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Two major projects have been given the green light to protect, enhance and help restore nature and the environment in Wales – great news to help tackle the Nature Emergency.

These projects, supported through the EU’s LIFE Programme and match funded by the Welsh Government, will ensure that the £13.8 million cash injection will breathe new life into urgent conservation challenges over the next five years.
More than nine million pounds will be invested into bringing four Welsh rivers into good condition – the Teifi, Cleddau, Tywi and Usk. An estimated 500km of river will be improved.
Just over £4.5 million will conserve quaking bogs – so called because of the way this peatland habitat literally shakes under your feet! The largest of the last remaining quaking bogs in Wales is Crymlyn Bog on the outskirts of Swansea.

Four Rivers for LIFE will:

  • Improve river habitats and conditions for migratory fish – most notably Atlantic salmon, sea and river lamprey, bullhead and shad. Otters and freshwater pearl mussels are set to benefit too;
  • Re-profile sections of canalised rivers so that they meander once again – great news for wildlife. But also for people, as slowing the flow can reduce flood risk downstream;
  • Work with farmers to protect river corridors and reduce sediments and nutrients from entering rivers. This will have the added benefit of safeguarding important drinking water supplies.

LIFE Quaking Bog will restore seven Special Areas of Conservation, four of which are National Nature Reserves, by:

  • Getting the water level right for quaking bogs’ specialised plantlife and wildlife;
  • Controlling scrub and non-native invasive species that can smother the natural habitat;
  • Reintroducing traditional grazing;
  • Improving access so that more people can experience and enjoy nature at its best.

Four Rivers for LIFE will be run by NRW in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, River Restoration Trust, Coleg Sir Gâr and the Woodland Trust, with additional financial support from Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water.

NRW’s LIFE Quaking Bogs partners are the National Trust and the Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities.

Text courtesy of NRW

Image © Sean McHugh

UK Birds of Conservation Concern 5th Report

Commonly referred to as the UK Red List for birds, the status of birds has now been reviewed five times, Covering the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The latest review was published in December 2021, as Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (BOCC5).

This updates the last assessment in 2015. Using standardised criteria, experts from a range of bird NGOs, including BTO, assessed 245 species with breeding, passage or wintering populations in the UK and assigned each to the Red, Amber or Green Lists of conservation concern.

At 70 species, the Red list is now longer than ever before, and is almost double the length of that in the first review in 1996. New Red-listed species include swift, house martin, ptarmigan, purple sandpiper, Montagu’s harrier and greenfinch. The length of the Amber list has also grown by seven species. There has been no improvement in the overall status of species associated with farmland and upland, or Afro-Palearctic migrants. Encouragingly, song thrush, pied flycatcher, grey wagtail, redwing and black redstart have moved off the Red list to Amber, but the first three species remain close to the Red list threshold.

Birds of Conservation Concern is compiled by a coalition of the UK’s leading bird conservation and monitoring organisations and reviews the status of all regularly occurring birds in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The report acknowledges the tremendous efforts of thousands of voluntary and professional surveyors who have collected data on our avifauna, without whom such assessments would be impossible.

Text based on BTO source

The Conservation Partnership | Curlew Wales includes details of new 'Important Curlew Areas' that will provide a focus for future conservation activities. This Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew was prepared by Gylfinir Cymru / Curlew Wales at the recommendation of Welsh Government to promote the conservation of Eurasian curlew in Wales. The curlew is in urgent need of coordinated UK and Wales conservation action and is a Red‐listed Bird of Conservation Concern in Wales.

Curlew

Curlew © BTO

Nature Emergency in Wales declared

On 30th June 2021 the Senedd declared a Nature Emergency in Wales and recognised that the nature and climate crises are inextricably linked. This reinforces the Senedd’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019. Welsh Government confirmed it planned to establish an independent environmental watchdog for Wales and will be looking at biodiversity targets in the context of both the UN global biodiversity framework and the UK framework which are under development, and to ensure targets drive action to address the climate and nature emergencies.

Senedd Plenary record (listed under Plenary Item 7)




hedgehog

The status of the 49 mammal species found in Wales was last comprehensively assessed in 1995. Published in October 2020, The State of Mammals in Wales summarises our current knowledge, reporting population sizes, geographical ranges, trends and, for native species, their Regional Red List status according to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standards.Beaver and wild boar were excluded from the assessment owing to uncertainty about their status in Wales. Most species had either increasing (26%) or stable (43%) ranges. All of the non-native species recently introduced to Wales have increased their geographical range. All naturalised species – that is, all those that have arrived since the formation of the English Channel but before the end of the 12th century – also have increased or stable ranges, with the exception of the black rat, which is now possibly extinct. The deer and carnivore groups include the most species with increasing ranges; indeed, all deer species in Wales are now found over larger areas than they were 20 years ago. The rodents, shrews, brown hare and hedgehog have largely stable ranges. The range trends for harvest mice and for most bats are unknown, because of radical changes in survey methodology over time, and, for many species, a general lack of monitoring information.


There are currently many opportunities for the conservation of mammals in Wales. The country remained a stronghold for polecats when they all but disappeared from the rest of the UK; current efforts to reinforce pine marten populations have been extremely successful; and Anglesey retains a key area for red squirrels. There are also significant populations of greater and lesser horseshoe bats, with evidence of an increasing northward spread, possibly reflecting changing climatic conditions. However, wildlife in Wales also faces challenges from the needs of expanding human populations, requirements for agriculture and forestry, and the presence of invasive non-native species. Through a series of case studies, The State of Mammals in Wales places the assessments of conservation status in context.


Text sourced from State of Mammals Report


Conservationists come together to save the threatened Shrill carder bee

A group of leading conservationists have committed to work together to save the rarest bumblebee in England and Wales, the Shrill carder bee.

More than 30 organisations and dozens of individuals, including conservation charities, government bodies, volunteers, farmers, and businesses, will collaborate on a multi-year vision to create a landscape where Shrill carder bee populations can survive and thrive.

The group will be guided by the newly published Shrill carder bee conservation strategy. The strategy, “A Conservation Strategy for the Shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum in England and Wales 2020-2030” was developed through a collaborative process led by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, working with Buglife.

Link: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/shrill-carde...

In addition to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife other key members of the projects steering group are the Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society, Natural Resources Wales, the RSPB, and Natural England.

Loss and fragmentation of habitat is a key threat isolating Shrill carder bee populations in England and Wales. The Shrill carder bee has small but important populations in the Gwent Levels, Kenfig–Port Talbot, and south Pembrokeshire and two populations in England.

The new coalition will collect scientific evidence on current Shrill carder bee populations, work with landowners to create a network of flower-rich landscapes to support the Shrill carder’s recovery, and raise awareness amongst the wider public of the importance of this beautiful but threatened bumblebee.

Image © NRW

New funding for community environment projects in Wales

To mark World Environment Day (5th June), the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Welsh Government launched two new funding schemes to help people and communities create places for nature:

• Local Places for Nature

• Community Woodlands

Both schemes are now open for applications and you can find full details at the following links:

Funding announcement

Local Places for Nature funding guidance

Community Woodlands funding guidance

Welsh Government has released a communication in relation to the launch of the respective schemes - read more here

The funds will be delivered in a collaboration between the Welsh Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with applications handled by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

bee

Buglife Cymru have launched their Wales Threatened Bee Report, the first report of its kind to examine the health of our most threatened wild bees in Wales.

The report highlights some of Wales’ rarest and most threatened wild bees and the positive things we can do to help these species, ultimately ensuring they

do not go extinct in Wales. The report has found that seven of our bees have gone extinct in Wales, and a further five – such as the Long-fringed mini-mining bee

(Andrena niveata) - are on the brink of extinction. Most of the wild bees species assessed by the report have suffered significant declines, including the Shrill carder bee

(Bombus sylvarum) whose core populations are now confined to South Wales, raising concerns about the future prospects of these species.




Image Buglife


LIFE project approval

NRW’s Life for Welsh Raised Bogs project has been successful in applying for EU LIFE funding, a £4m project of which £3m is EU LIFE funding. The aim of this project is to improve the conservation the 7 raised bog SACs wholly in Wales by implementing favourable management. NRW is planning to re-submit a Sands of Life project (seeking favourable conservation status of Welsh sand dune habitats and species on key sites in September. Welsh Government is working with Snowdonia NPA and RSPB on a Western Atlantic Woodland project (Meironnydd oak woodlands SAC) for submission by RSPB in September.


Cors Barfog © NRW

The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have produced a useful new guide for ecologists, land managers and consultants who are looking for advice on how to better manage greenspaces to support local hedgehog populations; this includes any greenspaces from parks, recreational grounds and golf clubs, to churchyards, allotments and school grounds.

hedgehog

Hedgehog © David Cooper / PTES

Species Champions initiative

The Wales Environment Link (WEL) Species Champions initiative asks Assembly Members to lend political support to the protection of Wales’ special and threatened wildlife by becoming ‘Species Champions’. The project aims to highlight the incredible diversity of nature in Wales. Assembly Members will be able to champion a wide variety of species from the Welsh clearwing moth to a fungi named dark purple earthtongue, the greater horseshoe bat, harbour porpoise and Europe’s largest wading bird, the curlew. The work of Species Champions will be important in ensuring that Wales meets the international target under the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020. It will also help to ensure Wales delivers on the ambitions within the Environment (Wales) Act and the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Species are the key components or building blocks of ecosystems, and are therefore essential to achieving the objective of an ecosystem approach.


Species Champion Launch 15th June © Nigel Pugh

A review of the scarce and threatened spiders (Araneae) of Great Britain

The British Arachnological Society have released a report on the state of GB spiders. The report commissioned by NRW features a 'Red List' of species regarded as being at threat of extinction and shows that 16% of our species are threatened; 18 species are considered Critically Endangered, 30 Endangered and 54 Vulnerable. Three species are thought to have become extinct. An Amber List of species that are not yet considered at risk of extinction but for which the severity of their decline give cause for conservation concern has also been produced. The assessments use data from the National Spider Recording Scheme for England, Scotland and Wales that covers the period up until the end of 2013.

The report draws attention to the conservation needs of spiders and highlights the remarkable efforts of the volunteering recording community.


Text modified from BAS source
Four Spot Orb Weaver (Araneus quadratus) © British Arachnological Society

Pine marten reinforcement planned for Wales

The Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) is aiming to restore a healthy population of pine martens, a native Welsh mammal, to Wales. The pine marten (Martes martes) is a cat-sized member of the weasel family that preferentially lives in woodlands. Pine martens were once common and widespread in Wales but the population has undergone a severe decline and has fallen so low that it is now very unlikely to recover without intervention. The VWT is planning to reinforce the population by translocating pine martens from a healthy population in Scotland. This will provide a boost to numbers and increase genetic diversity. The Trust has carried out a thorough feasibility study, part of which involved identifying suitable potential release sites. An area of mid Wales has been selected as a release site, as it has extensive woodland habitat, low density of road networks and minimal conflict with human interests such as game shooting. A small number of pine martens will be taken from sites in Scotland and, once released in Wales, will be intensively radio-tracked. This will allow us to monitor where they establish territories and assess the success of the release. The restoration of a healthy pine marten population will offer great potential for wildlife tourism through people visiting Wales to see pine martens, as occurs in Scotland. It may also benefit woodlands and woodland managers if pine martens reduce grey squirrel populations, as has been the case in Ireland.

To find out more about the project visit the pine marten recovery project website


Image © Vincent Wildlife Trust

hedgehog street

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018

The report is compiled by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and updates previous findings and describes the current status of Britain’s hedgehogs a decade after they were made a priority species for conservation.

The most recent analysis, in the report, shows a stark contrast between rural and urban populations. Rural populations are declining while urban populations are stabilising or increasing.

Conservation Strategy for West-European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in the United Kingdom (2015-2025)
This document summarises the main threats facing the hedgehog in the UK, and plans actions for the next decade and builds on previous strategic work.

The overall aims of the strategy are:

1) (urban/suburban areas): Stabilise populations within urban/suburban areas by 2025.

We define the scope of this aim as the establishment of stable hedgehog populations in a major settlement in every county across the UK.

2) (rural areas): To understand and demonstrate the ecological parameters underpinning viable rural hedgehog populations by 2025.


Hedgehog natural history

Western European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) occur throughout most of Europe. In Great Britain and Ireland, they are widely distributed but absent from some of the Scottish islands.
In rural areas, hedgehogs live along woodland edges and hedgerows in meadowland and rough pasture. In towns, they make use of gardens and amenity grassland, as well as other green spaces. Between November and the end of March, when food is scarce, hedgehogs hibernate to conserve energy, remaining largely inactive. During the rest of the year, they are mostly nocturnal, moving over areas of 10-50ha during the summer, and 1-2km in a single night.

Coronation Meadows Project

Summer meadows with splashes of colourful wild flowers among the grass sward may be a distant memory now autumn is here but it's a good time to reflect and to look forward to next years' display. The extent of Welsh Lowland Meadows is a fraction of its former extent and the Coronation Meadows Project is seeking to help reverse the decline and some good progress has been made:

Success Stories in Wales

Record numbers of stunning greater butterfly-orchid have been counted in Gwynedd's Coronation Meadow, Caeau Tan y Bwlch, double the number of last year. Seed from this site has been used to restore three new meadows in the county, with yellow rattle and eyebright being early signs of success.

Pembrokeshire is the latest county where restoration has taken place through the project. Seed from the county Coronation Meadow, Mountain Meadows, has been spread this summer at a nearby farm to begin the process of creating around 3.5 acres of further wild flower–rich meadow in the county.

Work will soon be underway to bring a wild flower meadow back to life in Dyffryn Conwy. After many years advising people on how to restore such meadows, Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at Plantlife, will now be getting to work himself, using donor seed from Conwy's Coronation Meadow, Moss Meadow, to restore the wild flower meadow.

You can find out more by visiting the Coronation Meadows website


Image © Plantlife Cymru

£6m Nature fund update

Recent announcement: Funding for a further 18 collaborative projects have been announced by Welsh Government as part of the Nature Fund initiative. Projects range from work to improve river catchments and marine ecosystems, to peatlands restoration and pond creation. This brings the total to 20 projects. For a full list of projects and supporting information please visit the Nature Fund section of the Welsh Government website.

Nature Action Zones

The £6m Nature fund will be used to support activity in seven selected geographical areas or Nature Action Zones specially chosen because of the challenges and opportunities they present for biodiversity and Wales’ natural resource action. The Nature Action Zones are:

  • Brecon Beacons - focusing on the Usk and Wye catchments
  • Cambrian mountains
  • Conwy Valley
  • Pembrokeshire coast
  • South Wales Valleys
  • Berwyn and Migneint
  • Llyn Peninsula

  • The fund will support practical actions that are appropriate to the needs of each of the seven Nature Action Zones and will fund activity that tackles the decline in our biodiversity while delivering environmental, economic and social benefit. It will also recognise projects that demonstrate innovation, collaboration and good practice.

    Particular priority will be given to actions that improve river catchments, fisheries management and marine ecosystems, actions that enhance natural green spaces, actions that realise potential in the uplands and action that stimulates and develops the existing interest in a payment for ecosystem services.

    The Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales will work closely with partners to deliver the Fund, which will complement work already underway in Natural Resources Wales’ three trial areas.

    A small number of proposals outside of the Nature Action Zones will be considered if they demonstrate innovation and collaboration and can deliver key outcomes.

    The Welsh Government will be holding events in the seven selected Nature Action Zones in order to support the development of detailed projects.

    Background
    Welsh Government hosted a State of Nature Summit at the Royal Welsh Show in order to bring together wildlife organisations, land owners and businesses in Wales and agree a joint approach to halting the loss of Wales’ biodiversity.

    The first stage of developing the Nature Fund was to gather ideas from stakeholders to help design the fund in a way that will support practical action that will deliver the outcomes sought. As the invitation for ideas made clear, this was not a bidding exercise.Over 450 ideas for the new fund were received from a wide range of interests. Welsh Government are currently reviewing all of these, looking at the links between ideas, the emerging themes and potential geographical groupings so we can take the fund forward and identify the right funding mechanisms. The ideas are now available on the Welsh Government website. This will enable you to see the emerging theme sand links between ideas, and where collaboration might be established going forward.

    Wales Online Amphibian & Reptile Atlas

    The purpose of the atlas is to display all amphibian and reptile sightings we have in Wales, and hopefully encourage you to fill in the gaps!

    These records are an essential resource for conserving these wonderful creatures. We can build up a picture of species' distribution that will show where they are doing well, and not so well, which can inform conservation decisions and practical conservation on the ground.

    Tree Health Survey

    Why not take part in a national survey to help scientists monitor and protect our trees and woodland? Trees are the ‘living lungs’ of our environment and support a great variety of wildlife and help combat climate change. No specialist knowledge required

    Take part and download a Tree ID guide and field notebook and other resources (Eng and Welsh) here

    Species in Wales

    Amphibians & Reptiles

    Birds

    Lichens

    Terrestrial Mammals

    Bryophytes

    Invertebrates

    Helping Wildlife

    Wildlife Gardening