Emergency use of neonicotinoid pesticide to put bees at risk

Emergency use of neonicotinoid pesticide to put bees at risk

A recent article by BBC News highlights the approval of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam for sugar beet crops in England in 2022. The pesticide is banned from outdoor use in almost all EU countries due to the risk to pollinator populations. The emergency is a risk of viruses spread by aphids which could potentially affect 70% of the national sugar beet crop and has come a relief to farmers. The government advises that the decision has not been made lightly and contingencies have been put into place following the use of the pesticide. However, the potential risk to pollinating insects, soils and rivers has been met with criticism by The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations questioning the government ignoring expert advice.   Do you think the benefits outweigh the potential risks? ...
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The Quadruple Whammy For Christmas

The Quadruple Whammy For Christmas

The press are predicting a difficult winter period, the so called quadruple whammy of Covid-19, influenza, Brexit and climate change (flooding). We hope it will be much better than that. With good fortune and good behaviour the second spike of coronavirus can be avoided. Flu vaccines are already being shipped and in the Southern Hemisphere, now in winter, measures to prevent Covid-19 infection are reducing the number of flu infections.  The hit to the economy from Covid-19 is many fold greater than anything predicted for Brexit. In any event, the EU is in as much Covid-19 turmoil as we are. With international travel at its highest ever level pre-pandemic, this horrible virus spread around the world quickly and although we had some time to react, the ponderous response by Western Governments was fuelled by liberal economists and a series of experts (herd community?) relying on the precedents of other viruses. Always look outside the box my friends, always. The shutdown was late (but...
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Can Nature Improve Our Mood During Lockdown

Can Nature Improve Our Mood During Lockdown

‘A walk-in nature, walks the soul back home’ - Mary Davis The environments that we are confined to can impact our body, mind and spirit profoundly. What we hear, touch, smell and see can not only affect our mood but our nervous, endocrine and immune systems as well. Say you are in a stressful environment, your heart rate goes up, elevating your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension, suppressing your body’s systems. You would find that the opposite happens in a relaxed and more pleasant environment like a spa or a walk in the woods listening to bird song. Being in nature or even just viewing nature from a window can reduce feelings of anger, pain and stress. We are literally genetically programmed to find elements of nature engrossing as we humans were not made to sit inside all day. Nature can lower the production of stress hormones and researchers have even stated that it could reduce mortality. Even a single potted...
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Tree Killing Beetles

Tree Killing Beetles

Did you know that elm trees were nearly wiped out by a fungal disease carried by beetles?Before elm was disseminated by beetles carrying a microfungi, it was the second most important broad leaf timber in Britain to oak. Like oak, it was of great landscape importance and formed an important component of our native woodland, supporting a wide range of fauna and flora.Elm hosts around 80 species of invertebrates such as the rare White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) and in spring, its early pollen is sought after by many insects including honey bees. Elms are also a very important food source for songbirds, game birds and squirrels as their seeds develop long before many other seeds are available.Over the past century there have been two pandemics of Dutch Elm Disease (DEM) caused by two separate but related species of Asian microfungi, Ophiostoma ulmi and O. novo-ulmi. The non-native microfungi are dispersed by bark beetles of the genera Scolytus and Hylurgopinus. These beetles are no larger...
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Britain’s Beavers

Britain’s Beavers

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fibre) is native to the UK and used to be widespread across England, Scotland and Wales. Beavers became extinct here in the 16th century, because of hunting for their pelt, meat and a secretion called castoreum which they use to mark their territory. The latter was once highly prized for use in perfumes, food and medicine. Over the past decade major efforts have been underway to reintroduce beavers into the British countryside. As a result, the Eurasian beaver has shown good recovery across much of its range. The National Trust recently announced that two pairs of beaver will be released in the south of England next spring, after their plans were approved by Natural England. These releases are part of the National Trust's wider plan to restore 25,000 hectares of "wildlife-rich" habitats by 2025. One pair is to be released into a fenced woodland in Holnicote near Exmoor in Somerset. The other pair is to be...
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Insect Declines Matter!

Insect Declines Matter!

We are witnessing the largest extinction event on earth since the late Permian… in other words, 250 million years ago. Over the past 50 years we have reduced Earths wildlife abundance dramatically and many of the species that were once prevalent are now few and far between. Much of our attention is given to large charismatic animals and little is given to the smaller, some say, less attractive animals. There are around one million known insect species, 41% of which are threatened with extinction. Staggeringly, there are estimated to be another four million insect species that we have yet to discover [1]. Although we are decades away from cataloguing the insect diversity of this planet, it is likely that many species will be lost before we ever recognised they existed. More recently, evidence suggests that insect abundance has fallen by more than 50% since 1970, yet most people are unaware and have not even noticed that anything has changed....
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