Category: Nature

Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Bugs, bees and banned toxins

Milly James

There seems to be quite an upset brewing, understandably, over the government allowing the use of neonicotinoids in the UK after reports like “Government to let farmers use bee-killing pesticide banned by EU”  appeared in the press and across social media from environmentalists and the concerned public. The current reporting on the renewed use of […]

Something lost to find again

Catrina Davies

Catrina Davies discovered her true self in Europe. In September she left Cornwall for Portugal, from where she reflects on severance, belonging and betrayal. When I was ten my parents took me and my sisters to France for a week. We drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, all squashed into our Citroen AX, disembarked in […]

This sting cannot be sugar-coated

Anna Andrews

Bees are good.  We all know that, don’t we.  Bees are good.  Pests are bad.  Farmers need to kill pests so they can grow our food and they use pesticides to do that.  So why would they want to use pesticides which kill bees? Many chemicals which kill pests also kill bees and other insects […]

Environment Box Set

Editor-in-chief
path through broad-leaved woodland

In case you missed them or ar e hungry for a binge read, here is a selection of articles on environmental issues from our first five months: You can read Part 2 of Tony’s series on Dartmoor here. Part 3 will be published in January.

Hearts of Oak

Canon Robin Murch

Since I was a child I have always had a love of oak trees. In the war years my anxious mother would send my brother and me into the garden to play. It was a nice sizeable garden with a good chicken run to interest us. There at the end of the garden stood a […]

2020’s Christmas ‘star’: the great conjunction of the giants

Bob Mizon
Saturn, Jupiter and Milky Way above Dunkery Beacon

At dusk during the fortnight before Christmas this year, an intriguing event plays low in the western sky for those with an unobstructed view of the horizon. Stepping out into the night from 11 December, if the sky is free of cloud and light pollution we see stars beginning to appear around 5pm, as darkness […]

Farming after Brexit

Miles King

We left the EU in January 2020 and it’s now less than a month before the transition period ends.  Depending on how you look at it, we are once again a ‘sovereign state’ able to take back control and make our own decisions – as if we were not free to do so before. Or […]

Cornish beaches top anthropogenic litter league

Bernard Deacon

It is becoming ever more starkly apparent that human activity and over-exploitation is having a disastrous effect on species and habitats in the marine environment. Pollution, particularly by plastics, over-exploitation of fishing grounds and climate change are producing a lethal cocktail of habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity – at sea as well as on […]

Green industrial revolution or greenwash?

Miles King

Earlier this week I imagined, not altogether seriously, how Boris Johnson came to create his ten point plan for the climate, or the green industrial revolution, if you like. At the time, there was no detail other than the prime minister’s article in the Financial Times and a shortish press release. Now the government has […]

Hooray! We are taking back control…of GM

Simon Chater

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. There are precious few upsides to Brexit, but here’s one. We’re coming out of the EU’s dysfunctional system for regulating genetically modified (GM) crops! What do we know? It’s a quarter of a century since the first GM crop, a tomato modified to prolong its […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part two: cause and effect

Tony Whitehead
view of Dartmoor, close-cropped yellowed grass

In the second of three articles, environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers how Dartmoor’s nature came to be in such a poor state. In part one, I paid attention to two of Dartmoor’s key wildlife habitats: the blanket bogs and upland heaths. Over the past 150 years, Dartmoor’s blanket bogs were cut for peat, drained for […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 1: how meaningful is protection?

Tony Whitehead

Environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers the extent to which Dartmoor’s nature is protected, and the shocking condition of its protected sites. On 28 September Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030. A fine ambition, of course, and to be welcomed. In the government statement that accompanied the announcement […]

Nature and environment boxed set

Anthea Simmons

We are lucky enough to have some excellent writers covering environmental issues. We thought you might appreciate having this selection to dip into, in case you missed any of the articles first time round. Maybe you would like to add a piece of your own? Do you work in conservation? Are you a wildlife fan? […]

Will we really be protecting 30 per cent of the land?

Mick Fletcher

My ears pricked up when I heard that the Prime Minister had committed to “protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030”. The pledge, made at a UN summit on biodiversity, sounds both ambitious and a welcome response to the environmental challenges facing the planet. With Johnson, however, the disappointment is usually in […]

It doesn’t have to be this way

Jo Miller

Editor: We are putting this out on #WorldMentalHealthDay because we feel that this short piece from the heart sums up what so many people are feeling right now. There has to be a better way and we have to do more than hope. We must be the change. We shared a tweet last week that […]

Tears of a ghost

Chris Baker

The dead hedgehog was clearly the previous night’s roadkill. The body was fresh, judging from the staining on the asphalt. It had been hit ten or so feet away from where it had died, its last short, slow journey made, I imagine, in agony. The place where it died is now marked by a ghost. […]

Gardening for wildlife: ideas for the autumn

Anna Andrews

Wildlife in the UK is struggling with more than half of our native species in decline and one in seven facing extinction. Faced with these depressing forecasts, it is sometimes easy to forget that many of us can actually do something to help slow the decline, by making our outside space more nature-friendly. Anna Andrews […]

Ash Dieback and the extinction cascade

Mick Fletcher

My children have never seen a full-grown elm tree, once one of the glories of the English countryside. My grandchildren may be the last generation to see an ash tree, a similarly well-loved feature of our current landscape. The Woodland Trust estimate that up to 95 per cent of the two billion ash trees in […]

Government plans to weaken nature protections

Miles King

I’m not much a Zoom enthusiast but the invitation to listen to Defra secretary of state George Eustice give a “major” speech on the environment, via Green Alliance, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. So, having finally got zoom to work on my computer, I sat and listened to him talk for 15 […]

Forestry rethink needed after barbecue inferno.

Miles King

The ground was bone dry and everything was flowering early. I was up at Poundbury (near Dorchester), checking on an area of wildflower meadow that I’d arranged to have sown. After the incessant downpours of the Autumn and Winter, the rain stopped. Then we had just 60mm of rain across two months. It was yet […]