Category: Nature

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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 Bylines 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 Bylines 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 […]

A better urban wildlife legacy

Nick Dobbs

At the heart of Bournemouth and Poole lies an extraordinary 37 hectare fragment of the once Great Heath that stretched uninterrupted from the Purbecks to the New Forest. Eighty per cent of heathland has been lost since 1800 and today the UK is the custodian of 20 per cent of this remaining habitat worldwide. Talbot […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land – part 3: what can be done?

Tony Whitehead

In the first two parts of this series I looked at the parlous state of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation. I gave reasons for how it came to be in such a poor state, and covered the influence of post war agricultural policy. In this final part, I will look at what can be […]

Welcoming prickly visitors

Helen Fairhurst

As nature starts to beckon in the spring, my thoughts turn to welcoming some prickly visitors. Each year I’m hopeful that I might see the return of hedgehogs on my little patch as they awake from hibernation. Sadly, the hedgehog population is in serious decline in the UK. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report […]

G stands for greenwash?

Tom Scott

As Cornwall prepares to host the G7 summit, destruction of the natural environment by the Carbis Bay Hotel is not a good look. Environmental campaigners in Cornwall have been expressing horror at the decision by the Carbis Bay Hotel – where G7 leaders will be convening in June – to destroy a swathe of coastal […]

Walking for health

Barbara Leonard

Just over a year ago I was one of small group of volunteer walk leaders sharing thoughts about a new virus being talked about on the news in the UK. Some of us had just returned from visits abroad where warnings about Covid 19 and measures to limit its spread were already happening, in sharp […]

Zebra crossing in the Masai Mara

Valery Collins

Driving through the Masai Mara Nature Reserve, I had to stop to let a herd of zebra cross the track in front of me. And not just zebra: wildebeest and the occasional giraffe as well. Mine was the only vehicle for miles around and wild animals were the only pedestrians on the vast open plain. […]

‘Woke wars’: let’s hear it for the National Trust’s long history of radicalism

Tom Scott

When the National Trust was founded, it wasn’t just ‘woke’ – it was revolutionary. Yesterday, the National Trust published an interactive online map that shows how climate change threatens the countryside, coastline and historic houses in its care – including many sites in the South West. Extreme heat and humidity, coastal erosion, landslides, floods and […]

Cornwall Greens say no to ‘sport fishing’ endangered bluefin tuna

Tom Scott

Cornwall Green Party condemns an “irresponsible” proposal to promote sport fishing of bluefin tuna off Cornish coast Cornwall Green Party has condemned the proposal by Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives, to promote “sport fishing” of bluefin tuna as a way of boosting tourist spending in Cornwall. Speaking for Cornwall Green Party, marine conservationist Samuel […]

From star to satellite – science in a post-Brexit world

David Love

In matters scientific, European nations do far better working together Our civilisation has advanced dramatically in the last few hundred years and we have only to look to the leaps made in science and technology to understand why. Yet how many people realise that a key element of science lies in cooperation between different nations?  […]

Nature on fire in Cornwall

Tom Scott

A fire, started deliberately, has destroyed more than 20 hectares of Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve in Cornwall On Tuesday night, a fire broke out at Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve, near Wadebridge in Cornwall. Despite efforts by firefighters from neighbouring towns, it was fanned by strong winds and went on to burn over several hours. The […]

Cornwall: climate emergency or business as usual?

Tom Scott

In 2019, Cornwall Council declared a climate emergency – but you wouldn’t guess it from some recent developments. Cornwall Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in January 2019 was accompanied by similar declarations by numerous Cornish town and parish councils, and was warmly welcomed by environmental campaigners. It seemed local councillors had finally grasped the […]

Gardening for wildlife: get ready for Spring!

Anna Andrews

The hours of daylight are slowly beginning to increase again and nature is responding to the lengthening days: spring is not all that far off. In February while the trees may still be stark and leafless, look really closely at the branches and you will almost certainly see the buds, the promise of this year’s […]

WCB online event: This Good Earth Q&A, 11 Feb, 8pm

Anthea Simmons

West Country Bylines is delighted to invite you to a special Q&A event following the release of Robert Golden’s powerful and elegiac film – This Good Earth. The film’s director, Robert Golden will be joined by Professor Timothy Lang, Professor of Food Policy, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London and Simon Holland, farmer […]

Winter gardening for wildlife: part 1 – feed the birds!

Anna Andrews

Continuing her series on gardening for wildlife, Anna Andrews looks at how to attract birds to your garden Ok, I know it’s not really ‘gardening’, but probably the best and most immediate way to help wildlife is to feed the birds, and virtually any outdoor space can be used whether you have a garden, a […]