We are ecologists based at the University of Reading, currently conducting a project examining the possible impact of road networks on hedgehog populations. It is estimated that hedgehog populations in some parts of the UK have declined by approximately 20% in the last 20 years, and one possible factor contributing to this decline is the fragmentation effect of major roads on hedgehog populations i.e. hedgehogs avoid crossing these major roads, leading to populations becoming more and more isolated from one another, which potentially makes them more vulnerable to other factors.
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UK butterfly numbers are at a “historic low”, according to conservationists.
The charity Butterfly Conservation issued the warning ahead of its annual survey, the Big Butterfly Count. Difficult weather conditions, including last year’s wet summer and the recent cold spring, have exacerbated population declines.
But it is hoped that the hot start to July could help the insects to bounce back. “The washout weather of 2012 proved a disaster for our butterflies; these conditions, coupled with long-term declines, means there are probably fewer butterflies in the UK than at any point during my lifetime,” said Sir David Attenborough, the charity’s president.
“Butterflies are vitally important. Their presence acts as a barometer of the health of our environment. Their ongoing decline tells us that all is not well in the British countryside.”
The Big Butterfly Count is a survey where the public are invited to record the insects flying in their local green space. They are provided with a chart of 19 common garden butterflies and 2 day-flying moths and asked how many of each can be spotted in 15 minutes.
Last year more than 220,000 butterflies were counted with 15 of the 21 species declining compared with the previous year’s survey. This year’s cold spring led to butterflies emerging three weeks late but the recent heatwave could boost numbers.
“This summer heatwave is the perfect tonic for Britain’s beleaguered butterflies,” said Butterfly Conservation’s survey manager Richard Fox. “The hot, calm conditions of recent weeks are ideal for butterflies to emerge, mate and lay eggs so we hope that their populations will start to recover and people can once more enjoy a profusion of butterflies in their gardens and the countryside.
“Spending just 15 minutes to take part in Big Butterfly Count over the coming weeks will enable us to see if butterflies have bounced back.”
The Big Butterfly Count takes place from the 20 July to 11 August.
Slug poison was found in one in eight rivers and reservoirs used for drinking water in England and Wales according to the Environment Agency’s (EA) most recent survey.
This has prompted environmentalists to call for greater use of natural predators instead of chemicals. Last November, levels 100 times higher than EU regulations were detected at a water treatment intake on the River Stour in Essex, which supplies water to homes in Essex and Suffolk.
Levels spiked in late 2011 and persisted into 2012 due to wet weather creating runoff and ideal slug breeding conditions.
The obvious source of slug pellets is our gardens, but huge quantities of this chemical are also being used to grow rape seed oil, winter beans, sugar beet and brassicas such as broccoli.
There is currently no regulation to stop widespread use of the chemical and Pond Conservation director Jeremy Biggs said current methods for limiting runoff were ineffective, although he added there were few concerns about human health.
Be a Seed for Change
Last week, along with five other women, I scaled Europe’s tallest skyscraper to show our leaders and Shell that we don’t want Arctic drilling.
Now we need you to take the reins and make sure the whole world knows why we need to protect the Arctic.
This feat took us 15 hours of climbing. Despite our exhaustion, the outpouring of support from tens of thousands of people all over the world kept our spirits high. When we reached the top, we waved a flag for the Arctic in direct view of Shell’s three London headquarters.
There were only six of us up there, but there are millions of us in every corner of the world who want the Arctic protected. The most effective action we can do now is to make everyone else care for the Arctic as we do, and to do that we need to make it big…
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A group of six female protesters from Greenpeace were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after scaling London’s 72-storey Shard tower on Thursday.
The group of female activists climbed all day and reached the top of the Shard in central London at around 7pm on Thursday night after 15 hours of climbing in protest at oil drilling in the Arctic. After reaching the summit of the 72-storey building, two of the campaigners unfurled a huge flag with “Save the Arctic” written in white across it.
Greenpeace said: “This building – modelled on a shard of ice – sits slap bang in the middle of Shell’s three London headquarters. They don’t want us talking about their plan to drill in the Arctic. We’re here to shout about it from the rooftops.”
Greenpeace posted pictures at 7:30am of a group of female protesters, and said the team had started climbing at 4am. It named the group as “Sabine, Sandra, Victo, Ali, Wiola and Liesbeth”, adding: “Wish them luck, they’re awesome”. You can watch the climb here.