CURRENT NEWS 17-10-19


Langholm Moor Report

The Joint Raptor Project was held in the 1990s on Langholm Moor.  There was a follow-up study lasting ten years to 2017 and the final report has just been published.  The second study was designed to show how raptors, particularly hen harriers, could be protected and nurtured whilst the moorland was improved and a commercial grouse shoot re-established.  The report shows that the heather had been markedly improved, not least by rotational burning, that many species had benefitted but not by as much as had been hoped.  In particular grouse numbers did not recover sufficiently to allow shooting.

Badger Cull may spread TB

A report by a group of scientists led by Sir Charles Godfray, a zoologist at Oxford University, suggests that the cull of badgers might be spreading bovine tuberculosis.  This is the perturbation effect where badgers in a cull zone mover further afield and was first found in the original trials.  Defra says that its own research shows that the badger cull is helping to reduce TB in cattle.  The results of its review will be published soon and it will respond to Professor Godfray in due course.

Harvest Results

The NFU has published the results of its 2019 harvest survey.  They show good yields, generally in excess of the five-year average.  Winter wheat achieved 8.8 tonnes per hectare compared to the 8.3 average, winter barley 7.4 compared to 7.0 and spring barley 5.9 compared to 5.7.  The one weak crop was oilseed rape which came in at 3.4 compared to 3.6, largely due to the difficulty in controlling flea beetle.

State of Nature Report

The latest State of Nature Report shows that a quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are continuing to decline and are at risk of extinction.  When plants, insects and fungi are added, one in seven of the 8,400 UK species assessed are at risk of disappearing on top of the 133 lost since 1500.  The report shows no significant improvement since its predecessor in 2016.  In response, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has published eight case studies of farms and estates where wildlife is flourishing, showing just what can be achieved given the right management.