Wildlife Conservation News

 
Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

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» Listings for February 2019

  1. Swifts need our help.  

    Their numbers are plummeting in the UK – according to the RSPB, there’s been a 53% decline between 1995 and 2016.

    The problem is that when buildings are refurbished or demolished, the nooks and crannies so vital for swifts are lost.  This means that swifts have nowhere to nest.  They need gaps high up on our homes and in other buildings.

    So the RSPB has a goal.  Swifts winter in Africa and make their way to the UK for the summer. To help swifts, it wants to get 1,000 swift nestboxes up before the swifts arrive at the end of April. 

    Swifts arrive in the UK for the summer
    ©RSPB

    How you can help swifts

    You can make a swift nestbox or if you’re short of time or practical abilities, you can buy a swift nestbox from the RSPB’s shop

    Put up a Swift nest box from the RSPB
    Put up a Swift nest box from the RSPB
    £39.99
    Buy 2 nestboxes by 9 July 2019 and you can save £2 
    (applies to selected nest boxes. watch for the offer)

    If you’re involved in a new build or renovation project, you can install a swift brick. For advice on bricks, email the RSPB’s conservation team at [email protected] and include 'swift bricks' in the subject line.   Every swift brick counts.

    Find out more about swifts here.
     

     

  2. There’s nothing like getting into bed with really clean, fresh smelling sheets.  I just love it!

    You can always tell the difference between those sheets which have been dried off in a tumble dryer (boo, that won’t help the environment or your energy bills) and those that have dried off outside in the fresh air.

    I’m so keen to save on my energy bill and to get into bed with the bed linen smelling of fresh air that I actually check the weather forecast to look for the best days to do the bed clothes wash on.  Then I know I can put stuff out on the line, knowing they will dry naturally.

    My favourite reasons to dry my clothes on a line

    1. It saves me money – I can control my electricity bill more closely
    2. It doesn’t matter how much electricity prices go up – the wind and dry weather is free!
    3. My clothes and linen smell fantastically fresh
    4. Actually, the fresh air I get when I put everything on the line is a welcome break from being indoors
    5. I get exercise putting the clothes on the line – bending and stretching
    6. I can hook the clothes off the line to iron as and when they are ready and I find them easier and faster to iron
    7. It helps the planet.  I’m not devouring the earth’s resources for something which isn’t necessary to use.

    I’ve made a conscious choice to make a difference and stopped draining the earth of resources unnecessarily

    Anyway, when we needed a new washing line, we bought a Brabantia.   I love it – it does the job beautifully and I find I can get several wash loads on the line at once.  

    Brabantia Essential Rotary Washing Line and Concrete Anchor Tube, 30 m - Silver - from Amazon

    It’s easy to put up and to clean, and also easy to take down and put away. 

    And as a great added bonus to buying a Brabantia – they’ve teamed up with WeForest.  For each laundry tree that’s sold, WeForest will plant a real tree on behalf of Brabantia!  And that makes washing and drying all the sweeter… 

    For the exciting thing I discovered when I looked at WeForest's website and the information about the partnership between WeForest and Brabantia, is that Brabantia are on a mission to plant trees.  Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and pump oxygen out for everyone to breathe.  That's a terribly simplified description and I'm sure some scientist will take issue with it but it's my way to explain why trees matter simply. 

    So far, over 1.5 MILLION trees have been planted as a result of Brabantia's efforts.  This is a huge number.   There's a wonderful quote from Brabantia's CEO on WeForest's website, namely:

    “He who plants a tree, plants hope for generations to come. Brabantia aims to plant more than 1,5 million trees.”
     


    Brabantia is helping to make the Burkina Faso and Ethiopia desert a greener place as part of the international "Great Green Wall".  And the company is working to promote the environmental benefits of drying outdoors. 

    Every single one of us who can dry our clothes in the fresh air instead of in a tumble dryer is reducing our drain on the earth’s resources.   Plus it gives us more £££ to spend on other things!!

     

  3. There’s good news from Peru. 

    UK based and registered charity the World Land Trust has reported that the Ministry of Environment of Peru has declared 43,480 acres of cloud forest and paramo in the Tropical Andes as a protected area and therefore recognised the area as a priority for conservation – an Area de Conservación Privada.  

    The area will be under the care of the local community and it now has legal protection to safeguard the habitats there from logging, slash and burn agriculture and illegal mining.

    The World Land Trust has supposed its partner Naturaleza y Cultura Peru (NCP) to build up a network of 7 ACPS (that’s private conservation areas) in Northern Peru.  They will cove 20% of the country’s cloud forests.

    The Tropical Andes between Ecuador and Peru are known for their incredible biodiversity, including threatened birds such as the red-faced parrot and the Masked Mountain-Tanager, plus mammals such as the Inca Oldfield Mouse, the Spectacled Bear and Mountain Tapir.

    There are also five important rivers which start their journey from the area, and it’s an important site for both water supply and carbon storage and economic value – medicinal plants, timber and commercial native fruits.  So everyone benefits from it.



    The total area of thius unique habitat now under community protection in Peru funded by the World Land Trust is an amazing 111,199 acres (45,000 hectares).  The charity will continue to support NCP in managing these ACPs and thus enable locals to lead sustainable livelihoods, manage their resources and conserve the Andean ecosystem.

    WLT’s corporate supporter, Puro Fairtrade Coffee, has provided financial support for this project and donations to the Action Fund have played an important role in supporting the establishment of ACPs in Peru. 

    Join in and help the World Land Trust’s conservation efforts by donating to their Action Fund or becoming a WLT Friend – the latter means you commit a monthly donation. 

     

     

  4. The beautiful Farne Islands are one of the best places to see the much loved puffin in the UK.

    Puffins mate for life.  They separate over winter and pair up again when they come back to the islands in the spring.

    National Trust rangers count puffins on the Farne Islands as the birds return there to breed and raise their young between April and late July.

    Previously, they have undertaken a full puffin census every five years. 

    From 2019, however, they are going to count the puffins every year.  The numbers tell the rangers if there’s been an increase or decrease in the colony – and that data is fed into national information to monitor trends and give an idea of how we can help puffins survive.

    They will be checking to see if their holes have anyone in them or not.  They’ll look for signs of puffin footprints and fresh digging, and count the puffins living inside the nests.

    Puffins have traditionally done well on the Farne Islands.  The National Trust has worked to protect them;there’s been good sources of food, a lack of ground predators and plenty of suitable nesting areas.

    In May 2018, rangers had been worried that puffins had been hit by a long, harsh winter and poor food supplies.   But on the Farne Islands, the birds have weathered a cold, stormy winter.   Rangers counted 43,956 pairs of birds – a 9% increase from 2013!

    This is an improvement – a 9% increase from 2013.  Mind you, back in 2003, 55,674 pairs were recorded, so there’s still a way to go.

    The puffins now face a challenge from increasing seal pup numbers (who went up from 1,704 to 2,602 in the last 5 years) – it means there’s less space for puffins on the outer islands.

    The Farnes achieved their 25th anniversary of their National Nature Reserve status back in 2018.  Such status has helped in several ways:

    • The provision of significant areas of nature habitats
    • Opening up additional finance for the protection of the islands
    • Providing resource for research and studies into protecting puffin numbers.

    Monitoring the puffins every year will help the Trust track numbers against likely causes of population change – could changes be down to climate change, changes in the sand eel population or something else completely

    Meantime, the puffin remains on the British Trust for Ornithology's red list for the UK, indicating concern for its future.

    Three things we can do to help puffins are:

    1. Reducing our single-use of plastic
    2. Preventing over-fishing - buy sustainable fish.  The Marine Conservation Society has a sustainable fish guide.   Or eat more vegetarian and/or vegan food! 
    3. Limiting our use of non-renewable energy