Our blog & news: Get involved to help wildlife


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." 
Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, 1901-1978

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  1. A new survey commissioned by entertainment channel W showed that material gifts don’t necessarily bring us great happiness. 

    The survey was done for Davina McCall’s series, The Davina Hour, and the hour focused on happiness. 

    It showed that the simple pleasures in life are the best.   Out of the 2,000 people surveyed, 56 said a kiss and a cuddle was their top treat, then sharing a laugh, the joy of clean sheets, and stroking a pet.

    Nature featured several times in the top 20:

    1. Stroking a pet (4th, 30%)
    2. The smell of freshly mown grass (13th, 16%)
    3. Morning birdsong (18th, 11%)
    4. Walking barefeet in the sand (20th, 10%)

    Doing things for others also featured, including Doing a Good Deed and Giving a Present.   I know I feel happy every time I put the bird feed out and fill up their water bath.  People also felt happy when they heard from an old friend, received kindness from a stranger and had a compliment, so there are a few things we can all do to make the world a happier place, if we don’t do them already. 

    Last year for Christmas, my husband gave a donation to SPANA for their mobile veterinary clinic to help care for working elephants in Myanmar.  Every time I think of this clinic going about its work helping to care for working animals, it gives me a glow.  SPANA do a wonderful job, and I'd far rather have a gift which gave animals the chance to have a happier healthier life, than anything else.

    Friendship also rated well, with 21% saying hearing from an old friend made them happy, and 11% having a cup of tea with a friend.

    The top 20 pleasures which make us happy were:

    1. A kiss and a cuddle – 56%
    2. Laugh with others – 54%
    3. Clean sheets – 38%
    4. Stroke a pet – 30%
    5. Get a bargain – 25%
    6. Receive a compliment – 24%
    7. Find money – 21%
    8. Hear from an old friend – 21%
    9. Do a good deed – 19%
    10. Have a lazy Sunday – 18%
    11. Have a cup of tea with a friend – 17%
    12. Give a present – 17%
    13. Smell of freshly mown grass – 16%
    14. Find out you lost weight – 16%
    15. Sit in front of a log fire – 14%
    16. Kindness from a stranger – 14%
    17. Relax in a warm bath – 12%
    18. Morning birdsong – 11%
    19. Find something you’d lost – 11%
    20. Walk barefoot in the sand – 10%



  2. One of the most important things we all need to do to help improve the health of the planet is to consider what each of us are doing to help.  Can we reduce the amount of plastic we use, for instance?  Could we recycle more? 

    Change.org has a petition at the moment which is looking to tackle the waste of the coffee cups that are thrown away every single day. 

    Introduce a 5p Charge on Disposable Coffee Cups

    About 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away.  Some will be recycled - but far most end up on landfill sites instead and in fact, the petition on Change.org says that if you were to lay out all these cups from end to end, they would go around the world 2.5 times.

    Sign the petition at Change.org

    The introduction of a 5p charge on carrier bags back in 2015 saw a whopping 83% reduction in their usage, so change is possible.

    Introduce a similar charge on coffee cups, and it may encourage people to bring in a resunable cup to coffee shops to get their cup of coffee.  Plus, it may well encournage people to just stop and think before they buy.  

    A trial run by Cardiff University showed that a small charge would hugely reduce the piles of waste we all create ever year.   This would stop the cutting down of millions of trees every year (i.e. the destruction of millions of animals homes') for a start. 

    As well as taking your own mug into coffee shops, you could also look at making it in a flask to take with you instead.   

    You can find out more about the petition to introduce a charge on coffee cups here and sign it as well. 

    We have to stop filling the planet with waste, for all our sakes, animals and people.


  3. The effort to protect our wildlife gathered momentum as a result of decisions made in Manila last week at the 12th session of the Conference of the parties to the CMS.

    The CMS is the Convention on the Conservation of the Migratory Species of Wild Animals. You can find out more about it here and there's a list of countries who are involved here.

    This week, it reported that 1,000 delegates representing the world governments attending the year’s largest wildlife summit had collectively endorsed actions on the conservation of a variety of migratory species.

    CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.  It brings the States together through which these animals pass, and it lays the legal foundation for internationally co-ordinated conservation measures. This is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the UN Environment Programme. 

    The conference took place in Manila in the Philippines from 23 to 28 October.  The theme was “Their Future is our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People.”

    Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Oceania made submissions covering species such as vulture, the endangered Whale Shark, and Africa’s great carnivores.

    The week of negotiations have resulted to a stronger commitment by countries to conserve the world’s migratory wildlife.  The Convention which took place in Manila has a compliance review mechanism now, and it has adopted species that test the boundaries of international wildlife conservation.

    There were also agreements to work together to reduce the negative impacts on migratory species  of

    • marine debris
    • noise pollution
    • renewable energy
    • climate change

    “The Conference has also contributed to a growing global recognition of the importance of nature to our human well-being and the multiple connections between wildlife and people.  It has helped to convey the message that the future of migratory wildlife is integral to our own future and that we all have the responsibility to act.   Agreements made at CMS COP12 have firmly underlined this important message,” said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of CMS.

    Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau said, “Migratory animals play a critical role in our planet’s ecosystem.   They act as pollinators, control pests and are a source of food and income.” 

    Notable outcomes of COP12 included more protection for:

    • Three species of shark and three species of ray
    • Avian species such as the Steppe Eagle, four species of Asian Vulture, 5 Sub-Saharan Vulture Species, the Lappet-faced Vultlure and the Christmas Frigatebird, a subspecies of the Black Noddy, the Yellow Bunding and the Lesser and Great Grey Shrike
    • The Giraffe – less than 90,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa
    • The Leopard and the Lion, paving the way for a joint initiative on protecting Africa’s great carnivores
    • The chimpanzee who is facing a 50% drop in numbers over 3 generations and fast habitat loss
    • The near extinct Gobi-Bear – only 45 of the subspecies of the brown bear remain in the wild in Mongolia and China
    • The Caspian Seal, the only marine mammal found in the world’s largest inland sea
    • The Africa Wild Ass, Przewalski’s Horse and 4 species of Lasiurus bat 

    In all 12 mammals were given greater protection under CMS, 16 birds and 6 species of fish. 

    Other outcomes of COP12:

    • Consensus on a new inter-governmental task force to curb the illegal killing of birds crossing the east-Asian-Australasian Flyway – that spans 22 countries
    • A conservation roadmap for the African Wild Ass (there are just 70 left in the wild)
    • A Vulture Multi-Species Action plan to better protect 15 species of Old World Vulture in over 120 countries
    • CMS Guidelines on assessment impacts of marine noise activities
    • Expanding the Convention’s work on preventing the poisoning of birds with a special focus on the effects of led
    • Action on aquatic wild meat which is becoming a conservation problem on a scale similar to terrestrial bushmeat

    Awards were also given in recognition of outstanding commitment and long term conservation efforts to the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, the EU, Germany, Monaco and the government of the Philippines.

    Ms Lim said:  We will put in place the necessary national measure to integrate the conservation and protection of migratory wildlife species into our development planning processes and we will engage all sectors of society in crafting these measures.  

    We can protect only those species within our territory.  Beyond our territory, we urge other countries to also initiate measures to protect these species and to join the Convention.”

    Find out more here


  4. The 6th November 2017 sees the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.

    King Henry III became king after King John died in 1216.   With the guidance of William Marshall (a famous Medieval knight), King Henry III put his seal to the Charter of the Forest in 1217.

    The charter complemented Magna Carta’s clauses with special reference to the forest of the land.  It re-established the rights of the people using them.  In 1225, minor adjustments were made and the Charter was issued in its definitive form.

    Two copies of the original 1217 Charter survive and one is in Lincoln – alongside the 1215 Magna Carta.

    800 years later, on 6th November 2017, the Charter for Trees, Woods and People will be launched.   The Woodland Trust is leading it, with 70 organisations working to build a future in which people and trees stand stronger together.  The Charter believes the people of the UK have the right to the benefit brought by trees and woods and it will recognise, celebrate and protect this right.

    In the last year, 50,000 tree stories have been submitted and the themes from these have informed the principles which underpin the charter. 


    The Tree Charter Principles are (and I quote):

    1. Thriving habitats for diverse species
    2. Planting for the future
    3. Celebrating the cultural impact of trees
    4. A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
    5. Better protection for important trees and woods
    6. Enhancing new developments with trees
    7. Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
    8. Access to trees for everyone
    9. Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
    10. Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

    We all need to stand up for trees because there are plenty of threats facing them, as the Tree Charter points out.   Amongst these are human development such as roads, railways and homes;  pollution, a lack of awareness of forest jobs in young people, big trees dying of old age but not being replaced, pests and diseases and lack of protection for ancient woodland in planning policy.

    Here's how you can join in:

    1. Give your support to this Tree Charter today – put your name to it and the Charter will plant a tree.
    2. Get involved in your local Tree Charter branch - or start one up!
    3. Go to events - or create your own!
    4. Visit its website and find out more