thoughts and best wishes are with everyone during this difficult time. Please adhere to the message from the
government and keep Wales safe.
We’re encouraging anyone at home with an outdoor space to take some time to enjoy it if they can and look out for wildlife or take time to carry out wildlife-friendly gardening. Our web pages have more details on how you and your family can enjoy nature at home.
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
Large white butterfly topped the UK charts in the 2020 Big Butterfly Count followed by small white and Gatekeeper. Large white, small white followed by Meadow Brown were the top 3 species recorded in Wales. Large white saw an impressive 80% increase in abundance with a 7% increase for Small white. The Holly Blue butterfly showed a welcomed bounce back with abundance of this butterfly up by 80% on 2019 numbers. Despite a promising and early start to the 2020 season, all of the other species counted during the Big Butterfly Count were down on 2019. The average number of individuals counted in Wales was down by -51% compared with the previous summer.
Worryingly this summer’s Count has seen a reduction in the average number of butterflies logged per count across the UK of -34% in comparison with 2019 and the lowest average number of butterflies logged overall since the event began eleven years ago. According to Butterfly Conservation, the fall in butterfly numbers this summer may be due to a number of factors. An unusually warm spring led many species to emerge earlier than usual. So we may have only caught the tail-end of the flight period for many species during this year’s Big Butterfly Count. It’s important to look at butterfly trends over longer periods, so our scientists will be using these results alongside our other datasets to get a clearer understanding of what is happening. A record number of butterfly sightings ever submitted by the general public with 111,628 participants submitting a record-breaking 145,249 counts this year, an increase of 25% on 2019.
Text modified from Butterfly Conservation
Brown Argus © Alun Williams
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.
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
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:
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.
Natural Resources Wales, together with stakeholders, extensive data analysis and continuous dialogue have developed Area Statements covering seven separate parts of Wales.
Area Statements are a new, place-based approach to managing our natural resources.
Each Area Statement outlines the key challenges facing that particular locality, what we can all do to meet those challenges, and how we can better manage our natural resources for the benefit of future generations. They will be updated regularly and improved year-on-year as we engage with more people, gather new evidence, put forward ideas and work across boundaries to create opportunities.
Under each Area statement, there is section to input your feedback to influence
the next steps.
Read more here
Wales' only little tern colony nests at Gronant Beach near Prestatyn in Denbighshire, an internationally important site as it contributes to over 10% of the entire UK breeding population as well as supplementing other important colonies.
Funding has been secured to employ wardens to protect the site, contribute to the scientific study of Little Terns, work together with volunteers from North Wales Little Tern Group to increase public awareness, and conserve this internationally important nesting site. 2019 has been a good breeding year to date for little terns at Gronant with around 250 chicks ringed this season, and 110 fledging to date as of July 9 th.
The funding was provided by the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme – a Welsh Government funding programme managed by WCVA and the project follows on from an EU LIFE programme intervention.
Little Tern © Margaret Holland
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.
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
State of Birds in Wales Report 2018
Long-term monitoring shows that the numbers and distributions of almost a third of Welsh birds are declining significantly according to the latest State of Birds in Wales Report.
Monitoring through the Breeding Bird
Survey (BBS) showing
trends for terrestrial and
freshwater species, as well as the latest Wetland Bird Survey trends for
wintering waders, wildfowl and other waterbirds were used to compile the report.
The report illustrates the importance of Welsh bird populations in urban, woodland, farmland and coastal habitats.
The Wales wild bird indicator, based on BBS results, tracks the declines since 1994 in both lowland and upland farmland bird species, as well as an upturn in woodland bird populations, the latter most notable over the past seven years.
Notable among the BBS results are the positive trajectories of Wales urban populations of House Sparrow, Feral Pigeon and Collared Dove relative to in the UK overall. Welsh House Martins are holding their own but Starlings are in steep decline.
A special feature of this report is a section called ‘Patterns of change in Welsh birds’ in which key Wales-specific outputs of the 2007-11 Bird Atlas (Balmer et al. 2103) are highlighted. These include measures of the importance of Wales in supporting the UK breeding populations of Chough (76%), Pied Flycatcher (69%), Redstart (47%) and Honey Buzzard (47%) as well as significant proportions of the UK wintering populations of coastal species such Common Scoter and Guillemot as well as rarer winter visitors such as Brambling and Great Grey Shrike.
The report also includes measures of
long term changes (ca 40 years) in breeding range since the first breeding bird
atlas. Half of all farmland species in Wales have suffered loss of
breeding range, by over 50% in the case of Grey Partridge, Yellow Wagtail and
Tree Sparrow. Birds of farmed uplands such as Curlew, Golden Plover, Black
Grouse and Ring Ouzel have also showed marked range loss. In contrast, most
birds of wetlands had increased in range and new colonists to Welsh wetlands
include Bearded Tit, Little Egret, Avocet and Mediterranean Gull. Birds of
woodland and heaths had mixed fortunes with declines in the range of woodland
specialists such as Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker balanced by
increases in species that favour forest plantations such as Hobby, Nightjar,
Siskins and Crossbills.
The Report Produced jointly by RSPB, BTO, Natural Resource Wales (NRW) and the Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS)
Wales hosts more than 50% of the UK breeding populations of pied flycatchers and redstart, birds characteristic of western broadleaf woodlands and woodland edges
Text modified from BTO source Image Pied flycatcher © 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 © David Cooper / PTES
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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