Lynx Release Refused
Secretary of State Michael Gove has personally taken the decision not to grant a licence for the release of six Eurasian lynx in Kielder Forest. In his letter to the Lynx UK Trust, he quoted advice given by Natural England that the application had no ecological impact assessment, no coherent plan for monitoring the impact and no exit strategy.
Gove Advocates Gene Editing
Speaking at a CLA conference, Michael Gove said that, once out of the EU, the UK could lead the way using gene editing technology to produce higher-yield crops that are resistant to diseases and resilient to climate change. Pressure has been mounting amongst the scientific community throughout Europe after the European Court of Justice ruled that gene editing was part of genetic modification and thus not commercially allowed in the EU. Other lobby groups, such as the Soil Association welcome the court judgement and insist that any form of genetic manipulation must remain banned.
Ash may survive Dieback
Scientists have suggested that ash forests may recover from the Chalara dieback caused by a fungus. Over the past twenty years, the disease has swept through Europe killing many of our ash trees. However, a recent survey has found that 30% of ash trees in forests and 15% in plantations survive the infection, prompting hopes of resistance. If a resistant strain can be developed from surviving trees, there is the chance that the devastation may be overcome.
Mediaeval Defences Deter Criminals
Farmers in the Cotswolds are building mediaeval defences to deter criminals in a scheme backed by the police. Banks and ditches have been the primary defence for land and property for hundreds of years and are now preventing access by poachers, hare coursers and thieves. The plant hire firm Smiths of Gloucester have been creating the barriers often using topsoil removed from building sites. Defences built two years ago are now becoming covered in grass and wildflowers whilst some farmers have planted hedges on top of the banks. A three foot high bank next to a two foot deep trench prevents any vehicles entering the land. The nine km of boundaries created so far have contributed to a significant reduction in rural crime.