Category: Nature

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The interminable Battle of Jesmond Wood

Adam Sofianos

Sometimes a small issue can cast a big shadow.  It just depends how much light you shine on it.  A small story can act as a signpost to much larger concerns.  This is certainly one of those. In June 2022 a team of demolition vehicles entered a small village wood in Highcliffe, Dorset.  They arrived […]

Wildlife, wilderness and the English landscape

Mick Fletcher

The contrast was dramatic and instructive. Only a day after walking around the deer park at Petworth House, I took a footpath through the grounds of Knepp Castle, a pioneering ‘rewilding’ project in the heart of Sussex. The two estates are less than half an hour apart by car, but a world apart in terms […]

Ghost gear: meet the heroes cleaning up our ocean’s frontline

Kristy Westlake

With our oceans quickly filling up with plastic and fish stocks dwindling, it’s time to start talking about the massive whale in the room: ghost gear. An enormous environmental problem caused by commercial fishing and fuelled by our ever-growing appetite for seafood. Kristy Westlake talks to some of the heroes on the ocean’s frontline and […]

Our rivers are dying: protest action in Totnes on Saturday 11 June

Editor-in-chief

Ocean Rebellion (Torbay & South Devon) will be hosting an action “Our rivers are dying” at Steamer Quay Totnes, Saturday 11 June 15:30 to 17:00. The purpose of the action is to promote public awareness that UK rivers are in rapid decline and rivers globally are in poor biological health. Ocean Rebellion also intend to call […]

Is Brixham in danger of being conned yet again?

Anthea Simmons

So many towns and villages across our region desperately need more funding to support the poor, the elderly and the young. Levelling Up funds strike many of us as a bit of pump-priming disguised as an ideological commitment to close the growing, yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots (the consequence of twelve years […]

Brixham Quay extension – is there a fishy whiff?

Editor-in-chief

With evidence building that so-called ‘levelling up’ money is being directed at places with Conservative MPs – and especially those at risk of losing their seats – you could not blame us for being a bit cynical about the rationale for the allocation of government funds. Our senses are now finely tuned to pick up […]

The joys of printing and XR

Leslie Tate
Tree of life

I interviewed Stroud-based printmaker and artist Nat Morley about her unique processes, her protest art and her time spent with Barrel Well Aboriginal Community, Australia. Nat was a prize-winning geographer at Oxford University, sings with Tewkesbury Abbey choir, and her artwork is on permanent display at the Cotswold Craftsmen Gallery in Nailsworth. Leslie: What are the main artistic medium/areas you work in? […]

The strange case of the disappearance of Dorset’s wildlife cops

Ian Denton
Dorset wildlife police officer

In late January 2022, Dorset had a strong and healthy wildlife cop presence. Positive messages abounded far and wide…. However, by February 10, there was a severe climate change…. Storm Loder blew in from the west and wrought havoc across the land: By the next day, the wildlife team was unable to communicate further! On […]

Greener, healthier, happier: Rosemoor works its magic

Anna Andrews
Magnolias at Rosemoor

“Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place.” So says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), a registered charity which promotes horticulture and helps gardeners, both present and retired. The Society provides information, practical advice, training, qualifications and bursaries, is involved in education, […]

A little universe is destroyed: an unintended consequence of the countryside stewardship grant

Rebecca Gethin

You might have read about the government’s commitment to safeguarding wildlife and conserving the environment which is, according to Defra’s newly-published road map, to be “the cornerstone of the government’s new agricultural policy, based on the principle of paying public money for public goods, such as clean air and water, thriving wildlife, engagement with the […]

Chris Loder: more jabbering parrot than soaring eagle

Sadie Parker
white tailed eagle soaring above Isle of Purbeck

“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber,” Winston Churchill once said of blathering back-bench MPs. An eagle silenced by death in Dorset had erstwhile pork-pie plotter, Chris Loder, now shamefully returned to the back-bench Borstal of Boris-backers, jabbering on social media recently. It is not known how the rare young eagle came […]

The Big Garden Birdwatch is on NOW! What will YOU see?

Anna Andrews
Goldfinch on a branch

Yes, it’s called the Big Garden Birdwatch, but you don’t have to have a garden to join in, so please do! Nearly everyone can take part if they want to: in a park, on a walk somewhere – especially a place where there are trees and hedges, or in a supermarket car park: anywhere there […]

Cat toys: do they pass the Percy test?

Anthea Simmons

Kittens will be…well, kittens! I had forgotten just how inquisitive, energetic and naughty kittens could be and as I watched Sir Percival of Ashburton ping from one work surface to another and then surf across the paperwork on the desk, tailed fuzzed up like a bog brush, I wondered how on earth I was going […]

Ecological confidence trick

Nick Dobbs
Horses standing in field at Highmoor Farm

At the heart of Bournemouth and Poole lies Talbot Heath Nature Reserve – an extraordinary 37-hectare fragment of the once ‘Great Heath’ that stretched uninterrupted from the Purbeck hills to the New Forest. Since 1800, 80 per cent of heathland has been lost worldwide, and today the UK is the custodian of 20 per cent […]

Starting a tree nursery

Buffy Fletcher
new tree nursery

It started with a throwaway remark. At an early, virtual meeting of the Westbury Sub Mendip parish tree group someone wondered aloud about whether it might be possible to start a tree nursery. One member left the Zoom call and returned after five minutes. He had consulted his wife and they were happy for us […]

Seagrass meadows, carbon capture and the hidden costs of pollution

Sadie Parker

Did you know that seagrass meadows are thirty-five times more effective at carbon capture than the typical tropical rainforest? Seagrass meadows account for only 0.1 per cent of the sea’s bed, but an estimated 10 per cent of its carbon capture. They are great for biodiversity, too. Scientists have found that they provide a habitat […]

For peat’s sake – restoring Dartmoor’s peatlands

Tony Whitehead

Peat is an accumulation of slowly decaying plant matter formed in cool wet conditions. It is a remarkable substance and one of the most important stores of carbon on the planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), globally the remaining area of near-natural peatland (more than three million km²) contains more […]

Looks like a U-bend partially unblocked with a U-turn. UPDATE

Clare Knight

Hmmm! We thought we were celebrating but…whilst all of us who wrote, shared and spoke out against the sewage scandal have had an effect, we aren’t there yet… Flooded with negative press, irate public, powerful memes and fantastic pressure from social media, the government have SEMI-capitulated in an attempt to arrest the political and public […]

Can we afford this government’s blasé attitude to dirty water?

Sadie Parker
Sewage discharge given green light

By now there can be very few people who have not seen the headlines about the astonishing number of Tory MPs who voted down the Lords’ Amendments after clause 78 of the Environment Bill to require sewage companies to make improvements, and to demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage. […]

National Meadows Day: a tale of two meadows

Miles King
meadow with orchids

Wildflower meadows have their day in the sun today, Saturday 3 July: National Meadows Day. National Meadows Day is a new thing, just a few years old, but it seems to have captured the public’s imagination, and rightly so. Because wildflower meadows encapsulate a beautiful coming-together of people and nature, creating something sublime which everyone […]

Cae Hir: a gem of a garden in Wales

Anna Andrews
Cae Hir Gardens - the circuar pond and wedding cake tree

Cae Hir is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited and if you ever get the chance to see it, I would absolutely recommend you go. It sits on the side of the valley of the little Bran river, near Lampeter (Llanbedr Pont Steffan) in west Wales.

A ban on the use of peat…or is it?

Mick Fletcher

News that the government is contemplating a partial ban on the use of peat in horticulture is welcome but needs to be put in context. A government that is serious about tackling climate change would have to take some really tough decisions. To reduce emissions from air travel for example it would have to face […]

Natural remedies: how you can help address the bio-diversity crisis

Anna Andrews

“The UK has ‘led the world’ in destroying the natural environment” The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) produces a ‘Red List’ of threatened species. Of 8341 UK species assessed under IUCN criteria, 41 per cent have declined since the 1970s and 15 per cent are threatened with extinction; 133 are already extinct. Those […]

Meet a mass murderer: the Asian hornet

Anna Andrews

I wrote in West Country Voices that bees are in trouble in the UK (they are in trouble in most parts of the world: apart from honeybees, most species are dropping in numbers); but one of the most urgent threats is not yet widely known about.  It comes from Asian hornets, which kill – amongst […]

Stop spraying dandelions and start feeding bees!

Anna Andrews

There is a tragedy unfolding across Britain’s fields, gardens and parks. Its victims may be small and easily overlooked but its consequences could affect us all. We are killing bees. Not usually deliberately; but we are poisoning them. In our quest to get rid of weeds and other unwanted plants, to cut down on work […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Voices event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]