CURRENT NEWS 18-03-21

  • Written by Andrew Davis
  • Posted on Mar 18, 2021
  • Articles

Hedgehog Campaign

A wildlife charity in Somerset is calling for the nests of hedgehogs to be given legal protection.  It e-petition has gathered 92,000 signatures, not far short of the 100,000 required for a parliamentary debate.  Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 50% in rural areas since 2000, according to one report, and the species is on the Red List of Britain’s mammals vulnerable to extinction.  The charity blames the destruction of habitat caused by building development.  There is no mention of predation by badgers, which is one of the main causes of the decline.

Englefield Partridges

A bird magazine has published an article highlighting the success of the English grey partridge project on the Englefield Estate near Theale, owned by the Benyon family.  The estate does not have ideal landscape for grey partridges but, by creating the right habitat including hedgerows, beetle banks, wild flower strips and conservation headlands in arable crops, the population has increased significantly.  When the project started in 2009, there were just two breeding pairs but the latest count shows that has grown to 70.  Across the European continent, grey partridge numbers have fallen by 94% since 1980.

Morrisons Net Zero

The supermarket giant Morrisons that claims to be British farming’s biggest supermarket customer, has announced that all its British meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables will be supplied by carbon neutral farms by 2030.  The NFU has a target of farming to be net zero by 2040, which many think is very ambitious.  The supermarket says it will work with its 3,000 farmer suppliers to achieve to overall target, starting with eggs in 2022.  A blueprint will be developed to show farmers how to become carbon neutral, but it is not clear what this will involve or what will happen if farmers fail to meet the target.

Sustainable Pesticide Use

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has published its submission to the Draft National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.  It calls for a more open-minded approach with more detailed consideration of unintended consequences.  Two examples quoted refer to recent controversy over the use of neonicotinoid insecticide on sugar beet and the continued use of the herbicide glyphosate.  In the case of sugar beet, serious loss of crop to virus yellows would lead to greater leaching of excess fertiliser with an impact on water quality.  A ban on the use of glyphosate would lead to more ploughing to bury unwanted vegetation with all the harm that brings including carbon loss and damage to the earthworm population.