news stories from around the world. Zoo Management Graduate from University of Chester
Emily Stewart

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