Weekly RoundUp 09/11/2014

After last weeks rather downbeat roundup which featured several stories on the misfortunes of our native birds, it is almost with relief to be writing a less apocalyptic review of this weeks news. Although some of the stories are still bleak, we also had positive news this week in the governments new scheme to save our pollinators and of course birds of prey as usual made their share of the headlines as well.

Bird of Prey Poisoning 

The trial of Allen Lambert concluded this week and he was handed his sentence. Dubbed the “worst case of bird of prey poisoning” recorded in England, the gamekeeper was found guilty of deliberately killing ten buzzards and a sparrowhawk whilst working on the Stody Estate in Norfolk. Despite the nature of the offences being described as “truly awful” by the RSPB, Lambert was only handed a 10 week suspended sentence and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £930. Despite been understandably keen to distance itself from Lamberts actions, the Stody Estate is now under investigation and could potentially lose tens of thousands of pounds in subsidies if found to be negligent.

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Save our Pollinators

The National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) was launched on Tuesday. Although widely met with welcoming arm by conservationists, scientists and politicians alike, many have observed that even as a key starting point it does not go far enough.

The strategy encourages everyone to do their bit by leaving their lawnmower in the shed as well as encouraging farmers to protect and restore meadows and hedgerows. However critics claim that the strategy needs to focus more on pesticides. Green MP Caroline Lucas maintains that a lack of UK ban on neonicotinoids was a key weakness of the strategy. Other critics claim that more bee-friendly plants as pussy willows should be planted in urban areas, as well as on roofs of new developments as a condition of their planning permission.

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Road Expansion for South Downs Way

Residents of the South Downs National Park have told The Independent that they have been allowed little participation in proposals to expand the A27. They have accused the government of driving through the scheme to reduce congestion along the A-road despite it being in a sensitive area to development.

No final decisions have yet being made, however the government has already taken some of the options for the infrastructure development off the table without consultation from the public. Amongst the options which now remain is a plan to dissect the Doomsday Book village of Binstead. There is also a threat to a large expanse of ancient woodland.

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Risk of Floods Increased with Funding Cuts

The National Audit Office has released a damning report citing government funding cuts as creating a rising risk of flooding to home-owners and businesses. After last years devastating winter of floods, David Cameron pledged a £270m emergency fund claiming that his government were now spending more than ever on flood defences.

Yet the NAO has concluded that spending on maintenance has fallen by 6% in real terms in the five years of our coalition government. Moreover when the one-off emergency funding was excluded, overall government spending had fallen by 10% in real terms.

Although five million homes in England are at risk, and flooding has been identified as a potent risk to this country as a result of global warming; government cuts have left half our flood defences with minimal maintenance.

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Climate Change Disrupts Flower Pollination

Climate Change poses a variety of threats to mankind, however its potential to disrupt pollination, and thus much of the worlds food production may be one of its most severe consequences.

Research published in Current Biology used museum records going back as far as 1848  to show that the early spider orchid and the miner bee on which it depends for reproduction have become out of sync as climate change alters our spring temperatures.

The orchids and bees have evolved to flower at the same time each year, but rising temperatures causes a mismatch in their emergence. Plants and their pollinators have different reactions to global warming and thus the gap between the two emerging will widen with the increase in temperature. Mismatches are also thought to occur between sea birds and fish and the red admiral butterfly and the stinging nettle.

Although the example used is a very specific system, if this same mismatch is replicated amongst less specific systems such as those involved with our food crops, the results could be disastrous.

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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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