Our blog & news: Get involved to help wildlife


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"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. You may have seen  Bears about the House, with conservationist Giles Clark, on BBC2?

    Giles Clark had gone to help the charity Free the Bears in Laos with a gorgeous little sun bear cub, Mary, and two delightful bear cubs David and Jane who don’t have such a happy ending.

    It was riveting television and a chance to learn an lot about the way charities are working to help captive bears and little bear cubs found in the wild.  Mary moves to an enclosure of her own with trees and a climbing frame.

    I love the charity Free the Bears.   Like so many charities, they are going through a very difficult time because the coronavirus has brought a halt to all the fundraising activities they ran to bring in money to keep rescuing bears and to care for the bears in their sanctuaries in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.) 

     Sun bears and moon bears (also cared for by Free the Bearsare endangered, listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable to extinction.  

    As an example, sun bears such as Mary (who was featured in Bears about the House) are the smallest of all bears, but they have a tongue which is 30cm long (that’s a foot!), huge paws and a sun-shaped patch on their chest which gives them their name. 

    Sun bears are excellent climbers – they live in tropical forests in South East Asia.  There they spend more time than other bears in trees, and make nests there.  They are crucial for seed dispersal and  pest control. The problem sun bears have is that they have lost 60% of their land due to habitat destruction and over-exploitation.  Not only that, they are hunted for their paws and their gallbladders – these are sold on the black market.  

    This bear cub was rescued in March 2023.

    So they need protecting.

    As governments work to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, so Free the Bears has more to do, rescuing bears who have been held captive for bear bile farming, educating the public, looking after the bears they have rescued – so far 950 in all.  As more bear bile farms close and Free the Bears rescue those bears, so they need to build more enclosures.   These bears have been captive, in some cases for a very long time.  They cannot go into the wild upon release – they need gentle, loving and knowledgeable expert care, sometimes for ever.


    Sun Bears and Moon Bears have bear necessities

    • They need a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, with dog biscuits for protein and also pulses and grains
    • They are clever so they need a variety of enrichment activities to stimulate their minds
    • They love to have their own space so they have climbing platforms and hammocks – most bears don’t see other bears in the forest;  they are very private
    • Many of the bears need veterinary care, some for a while.  Remember that many have been used for bear bile farming – a needle has been injected into their gallbladders to access their bile whilst the bears have been drugged
    • Their enclosures have an environment that’s as near as possible to the natural habitat the bears would normally enjoy – these enclosures need maintaining.

     Of course, this all costs.

     To help fund their work, Free the Bears are developing Volunteer Programmes and Bear Care Tours.   And they have fundraisers working hard to help raise funds.  Of course, these programmes, tours and normal fundraising activities came to a halt when the coronavirus hit.  Fundraising has been hit very hard.

    Free the Bears need help! 

    If you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a bear lover that will really make a difference, or you simply want to get involved and help, you could help the bears that Free the Bears are looking after:

    • Be a bear carer – there are different levels available from £5.00 a month. 
    • Sponsor a bear (£240 for a year)
    • Send a gift to the bears such as a jar of honey, a hammock, a climbing frame, a cub care kit donation, a bathing pool donation, a treat ball donation
    • Send a gift for a bear lover to your human!
    • Simply donate!

    Free the Bears is a remarkable charity, founded by Dr Mary Hutton (now in her 80s  and they need our help.   

    Find out more about A Night in a Cage 2023 here.

    2023:  Date for your diary!

    On 29th April 2023, Free the Bears are having another fundraiser and you can all join in, either by spending the night in a cage (to show what the bears have to go through) or by sponsoring someone spending the night in a cage.   Find out more here.

    Want to become a Bear Carer?

    There are four levels and I quote (pretty much)

    1. BEAR ANGELS (£50/mth) provide a healthy diet for 20 days, enrichment to stimulate minds, vet care, hammocks and pools.

    2. BEAR CARERS(£25/mth) provide a healthy diet for 10 days, enrichment treats to stimulate the bears' complex minds or vital veterinary care.

    3. CUB CARERS (£13/mth) provide the vital specialist care required for vulnerable cubs which come into our care after their mothers have been killed by hunters.

    4. BEAR BUDDIES (£5/mth) provide a healthy diet for 2 days or help provide daily enrichment treats to stimulate the complex minds of the bears.

    You can pay in a number of currencies, including Euros and American or Canadian dollars, and Australian dollars. 

    Whatever you do, please do something to help.

    The bears need us all to act.  They have been rescued and they need our help to ensure they get all the wonderful loving care and attention they need for the rest of their lives.

    Visit Free the Bears' website here.


  2. As members of the Woodland Trust – a charity very close to my heart – I just received their spring edition of Broadleaf, bringing me all the latest news and updates and of course, ways in which everyone can help.

    They also took the opportunity to tuck in their Annual Review, One Big Year – and with it an impressive array of things that had been going on, and in particular the ways small groups (some not so small) are changing things for the better.

    Watch the Woodland Trust's You Tube Video
    Inside Britain's Rainforests

    With so much negativity in the news, I thought I’d share just some of their successes with you and ways in which small, different groups of people can create change.

    1. In Belfast, visitor jumpers have leapt from 10,000 (before Covid) to a whopping 78,000 in 2021 – the Trust doubled its size and added access trails.  Meanwhile at Belfast Hills at Glas-na-Bradan, 1,300 volunteers dug in 47,000 saplings – and this has created a new reserve.  It will give vibrant new habitat to marsh fritillaries and meadow pipits and more.

    2. Woodland Trust supporters have dug deep to the tune of £600,000 and as a result, Yonder Oak Wood will be the biggest new wood in Devon for years!  Situated in a valley, it has copses, streams and veteran oaks, and in time the hope is that dormice, adders and nightjars.  A mile long trail is being for wheelchairs and 60 locals have already volunteered to help!

    3. In Greater Manchester, the BollyFit fitness club added 400 saplings to Stockport’s Mellor Rec last winter.  The 30 mums contributed to the Northern Forest project, the aim being to plant 5 million trees.  Last year, this project really took root in a major way, thanks to £23 million from Defra’s Nature for Climate Fund.  It means that the Trust and its partners from the Community Forest Trust can fully fund planting schemes from Liverpool to Hull!

    4. There’s the Woodlands for Water – this is a £2.7 million masterplan to revive landscapes nationwide.  It is targeting 6 pathfinder catchments from Cornwall to Cumbria, including the Wye and Usk.  The Trust and its partners will be persuading landowners about the gains trees can bring to over 3000 hectares of waterway. 

    5. Trust members and supporters enabled the Trust in Scotland to buy the Couldoran Estate, stretching across 18 square kilometres.  It was a shooting ground before, and £770,000 was donated by willing donors.   The plan is to scatter about a million trees there, and connect up fragments of ancient Caledonian pinewood.  The wildlife will have a field day!

    6. The Welsh Government are bankrolling a £1.4 million drive to give every  household in Wales the chance to plant a sapling and watch it grow.  The spring pilot saw 5,000 oaks, alders, cherries and crab apples given out at five hubs nationwide, and 200,000 were available last November.  Get planting in Wales!!

    Become a member of the Woodland Trust and support their work
    Become a member of the Woodland Trust and support their work

    There's plenty we can all do to get involved and help.   
    Join in the bigger effort!
    Be part of a group making changes for the better!

    Sign the petition asking the Government to take better care of our trees.

    You could donate your Nectar points to the Woodland Trust

    Spotted an ancient tree?  Add it to the Ancient Tree Inventory!
    Spotted an ancient tree?  Add it to the Ancient Tree Inventory!

    All images ©Woodland Trust



    Back in February 2023, the BBC’s Panaroma did a programme called Is the Cloud damaging the planet?”  Reporter Richard Bilton investigated the question.

    Cloud stores our pictures and emails and it powers our internet searches.  It enables us to stream movies and box sets.  So far, that’s great. 

    The problem with digital pollution

    The problem is that it depends on huge data centres which use huge amounts of power and water – so every time you and I go online, that increases our carbon footprint.

    Then there’s all the emails you don’t need or want, duplicates of photos and videos, files and apps you’ve got but don’t use. Cloud stores them and needs energy to do it.

    It all creates a type of pollution called digital pollution, and it consumes energy – even when we don’t think of it or use it.  It just sits there, consuming electricity, forgotten and all too often unnecessary.

    Global energy related CO2 emissions grew by 0.9% back in 2022 – and that reached anew high of over 36.8 Billion tonnes.

    And yet, when we think of carbon emissions, we tend to think of things such as farting cows, car journeys, dirty factories, planes in the sky, and all that sort of thing.  How many of us think of digital pollution and the damage it does?

    It’s thought that the Internet use accounts for 3.7% of global emissions – and that’s the same as all the air traffic in the world.

    Let's get deleting!

    Delete your unnecessary stuff and there are a number of advantages such as, we can extend the life of our gadgets, and we pollute less and help the environment.

    Plus, it gives you a feeling of control of your digital stuff.  I’ve just spent a 30 minutes deleting a lot of stuff from my phone – old messages, three pictures taken of the cat because she kept moving her head when only one was any good, photos sent of things I no longer want or need.  And my phone seems to have a new lease of life and burst of energy as a result of it.  I’ve cleared a lot of rubbish to create more space.

    There's a 3-day Digital Cleanup Challenge, as well!

    Image copyright Digital CleanUp

    A date for your diary!

    Now there is an event in March (on the 18th) which gives you the chance to do your own digital de-tox, or you could make a start whilst waiting for something, or someone.

    It’s the Digital Cleanup Day and its on 18th March 2023.  It’s a really good opportunity to raise awareness of digital pollution – most of us wouldn’t even think of it.  Clean up your data stored in i-Cloud such as files, pictures and videos, your mobile phone, and social media accounts.  And take a look at your email account. Often it’s a good chance to see if you can get better organised with it all, too – which will help with the general organisation and running of life.  Why not have a digital clean up party and see who can delete the most?!

    You can register your digital clean up  - last year, Digital Cleanup Day prevented 683 tons of CO2.  People and organisations from 133 countries took part from 20 March to 22 April.  2,733,264 GB of data was deleted! It all helps tackle pollution and a move to a healthier planet and a healthier you and I.

    There are plenty of guidelines for individuals, companies, municipalities and schools on the Digital Clean up website, and you can add up the “weight” of what you delete and the volume – the site shows you how under the Resources section.  It tells you how to clean up your computer and drive, your emails, your smartphone and tablet.

    Finally, do take a look at their Did you know section on the home page – you need to scroll down for it, but for me, it really was quite astonishing to read.

    Finally, there’s a World Cleanup Day 2023 on the 16th September 2023, too - don't forget!



    Did you see the series Paul Whitehouse, Our Troubled Rivers on BBC2?

    Well, the 14th March 2023 is the International Day of Action for Rivers is dedicated to solidarity – communities around the world unite with one voice to say that rivers matter.

    Having access to clean and flowing water matters.  Everyone should have a say in decisions affecting their water and lives. 

    We need to stand up for rivers and protect them. We need to be a voice for rivers. Many species of wildlife need them for habitats.  But freshwater species have seen an 83% decline since 1970 so please, defend, protect and restore rivers.  We need them, and so do wildlife.

    River charities in the UK include the Canal and River Trust, who have lots of ways you can get involved, the Rivers Trust, and Freshwater Habitats Trust.

    This is a great chance on the 14th March to find out what they all do and whether there is any way in which you can help. 

    Sign the petition
    to end sewage pollution

    #EndSewagePollution Coalition

  5. Watch out for….. Wild Isles

    Did you know that we have 85% of the world's chalk streams in Britain?  Or over 50% of the world's common bluebells?

    On Sunday 12th March 2023 at 7pm, the great Sir David Attenborough started a wonderful new series and he narrates a very special programme about the incredible wildlife we have in the UK and you can find out more about the natural history in Britain and Ireland.  We’ll see everything from butterflies and kingfishers to sea eagles, puffins and killer whales.  The latest technology enables Sir David and the crew to show us a wild side of the British Isles.  Over three years, the crew filmed in 145 places.

    Don’t miss it!  There are five episodes and there are three must-see moments here.  Watch for the time of day it's shown - on the 19th March, the programme is on at 7pm. 

    The series has been produced by the RSPB, WWF and the Open University.  A number of Wildlife Trusts locations feature in it. 

    After the introductory programme, the series features Woodland, Grassland, Freshwater and Ocean.  It has behaviour that was previously unseen from a staggering 96 species.  

    The programme’s website is here.  It has a trailer you can watch in advance of the series, and you can also delve behind the scenes here.

    Despite the UK’s wildlife, Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and one of the questions Sir David will be asking is how we can restore our wild isles for future generations.

    There’s a list of UK Conservation charities here (by no means does it list all of them!) and species specific charities here.

    If you want to make a start in helping wildlife, one of the things you could do is to visit the Wildlife Trusts.  There are 46 Wildlife Trusts around the UK, from Alderney in the Channel Islands right up to Scotland, from north west Wales to Norfolk, and they have lots of ways in which you can get involved and help wildlife to make a difference.   Find your local Wildlife Trust here.

    Whatever it is that you do, please do something.   Our wildlife need us to get up and take action. Britain is the worst country in the G7 for wildlife and wild spaces that have been lost because of human activity.  So we need to work hard to put this right, as Paul Whitehouse's Our Troubled Rivers....shows on BBC2 on Sunday 12 March at 8pm.

    11 Ways to help British wildlife