Search This Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

New agreement reached in Nagoya: statement from Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman « Defra News

 This has got to be good news , even if its not perfect!

New agreement reached in Nagoya: statement from Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman « Defra News

To hear an explantation of why Biodiversity is important you can view this Natural History Museum video clip:  ( apologies for the overlap on the video!)

Another interesting web site commenting on this agreement is run by Kew Gardens and you can read their report on this link.

Kew welcomes Nagoya biodiversity agreement

Kew's Director, Professor Stephen Hopper talks about Kew's response to the agreement reached in Nagoya last week to protect the natural environment. A positive outcome for conserving the world's biodiversity.

Forestry in England

DEFRA has plans for selling off forests.

Link here.

Japanese environmentalist protester outside Nagoya meeting

At our recent public meeting on the fascinating subject of plant reproduction processes ,our speaker, Dr Anne Bebbington, a professionally qualified Botanist,  commented that she was disappointed that while listening to a radio programme about Biodiversity loss that there was no mention of plants.  I added a comment that schools who cover science subjects still appear to ignore Botany. Instead they cover physics,chemistry and biology.
Is it a lack of Botany teachers?
So it was refreshing to see a photo from the Nagoya conference on biodiversity which promoted plants.

Japanese environmentalist protester outside Nagoya meeting
It looks a bit silly you might say but then perhaps that is because of our attitude towards plants and flowers whereas if the protestor was dressed in a gorilla outfit we would feel more comfortable with the image. Or is it just me!!!?

Monday, October 25, 2010


Hopefully readers have made their comments on the Natural Environment consultation and can turn their attention to another important issue.

We have organised a public meeting on Badgers on November 18th in Somerton and the subject of Bovine TB is rising up the public agenda. For some that's because the Government is considering culling together with other measures whilst others don't think that will work and is consequently a bad idea. There is a great deal of information on the DEFRA web site to cover all aspects of the subject.
Somerset Badger Group and the Somerset Wildlife Trust have issued a statement to draw attention to public consultation in progress now and concluding on DEC 8th. Here it is.
The Government is consulting on proposals to cull badgers as part of a strategy to control bovine tuberculosis.  The Governments preferred option is Option 6:  Issuing licences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 to cull, vaccinate or carry out a combination of culling and vaccination.
Somerset Wildlife Trust’s response
  • Bovine TB is a serious issue for farmers. Government and the farming sector should take a science-led and comprehensive approach to tackling bovine TB, using all available sensible measures to control and eradicate this disease.
  • We do not support the current Government proposals for culling badgers, as these are not supported by scientific evidence and will be difficult to implement effectively in practice. Far from helping to control bovine TB, the proposed badger cull could actually make the problem worse.
  • The recently available badger vaccine could help to control bTB if used systematically over a period of years.
  • All possible biosecurity measures should be enforced on farms to help control spread of the disease.
  • The Government must put its energy into removing the barriers to development and use of a cattle vaccine for bTB, with a commitment to bring this into widespread use as soon as possible.
Please respond to the consultation
Make your voice heard to help the Government make the right decision. The Government consultation closes on December 8.   It can be found at:

Post to:           TBBC mailbox
                        Nobel House, 17 Smith Square,
                        London, SW1P 3JR

Please contact the Somerset Trust Badger Group for further information:

Adrian Coward          01749 671065
24/7 Help Line:          07850 604585

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fungi foray. Phallus impudicus , Stinkhorn

We havent had a proper Fungi Foray this year so did a bit myself at Hestercombe Garden today. Mostly in the rain! This was the most impressive specimen found.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Natural Environment White Paper comments. No8

This is probably my last post on this subject before the deadline.Its up to you now! Eight days to go.

I have just submitted my comments on the four questions to DEFRA which I'm pleased to see still exists and has I hope received my views via the Internet.
I thought it a bit odd that it didn't ask me to include my name or address etc but I have identified myself!

I used the on line form which was quite simple and I just copied my comments previously posted on this Blog.
To do the same just click here to go to DEFRA and follow the simple instructions.

You can see the fuller Discussion Doc with its 15 questions on this link, click here.

If you want to respond to the full 15 questions then after reading the document you are invited to submit your comments as follows:
( you may find the web links don't work too well but good luck!)

The deadline for responses to this document is 30 October 2010
Please email your responses to:
Or submit comments over the Defra website at
Or post them to:
Natural Environment White Paper Team
Area 3D
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A few months ago I had a look at using Twitter to help communicate with the world about Wildlife in Somerset.
I found it a bit strange and time consuming and didn't do much with it. Now however with so many other conservation organisations running a Twitter site I am trying to get in on the act!
Question can you identify this plant?
Its all a bit of an experiment but as Nick Baker said at our AGM last week its vital for wildlife to find ways to spread enthusiasm for exploring the natural world as widely as possible.
Click  here to visit my Twitter site.

PS This is post number 300!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Natural Environment White Paper. My comments. No7

I've written up some comments for DEFRA based on the SWT paper  (available on their web site linked here)

DEFRA discussion paper on the Natural Environment White Paper:
Comments  based on suggestions from the Somerset Wildlife Trust and our local experiences.

1)   Which parts of the natural environment matter most to you?
It is very important that the Government takes action to protect, restore, and proactively ensure the recovery of our natural environment, for people and wildlife.
The Government should recognise the uniqueness of Somerset’s rich natural environment, and appreciate that it matters to all of us. A healthy, wildlife-rich natural environment benefits us all, and is irreplaceable.
A large scale network of high quality habitats will allow wildlife to thrive in our county in town and village, along hedgerow and verge and through fields and gardens. We must include our coastal areas and our wonderful hills for all to enjoy. By making space for nature, we will enable our natural world to become more resilient to future climate change.

2)   How do you feel you benefit from the natural environment?
Wildlife-rich landscapes and seas support our society and economy and recreational activities. A healthy, bio diverse environment provides us with a range of natural, life-supporting services, such as crop pollination, food production, flood prevention, clean air and water.
By restoring natural processes we all benefit – such as flood protection, carbon absorption, crop pollination and water filtration, so they can operate to their full potential for people and wildlife. All are fundamental to our health, well-being and a successful local economy.

3)   How do you think we could improve the natural environment?
I support the Wildlife Trusts strategy based on a Living Landscape approach to nature, which should act as guiding principles in the development of the Natural Environment White Paper.
A comprehensive strategic framework for the natural environment is required to secure the health of our natural environment.
We should protect and enlarge ‘core’ wildlife-rich areas – value and conserve existing protected places such as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which lie at the heart of this new era for nature conservation. We should create more such areas which must not be allowed to be traded in or eroded.
We should put wildlife back on the map – map out priority areas for restoration on a landscape scale. Plan to create connections between core wildlife areas in the form of corridors and stepping stones, providing connectivity for wildlife across the landscape. Expand and buffer these areas and make the wider landscape more wildlife-friendly.

 4) What would encourage you to get involved in protecting the natural environment?
People need access to nature on their doorstep: high quality natural spaces should be available in town and country to encourage access to, and action for, the natural environment.
Ensure there is wildlife everywhere and support educational initiatives to inspire every community to develop local solutions to the particular challenges for restoring nature in their area.
The Trusts are well placed to generate a new type of partnership to act together with central and local government, agencies, the private sector and voluntary bodies to inspire and enable cross-boundary co-operation in planning and delivering a new vision for nature.

David German.
Chair of the Heart of the Levels Area Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Natural Environment White Paper SWT views and comments No 6

The Somerset Wildlife Trust has published on its web site its views on the DEFRA consultation on the natural environment. It includes suggestions for members to use in their own comments.
October 30 th is the deadline for the receipt of comments.
Use this link:

or visit the SWT web site.

Costing the Earth and the Fake Plastic Sea

"Climate change" seems to be proving impossible for world governments to cope with according to press reports from the recent international conference.
Which made a Radio Four programme of special interest as it covered the growing move towards legal action against companies which can be shown to be adding to the pollution of the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. There are two episodes of the programme, the second deals with the growing problem of plastic objects floating in huge islands in the worlds oceans.
Here is a link to replay the programme:


or click here. 

Below are the programme notes from the BBC web site copied today 14.10.10

"Climate change has already claimed its first victims. Displaced people from the Carteret Islands, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Niger delta have already become climate refugees but from whom can they seek refuge or even compensation?
Environmental Justice Foundation is calling for legally binding agreements to protect those displaced and there are various legal cases in action that could set a precedent for compensation.
400 Alaskan residents are suing energy companies for creating a public nuisance and for conspiracy (in funding research to 'prove' there is no link between climate change and human activity). Tuvalu, the low lying nation in the pacific, has threatened to sue Australia and the United States for their contributions to climate change and in the latest and most high profile case Katrina victims are taking the big oil companies BP, Shell, Chevron Exxonmobile, to court.
So far displaced people have not been defined as refugees so they have no legal rights but countries could be expected to take a number of migrants equivalent to their contribution or compensate victims for their loss.
Myles Allan of Oxford University has set up models to predict how much climate change attributable to man has caused extreme weather conditions like the flooding here in the UK in 2000. Sophisticated modelling could make it easier to attribute blame and a recent ruling in the European Court means that victims of environmental crime should find it a lot easier to take their cases to court. Big insurance companies are already warning their clients to expect compensation suits but there is still some way to go before precedent has been set in the case of climate change and nobody knows what will happen once these floodgates have opened.
Tom Heap talks to victims of Katrina who are already taking lawsuits and flood victims in the UK on the anniversary of the 2000 flooding to find out whether the courts can really offer compensation where international governments have failed to act."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiders. Walnut orb- weaver. Nuctenea umbratica

I think its the time of year for watching spiders. Their webs are very obvious on a misty morning and that's why I found myself taking a few photos.

 Here is one taken in our garden shed at about 11 pm using a torch to try to focus on a quite strange looking black spider I noticed as I was putting our lawn mower away. That's my excuse for a poor picture. I am fairly sure I found its identification on the web site linked here.
Part of the description says that this spider shuns the light and hides at day. Sure enough when I went back next day it could not be seen. It is also one of the few UK spiders which can give a bite similar to a wasp sting so I will not be getting much closer. Its body looked quite like a walnut shell and quite unlike any other spider I've seen round here.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Acherontia atropos, known as the Death's Head Hawkmoth

I found it hard to accept that I was being shown a real live moth caterpillar but it was true. The third photograph shows its size and we understand it is not fully grown.  The moth itself we didnt see. Its the lava of the Deaths Head Hawkmoth.
More information can be obtained from the Somerset Moth Group.
Top picture  by John Bebbington others by Roger Harvey.
Here is a link to a photo showing the moth. Click here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why is it important? | Natural Environment White Paper

I hope this is self explanatory. This is a link to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Here you can see the views of  others and guidance  about the consultation from the Wildlife Trusts. This should help you to make your own response to the DEFRA invitation to comment.
Click on the link:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Somerset Wildlife Trust AGM

The Trusts AGM is on October 16th.
Guest speaker will be Nick Baker, well known wildlife TV presenter.
Try this link to a video showing Nick in action.