natural world

Might England's badgers finally be getting lucky? Don't count on it. Photo: Andrew 3457 via Flickr (CC BY).

Post-Brexit Britain cannot afford the badger cull!

Lesley Docksey
| 27th July 2016
The government may want to press ahead with the English badger cull, writes Lesley Docksey. But after the Brexit vote it may just cost too much - for taxpayers and for the farmers who bear part an increasing share of the expense, now facing the loss of the 55% of their income that currently comes from Brussels.

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NATURE vs NATURAL CAPITAL

Victor Anderson
| 26th July 2016
The idea of "Natural Capital" as a way of seeing the world has caught on in a big way. There is a Natural Capital Coalition, a Natural Capital Protocol, and the Government even has a Natural Capital Committee. But what assumptions lurk within this term "Natural Capital"? A new University of Anglia arts-funded project aims to find out and one of those involved VICTOR ANDERSON will be giving us regular updates on the issues being raised

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Temporary streams are set to become an increasingly common landscape feature in the UK. The River Manifold (Staffordshire, UK) already experiences annual drying due to features of the underlying bedrock. Photo: Tory Milner.

Dry rivers are living rivers - with our care and protection

Rachel Stubbington
| 25th July 2016
Although flowing water is fundamental to river ecosystems, temporary streams are distinctive landscape features that support surprisingly diverse communities, writes Rachel Stubbington. However, the biodiversity of these dynamic ecosystems needs greater recognition and protection.

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Brexit - a nasty sting in the tail for Britain's bees?

Dave Timms
| 21st June 2016
Britain's bees are under threat from Brexit and moves to allow farmers to use banned bee-harming 'neonictinoid' pesticides, warns Dave Timms, Bees Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. With 20 species extinct since 1900 and a further 35 under threat, how much more can our bees take?

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Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox
| 27th May 2016
The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle.

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A small settlement in Bangladesh's Sundarbans, which extends into India to make the world's greatest mangrove forest - a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Area that is home for both people and countless wildlife species. Photo: Marufish via Flickr (CC BY-S

Exim Bank of India - stop support for the Rampal Coal Power plant!

Johan Frijns
Banktrack
| 26th May 2016
The Rampal coal power plant in Bangladesh, near the world's greatest mangrove forest, is a deeply misconceived project that must be abandoned, writes Johan Frijns in this Open Letter to the Exim Bank of India - which is planning to finance its construction. It would severely damage the precious local environment and wildlife, while adding to global climate change and sea level rise.

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'Divine wilderness': the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, California. Photo: Peretz Partensky via Fliclr (CC BY-SA).

Divine wilderness: John Muir's spiritual and political journey

Tim Flinders
| 6th May 2016
For John Muir, founder of America's national parks, immersion in nature was a blessing providing direct communion with divinity, writes Tim Flinders, and the cause of a spiritual awakening that inspired his life's work: to preserve wilderness and communicate the beauty, wonder and fragility of nature, sharing widely the source of his own enlightenment.

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Photo of Fox hunt by TownePost Network via Flickr (CC BY).

Fair game? Hunting lobby's attacks on the RSPCA are proof of its effectiveness

Lesley Docksey
| 3rd May 2016
Lacking an official body to investigate and prosecute illegal cruelty to wildlife a unique charity, the RSPCA, took on that role almost 200 years ago, writes Lesley Docksey. But now it has ruffled high-ranking feathers by pursuing cases of illegal fox-hunting, and has been forced to leave prosecutions of such cases to the Crown Prosecution Service. But will the CPS do its job?

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Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward
Eric Boa
| 29th April 2016
Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction?

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Bovine TB begins and ends with cattle, with badgers playing at most a minor role. Photo: Will Fisher via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Dodgy data, bad science, rotten politics: why the badger cull is wrong and stupid

Tom Langton
| 28th April 2016
If we are ever to bring bovine TB under control in Britain's cattle herd, we must begin with the main disease reservoir, writes Tom Langton: the cattle themselves. The insistence on culling badgers has little to do with disease control, and everything to do with the short term economics of the beef and dairy industries, unwilling to sacrifice an iota of production in the interests of a real solution.

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Water vole in Arundel, England. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Citizens' science to save our water voles - volunteers needed!

Emily Thomas
Nida Al-Fulaij
PTES
| 28th April 2016
UK water voles face an uncertain future after widespread habitat loss and predation by American mink, write Emily Thomas and Nida Al-Fulaij. But you can help by joining a UK-wide monitoring scheme run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species that's recruiting nature-loving volunteers to survey local lakes, rivers, ditches and streams for signs of these lovable but elusive creatures.

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White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. But other areas are acutely radiotoxic. Birds tend to be especially susceptible to radiation impact

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau
University of South Carolina
| 27th April 2016
Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau - in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations.

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Radioactivity warning sign on the hill at the east end of Chernobyl's Red Forest, so called due to the characteristic hue of the pine trees killed by high levels of radiation after the disaster. Photo: Timm Suess via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Blind mice and bird brains: the silent spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima

Linda Pentz Gunter
| 25th April 2016
Evolutionary biologist Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues have published 90 studies that prove beyond all doubt the deleterious genetic and developmental effects on wildlife of exposure to radiation from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But all that peer-reviewed science has done little to dampen the 'official' perception of Chernobyl's silent forests as a thriving nature reserve.

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The protection of our coastal waters, management of our fishers, cleanliness of our air and the protection of our widlife are all mandated by European law. Outside the EU, this iconic view of the Seven Sisters could be sadly tarnished. Photo: weesam2010 v

Remain in the EU to protect our environment

Caroline Lucas
| 20th April 2016
Remember when the UK was the 'dirty man of Europe'? What has changed since then, writes Caroline Lucas, is our membership of the EU - which has made us raise our environmental performance on everything from fisheries to air pollution, nature conservation, clean bathing waters and renewable energy. Leave, and it could all go into reverse.

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Banggai Cardinalfish in their natural habitat. Photo: Fondation Franz Weber.

From coral reef to 'aquarium filler': the beauty of tropical fish is their doom

Monica Biondo
Fondation Franz Weber
| 15th April 2016
Gorgeous coral fish are to be seen everywhere, writes Monica Biondo, decorating aquariums in restaurants, doctors' offices and living rooms. The coral fish trade is booming! But it's destroying the reefs themselves, and driving many species to extinction. The Banggai Cardinalfish is among those unlikely to survive as this evil trade lays waste to them and their precious habitat.

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Scottish wildcat out hunting at night. Photo: Adrian Bennett / Wildcat Haven.

Scotland's secret cat slaughter revealed in FOI documents

Oliver Tickell
| 12th April 2016
Documents released to Wildcat Haven reveal the secret plans of the Scottish Wildcat Action Plan - funded by taxpayers and the National Lottery - to kill trapped feral cats by shooting them in the head with shotguns. Public documents mention only neutering, successfully carried out by Wildcat Haven to protect pure wildcat populations.

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How long before the entire Great Barrier Reef goes this way? Bleached coral at the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: John Howell via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Great Barrier Reef die-off - the latest harbinger of a global mass extinction?

James Dyke
| 12th April 2016
Large areas of the Great Barrier Reef are dying in what may be its greatest ever 'bleaching' event, writes James Dyke. The mass loss of the photosynthetic algae that sustain the coral is the result of this year's massive 'El Niño' perturbation to Pacific weather patterns, and global warming. Australia's response? The government has just approved leases for the world's biggest coal mine.

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Mother and daughter: bison in the Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Bill Lile via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Buffalo slaughter in Yellowstone and the death of a spirit animal

Louise Willcox
| 5th April 2016
North American buffalo are officially 'vulnerable to global extinction', writes Louise Willcox, yet the US National Parks Service and Montana are intent on their wholesale slaughter. In place of a complete ecosystem with wild-roaming buffalo and grizzly bears, wildlife managers are systematically favoring the over-abundant elk that drive the politically powerful hunting industry.

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A young lion cub resting in Massai Mara National reserve, Kenya. Photo: Ralf Κλενγελ via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

Africa's lions and pastoralists share the benefits of community ecotourism

Grant Hopcraft
Sara Blackburn
| 5th April 2016
The conflict between lions and Africa's cattle herders goes back centuries, write Grant Hopcraft and Sara Blackburn - and lions have been the big losers in recent years. But where local people benefit from ecotourism, that ancient enmity can quickly be set aside. 'Community conservancies' around formal protected areas are helping both lions and indigenous communities to survive and thrive.

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The Royal Oak of Teremiski, Bialowieza Forest. Photo: justyna via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

No 'salvage' logging in Poland's ancient forest!

Lucinda Kirkpatrick
| 4th April 2016
Poland is intent on a huge increase in logging in Europe's greatest ancient forest, writes Lucinda Kirkpatrick. The government says it's needed to control spruce bark beetles. But the insect is a key part of the ecosystem, creating woodpecker nest sites and habitat for other endangered species. In truth it's just a big timber grab that must be strongly resisted.

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Anti badger cull demo in Oxford, 25th October 2014. Photo: Snapshooter46 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Badger cull: protestors' legal right to information upheld

Lesley Docksey
| 1st April 2016
Since December 2011, when it became clear that the government was intent on its badger cull, Defra and Natural England have been flooded with FOI requests about how the culls would be set up, conducted and monitored. The notable success of Anna Dale in cutting through official obfuscation has implications for everyone trying to protect the environment and wildlife.

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t was European colonialism and slaughter on a huge scale that marked the beginning of the end of Africa's iconic wildlife. Yet in mainstream narratives, the conservation heroes are all white, and Africans are either poachers, squatters or loyal servants.

Lies in conservation: the truth about big-game hunting and African nature reserves

Navaya ole Ndaskoi
| 14th March 2016
Media furore over the shooting down of a helicopter in Tanzania masks a bigger picture of commercial hunting and evictions of indigenous tribes in the name of wildlife, writes Navaya ole Ndaskoi. It's time to rethink 'white saviour' mythology and develop new models of conservation that respect and engage with African communities, recognise their achievements, and inspire a new generation of conservation heroes.

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Beaver in the Highland Wildlife Park, Scotland. Photo: Dunnock_D via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

Beavers and the coming revolution in Scotland's countryside

Louise Ramsay
| 8th March 2016
After beavers' reintroduction to Scotland, landowners have accused the native rodents of damaging the environment, causing floods, and worse, writes Louise Ramsay. But the public have rallied to the cause of these charming, beneficial creatures, leaving conservative landowners isolated. Could the shift in sentiment trigger long overdue change in the Scottish countryside?

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