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Monday, December 10, 2007

Local news

For the last post on recent wildlife news I am reporting on three local activities which are wildlife related developments I have got involved in on a personal basis.

Firstly there is the 4 acre field owned by a group of local residents. This was briefly mentioned in a post on May 29th 2007 but otherwise has been neglected. Here is a summary report I prepared earlier for a management plan for the field and which gives some idea of the fields value.

"This field of unimproved grassland was purchased by a Syndicate of local residents on May 22nd 2005 to ensure that it remained undeveloped. It has been submitted for registration as a County Wildlife Site at the suggestion of SERC. It is hoped that an adjoining similar sized field to the north of the meadow, with a similar flora, can be linked in part at least so as to add to the ecological importance of both .This adjoining field known as the Rugby Field is currently being transferred to the ownership of the Curry Rivel Parish Council. The adjoining land to the south of the meadow is owned and farmed in a manner sympathetic to the aims of the Syndicate and incorporates wildlife friendly measures in its management."

To establish the value of the meadow a survey of the flora was carried out in two stages in Aug 2005 and May 2006. The survey results showed that: “The field and hedgerows contain 105 higher plant species, including two orchid species. The number of grass species is particularly striking, totalling 24.” And also that “the hedges are classified as species rich with 15 different woody species present indicating they are several hundred years old.”

No formal survey has been made so far of butterflies or moths but observations made by members of the Syndicate have resulted in claims of sightings for the following butterflies.

Skippers

Yellows&Whites

Coppers, Hairstreaks

& Blues

Vanessids

Browns

Small

Clouded Yellow

Brown Hairstreak

Small Tortoiseshell

Marbled White

Large

Brimstone

Green Hairstreak

Painted Lady

Gatekeeper


Large White

Common Blue

Comma

Meadow Brown


Small White


Red Admiral

Ringlet




Peacock



Since that was written it has been confirmed by SERC that the field is now a registered County Wildlife Site which is very encouraging. There is now a chance that some or all of the adjoining field can be conserved in a similar fashion. We take an annual hay cut as late as possible in August or early September and so far we have decided to manage without stock grazing in the autumn.
We are considering an application for a grant to establish a hedge on one long side and perhaps plant a few small native trees in two or three groups to encourage birds and make the area more attractive.


Secondly as mentioned the adjoining field is of interest to local residents because it is now owned by the local council. A meeting of residents has been called for 10th Dec to discuss how the field might be used for the benefit of residents. You wont be surprised to learn that with others we have submitted a proposal to keep it more or less as a nature reserve. Here is a part of our proposal to be considered at the meeting.

"This proposal will provide our community with:

A) A pleasant and attractive place for residents of all ages and abilities

for recreational activities including walking and use of a fitness trail and the physical involvement in the development and management of the area.

B) A new and special educational resource for residents of all ages.

C) A rare opportunity for the community to have access to an unspoilt open area, close to the steadily increasing density of housing. It would use an area recently recognised by “The Somerset Environmental Records Centre” (SERC) as of significant conservation value and designated a County Wildlife Site.

These benefits will be achieved by managing the use of the land to meet all three objectives. A management plan will be prepared to include:

1. A plan for the planting of small to medium size trees, native to Somerset, in several small groups and likely to attract SSDC grants. This is important for encouraging birds into the area which will include woodpeckers, hawks and owls. Similar plans are being developed for the adjoining field.

2. A plan for a path on a winding route around the area taking account of the new trees. The path can also double up as a fitness trail not only for walkers but could also be used for a running and fitness club open to young people in the village. We anticipate gaining the support of the local running club in getting this established.

3. Ways in which the field can be used as a resource by the village school will be explored. A small area could be designated for School use for study or outdoor activities. The Education Manager for the SWT has expressed support for this proposal"


It will be of great interest to see how the meeting reacts to our proposal.


Finally in this report there is the initiative taken by people in Langport to join other towns in becoming a Transition Town. Totness in Devon was one of the first to start a move to reducing dependence on fossil fuels especially oil as oil supplies world wide both get more expensive and eventually start to run out. Its early days for Langport but two meetings have been held so far and another is arranged for Tuesday 11th Dec.

There is a web site for more info here.



News from the Wildlife Trust

Now for three key reports from the Wildlife Trust.
You can find more details of these items on the Trust web site or in the Trusts magazine. Web sites linked here for Somerset news,
and here for national news.


The Severn Barrage.

The Trust has expressed its concern about proposals to build a barrage across the Severn Estuary which is the subject of a report just issued. I received a copy in the post recently and it is 150 pages of detailed technical and economic considerations of whether the scheme is worth doing. They say it will generate 8.64 GW which would be 4.4% of the total UK electricity supply as it was in 2006 . Even the report says there are huge problems to be resolved before they will agree to the project so much remains to be debated. More info at: Sustainable Development Commission. Use this link.


Marine Protection.

The Somerset Wildlife Trust reported recently on its efforts to support a national campaign to persuade the Government to create Marine Environment legislation.
"The marine environment – our life support system – is on its knees, according to a new report by The Wildlife Trusts.
The report, Marine Reserves – TLC for our seas and sea life – was launched at the House of Commons on Wednesday. It explains the urgent action needed to allow UK seas to recover from centuries of over-intensive exploitation, for everything from food to building materials and oil. One of the key demands of The Wildlife Trusts’ ongoing campaign for a Marine Bill is the creation of ‘marine reserves’; places where all fishing and other damaging activities are prohibited. In the report, The Wildlife Trusts name 15 important wildlife areas around the UK coast to illustrate how marine reserves might protect wildlife and contribute towards healthy seas."
Go to DEFRA for the Governments view at this link.

Climate Change.

Following on from the Trusts Climate Friends campaign the Trust recently commented on, " the Government’s increasing recognition of the urgency for the country to adapt to climate change – through the Climate Change Bill published today (November 15). We urge that this must go hand in hand with our efforts to reduce carbon emissions."
There is a great deal of activity internationally not least at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali but there is still a long way to go before the man in the street begins to press our government to take strong action to reduce carbon emissions!

There are many organisations commenting on the UK Climate Change Bill and one that doesnt seem to get much attention in the media is Christian Aid. To get their views use this link for their web site.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Group news update

I am finding it hard at present to make time available to bring this blog up to date but its got to be done especially as there seems to be an increasing number of visitors to the site.
I would like to briefly tell you about news from our group, from the wildlife Trust and finally some related activities happening locally. As there is a lot to talk about I think I should make it three posts.

First our Group.

In our committee meeting on 6th Nov we motivated ourselves to seriously consider a review of the activities we wished to be involved in and how we might find the support to carry them all out.

After some thought we all met again on 20th Nov for an hour or so and concentrated on drawing up a list of members we hoped would be interested in coming to a discussion evening in January to listen to our ideas and to contribute some of their own. A volunteer was entrusted with making sense of our notes and for turning them into a typed list to be used to make personal contacts.

The list was ready several days later and to finalise our plans we met again on 27th Nov. We divided the list up into five sections and each took on the task of following up one section of around 10 names.
We had also agreed on what we would say during our telephone calls and how we would follow it up.
We wanted to be clear on what aspects of our activities we needed help on.
We also wanted to explain a little of how we operate as a group and how we might use sub committees.
We agreed that we would send an invitation to confirm the date and time and venue for the meeting. The date was fixed for 16th Jan.

Over the next few days committee started making their contacts so that by Dec 4th when we had agreed to have a pub lunch together with wives and husbands if they could stand the idea we were able to hear at least some degree of success and progress. We didnt want to spoil our Xmas end of year party so business was kept to a minimum. The lunch was for me and I hope everyone a very pleasant way to enjoy a sociable occasion.

And today 9th Dec we have a draft form for the invitation we will each use to send to our groups of contacts. We must finalise any comments within a day or so and start to issue them.

Finally please make a note that our next public meeting is on Jan10th in Langport at 7.30pm. You can find details on our Diary blog

Monday, November 19, 2007

Biodiversity

I've found it very helpful in researching this subject to make use of the web site produced by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) which can be seen via this link.

I am trying to get a clearer picture of what local government is legally required to do in this respect. I'll post a summary of my notes in due course but here is a link to the BBOWT page where you will find two documents which give guidance notes.


Or:
Click on the BBOWT link to go to their home page.
Click on the Advice heading.
Select Planning Issues.
Scroll down to Planning and Development Sector.
Select the relevant doc.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

I'm posting this report simply because more and more, all considerations of wildlife issues take account of climate change. The Wildlife Trust and the RSPB to name but two organisations which come to mind are framing their future plans on the probable effect on our part of the UK. It has been very much a normal attitude by the public at large to take wildlife for granted and it will be interesting to observe how and when that attitude changes significantly.




Here is a link to a BBC report by Richard Black ( BBC Environment Correspondent) covering the recent issue of the IPCC final assessment on its 2007 report on the state of the environment.

Here are his concluding comments:


This is the IPCC's fourth major assessment of global climate change since its formation nearly 20 years ago.

During the course of its existence, it has become more certain that modern-day climate change is real and principally due to human activities; it has also become firmer about the scale of the impacts.

"If you look at the overall picture of impacts, both those occurring now and those projected for the future, they appear to be both larger and appearing earlier than we thought [in our 2001 report]," Martin Parry, co-chair of the impacts working group, told BBC News.

"Some of the changes that we previously projected for around 2020 or 2030 are occurring now, such as the Arctic melt and shifts in the locations of various species."

There are indications that projected increases in droughts are also happening earlier than expected, he said, though that was less certain.

The IPCC considered about 29,000 pieces of real-world evidence in compiling this report, as well as the projections of computer models.

These include observations showing that dry areas of the world such as the Sahel and southern Africa are receiving less rainfall, while it has increased in northern Europe and parts of the Americas.

The panel suggests societies need to adapt to future impacts, as well as curbing emissions.

Without extra measures, carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise; they are already growing faster than a decade ago, partly because of increasing use of coal.

The IPCC's economic analyses say that trend can be reversed at reasonable cost. Indeed, it says, there is "much evidence that mitigation actions can result in near-term co-benefits (e.g. improved health due to reduced air pollution)" that may offset costs.

The panel's scientists say the reversal needs to come within a decade or so if the worst effects of global warming are to be avoided.

The findings will feed into the Bali talks on the UN climate convention and the Kyoto Protocol which open on 3 December.

Follow up on my last post.

A Visit to the RSPB WEST Sedgemoor Reserve.


This is the next walk on this reserve.




Guided walk, Somerset

Booking essential

Dates

Wednesday 21 November

Location

the RSPB WEST Sedgemoor Reserve, Somerset.

Time

10.00am to Noon

Price

£2 including refreshments.

Enquiries

Telephone: 01749 672749

News update on West Sedgemoor RSPB reserve meeting


Just to start off, here are two photos from a very old friend who manages to get some good pictures of wildlife.




Photos by David Le Clercq taken somewhere in Dorset.









Meanwhile back in Somerset we recently had a most enjoyable evening listening to a talk about the West Sedgemoor RSPB Reserve.
Damon Bridge, Reserve Warden, was able to impart a wealth of facts and figures illustrated with a Powerpoint presentation. Without any notes he explained how this wetland reserve is important on an international scale and the extent of the management techniques that are used to maintain its value for the extensive range of birds which use it for both breeding and wintering.
Major achievements since 1978 have been to halt and reverse declines in populations of wading birds including redshanks, snipe and curlew. Also protecting the area for wintering for Berwick's swan, teal, wigeon, shovler, pintail, lapwing, golden plover and snipe with often over 50,000 birds annually.
My own visits to the site have been memorable for walks in the woods and meadows on the escarpment to the south with displays of orchids and the sight of nesting herons and egrets in the spring.
Here is a link to the RSPB local area page

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Group activity and our future plans

Recently the Somerset Wildlife Trust carried out a thorough review of its aims and objectives and has just published a summary titled "Strategy 2008-20012". By coincidence our group has just had its own mini review.
Last nights committee meeting of the Heart of the Levels Group was probably one of the most productive we had had in our 2 year progress. For some time I have been concerned about how we could recruit more members to become more actively involved so as to share out some of the work we have to cope with in organising meetings etc. For the first time I had invited a member of the Wildlife Trust staff to come along to sit in whilst we discussed ways to deal with my concerns which were shared by others. Her contribution was a great help to us all by telling us about the Trusts plans and how other volunteer groups have been dealing with similar problems.
I feel very pleased with the outcome and our agreed plan for action which is basically :
  • Arrange a follow up committee meeting to give our plan detail in the next week or so. A possible date was agreed.
  • First priority to revisit our 100 or so members who replied to our initial letter 2 years ago to draw up a short list of those who might be able to contribute to our activities. I have kept these in a file.
  • Also to check through lists of members who have attended our events to add to the list.
  • We must also decide more clearly what specific help we need and break down and identify what we do.
  • We must also agree on key information about our activities that might be of interest to members and consider what events are most popular.
  • We must then split our list of members up and each take a share of names to be contacted personally by telephone or in person.
  • We will seek to find activities which can be clearly defined and not involving heavy demands for time or knowledge of wildlife.
  • We must agree a programme which takes account of Christmas holidays etc.
All of this will take time but at least we are thinking about finding a solution to our concerns and I am very confident that we will succeed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fungi Foray Beer Wood 2007

Just received this list showing the range of fungi found including eight species not previously found in Beer Wood! I started putting common names to the list but it is taking too long so I'll leave to you! A photo of each would be even better!

Agaricus xanthodermus


Amanita rubescens


Armillaria mellea agg


Auricularia auricula-judae


Clitocybe flaccida


Clitocybe geotropa


Clitocybe infundibuliformis


Clitocybe nebularis


Clitocybe phyllophila *

Collybia fusipes *

Coprinus comatus *

Coprinus micaceus


Coriolus versicolor


Daedalea quercina


Daldinia concentrica


Diatrype disciformis


Ganoderma applanatum


Ganoderma australe


Ganoderma lucidum


Hyphoderma setigerum *

Hypholoma fasciculare


Hypholoma sublateritium


Laccaria amethystea


Lactarius quietus


Lepiota rhacodes


Leucopaxillus giganterus *

Lycoperdon pyriforme


Mycena galericulata


Mycena haematopus


Mycena inclinata


Mycena polygramma


Mycena vitilis


Oudemansiella radicata


Phellinus punctatus *

Pleurotus cornucopiae


Pleurotus ostreatus


Pluteus cervinus


Pluteus podospileus *

Pluteus salicinus


Postia stiptica *

Rhodotus palmatus


Stereum rugosum


Tremella mesenterica


Xylaria hypoxylon


Xylaria polymorpha






45 species identified at fungal foray Beer Wood 21.10.07 recorded by Peter Baker


* = new record for reserve






Sunday, November 04, 2007

Biodiversity

I'm currently involved with a few other people in an seeking to persuade our local council to use a small area of land as a nature reserve and it will no doubt need us to put together a sound set of arguments to win the support of our community and our council.
I believe a key factor in our proposals appears to be the legal responsibilities of councils for conserving biodiversity.

It was back in 1992 that governments attending the Rio Earth Summit agreed amongst other actions a "Convention on biological biodiversity" and the "Agenda 21". That led the UK Government to encourage local authorities to develop ways to put conservation into their policies. In 1998 our local district council published its own Biodiversity Action Plan ( BAP) which it said would be "a focal point for local action". Soon after, this in turn led to a "Strategy for Nature Conservation", which is undated but clearly produced soon after the BAP. It reads as a very strong declaration of intent to actually meet the clear need. The document can be read online at this link.

Meanwhile the UK Govt has been busy and has created legislation to impose a legal duty on councils to "have regard to the conservation of biodiversity".
In brief these include:

The Countryside and Rights of Way ( CRoW ) Act 2000
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities ( NERC) Act 2006

In an explantory note by the Wildlife Trusts this latter act now clearly defines parish councils as local authorities alongside district and county councils.

The scientific basis for these UK documents is the series of Local BAP's covering England and Wales. More about them can be found at the UK BAP web site. Click here.

Here is an extract from their home page:

"Welcome to the UKBAP website supporting the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) on behalf of the UK Biodiversity Partnership and the UK Government

The UK BAP

  • is the UK Government's response to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed in 1992
  • describes the UK's biological resources
  • commits a detailed plan for the protection of these resources
  • has 391 Species Action Plans, 45 Habitat Action Plans and 162 Local Biodiversity Action Plans with targeted actions
  • major reviews of the Priority Species and Habitats are underway, and the Targets for these priorities are complete."
By using all these resources I hope to be able to support our proposals for the conservation of this relatively small piece of the Councils land.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fungi found locally

Having browsed the UNEP report and read George Monbiot's latest article in the Guardian both on the subject of what we humans are doing to our environment it is good to be able to post a few photographs I've taken in the last few days of wildlife subjects.

By clicking on each photo it should be possible to get a more detailed view of the delicate markings and structure of the plant. The first was damaged when I found it in case you are wondering!

On my own mini fungi foray I found these two specimens the first on a local hill side in the middle of an open field, north facing and grazed by cattle and the other in our garden growing on a dead log.



The first looks like a Chestnut Dapperling (lepiota castanea) , which is described as highly poisonous and the second is possibly Sulphur Tuft ( hypholoma fasciculare) which is also poisonous!
If anyone knows better please email me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The recently published UN report GEO4 giving a comprehensive report on the environmental state of the planet is a powerful document running to over 500 pages and packed with charts and detailed accounts of the four most important natural services we all depend on for our survival. So there are sections titled "State- and- Trends of the Environment from 1987 to 2007" for the Atmosphere, Land, Water and Biodiversity.
To find out more about the UNEP and the GEO4 Report click here.

On the UNEP home page are links to Web Animations for a number of Environmental issues which are I think well done and can be useful in clarifying what is at stake in for instance "Loss of Biodiversity".

Apart from the mass of data in the report there are short summary statements for each section which are reproduced below.

Section A Overview.

“The ‘environment’ is where we live; and

development is what we all do in attempting

to improve our lot within that abode.

The two are inseparable.”

Our Common Future


Section B State-and-Trend of the Environment: 1987-2007.

Climate change affects the warming and

acidification of the global ocean, it influences

the Earth’s surface temperature, the amount,

timing and intensity of precipitation,

including storms and droughts. On land,

these changes affect freshwater availability

and quality, surface water run-off and

groundwater recharge, and the spread of

water-borne disease vectors and it is likely

to play an increasing role in driving changes

in biodiversity and species’ distribution and

relative abundance.


Section C Regional Perspectives: 1987-2007.

Continued environmental degradation in

all regions is unfairly shifting burdens onto

future generations, and contradicts the

principle of intergenerational equity.


Section D Human Dimensions of Environmental Change.

Many people, individually and

collectively, contribute, often

inadvertently, to the suffering of

others while improving their own

well-being. This can result from

environmental changes which are

linked across scales and between

geographical regions through both

biophysical and social processes.


Section E The Outlook- Towards 2015 and Beyond.

The scenarios point to both risks and

opportunities in the future. Of particular

significance are the risks of crossing

thresholds, the potential of reaching turning

points in the relationship between people

and the environment, and the need to

account for interlinkages in pursuing a

more sustainable path.


Section F Sustaining Our Common Future.

While governments are expected to take the

lead, other stakeholders are just as important

to ensure success in achieving sustainable

development. The need couldn’t be more

urgent and the time couldn’t be more

opportune, with our enhanced understanding

of the challenges we face, to act now to

safeguard our own survival and that of

future generations.

Extracts from UNEP report GEO4.

"Global Environment Outlook October 2007"


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fungi Foray Beer Wood 2007











Here are a few photos from this event. As a reminder you can expand any photo by clicking on it to make it full screen for clearer viewing.The strange looking specimen in the centre was identified as Peltigera canina, (Dog Lichen) which is technically a lichen not a fungi. It was growing on a fallen tree trunk along with the moss. There is a useful web site for idents on plants and some fungi here:
The link takes you to a better photo of the lichen.
There are plenty more which can be uploaded soon together with a list of species found on this visit. The total was around 40 and a new species for the reserve was found making the overall running total 190

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring

Just by chance I came upon a flier for a new play based on the life of Rachael Carson who was the author of "Silent Spring". This was a book written and published in the USA in 1962 which caused a rethink in the use of toxic chemicals as pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in agriculture. It has been compared for its impact on history with Adam Smith's , The wealth of Nations and Charles Darwin's , The origin of the species.
Carson was born a hundred years ago this year and the play is a celebration of her major part in controlling the use of chemicals in this way. Here is a link to a web site dedicated to the play and Carson.

A few short extracts to the book give the flavour of its dramatic tale:

Chapter 1 A Fable for Tomorrow.

"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings" We like to think such towns and villages still exist here in Somerset. "The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields." ***********
" Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death."***********

A page further on she wrote:

" This town does not actually exist, but it might easily have a thousand counterparts in America and elsewhere. I know of no community that has experienced all the misfortunes I describe. Yet everyone of these disasters has actually happened somewhere, and many real communities have actually suffered a substantial number of them. A grim spectre has crept up on us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we shall all know.
What has already silenced the voices of spring in countless towns in America? This book is an attempt to explain."

These extracts are taken from a Penguin Books edition of " Silent Spring" Published in 1995 and reprinted many times since.
The story told is still relevant today not only in terms of taoxic chemicals but because of GM crop experiments.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Marine wildlife is a local matter to us in Somerset

In my last posts I've made reference to our Fungi Foray and climate change. Now here is an issue of growing concern to us not least because of the announcement of a proposal for a Severn Estuary barrage.

I am posting the Trusts press release dated today as a small way of helping to spread the word on this issue.

I feel involved with this because I signed the petition for a Marine Bill.


300,000-strong petition calls for a Marine Bill now!

17th October, 2007

The call for a Marine Act - giving greater protection to the UK’s marine wildlife - will go to London later today when a 300,000-strong petition - comprising supporters from four conservation organisations - will be delivered to Downing Street by four children representing our future generations.


The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and WWF are campaigning for a full Marine Bill in next month’s Queen’s Speech. They have long been campaigning for new and improved marine nature conservation legislation. Currently, the groups regard existing marine legislation as ineffective, inadequate or even non-existent.

The petition has attracted widespread support, including a pledge from Kate Humble, the RSPB’s newest vice president and a big fan of the marine environment. Kate said:

“As a diver I know what an amazing wealth of wildlife we have in the seas around the UK. But, I'm also aware of the pressures the marine environment is under. That's why I'm supporting the call for a Marine Bill now to introduce marine reserves to give our wonderful sealife the protection it deserves.”

The marine campaign coalition is calling on the Prime Minister to include a full Marine Bill in the Queen’s Speech in November – not the draft Bill that was mentioned in Gordon Brown’s draft legislative programme. Putting marine planning at its heart and giving much stronger protection to marine wildlife, the groups says it is vital the Bill includes measures to designate and conserve nationally-important marine wildlife sites, including highly-protected marine reserves.

Joan Edwards, head of marine policy for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The UK public clearly places great value on our seas and believes they should be properly protected. We urgently need new laws to protect our seas and marine life. The number of signatures handed in today shows how public support is growing - as is awareness of how we treat our life support system. But our campaign cannot stop until there’s renewed commitment from Gordon Brown to improve the protection and management of the UK’s marine environment.”

Melissa Moore, Marine Conservation Society senior policy officer, said:

“We need a full Marine Bill in November’s Queen’s Speech. A draft Marine Bill next year would be just another consultation and we have had two of those already. The shocking adverts the coalition has placed in today’s national papers reflect the urgent need for a Marine Act to halt the demise of a range of UK marine species and habitats while we are on watch.”

Jan Brown, senior marine policy officer at WWF says:

“Our seas have been in decline for some time and it is imperative that the Government addresses the urgency of the situation and introduces a Marine Bill now. The facts are inescapable, our seas are in crisis. We need to act and cannot afford another year of delay by the Government.”

Dr Sharon Thompson, a senior marine policy officer with the RSPB, said:

“Seabirds provide one of the greatest wildlife spectacles the UK has to offer. The UK hosts the majority of the global breeding populations of Manx shearwater, gannet and great skua and the UK coasts throng with millions of individual seabirds, a testament to the richness of our seas. Although these birds are protected on land, at sea they have little protection – a Marine Bill would pave the way for giving them, and the seas they depend upon, the protection they need.”

Preliminary work by the RSPB has identified at least 23 examples of sites of national importance for nesting seabirds that could benefit from further protection from a Marine Bill. Although many of the actual nesting colonies are already protected on land, the foraging areas these seabirds need at sea are not protected at all.

The list includes St Bees Head, in Cumbria, the only English nesting site for the black guillemot; England’s rarest nesting seabird.
The call for a Marine Bill has also attracted widespread cross-party support with 117 MPs signing the Early Day Motion (EDM 1833) calling for its introduction in the Queen’s Speech.

Four children representing the four organisations will hand in the Marine Bill petition to Downing Street at 9am on Wednesday 17 October.

Story by RSWT

Friday, October 12, 2007

"RealClimate" web site , recent post and link

Having just held our October meeting on Climate Change last night and thinking about the pros and cons or our understanding of climate events I looked up the RealClimate blog and found this latest posting which I thought illustrates very well the need for a better understanding amongst us all and that informed help to achieve that goal is easily to hand if we look for it.


Here is the posting shown below and it can be seen on their blog here:


I think the last paragraph is relevant to this post.
If you want to find out more about the scientific background to climate change just click on the "Start Here" button on the RealClimate page.



11 October 2007

CO2 equivalents

Filed under: — gavin @ 5:40 PM

There was a minor kerfuffle in recent days over claims by Tim Flannery (author of "The Weather Makers") that new information from the upcoming IPCC synthesis report will show that we have reached 455 ppmv CO2_equivalent 10 years ahead of schedule, with predictable implications. This is confused and incorrect, but the definitions of CO2_e, why one would use it and what the relevant level is, are all highly uncertain in many peoples' minds. So here is a quick rundown.

Definition: The CO2_equivalent level is the amount of CO2 that would be required to give the same global mean radiative forcing as the sum of a basket of other forcings. This is a way to include the effects of CH4 and N2O etc. in a simple way, particularly for people doing future impacts or cost-benefit analysis. The equivalent amount is calculated using the IPCC formula for CO2 forcing:

Total Forcing = 5.35 log(CO2_e/CO2_orig)

where CO2_orig is the 1750 concentration (278 ppmv).

Usage: There are two main ways it is used. Firstly, it is often used to group together all the forcings from the Kyoto greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O and CFCs), and secondly to group together all forcings (including ozone, sulphate aerosols, black carbon etc.). The first is simply a convenience, but the second is what matters to the planet. Many stabilisation scenarios, such as are being discussed in UNFCCC negotiations are based on stabilising total CO2_e at 450, 550 or 750 ppmv.

Magnitude The values of CO2_e (Kyoto) and CO2_e (Total) can be calculated from Figure 2.21 and Table 2.12 in the IPCC WG1 Chapter 2. The forcing for CO2, CH4 (including indirect effects), N2O and CFCs is 1.66+0.48+0.07+0.16+0.34=2.71 W/m2 (with around 0.3 W/m2 uncertainty). Using the formula above, that gives CO2_e (Kyoto) = 460 ppmv. However, including all the forcings (some of which are negative), you get a net forcing of around 1.6 W/m2, and a CO2_e (Total) of 375 ppmv with quite a wide error bar. This is, coincidently, close to the actual CO2 level.

Implications The important number is CO2_e (Total) which is around 375 ppmv. Stabilisation scenarios of 450 ppmv or 550 ppmv are therefore still within reach. Claims that we have passed the first target are simply incorrect, however, that is not to say they are easily achievable. It is even more of a stretch to state that we have all of a sudden gone past the 'dangerous' level. It is still not clear what that level is, but if you take a conventional 450 ppmv CO2_e value (which will lead to a net equilibrium warming of ~ 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels), we are still a number of years from that, and we have (probably) not yet committed ourselves to reaching it.

Finally, the IPCC synthesis report is simply a concise summary of the three separate reports that have already come out. It therefore can't be significantly different from what is already available. But this is another example where people are quoting from draft reports that they have neither properly read nor understood and for which better informed opinion is not immediately available. I wish journalists and editors would resist the temptation to jump on leaks like this (though I know it's hard). The situation is confusing enough without adding to it unintentionally.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fungus Foray



An event which is attracting more than usual interest is:

WALK: Fungus Foray, Beer Woods

Date: 21st October 2007
Time: 11:00 AM

Collect fungi in morning then identify fungi with Peter Baker, at High Ham Village Hall. Bring lunch, collecting baskets/containers. Meet Turn Hill (ST 414 316) near Aller. Unsuitable for wheelchair users/limited mobility. Finish 3pm.

The event is organised by Peter Baker Chair of the
Beer and Aller Woods Management committee.
If you want to know more about it you can contact us by replying to this posting.

It is right in the middle of our Group Area and is one of our most important local sites. Perhaps the weather will give us a better than usual display.

The two photos are from our last years Foray and show most of the group who took part and then the collected specimens laid out on newspaper in High Ham Village Hall.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Our programme of events through to March 2008

If you would like to know what talks we have arranged through to March 2008 you will find details on our updated Diary blog. Link here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Climate Change: Next meeting of the Heart of the Levels Area Group

This meeting was planned as a follow up to our similar meeting a year ago but also coincides with the Trusts new campaign called Climate Friends.





This meeting notice is taken from the SWT web site

http://www.somersetwildlife.org/

TALK: The Climate Friends Campaign

Date: 11th October 2007
Time: 7:30 PM

Members of the Trust are naturally friends of wildlife but we need to be friends of our environment as well.

James Nightingale, SWT Policy and Campaigns officer, will explain the Trust’s campaign to reduce the impact of climate change on Somerset wildlife.

Long Sutton Village Hall, Long Sutton (ST 469 255). On B3165, Martock Rd, close to junction with A372. Suitable for wheelchair users/limited mobility. £1.50. Finish 9pm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Politicians sign new climate pact

Having read reports of the recent UN conference in Washington on the subject of climate change it seems approriate in view of the Somerset Wildlife Trusts current campaign on the same subject to put this BBC report straight on this blog for information about world developments.


BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Politicians sign new climate pact

Here is part of the report. The full account can be seen using the link given above.

Politicians sign new climate pact

Leading international politicians have reached a new agreement on tackling climate change, at a Washington summit.

Delegates agreed that developing countries would also have to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as rich countries.

The informal meeting also agreed that a global market should be formed to cap and trade carbon dioxide emissions.

The non-binding declaration is seen as vital in influencing a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, correspondents say.

The forum's closing statement said man-made climate change was now "beyond doubt".

"Climate change is a global issue and there is an obligation on us all to take action, in line with our capabilities and historic responsibilities," said the statement from the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (Globe).

'Tipping point'

The two-day meeting brought together legislators from countries including the Group of Eight rich nations, plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.



The BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin was at the meeting and says that although the declaration carries no formal weight, it indicates a real change in mood.

The legislators agreed that developing countries had to face targets on greenhouse gas emissions, in the same way rich countries do.

They said they wanted a successor to the Kyoto Protocol - which expires in 2012 - in place by 2009.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Annual report to members of the Heart of the Levels Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust

This post shows my report to our local members. We gave ourselves 15 minutes for this annual report which was followed by a talk by James Williams on Otters. There was an audience of about 45 people who were I'm sure more interested in Otters than my report!

Just to start with some photos of local wildlife The Brimstone is by Steve Dyer. The others were seen in my garden.



Heart of the Levels Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust.
Chairman’s report
13.09.07

Welcome from the Heart of the Levels Group.
In this brief reporting session I will:

1. Highlight some of the successful events of the last year or so.
2. Talk a little about the work of the committee and its members.
3. Explain how we relate to our parent Somerset Wildlife Trust
4. Report on our finances.
5. Look forward over the next 12 months.

1) May 19th 2006 was our inaugural meeting.
Since then we have had a range of open meetings like this one and in addition we have organised guided visits to local nature reserves. We are pleased with the response from members who have supported all these events.

There have been many highlights but standing out must be:

23.07.06 Butterfly Group guided walk in MOD area in Breach Wood, High Ham.

28.09.06 Talk by Bill Butcher from SERC on climate change.

22.10.06 Fungi Foray in Beer Wood to find and identify over 100 varieties.

9.11.06 Talk by Dr Mike Parr on Dragonflies (followed in 2007 by a guided walk at Muchelney Lakes).

14.04.07 Guided visit to West Sedgemoor RSPB reserve.

7.06.07 Garden Party held in Curry Rivel for social occasion.

23.06.07 Guided visit to Green Down to see Large Blue butterfly on the wing and laying eggs on Thyme plants.

14.07 07 Open meeting with MP David Heath as part of Somerton Festival.

11.08/07 National Moth Night to find and identify moths in the MOD woods at High Ham. The nights catch being inspected next morning at start of Butterfly walk.

Anyone wanting to read more about our activities will find a lot of information on our web site.


2) The committee, without whom we would not be here tonight, has given their support and active involvement which is most appreciated. We have all being getting involved in things for the first time and learning as we go and that will continue into 2008. A special word of thanks to Margaret Chambers who is moving back into teaching full time and has had to stand down from the committee. Margaret has taken on the job of arranging talks and events for the last 18 months. Teaching and our young people will benefit greatly from her dedication and enthusiasm. Margaret Murray has got to grips with looking after our finances and is doing a good job in keeping us in order. Margaret Somerville had to stand down earlier in the year due to family commitments.
So the running of this group for the benefit of local members will be much easier if we can attract 2 or 3 new committee members. We tend to have committee meetings every 2 months to agree on future activities within our resources.


3) A brief word about our relationship with SWT. We are one of 9 such local groups. We are largely left to do our own thing but guided by a document produced a year or so ago by the Trustees of the Trust which outlines matters such as reporting our finances each year to the Trust.
It seems to work quite well and is designed to ensure we all support the overall aims and objectives of the Trust and assist them in meeting their obligations to the Charity Commission.

4) Finances are not complex for our small group and Margaret Murray, our Treasurer, has produced a statement which is available for your inspection. It shows how we reported to the Trust in March this year. We started with a grant from the Trust in 2006 of £100 and we have now a balance in our account of £467.86. This has been raised through sponsored walks, a garden party and various donations given for instance at meetings. There is also a statement available of the petty cash account for your inspection. If anyone has any questions about our finances I would appreciate dealing with it over coffee later so as not to delay our guest speaker.

5) The future.
Keeping it simple.
  • We hope to be still functioning and reporting back to you again in 12 months time. Our basic aim for the next 12 months will I hope be to organise 6 meetings in 2008
  • In Feb, March and April and then in Sept, Oct and Nov, with additional visits to reserves during the summer months.
  • I see our priorities as a local group to be getting better at communicating with local members so as to make sure we are putting on talks and events which you find interesting.
  • Getting to know our local reserves and letting people know what they can expect to see if they make a visit. I think the BBC Breathing Spaces programmes and Spring Watch are very informative and hopefully help to stimulate interest in local wildlife.
  • Finally we should be ready to respond to wildlife related matters put to us by members and we welcome everyone’s involvement in that respect.
*********************************************************************
Contact detail.

Committee: David German Chairman, Margaret Murray Treasurer, Eve Kerswill PR, Terry Foster Minutes Secretary, Bill Murray, Hilary Howell. We have vacancies!

We are also fortunate in having a local council member of the Somerset Wildlife Trust in our area, Dudley Cheesman, who also is Chairman of Butterfly Conservation,a UK national charity, who attends our committee meetings from time to time and is able to give us good advice.

Telephone: David German : email: levelswildlife@btinternet.com
Web site (also known as a blog): http:// heartofthelevels.blogspot.com

Details of the SWT and other specialist groups are in the Trusts magazine.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

News from a local Climate Action Group

The following is a copy of an email we received from the South Somerset Climate Action Group. I have shown it here for information


Email from the Climate Action Group.


To visit our new website click: www.southsomersetclimateaction.org.uk

Sun 16 Sep 2.30pm Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth"
To be followed by a discussion led by David Gordon, former County Councillor and Chairman of Ecos Trust, the award-winning builders of zero carbon homes.
Sat 22 Sep 2.30pm Al Gore’s Update on An inconvenient Truth
plus The GREENPEACE film "A Convenient Solution"
Discussion to be led by Catherine Le Grice Mack, former County Councillor, Organic farmer, Representative of environmental organisations at the Regional Assembly.
Call Joe Or just turn up at the theatre. — Donations requested

Global warming and related issues – Dr John Baxter
Workers Educational Association – Ilminster
This course will present planet Earth as a dynamic structure, constantly changing over eons of time. It will look at what affects our atmosphere and climate and how lifestyle changes and technology might come to our rescue.
6 Classes – Tuesday evenings 7.30 – 9 pm from 9 October 2007. Fee £30
www.wea.org.uk

AMONGST OTHER THINGS, ON OUR WEBSITE YOU CAN FIND:

Organisation
Evidence / document
Date / Comment

House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Climate Change: the citizens agenda Evidence submitted in January 2007, published on 13 September 2007

South Somerset Together
The Proposed Sustainable Community Strategy for South Somerset August 24th, 2007

Ilminster Town Council
Town Plan 1 June 2007

(soon to be updated)

Somerset Wildlife Trust (which has 20,000 members)
Planning Policy Briefing prepared for South Somerset Climate Action 1 Jul 2007


Joe Burlington
Chairman
SOUTH SOMERSET CLIMATE ACTION