Tag Archives: National Trust

UK seabirds face triple threat

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UK breeding seabirds are under threat from a triple whammy of extreme weather, predators and human disturbance, the National Trust has revealed.

The conservation organisation has carried out an extensive study of seabird sites along its 742 miles of coastline to evaluate the importance of National Trust locations for seabirds and to recognise the issues that impact breeding success.

The new report calls for more regular monitoring to help detect any changes in seabird colonies and a greater awareness of human impact on breeding populations.

The biggest potential threat to seabirds was found to be the effect of extreme weather, such as in Blakeney, Norfolk, this winter when the severe tidal surges forced more than half of the little terns to nest in low areas. The high tides that followed in mid-June caused the nests to flood, resulting in a very poor breeding season.

Little terns at Long Nanny in Northumberland were also under threat and National Trust rangers spent three months, between May and August, providing a 24 hour watch on the nesting birds by camping next to their breeding site.

Predators, such as rats, foxes and mink, were also identified as a problem at nearly all sites. The managed removal of predators is now a priority for the Trust and more regular monitoring will help to detect any issues early on.

The third most common risk to breeding success was found to be human disturbance by walkers and their pets. If nests are disturbed it can displace seabirds, leaving the young vulnerable to predators. However, even if they are not displaced, seabirds can become stressed when disturbed which can greatly impact their wellbeing.

The National Trust is therefore encouraging walkers and visitors to the coast to be aware of the potential impact of disturbing nesting seabirds during the breeding season. Dr David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: “Seabirds are part of what makes out coastline so special.

“Our emotional connection with these birds, along with what they tell us about the health of our seas, means that it is vital for us to look after the places where they nest.”

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100 Days later: Lessons from this winter’s storms

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New early warning system to protect trees

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Tree health experts have secured nearly a million pounds of EU funding over four years to develop the  LIFE+ ObservaTREE, an early warning system of pest and disease threats to the UK’s trees.

Led by the research agency of the Forestry Commission, the project will help to identify tree health problems earlier, and enable members of the public and voluntary bodies to play a greater role in protecting woodland health by reporting incidents.

The UK has seen an increase in the incidence of new tree pests and diseases over the past decade, partly due to the expansion and globalisation of trade in live plants and wood products. Trade routes can act as pathways for the introduction of new pests and diseases, and ObservaTREE will enable vigilance for new threats to be stepped up. The project’s partners include the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), the Woodland Trust and the National Trust.

The Woodland Trust’s Dr Kate Lewthwaite said: “We are delighted to be part of this project and will recruit and train a network of volunteers and tree health ‘champions’ from a wide spectrum of backgrounds – from ordinary citizens to those already working in forestry, horticulture and arboriculture.

“These volunteers and champions will support Forest Research scientists by acting as a first line of response to reports of tree pests and diseases sent in by the public from their localities. They will do this by responding to, screening and helping to investigate reports of suspected pest and disease threats.”