Archive for Natural England
www.guardian.co.uk 24th April 2011
DEFRA, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has announced plans for a cull of wild Monk Parakeets, which have established nests in the Home Counties. Originally from South America, the birds only began breeding in the area in the 1990s and there are only thought to number between 100 and 150. Their nests, apparently, cause problems. In the USA, parakeet nests have caused blackouts as the birds seem to like building them in electricity substations and on power lines. After rains, the sodden nests causes short circuits and now some states have banned ownership of parakeets as a result. It is these effects seen in other countries that has driven DEFRA to designate Monk Parakeets as a ‘pest’, thereby allowing them to be shot without a license. A spokesman from DEFRA said, “we want to get rid of the wild population. There will be trapping, rehoming in aviaries and we will probably have to shoot some as well. Non-native, invasive species deprive the British economy of £1.7bn every year.” The Monk Parakeet is not alone. Natural England has also designated the Ring-Necked Parakeet, common to London’s parks and suburbs, as a pest causing condemnation from the London Wildlife Trust who said they were ”as British as curry”.
www.guardian.co.uk 22nd October 2010
Natural England is due to release thousands of hand-reared Fen Raft spiders, one of the most endangered species in Britain. Helen Smith, an ecologist working for the government body, brought up the 3,000 arachnids in test-tubes in her own kitchen and hand fed them flies. The spiders were cross-bred from the last two remaining populations in Sussex and Suffolk making them more genetically diverse than either of their parent groups. Fen Raft spiders get their name from their ability to walk on water in the fen environments they call home. They can grow up to 5cm and are known for their elaborate markings and courtship rituals. The release of the spiders is the culmination of five years work funded by the BBC Wildlife Fund. Despite the large number to be released into the wild, few of them will make it into adulthood. How many will survive will not be known until studies next summer.
www.telegraph.co.uk 5th October 2010
A new study by Department of Zoology at Oxford University has revealed that over the last two centuries, 5% of England’s 60,000 species are lost each year. Previous research into the subject has focussed on iconic species such as birds and animals but the university’s study included lesser known floral species such as lichens. If such a rate continues then 26 species a year will become extinct in England and as much as 40 in the UK as a whole. The findings refute data released in March this year by the British government’s advisory body Natural England which stated that only 500 species had been lost since 1800, or around 0.5% a year. Oxford University’s results have been published in the academic journal Biological Conservation as UN countries prepare to meet in Japan to discuss new global targets for the protection of wildlife.