The Ecologist


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A Common toad colony migrating across a road near Ipswich.

Toad's 30-year decline shows 'large-scale deterioration of environmental quality'

Oliver Tickell

6th October 2016

A 30-year decline in toad populations recorded by volunteers, shows the need to rebuild vital 'green infrastructure' across both the wider countryside and urban areas, writes Oliver Tickell: reversing habitat fragmentation, digging out ponds and ditches, and leaving ample unkempt areas for cover and hibernation. more...
Photo: ben.timney via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Digital Disconnect and its adverse impact on how (or whether) we engage with nature

Laura Briggs

29th September 2016

As the Digital Schoolhouse programme starts a national roll out to schools across the UK, scientists warn that digital disconnect can mean caring less - for each other and the environment. LAURA BRIGGS reports. more...
Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark

14th September 2016

The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task. more...
Durham Wildlife Trust volunteers surveying invertebrate populations at Stanley Moss, Sunniside, England. Photo: Dougie Nisbet via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

'State of Nature': a labour of love by Britain's conservation heroes

Dr Mark Eaton

14th September 2016

The 'State of Nature' report, published today, is the apex of a vast pyramid of loving and heroic toil by many thousands of volunteer naturalists, writes Dr Mark Eaton - hard at work in all seasons in our marshes, forests, mountains, swamps and farmland. But do we have the young recruits to keep this wonderful tradition going? more...
Chief Caleen Sisk holding an exchange with Hawai'ian sacred site custodians at the 2016 World Conservation Congress in Hawai'i. Photo: Sacred Land Film Project.

World Conservation Congress votes to protect indigenous sacred lands

Hal Rhoades

13th September 2016

As the global assault on indigenous lands intensifies, the world's largest conservation group, the IUCN, has just voted at its World Conservation Congress for the sacred natural sites and territories of indigenous peoples to be recognised as 'No-Go Areas' for destructive industrial scale activities, writes Hal Rhoades - and for corporations to permanently withdraw from such areas. more...
Can we secure the future of our countryside - like this landscape in the Yorkshire Dales - with markets in 'ecosystem services'? Robert J Heath via Flickr (CC BY).

Can markets in 'ecosystem services' secure the future of the English countryside?

Dominic Hogg & Luke Dale-Harris

1st September 2016

The EU is already paying farmers and landowners for creating and maintaining valuable habitats, write Dominic Hogg & Luke Dale-Harris. But could the UK do better by creating markets in 'ecosystem services' that would put financial value on clean water, key wildlife habitats, endangered species and precious landscapes? more...
English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist

23rd August 2016

England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction. more...
Front cover of 'Badgered to Death' by Dominic Dyer (exerpt), published by Canbury Press.

Why are our badgers ‘Badgered to Death'?

Lesley Docksey

23rd August 2016

With today's news that badger culling will continue in Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset, and take place in three other counties, writes LESLEY DOCKSEY, there could be no more opportune moment for Dominic Dyer's new book 'Badgered to Death' to appear - expertly exposing the total absence of scientific evidence that badgers transmit bovine TB to cattle. more...
Shooting grouse in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Photo: Richard Woffenden via Flickr (CC BY).

Time to close down Britain's devastating grouse-shooting industry

Eduardo Goncalves

18th August 2016

The disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier on a Scottish grouse moor and the loss of eight Golden eagles in five years provide the latest evidence for a ban on driven grouse-shooting, writes EDUARDO GONCALVES. But birds of prey are only the most high-profile victims of a cruel and ecologically destructive industry. more...
Might England's badgers finally be getting lucky? Don't count on it. Photo: Andrew 3457 via Flickr (CC BY).

Post-Brexit Britain cannot afford the badger cull!

Lesley Docksey

27th July 2016

The government may want to press ahead with the English badger cull, writes Lesley Docksey. But after the Brexit vote it may just cost too much - for taxpayers and for the farmers who bear part an increasing share of the expense, now facing the loss of the 55% of their income that currently comes from Brussels. more...


Victor Anderson

26th July, 2016

The idea of "Natural Capital" as a way of seeing the world has caught on in a big way. There is a Natural Capital Coalition, a Natural Capital Protocol, and the Government even has a Natural Capital Committee. But what assumptions lurk within this term "Natural Capital"? A new University of Anglia arts-funded project aims to find out and one of those involved VICTOR ANDERSON will be giving us regular updates on the issues being raised more...
Temporary streams are set to become an increasingly common landscape feature in the UK. The River Manifold (Staffordshire, UK) already experiences annual drying due to features of the underlying bedrock. Photo: Tory Milner.

Dry rivers are living rivers - with our care and protection

Rachel Stubbington

25th July 2016

Although flowing water is fundamental to river ecosystems, temporary streams are distinctive landscape features that support surprisingly diverse communities, writes Rachel Stubbington. However, the biodiversity of these dynamic ecosystems needs greater recognition and protection. more...

natural world: 1/25 of 982
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Brexit - a nasty sting in the tail for Britain's bees?

Dave Timms

21st June, 2016

Britain's bees are under threat from Brexit and moves to allow farmers to use banned bee-harming 'neonictinoid' pesticides, warns Dave Timms, Bees Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. With 20 species extinct since 1900 and a further 35 under threat, how much more can our bees take? more...
A small settlement in Bangladesh's Sundarbans, which extends into India to make the world's greatest mangrove forest - a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Area that is home for both people and countless wildlife species. Photo: Marufish via Flickr (CC BY-S

Exim Bank of India - stop support for the Rampal Coal Power plant!

Johan Frijns / Banktrack

26th May 2016

The Rampal coal power plant in Bangladesh, near the world's greatest mangrove forest, is a deeply misconceived project that must be abandoned, writes Johan Frijns in this Open Letter to the Exim Bank of India - which is planning to finance its construction. It would severely damage the precious local environment and wildlife, while adding to global climate change and sea level rise. more...
Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox

27th May 2016

The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle. more...
Photo of Fox hunt by TownePost Network via Flickr (CC BY).

Fair game? Hunting lobby's attacks on the RSPCA are proof of its effectiveness

Lesley Docksey

3rd May 2016

Lacking an official body to investigate and prosecute illegal cruelty to wildlife a unique charity, the RSPCA, took on that role almost 200 years ago, writes Lesley Docksey. But now it has ruffled high-ranking feathers by pursuing cases of illegal fox-hunting, and has been forced to leave prosecutions of such cases to the Crown Prosecution Service. But will the CPS do its job? more...
Bovine TB begins and ends with cattle, with badgers playing at most a minor role. Photo: Will Fisher via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Dodgy data, bad science, rotten politics: why the badger cull is wrong and stupid

Tom Langton

28th April 2016

If we are ever to bring bovine TB under control in Britain's cattle herd, we must begin with the main disease reservoir, writes Tom Langton: the cattle themselves. The insistence on culling badgers has little to do with disease control, and everything to do with the short term economics of the beef and dairy industries, unwilling to sacrifice an iota of production in the interests of a real solution. more...
White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. But other areas are acutely radiotoxic. Birds tend to be especially susceptible to radiation impact

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau - in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations. more...
Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward & Eric Boa

29th April 2016

Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction? more...
Water vole in Arundel, England. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Citizens' science to save our water voles - volunteers needed!

Emily Thomas & Nida Al-Fulaij / PTES

28th April 2016

UK water voles face an uncertain future after widespread habitat loss and predation by American mink, write Emily Thomas and Nida Al-Fulaij. But you can help by joining a UK-wide monitoring scheme run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species that's recruiting nature-loving volunteers to survey local lakes, rivers, ditches and streams for signs of these lovable but elusive creatures. more...
'Divine wilderness': the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, California. Photo: Peretz Partensky via Fliclr (CC BY-SA).

Divine wilderness: John Muir's spiritual and political journey

Tim Flinders

6th May 2016

For John Muir, founder of America's national parks, immersion in nature was a blessing providing direct communion with divinity, writes Tim Flinders, and the cause of a spiritual awakening that inspired his life's work: to preserve wilderness and communicate the beauty, wonder and fragility of nature, sharing widely the source of his own enlightenment. more...
Radioactivity warning sign on the hill at the east end of Chernobyl's Red Forest, so called due to the characteristic hue of the pine trees killed by high levels of radiation after the disaster. Photo: Timm Suess via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Blind mice and bird brains: the silent spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima

Linda Pentz Gunter

25th April 2016

Evolutionary biologist Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues have published 90 studies that prove beyond all doubt the deleterious genetic and developmental effects on wildlife of exposure to radiation from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But all that peer-reviewed science has done little to dampen the 'official' perception of Chernobyl's silent forests as a thriving nature reserve. more...
The protection of our coastal waters, management of our fishers, cleanliness of our air and the protection of our widlife are all mandated by European law. Outside the EU, this iconic view of the Seven Sisters could be sadly tarnished. Photo: weesam2010 v

Remain in the EU to protect our environment

Caroline Lucas

20th April 2016

Remember when the UK was the 'dirty man of Europe'? What has changed since then, writes Caroline Lucas, is our membership of the EU - which has made us raise our environmental performance on everything from fisheries to air pollution, nature conservation, clean bathing waters and renewable energy. Leave, and it could all go into reverse. more...
Banggai Cardinalfish in their natural habitat. Photo: Fondation Franz Weber.

From coral reef to 'aquarium filler': the beauty of tropical fish is their doom

Monica Biondo / Fondation Franz Weber

15th April 2016

Gorgeous coral fish are to be seen everywhere, writes Monica Biondo, decorating aquariums in restaurants, doctors' offices and living rooms. The coral fish trade is booming! But it's destroying the reefs themselves, and driving many species to extinction. The Banggai Cardinalfish is among those unlikely to survive as this evil trade lays waste to them and their precious habitat. more...
Scottish wildcat out hunting at night. Photo: Adrian Bennett / Wildcat Haven.

Scotland's secret cat slaughter revealed in FOI documents

Oliver Tickell

12th April 2016

Documents released to Wildcat Haven reveal the secret plans of the Scottish Wildcat Action Plan - funded by taxpayers and the National Lottery - to kill trapped feral cats by shooting them in the head with shotguns. Public documents mention only neutering, successfully carried out by Wildcat Haven to protect pure wildcat populations. more...


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