News stories from 2011
Last updated: 3 November 2011.
Since newspapers are constantly rearranging their archives, some of the links on this page may now be broken. If you're interested in a particular story and you can't reach it from the link here, try copying the title of the story and pasting it into your favourite search engine.
Please note that the newest news stories are on our home page.
Sun, 30 Oct 2011: November river events!: Still plenty of events happening on your local river: walks, talks, hands-on conservation and more to enjoy among the autumn leaves!
Sun, 30 Oct 2011: Salmon bounce back in New York: Wild Atlantic salmon are back in New York State's Salmon River for the third year in a row after over an absence of over a century.
Fri, 28 Oct 2011: Canoers and anglers battle on the Avon: How very unfortunate: another river-access row has broken out, this time in Salisbury. With talk of shotguns and razor wire, isn't it time the anglers and the paddlers sat down and sorted this issue out amicably, once and for all?
Fri, 28 Oct 2011: Environment Agency gets another audit drubbing: The National Audit Office has criticized the Environment Agency for the quality of its flood risk data. No small matter, since the annual cost of flooding in England is over a billion pounds and rising.
Fri, 28 Oct 2011: Worcester river regeneration is complete!: A new river crossing and the regeneration of the Severn waterside are some of the features of a shiny new river revamp in the city of Worcester.
Fri, 28 Oct 2011: New Facebook group for the flooded: Flood Group UK has been set up to bring together people affected by (or at risk from) flooding.
Tue, 25 Oct 2011: More power to the Thames!: Mapledurham has followed Windsor Castle's example and installed hydropower turbines to make electricity from the River Thames.
Tue, 25 Oct 2011: Rossport resistance continues as Shell deliveries grind to a halt: The long-running local resistance to Shell's gas pipeline project shows no sign of abating.
Mon, 24 Oct 2011: Belfast walk of the week: River Blackstaff: Another great walk from the Belfast Telegraph, this week following level stone paths, and with a wheelchair route available too.
Mon, 24 Oct 2011: Pond diggers set a record!: Congratulations to Pond Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and friends who successfully dug 50 ponds in 24 hours last weekend.
Mon, 24 Oct 2011: Time's up for tackling warming?: Well no-one knows, of course. But climate scientists think the chances of keeping warming below two degrees are increasingly slim.
Mon, 24 Oct 2011: Tamar Bridge celebrates 50 years: This is probably many people's favourite river crossing, marking, as it does, the symbolic entry to Cornwall. You also get great views of Brunel's bridge next door!
Mon, 24 Oct 2011: Meter readings: app happy!: What's the single biggest contribution you can make to tackling climate change? Probably trying to cut your household energy use. I've managed to do this just about every year for the last six years—and the first step is to graph your meter readings. You can do it easily in a spreadsheet... or you can use one of the handy smartphone apps now appearing. It will, of course, also save you a lot of money.
Sat, 22 Oct 2011: Independent climate studies concludes: it's getting warmer: The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) study was set up as an indepedent check on climate science. Now it's firmly backed the idea that Earth is warming.
Fri, 21 Oct 2011: UK claims breakthrough on Euro fish stocks: The UK has argued that cutting fish quotas is not the right approach if stock data is not reliable.
Fri, 21 Oct 2011: Check before you burn!: If you must have an autumn bonfire, be sure to check your woodpile first for toads, hedgehogs, and other wildlife snuggling up for the winter, say the Wildlife Trusts.
Thu, 20 Oct 2011: 400 fish saved in River Churn: Low water levels in some rivers are still causing problems. This week, the Agency averted disaster with a timely fish rescue in Gloucestershire.
Thu, 20 Oct 2011: Other planets may harbour watery worlds: New NASA studies suggest Earth is far from the only planet with a watery atmosphere.
Wed, 19 Oct 2011: Planning consultation will turn out to be a sham: NGOs have marked the end of the public consultation on planning reform with renewed statements of concern. Have we learned nothing about "public consultations" from such infamous examples as the "public consultation" on nuclear power a few years ago? Prepare for a rubber-stamping of the original proposal with a few token concessions here and there.
Mon, 17 Oct 2011: NI Walk of the Week: River Blackwater: The Belfast Times has another great walk this week, taking in the 320-acre estate of The Argory and the River Blackwater.
Sat, 15 Oct 2011: Help Pond Conservation dig 50 ponds this weekend!: Volunteers will be working with Pond Conservation and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARGUK) to set a world record for pond conservation on 22-23 October. Why not get involved?
Fri, 14 Oct 2011: Juniper: "Nature does not do bailouts": Former Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper questions why the government is so far adrift of its promise to be "the greenest ever".
Fri, 14 Oct 2011: Responsible Irish fishing with PISCES: A new scheme sets higher standards for responsible fishing in the Irish sea.
Fri, 14 Oct 2011: If nuclear power is such a costly failure, why is it still being pursued?: Chris Huhne stated this week that nuclear power may "be the most expensive failure of post-war British policy-making". Why, then, is his coalition government so determined to push ahead with new nuclear stations that risk repeating the costly mistakes of the past?
Fri, 14 Oct 2011: Wild otters spotted at Leighton Moss: Visitors to the RSPB's Leighton Moss reserve in Cumbria were delighted by a rare chance encounter with wild otters this week.
Thu, 13 Oct 2011: Tracing pollution from source to sea: Over the next week, contractors working for the Environment Agency will be walking over 1100km of rivers and streams trying to trace the reason for pollution on beaches in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside.
Thu, 13 Oct 2011: Dalgety Bay radiation scare continues: The long-running saga of nuclear contamination in Dalgety Bay has been running for over 20 years.
Thu, 13 Oct 2011: River Dore is drying out: Record low water levels in Herefordshire have put the River Dore at Peterchurch under immense pressure.
Thu, 13 Oct 2011: Government is failing nature say green groups: 29 of the UK's leading wildlife groups have rounded on a series of government failures of environment policy, from foresty and planning "reforms" to the planned cull of badgers.
Wed, 12 Oct 2011: Ramsay Bay becomes new Marine Nature Reserve: Wildlife groups are delighted by the news that Ramsey Bay has a new level of protection from damaging activities such as overfishing.
Sat, 8 Oct 2011: Seahorses upon Thames!: Amazing news that the short-snouted seahorse has been discovered in the River Thames at Greenwich.
Sat, 8 Oct 2011: Living Lands and Waters launches floating classroom: This impressive American group we've been following for a few years has just launched an exciting new project: a 50m (150-ft) floating barge that will teach students about the ecology, history, and economy of US rivers.
Sat, 8 Oct 2011: Opening the gates to the River Nene: A new policy of opening dock gates on the River Nene at high tides seems to be paying dividends, with higher fish numbers reported by local anglers.
Sat, 8 Oct 2011: Big Pond Dip 2011: Results are in!: Did you take part in Pond Conservation's Big Pond Dip earlier this year? If so, you can check out the findings (and study the trends from the last three years).
Fri, 7 Oct 2011: Upper Clyde Valley quarry sparks row: A plan for a riverside quarry at Biggar has caused consternation among local river lovers.
Fri, 7 Oct 2011: Another company goes cold on new nukes: German-owned RWE is "reviewing" its commitment to building two nuclear power plants in Britain, with some industry watchers convinced it will scale down or withdraw from the programme.
Thu, 6 Oct 2011: Public consultations on the Studland to Portland cSAC: Natural England has announced local consultations on plans for a new marine cSAC off the coast of Dorset.
Wed, 5 Oct 2011: Limavady sewage dumping outrage!: Good old civilization, eh? We can make chess-playing computers and put astronauts into space, but we still can't figure out what to do with our poop.
Tue, 4 Oct 2011: Kingfishers bouncing back?: A survey of river lovers has found that 60 percent have spotted kingfishers recently, despite sharp recent declines in numbers of the birds.
Sat, 1 Oct 2011: Chinese mitten crab survey begins: Scientists from a number of UK research institutions are mounting a big survey of those pesky alien-invading mitten crabs this autumn—and they're asking us to record any sightings online.
Sat, 1 Oct 2011: Coalition government's growing contempt for the environment: How much evidence do we need that this is the least green government in recent memory? Following the (proposed) decimation of the planning system, we now have a rollback of recycling to weekly bin collections, and a proposed raising of the motorway speed limit. The coalition government doesn't "get" the environment at all—and never will.
Sat, 1 Oct 2011: Pondathon! Help Pond Conservation dig 50 ponds in 24 hours: Have spade, will travel? If so, you could help the latest part of Pond Conservation's strategy to return wetlands to the UK with a pond-digging blitz in Essex later this month.
Sat, 1 Oct 2011: CPRE warns of 'silence of the plans': Almost half of all English councils will be without effective planning strategies when changes to the planning system come into force next year, CPRE has warned.
Sat, 1 Oct 2011: Wales bag tax shows political leadership: In marked contrast to what's happening in Westminster, the Welsh government has defied corporate interests and implemented a tax on plastic bags.
Fri, 30 Sep 2011: Burma: Another dam bites the dust!: Opponents of a giant dam at Myitsone are celebrating this week after the project was put on hold.
Fri, 30 Sep 2011: Geoengineering experiment put on hold: SPICE, an experiment to test adding aerosols to the atmosphere to reduce climate change, has been put on hold for six months as scientists answer questions about its social impacts.
Fri, 30 Sep 2011: Irish sea cod collapse caused by overfishing: Do we need scientists to state the obvious? Clearly, yes we do. Stocks of cod in the Irish Sea and the west Scottish coast have collapsed because we still can't grasp that the seas are a finite resource.
Fri, 30 Sep 2011: Hampshire salmon anglers hang up their rods: Time to put that rod away now the salmon fishing has closed for the winter, the Environment Agency reminds us.
Thu, 29 Sep 2011: Bioenergy under scrutiny from WWF: A new report from WWF looks at the pros and cons of biofuels, and the environmental safeguards they need.
Tue, 27 Sep 2011: Jellyfish becomes unlikely model: A photo of a yellfish by Richard Shucksmith has scooped this year' British Wildlife Photography Awards.
Thu, 22 Sep 2011: How does a fish pass work?: A nice short video from the BBC and the Environment Agency's Ben Wilson tells you all you need to know.
Thu, 22 Sep 2011: Government softens on planning?: After strident statements from Eric Pickles and George Osborne, planning minister Greg Clark has wisely adopted a more conciliatory line.
Thu, 22 Sep 2011: Boosting the River Itchen: An interesting reversal on the problem of over-abstraction faced by lots of rivers (see the Panorama episode below): the Environment Agency is pumping water into the Itchen to boost levels.
Thu, 22 Sep 2011: India: How to save the Ganga: Always interesting to read how rivers are faring elsewhere. Here's an interesting article about tackling wastewater and abstraction on the Ganga.
Thu, 22 Sep 2011: Protect our Wight waves!: SAS campaigners on the Isle of Wight are asking supporters to attend a public meeting on the island on Sunday 25 September, to discuss a proposed harbour development at Freshwater Bay that threatens a top surfing break.
Tue, 20 Sep 2011: Planning reforms put wildlife in peril: The government's proposals to chop through planning guidance will have a dramatic effect on protected wildlife sites, according to The Wildlife Trusts.
Tue, 20 Sep 2011: Trent Rivers Trust seeks part-time help: The Trust's website is currently carrying an advertisment for someone to help out the organization with general admin and stuff.
Mon, 19 Sep 2011: Panorama: Drinking our rivers dry: Still a few days to watch the excellent Panorama episode about over-abstraction from rivers. Lots of talking heads, but the basic message (we all need to use less water) got through loud and clear.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: Habitat loss is newt good news: I thought I'd try another wincing pun headline. Natural England has a new report about the continued decline of newts. But try to interest them in planning applications where newts are under threat, and do they want to know?
Tue, 13 Sep 2011: Seabirds seek shelter on the Severn: Slimbridge Wetland Centre is looking after seabirds blown hundreds of miles off course by recent stormy weather.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: Are we drinking our rivers dry?: Look out for a great Panorama this Monday evening (19 September) on over-abstraction (excessive water removal) from the UK's rivers. WWF explain the background here.
Sat, 17 Sep 2011: Dammed if you don't! We salute you dambusters!: American Rivers and the other members of the US dam-busting movement mark a huge milestone this weekend with the biggest ever dam removal (to date) on Washington's Elwha River. Congratulations to you all for your excellent work over many, many years!
Sat, 17 Sep 2011: Cruising for a river cruise?: The Telegraph reviews your options if you're seeking a senic European cruise on the Danube or the Rhine.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: RSPB: Hands off those hedges: Don't trim trees, hedges, or bushes just yet say the bird folk.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: UK will miss legally binding climate targets in 2017: No, really? Richard Black explains why the UK will "narrowly" miss carbon budgets by 2017, then by ever-increasing amounts after that.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: There'll be a mill come in the valleys: Oh to write bad pun headlines in a redtop paper. Welsh farmer Tegwyn Jones is exploring the options for hydropower on his farm in mid-Wales.
Fri, 16 Sep 2011: Carbon offsetting: scam or not?: Duncan Clarke, a master of environmental communication, summarizes the pros and cons of carbon offsetting in this extract from one of his Rough Guide books.
Tue, 13 Sep 2011: Top of the slops: composting is king!: A new report by Friends of the Earth busts the myth that people hate recycling food waste; apparently, over 80 percent are happy with local-council food recycling bins.
Tue, 13 Sep 2011: Putting ponds on the agenda: Interesting news item from Pond Conservation explaining their efforts to get ponds properly covered by the National Ecosystem Assessment and the Natural Environment White Paper.
Thu, 8 Sep 2011: Marine areas must be protected!: The Wildlife Trusts are reminding the government of its commitment to protect at least 25% of English waters by 2016.
Mon, 12 Sep 2011: David Walliams beats the Thames!: Congratulations to David Walliams, whose amazing 225-km (140-mile) Thames swim over the last week has raised over £1.1 million for Sport Relief. And there's still time to sponsor him if you haven't already!
Mon, 12 Sep 2011: Floating park plan for River Thames: More Olympic frippery, or a valuable way to explore the river in the heart of London? You decide!
Sun, 11 Sep 2011: Walliams prepares for final leg of Thames swim: The last leg is the hardest as David Walliams enters the tidal, sewage-strewn stretch of the river through central London.
Sat, 19 Sep 2011: Never mind the otters; "our rivers" are still suffering: The Our Rivers campaign has spoken up against the Environment Agency's recent misleading press release on 10 improved rivers, highlighting 10 other rivers where all is far from healthy.
Thu, 8 Sep 2011: Hundreds of fish die in Lincolnshire overheating: A huge number of fish, mainly roach, died near Spalding last week when high temperatures pushed oxygen levels down.
Thu, 8 Sep 2011: Windsor Castle to go water powered: More royal commitment to the environment this week with the news that two Archimedes screws will be installed on the Thames to power the lights at Windsor.
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Planning row: talk to the Pickled hand!: CPRE have accused government ministers Eric Pickles and George Osborne of being overly confrontational on the crucial issue of planning law reforms.
Thu, 1 Sep 2011: Consultation begins on Studland cSAC: Another day, another proposed marine protection area! The area from Studland to Portland is half the size of the New Forest National Park and a marine wonderland well worth protecting.
Thu, 1 Sep 2011: "Rivers still grubby" say WWF: Rose Timlett of WWF has a short letter in the papers qualifying the recent Environment Agency claim that UK rivers are the healthiest for 20 years.
Thu, 8 Sep 2011: Is the Walliams Thames challenge turning into a river PR disaster?: You can't really admire David Walliams enough for taking on the River Thames. What an absolutely amazing thing to attempt—and he's already covered 52 miles, which is over twice the width of the English Channel. And yet, the Environment Agency's PR department must be sobbing this week as the newspapers report how the much-admired entertainer is falling victim to "the sewage-infested River Thames" (The Sun), "a stomach-churning cocktail of bacteria" (The Sun), "the water, which contains bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and hepatitis" (The Telegraph), and "avoid the 39million cubic metres of raw sewage that fill the Thames each year" (The Sun). Oh dear. Perhaps the Agency can devote a bit more time to explaining why all that sewage (five times the volume of chalk excavated to make the Channel Tunnel) still ends up in the river and a bit less time talking about otters?
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Where's Walliams?: As I swam in a very choppy, wind-whipped sea for about half an hour this afternoon, I thought of David Walliams slurping his way down the Thames for the next week. He shares his thoughts on the challenge here.
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Exporting bad rivers?: There's been lots of crowing in the papers over the last week following yet another Environment Agency PR blitz from Ian Barker: "Rivers in England and Wales are the healthiest for over 20 years and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning for the first time since the industrial revolution." Great, so how has that been possible? Let's be critical, because there's really no point in being anything else. How much of this success is down to the export of manufacturing industry to countries such as China, where river pollution is now rife? Greenpeace's recent Dirty Laundry report made the connections between western companies who'd exported textile manufacturing to China and that country's toxic water pollution. According to that report, China has among the worst water pollution in the world with up to 70% of inland waters affected by pollution. The Pearl River Delta region—one of China's economic engine rooms—provides water to over 47 million people, but dramatic economic growth since the 1970s has brought equally dramatic water pollution, with over 60% of waterways now classed as polluted. If it's true that we have exported bad rivers along with manufacturing industry, the news that British rivers are better than at any time "since the industrial revolution" is a hollow victory.
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Last call for pond monitoring workshops!: Just a few days left to register for Pond Conservation's training workshops this coming weekend in Wales.
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Little Britain on Thames: Actor and comedian David Walliams is swimming the Thames over the next week to raise money for Sport Relief. Why not follow the link and sponsor him?
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Celebrating the return of the River Wear: Euan Ferguson delights in "the Wear's return from the dead".
Mon, 5 Sep 2011: Scottish beaches are a sewage disgrace!: The Scotsman reports on new SEPA figures that reveal Scottish beaches are still failing 35-year-old sewage discharge limits. Hopeless!
Fri, 2 Sep 2011: River Stour leaps forward: More river resortation success from the Environment Agency.
Thu, 1 Sep 2011: Protecting Dogger Bank: Environment Minister Richard Benyon has announced that Dogger Bank has been given candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) status.
Thu, 1 Sep 2011: Towards sustainable surfing: SAS just issued a guide to how surfers can reduce their pressure on the planet.
Mon, 29 Aug 2011: Walk of the week: River Lagan: The Belfast Telegraph's marvellous series of country walks continues with a wander round the Lagan Valley (just a stone's throw from the centre of Belfast).
Fri, 26 Aug 2011: Housebuilders will cash in on lax planning regime: Those canny planning buffs at CPRE point out how housebuilders are secretly driving attempts to water down Britain's planning system.
Tue, 30 Aug 2011: BUSTED! How the Environment Agency has spun the news on river quality (again): Thank you, John Vidal of The Guardian, for picking up the Environment Agency on their tendency to spin the statistics on river water quality. We've been saying this for over a decade!
Sat, 27 Aug 2011: Government welcomes houseboats: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has signalled to councils that they should allow more houseboats on the UK's waterways.
Sat, 27 Aug 2011: When is a river not a river?: The widely reported subterranean Amazon "river" is not actually a river at all, it turns out.
Fri, 26 Aug 2011: Agency moves swiftly to save River Lyd: Devon knows they don't make it creamy: an oil leak from a cooling system at an Ambrosia plant caused problems in the River Lyd this week, but the Environment Agency moved quickly to prevent lasting harm.
Fri, 26 Aug 2011: Greenpeace launches UK anti-nuclear challenge: Climate secretary Chris Huhne has failed to take full account of the Fukushima disaster in his ongoing plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants, Greenpeace will argue in a detailed legal challenge this week.
Thu, 25 Aug 2011: Talking climate scepticism: What's the best way to address people who dispute climate change? Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe takes an honest approach.
Tue, 23 Aug 2011: Farmland birds are plummeting: According to the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, farmland birds are at an all-time low.
Tue, 23 Aug 2011: Nature is the healer: The Government has published another "nature is vital to our health, wealth and happiness" study this week. Great so, as we said last week, let's see that reflected in government policies on energy, planning, transport, aviation...
Tue, 23 Aug 2011: Be a South West bug champion!: Buglife is seeking an Assistant Conservation Officer for its South West England team, with a mission "to stop invertebrate extinctions and to raise awareness of these incredible animals". Closing date is 9th September.
Tue, 23 Aug 2011: Last of the summer wildfowl: WWT is encouraging us all to 'Wind Down by the Water' at one of its wildfowl and wetland centers as we head from summer into autumn.
Sun, 21 Aug 2011: Paddlers defeat pollution in LA: A great story of determination from the USA, where the Los Angeles River has been opened to kayakers and canoers for the first time in many years.
Sun, 21 Aug 2011: NZ Greens put rivers at the top of the agenda: It's not often we hear rivers dominating politics, but in New Zealand the Green Party has announced its determination to tackle poor water quality and over-abstraction.
Sat, 20 Aug 2011: You and me, we're polluting China's rivers!: It's fashionable to sneer at the Chinese with their nasty coal power stations and dirty rivers. But the power stations fuel our western obsession with cheap, disposable garbage. And the rivers are being polluted by, you guessed it, western firms working in China (or Chinese firms working for the West). Greenpeace exposed the problem in a recent report called "Dirty Laundry".
Sat, 20 Aug 2011: New oil exploration threatens sea-bird colonies: RSPB wants the government to consider seabird colonies before rashly allowing more oil exploration in important coastal habitats. But why allow any exploration at all in a world doomed to potentially dangerous climate change?
Sat, 20 Aug 2011: Hydropower arrives on the River Wharfe: The government has been trying to encourage small-scale hydro schemes; here's another new one: Greenholme Mill in Burley, Wharfdale, which will produce electricity for 300 homes.
Thu, 18 Aug 2011: Otters are back—but what about everything else?: It's great to hear from the Environment Agency about the major recovery in otters, which they say are now "found in every county in England". Excellent! However, the Agency PR machine has gone into overdrive as usual, dragging the lazy, unquestioning media behind it. The assumption, as always, is that because otters have recovered everything is fine with our rivers. The Agency's Alastair Driver comments: "Rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years, and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to many rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution". Pretty much the usual Agency half-truth: a statement painted with such a broad brush, focusing on a handful of photogenic species, and concealing all that's very wrong and all that needs to be done.
Thu, 18 Aug 2011: Government wildlife strategy (politely) slammed by green groups: Green groups have to be polite about government announcements: it doesn't do to be overly negative. So when Defra unveiled its "New strategy to save and protect England's Wildlife" this week, there were polite mutters about "good intentions" from NGOs such as Buglife and FoE. What the NGOs aren't very good at doing is pointing out glaring contradictions between government departments: while one side of government is trying to massively deregulate the planning system, unleashing all kinds of wildlife damage for years to come, another is pushing an unwanted and inefficient high-speed rail link through ancient woodlands, and a third is promoting environmentally unhelpful nuclear power stations and new coastal oil exploration, half-hearted wildlife strategies (from one of the least influential government departments of them all) are so much greenwash and hot air. CPRE, thankfully, did mention that the wildlife strategy would be "frustrated, if not impossible, without a fundamental rethink of the Government's proposals for planning reform".
Thu, 18 Aug 2011: Peter Scott's Observations on Wildlife is back on sale: The much-loved naturalist's book of wildlife paintings goes on sale again this month.
Wed, 17 Aug 2011: Barefoot on the north-east beaches with SAS!: SAS continue their national beach-cleaning tour this bank-holiday week with a blitz on littered sands oop North.
Wed, 17 Aug 2011: Kayaking around Wales: A group of intrepid paddlers are setting off soon to "circumnavigate" Wales by sea Kayak to raise money for Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. More from the Howies blog here.
Mon, 15 Aug 2011: Barbel spotting on the River Wye: Join the BBC's Richard Uridge on a half-hour journey along the River Wye, looking out for barbel and wondering where the salmon have gone. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Open Country on Saturday 13 Aug 2011.
Sun, 14 Aug 2011: "Panic on the streets of London"? A river runs through it...: As the politicians interrupt their holidays, the talking heads chatter, the academics scratch their beards, and the red-top newspapers brim with vile bile and recriminations, one thing remains indisputable in riot-ruffled Britain: environmental projects that encourage people to take a pride in their local communities will only ever be a force for good. For those of us who run community groups and environmental projects, there's never been a better time to reach out to young people...
Sun, 14 Aug 2011: New surveys of Scottish seas: Over 2,200 square miles of the Scottish seas will be subject to biodiversity surveys this year.
Fri, 12 Aug 2011: Aung San Suu Kyi damns Burmese dams: Plans for a new dam project in Burma have been criticized by the country's prominent opposition leader.
Fri, 12 Aug 2011: Thames will see major repairs to 12 locks: The Environment Agency has announced plans to refurbish and repairs 12 sets of locks over the next year.
Thu, 11 Aug 2011: River Dee under threat as Aberdeen bypass challenge fails: A legal challenge to a western bypass around Aberdeen has run aground, leaving the River Dee Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at the mercy of the £400 million road scheme.
Mon, 8 Aug 2011: Great North Run takes to the River!: A group of 13 hardy swimmers have decided to "swim" the Great North Run this year from the road run's start (in Newcastle) to its finish (in South Shields) along the River Tyne. You can sponsor them (for RNLI) by following this link.
Mon, 8 Aug 2011: Hugh's fish fight brings bigger supermarket catch: Interest in sustainably caught fish has risen following high profile campaigns, including the one by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Mon, 8 Aug 2011: Wanted: Water quality scientist to help reduce farming pollution: Syngenta, Pond Conservation and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust are recruiting for a post-doctoral researcher to help with a new project designed to reduce the impact of farming on water quality. More on the Pond Conservation website.
Sun, 7 Aug 2011: Take part in the British Waterways Wildlife Survey!: Are you out and about on rivers and canals this summer? If so, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and take part in the annual British Waterways survey.
Sun, 7 Aug 2011: Campaigners step up fight against EDF Hinckley nuclear extension: Some 400 greenfield acres are threatened by the expansion of Hinckley Point power station in Somerset... and campaigners are prepared to take direct action this October to stop it.
Fri, 5 Aug 2011: Agency releases biodiversity hit list: Another of those top-10 lists you love to hate: the Environment Agency has published a list of its most hated alien species.
Fri, 5 Aug 2011: Maldon Mud Race switches to spring: It's too chilly to mud race in December, so the River Blackwater's annual run will now take place in the spring.
Fri, 5 Aug 2011: Return of the killer algae!: This is the time of year when our lovely waterways can turn the most horrible scummy green thanks to warm weather and high nutrient levels. The Guardian reports on this year's algal blooms.
Fri, 5 Aug 2011: Government failing on traffic levels: A new report by FoE and Sustrans shows how government and councils are failing to cut traffic levels. What's that got to do with rivers? Increasing congestion leads to more pressure for roadbuilding, more actual construction, more quarrying of floodplains for aggregates, more badly designed road-river crossings... these things are all connected.
Fri, 5 Aug 2011: RSPB: Seabirds need better protection: Legislation to protect important coastal seabird sites simply isn't working, according to Britain's biggest bird charity.
Sun, 31 Jul 2011: Wildlife Trusts launch East coast seaweed survey: Wildlife surveyors are exploring 11 locations along the East coast from Essex to Northumberland at the moment to record all the seaweed species they find.
Sat, 30 Jul 2011: End of the line for a third of freshwater fish?: A new report confirms that freshwater species are in dire peril, according to a new report unveiled at the annual conference of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at Bournemouth University.
Thu, 28 Jul 2011: New study to protect marine life on Strangford Lough: Queen's University in Belfast is planning a major new study of Strangford Lough Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and its important horse mussel reefs.
Thu, 28 Jul 2011: Surfers highlight threat to Devon surfing break: Surfers Against Sewage are asking us to support a campaign against shore-line development in Challaborough, which could harm the waves there.
Sat, 30 July 2011: River events for August 2011: Check out our usual monthly roundup of events happening near you.
Sat, 30 July 2011: Why protect biodiversity at all?: The BBC's ever-thoughtful Richard Black asks whether conservation of habitats and species is all it's cracked up to be. If it's not sufficient to secure biodiversity, why do it at all?
Fri, 29 July 2011: South West reservoirs: half full or half empty?: South West Water (SWW) has confirmed that some of its Devon reservoirs are lower than they might be, but it's not unusual apparently, for this time of year.
Fri, 29 July 2011: Beat energy hikes with green energy: Greening saves groaning. Friends of the Earth says investing in renewable energy is the way to beat these constant moans about price rises caused by "rising wholesale energy prices".
Thu, 28 July 2011: Plastic bags make a comeback: In 2010, we bucked an encouraging downward trend and started using more disposable carrier bags again. (Perhaps not surprising given the rise of self-checkouts where disposable bags are easy to come by?) Even so, bag use remains a relatively trivial issue...
Thu, 28 July 2011: Inquiry into River Don CPOs: There's going to be a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land for a new bridge between Tillydrone and Grandholm in Aberdeen (a third River Don crossing).
Wed, 27 July 2011: Volunteer lock-keepers start work: Some 60 of the 120 people who applied to work as volunteer keepers on the River Thames this year are now hard at work helping out on locks, dispensing advice to boaters, and generally messing about on the water!
Tue, 26 July 2011: John West finally ditches unfriendly tuna: A long-running Greenpeace campaign seems to have finally convinced John West to give up purse-seine fishing. But they're the last of the major brands to switch.
Mon, 25 July 2011: Pickles reforms leave wildlife in a pickle: Proposed "reforms" (relaxations) of the planning system will leave internationally important wildlife sites at risk from development.
Mon, 25 July 2011: Sign up to save our seas: The Wildlife Trusts is asking people to sign its petition for Marine Protected Areas as part of its (misnamed) National Marine Week (a fortnight running from 30 July to 14 August).
Fri, 22 July 2011: Camp frack to protest against shale: A protest camp in Blackpool this September aims to focus attention on the dirty practice of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").
Fri, 22 July 2011: The Golden Age of Canals: Did you catch this excellent BBC documentary about the birth of the Inland Waterways Association and how it saved Britain's threatened canal network?
Fri, 22 July 2011: Agency uses civil powers to tackle packaging offences: The Environment Agency opted for civil action against Invensys PLC recently in a new departure for its enforcement division.
Fri, 22 July 2011: Mayor must make London flooding a priority: A new report urges decisive action on flooding in the capital, which threatens around 680,000 homes and other properties.
Fri, 22 July 2011: Nuclear new build defeated by costs and delays: Damian Carrington reports on two European nuclear stations that are years and billions of Euros behind schedule, suggesting that not much changes on the nuclear front.
Fri, 22 July 2011: Kalamazoo River spill one year on: Things aren't as bad as feared, one year after one of the largest inland oil spills in the history of the United States.
Thu, 21 July 2011: Marine education at Relentless Boardmasters surf contest: SAS will be running marine litter education at Britain's biggest surfing event this August in Newquay.
Thu, 21 July 2011: New Stroud Brewery Bridge continues Cotswold Canals Project: It's taken a year to complete a new bridge over the old Thames and Severn canal.
Wed, 21 July 2011: Buglife seeks Solway Firth volunteers: Fancy sifting the shingle for invertebrates? Buglife would like to hear from you.
Fri, 15 July 2011: Sea angling survey planned for 2012: The government has announced a new survey of sea fishing to discover how many people enjoy the sport, what fish they catch, and how much they throw back.
Sat, 16 July 2011: National Fishing Month kicks off!: It runs from 16 July to 14 August this year, with lots of events all around the country and plenty of opportunities to try fishing for the first time.
Thu, 14 July 2011: Agency saves River Tarrant fish in the nick of time!: Low water levels in the Dorset river prompted drastic action from the Environment Agency this week on the Tarrant, a tributary of the River Stour.
Thu, 15 July 2011: Eating more fish? But where does it come from?: According to the New Economics Foundation, the UK is eating about double the fish it can produce from its own waters, which is plainly unsustainable.
Thu, 14 July 2011: Marines row the entire Thames: A group of Royal Marines has rowed from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to central London in just five days. Here's a little BBC video of their progress.
Thu, 14 July 2011: Eye on the sea: the British Underwater Photography Championships (BUPC): There's a glimpse here of some of the great photos submitted to this year's BUPC competition, including a stunning crab and anemone.
Thu, 14 July 2011: Chelsea FC pitch in for the environment: Oh to write pun headlines now that summer's here. This interesting article from Green Futures explains the various eco-technologies Chelsea have put in place at Stamford Bridge, including LED lighting and heat exchangers, with a genuine commitment to reducing environmental impact.
Wed, 13 July 2011: Zebra mussels cause water pipe chaos: Invasive mussels on the River Ancholme have blocked a water treatment centre in Lincolnshire, Anglian Water reports.
Wed, 13 July 2011: RSPB: Why fishing reform is badly needed: A coalition of the main conservation groups this week renewed calls for a sustainable European fishing system.
Tue, 12 July 2011: Teignmouth flood plans go on show: A new tidal defence scheme in Teignmouth has been unveiled by the Environment Agency, which fits with its broader srategy for protecting against flooding from the Exe. New defences were recently completed at nearby Shaldon.
Tue, 12 July 2011: World water scarcity mapped out: Duncan Clark, editor and illustrator of some of the great Rough Guide books on environmental topics, has produced an interactive map of world water shortages for The Guardian, highlighting once more the dire situation facing the Middle East and North Africa.
Fri, 8 July 2011: Conwy students restore historic riverboat: A group of students from Coleg Llandrillo Cymru have restored a beautiful harbour launch dating from the 1920s.
Fri, 8 July 2011: Coal-plant pollution could be masking global warming: Various papers have picked up on the story that air pollution might be counteracting climate change and hiding bigger nastier surprises for later. Here's Michael McCarthy in The Independent.
Fri, 8 July 2011: Autism link to environmental pollution?: An interesting article by Steven Higgs asks whether river-borne toxic pollution could be increasing the risk of autism spectrum disorders in industrial areas.
Fri, 8 July 2011: More fishing down the food chain: Keen fisherman George Monbiot wonders whether we'll all be eating jellyfish before long.
Thu, 7 July 2011: Have your say on the Alde and Ore: There's a consultation underway on future plans for the Alde and Ore estuaries on the Suffolk Coast.
Thu, 7 July 2011: Ofwat under scutiny in Government review: Defra has just published a review of the water regulatory body Ofwat, asking whether it's "fit for future challenges". You can bet that the Government already knows its answer to that.
Thu, 7 July 2011: Help Buglife boost brownfield sites!: Buglife has advertised a vacancy for a part-time, Brownfield Conservation Assistant, helping to encourage theatened invertebrates on brownfield sites. The closing date is 11 July.
Thu, 7 July 2011: Thames Water spins the sewer: Thames has launched a PR offensive to win over Londoners to its controversial new super sewer plans.
Mon, 4 July 2011: Somerset councillor wins top wetland award: Tony Moulin has received the Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation for his work on the Strawberry Line and Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Yatton, Somerset.
Mon, 4 July 2011: Dwindling wetlands threaten wildlife and people: Top wetland scientists have agreed that more wetlands are needed in the UK. Various NGOs put out press releases on this last week, including this one form RSPB.
Fri, 1 July 2011: Alien invader crayfish face border controls!: An interesting new approach to tackling the alien-crayfish problem: Scottish Natural Heritage, Annan District Salmon Fisheries Board, the Clyde River Foundation, and South Lanarkshire Council have joined forces to install barriers at the confluence of the rivers Clyde and Annan in an attempt to protect salmon in the rivers.
Thu, 30 June 2011: Reinventing water power on the Scottish borders: A dam built over 165 years ago on a River Tweed tributary could be revived to provide clean, green power for 200 homes in the Borders.
Thu, 30 June 2011: Government tries to spin Japanese nuclear disaster to its advantage: How very unfortunate that Japan had a massive nuclear catastrophe just when profit-hungry nuclear power pushers thought they'd once again sold the world on their dangerous, inefficient, and absurdly expensive "solution" to climate change. So what did the British government do? Encourage a PR offensive to playdown the risk, according to leaked emails revealed by The Guardian.
Thu, 30 June 2011: SAS beach-cleaners remove half a tonne of rubbish!: What do you get if you cross 300 eager volunteers with two littered beaches? Perhaps SAS could work the same wonders at Glastonbury?
Thu, 30 June 2011: Upper River Slea fish helped out of drought: The Environment Agency has been working hard to save fish from Lincolnshire's Upper Slea, which is suffering from low water levels and falling oxygen in the hot weather.
Wed, 29 June 2011: The secrets of the Coelacanth: One of the world's oddest fish is slowly revealing its secrets to scientists.
Tue, 28 June 2011: Yellow River management has far to go: China's Yellow River has one of the most advanced river management systems in the world, but the ordinary people who depend on it are still short of water, according to this Guardian report from Jonathan Watts.
Tue, 28 June 2011: [PDF]: What's lurking in your pond?: Have you taken part in Pond Conservation's Big Pond Dip yet? You might find results like these, from a dip that the group organized at Sutton Courtney Environmental Education Centre in Oxfordshire this week.
Mon, 27 June 2011: Glastonbury shows why we're losing the trash battle: Those of us who spend time plucking litter from rivers, beaches, and hedgerows will be astonished by the post-Glastonbury pictures showing how festival-goers have left behind a sea of trash. Is there any hope of tackling wider environmental problems while people still show such a basic disregard for their immediate surroundings? Unbelievable!
Fri, 24 June 2011: Schools want more outdoor education!: Of course they do! As wildlife-education champion Kate Humble argues in this WWT press release: "If a child hasn’t ever got their hands dirty, climbed a tree or been wowed by weird and wonderful pond creatures, how can we expect them to care enough to protect wildlife?".
Sun, 26 June 2011: Will the salmon boost last?: Salmon counts are up almost everywhere, but no-one really knows why, or whether it will last.
Fri, 24 June 2011: Gains and losses in Scottish salmon catches: Salmon catches have shown a marked (42%) decline in West Scotland, but a marked increase (38%) in the East. Is fish farming to blame?
Fri, 24 June 2011: Which fish can you eat?: The Guardian presents another of its information-visualization pictures, this time setting out fish to eat and avoid.
Fri, 24 June 2011: Atlantic salmon: weighing up the scales: A new paper in Scientific Reports sets unravels some of the mysteries of where in the ocean Atlantic Salmon head for and why.
Fri, 24 June 2011: Natural England: Drought update: Tired of all this rain? Here's the latest on the drought from Natural England.
Fri, 24 June 2011: Secret end to eco-friendly farming?: A press release from RSPB reveals that the European Union is considering axing subsidies for farmers who manage their land for conservation.
Fri, 24 June 2011: Christo's Over the River: It's a Wrap?: Plans by artists Christo and (the late) Jeanne-Claude to cover a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River in silver-fabric have edged a step nearer, now the Colorado State Parks board has signed up to the project.
Wed, 22 June 2011: Mersey saved from barrage... for now: Consultants have concluded that a tidal barrage across the River Mersey is uneconomic, for the time being at least.
Wed, 22 June 2011: Walk of the Week: the Crumlin River: Readers from Northern Ireland may not have spotted this excellent series of articles in The Belfast Telegraph. This week's walk heads along the Crumlin to Lough Neagh.
Sat, 18 June 2011: Still a lack of inland bathing waters in the UK: Today's Guardian brings us a fascinating map of all the bathing waters in Europe. What do you notice about the UK in particular? Something we've consistently pointed out for over a decade: there are virtually no designated inland bathing waters in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. When you look at the rest of Europe, that disgraceful state of affairs becomes even more obvious. Instead of worrying about the systematic privatisation or closing down of sterile municipal pools, we should be designating more outdoor, inland bathing waters in the UK: rivers, lakes, and other waterways where the swimming is natural and free, the water is safe and clean, and there is clear, reliable information explaining everything you need to know.
Fri, 17 June 2011: Fish boost for River Pont and Clow Beck: Good news for two rivers in Northumberland: 6000 grayling are being added this week by the Environment Agency to restore stocks affected by water quality and habitat degradation.
Fri, 17 June 2011: Flash floods batter drought: A wet week has been good news for growers, but water shortages are still a problem in some areas.
Fri, 17 June 2011: Tackling trash on the Kentucky River: What can we learn from our friends in the United States, where river cleanups are much more a way of life? This week sees the 20th annual Kentucky River Sweep, fuelled by volunteers.
Wed, 15 June 2011: River Leven celebrates the return of the salmon: A tributary of the River Yarm, the River Leven has spawned its first salmon in over 150 years thanks to improvement measures by the Environment Agency.
Fri, 17 June 2011: Mississippi flooding brings worst ever dead zone: According to the US Geological Survey, recent catastrophic floods on America's mighty river are about to have another big consequence: they're forecast to produce the largest ever hypoxic (dead) zone in the Gulf of Mexico (where a massive overdose of nutrients wipes out virtually all marine life).
Tue, 14 June 2011: What keeps the water flowing in Yorkshire?: BBC reporter Len Tingle looks back 16 years on the last drought when fleets of water tankers were trucking supplies to drought-hit parts of the country.
Tue, 14 June 2011: SAS launch real-time sewage warnings in time for heavy rain: The Cornish-based water pressure group now offers real-time sewage alerts for 14 popular surfing beaches. Just as well, as sudden heavy rainfall brings the biggest chance of spills into rivers and beaches from old-fashioned, filthy overflows.
Mon, 13 June 2011: Pond Conservation's Big Pond Dip 2011: Those of you who make Pond Conservation's Big Pond Dip pond survey an annual fixture will already know that it's time now to probe your pond. If you're a garden pond keeper and you've not yet taken part, now's your chance to contribute to the third year of this excellent survey.
Sun, 12 June 2011: FoE slams government for recycling old ideas on waste: Friends of the Earth has welcomed the less confrontational approach of the new waste review, but slammed its lack of commitment to reducing residual (black-bag) waste.
Sun, 12 June 2011: Soaking Boris says: focus on drought: One swallow doesn't make a summer; one rainstorm doesn't cure a drought. Dripping-wet London Mayor Boris Johnson gives his view of long-term planning for a future short on water.
Sat, 11 June 2011: Name that flower!: Natural England and The Guardian are teaming up again to name forgotten British species.
Sat, 11 June 2011: Islam's duty to the environment: It's always interesting to read about religious ideas and the natural environment; for example, whether Christianity encourages people to make their mark on the world or protect it. In Islam, according to this Sheffield Telegraph article, there's a much clearer obligation to improve the environment.
Fri, 10 June 2011: In search of lost London rivers: Anyone seen the Westbourne, the Fleet or the Effra? The BBC go in search of these forgotten London waterways.
Fri, 10 June 2011: Drought: It's official: As the water-saving measures kick in, you have to ask yourself: why don't we have a water-saving culture all year round, all the time? Wasting water is a huge waste of energy; saving water is great for the planet in all kinds of ways.
Fri, 10 June 2011: Buglife wrestles with its conscience: A thought-provoking press release from Buglife, the excellent insect conservation group, highlights the difficulties green groups face when they get too close to corporations. A couple of years ago, Buglife happily accepted an award sponsored by the National Grid for its excellent campaign to save West Thurrock Marshes. Now it's fighting the same organization over plans for a warehouse and lorry park and asking whether the National Grid is an "ethical company or environmental villain".
Tue, 7 June 2011: Farmers are still at the forefront: A new government white paper on protecting the environment rightly recognizes that farmers are a key position to protect and restore threatened landscapes and habitats.
Tue, 7 June 2011: M&S launches new fish campaign: It's been heartening to see much greater (and apparently genuine) environmental commitment from one of our biggest high street retailers over the last few years. Now Marks and Spencer has launched a new campaign to fund marine conservation and educate people about eating fish more sustainably.
Sun, 5 June 2011: SAS launch marineopoly game on World Oceans Day: More great work from the Cornish-based pressure group, who cleverly use cool surfing professionals to drive home messages about conservation and pollution.
Sun, 5 June 2011: Canadians ban bottled water: That's a slight exaggeration, but the province of Manitoba is setting a good precedent by banning bottled water in government offices. Perhaps one day we'll see people standing outside buildings sipping guiltily from Evian bottles? Maybe not.
Sun, 5 June 2011: It's World Environment Day!: Now every day is world environment day, but this particular day has capital letters; nip over to the UNEP website to find out how people are celebrating the natural world.
Sun, 5 June 2011: Salmon finally spark the end of the gold rush: Californian gold prospecting is about to become illegal in an effort to protect spawning salmon in rivers and streams.
Thu, 2 June 2011: Pond Conservation's Updated Pond Creation Toolkit: More good stuff from Pond Conservation this week in their updated toolkit, containing fact sheets, maps, and other useful resources for pond-makers.
Thu, 2 June 2011: What price the environment?: Every so often the economists step forward and put numbers on greenery. Now the latest "National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA)" repeats the exercise suggesting, among other things, that "The health benefits of living with a view of a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year". Which means what, exactly?
Thu, 2 June 2011: New bridge for River Lea towpath: It's easier than ever to walk along the Lea thanks to a new bridge in Bow linking in to the Olympic Park.
Thu, 2 June 2011: River Neet and Bude beach say goodbye to sewage: Recent sewage pollution in the Neet was traced to properties in Bude that were wrongly connected to the sewage system. According to the Environment Agency, they'd been accidentally discharging sewage and wastewater for years.
Wed, 1 June 2011: Wading bird chicks wary of the drought: A severe lack of recent rainfall is Very Bad News for wading bird chicks, according to this report from RSPB.
Sun, 29 May 2011: On the brink of dangerous climate change: Or on the brink of catastrophic climate change? No-one seems to know and no-one seems to be doing much to stop it. When are we finally going to knuckle down and accept the world's biggest looming problem?
Sun, 29 May 2011: WWF: New world standards for trout aquaculture: A new initiative in the final stages of preparation aims to reduce the social and environmental cost of freshwater trout farming, which produces the vast majority (over 95%) of the trout now eaten worldwide.
Mon, 30 May 2011: Events for June 2011: What's on near you?: Lots happening this month, including World Environment Day (5 June) and World Oceans Day (8 June)... the Three Rivers Cleanup continues in London... there are walks and talks... a few festivals, including the London Green Fair (4-5 June) and The Greenbank Fal River Festival (until 5 June)... and cleanups in all the usual places. See our website wiki for the full list and add in any more events you know about, please.
Mon, 30 May 2011: Get your boat checked in Boat Safety Week: It's time to check your boat again. Nip over to the Boat Safety Scheme website for all sorts of useful information and details of where to find safety examiners near you.
Fri, 27 May 2011: Litter cost could top a billion: So maybe all our efforts to stop litter are in vain? The problem is constantly getting worse, and constantly costing councils more to tackle. We need some new thinking on this irritating old problem. Fines for manufacturers? Legislation mandating the use of biodegradable packaging? Something else entirely?
Fri, 27 May 2011: Mersey scoops real river prize: The Mersey (not a beautiful river, but certainly a great one) and its many supporters have earned the recognition they deserve after more than three decades of hard work, cleaning, and restoration. Picture-postcard rivers can easily scoop trophies, but when an industrial river that was once the most polluted in Europe wins a prize it actually means something.
Fri, 27 May 2011: Pond Conservation's Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife [PDF]: More good stuff from Pond Conservation. This week, they publish a new 32-page guide to making a wonderful pond for wildlife in your garden.
Fri, 20 May 2011: More beaver bother: are they still there?: No-one seems to know how many beavers survive in Argyll after their experimental release in 2009.
Fri, 27 May 2011: Dr Caffyn claims right of river way: After spending the last few years researching the history of river navigation, lawyer Douglas Caffyn claims there is "a public right of navigation on all unregulated rivers which are physically usable".
Fri, 27 May 2011: Otters thrive in Dorset rivers and coast: Dorset Wildlife Trust has published wonderful daytime photos of an otter at West Bay, confirming a remarkable resurgence in the creature's fortunes on the county's river catchments.
Tue, 24 May 2011: DIY flood defence is no substitute: More disingenuous spin from Defra on flood defence. They're suggesting a new scheme where communities part fund their own flood defences will mean more schemes get going. In fact, as Damian Carrington points out in the Guardian: "Over 1000 schemes that were in line for funding no longer have it." And the new proposal is unlikely to change that fact.
Fri, 20 May 2011: Water companies must plan for climate change: Signs of drought shouldn't catch us out, according to Defra, which is calling for long-term planning to ensure we have plenty of water during hotter and drier summers.
Sat, 21 May 2011: More great work by the dambusters of Elwha: Our dambusting American friends have scored another mighty success. News from Seattle is that the biggest US dam removal project in history will begin in the autumn to restore the Elwha River to its former glory.
Sat, 21 May 2011: Dammed lies! Protests mount over Chile's HidroAysen: The Chilean people aren't going to suffer the devastation of Patagonia without a protest.
Fri, 20 May 2011: Are we causing whale strandings?: Whales don't simply wash up in numbers all by themselves... or do they? There's more speculation that human influences may be to blame when whales run aground.
Fri, 20 May 2011: Fish helped from the drying River Lathkill: The Lathkill hopefully won't be the "fish kill", thanks to the prompt actions of experts who've relocated hundreds of fish from the drying Derbyshire river.
Fri, 20 May 2011: What to do if your pond is drying out [PDF]: Pond Conservation have launched some timely and useful guidance for people with ponds. This is a PDF file that should open up in a new window in your chosen PDF reader.
Thu, 19 May 2011: Buglife and Environment Agency launch new crayfish site: With help from the Agency, Buglife have launched an informative new website this week offering detailed information for members of the public and professionals alike. Buglife's Crayfish Conservation Officer Kate O'Neill said: "The new web resource will enable different organisations to co-ordinate their crayfish conservation work."
Thu, 19 May 2011: To swim... or not to swim in rivers?: An old story this. Fire safety people in Oxfordshire are once again putting out a blanket (albeit well-meaning) "do not swim in rivers" message. As we've said consistently for the last decade, people want to swim outdoors—and they need good, clear information about where it's safe to do so. Accidents happen, unfortunately, but that's less likely if people can make sensible, informed decisions.
Thu, 19 May 2011: Environmental laws under threat from red-tape cutters: According to WWT, a new Government "red-tape-busting" initiative has put all of the 278 laws protecting wildlife and the environment at risk!
Thu, 19 May 2011: One-by-one into the crayfish ark: The Environment Agency has set up a secret crayfish refuge in Cornwall to help our native species, battered by the infamous American alien invader.
Thu, 19 May 2011: China admits Three Gorges problems: Finally, an official admission from China that its Yangtze dam has caused social, environmental, economic, and geological problems.
Tue, 17 May 2011: Keep pollution rules for farmland, says RSPB: It's another age of deregulation where valuable environmental laws head rapidly for the dustbin. Not so fast, says RSPB! Agricultural land (a prime cause of water pollution) absolutely must not be made exempt from new pollution controls.
Fri, 13 May 2011: Who turned the River Wear blue?: Washington businesses are being targeted as part of a campaign to tackle pollution which is affecting a stream that runs through a nature reserve into the River Wear.
Fri, 13 May 2011: All eyes on the rising Mississippi: Rivers are dwindling in Britain but things couldn't be more different in the United States where the mighty river is bringing some of the most catastrophic floods since the Great Depression.
Thu, 12 May 2011: Wilderness fears as Patagonian dams get approval: Consternation in Chile this week with the news that a five-dam hydroelectric power scheme has been approved in one of the country's most important wilderness areas. According to International Rivers, "the process has been marred by a flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and serious conflicts of interest on the part of Commission members." Chilean journalist Catalina May argues the dams will bring social and environmental destruction.
Thu, 12 May 2011: Safe from the mink in Scotland: The Scottish Mink Initiative is trying to create a huge (20,000 sq km) mink-free zone in North Scotland to protect all the creatures threatened by these alien invaders.
Thu, 12 May 2011: Drought fears... in May!: The Telegraph isn't the only paper flagging up a possible drought this year, but it's off to an early start in this article.
Thu, 12 May 2011: The effects of the drought on freshwater life (and other drought stories): Pond Conservation's Jeremy Biggs reviews recent media coverage of a looming drought and asks whether low water levels are automatically a bad thing.
Thu, 12 May 2011: New sewage alerts from SAS: SAS are launching a new real time sewage warning system that will tell you exactly when sewage is being discharged into the sea at key locations around the UK. They've developed an online map that will automatically update you in real-time with information on combined sewer overflow (CSO) spills at surf spots. Hmmm, but let's not get into the habit of adapting to the sewage and working around it, eh guys?
Thu, 12 May 2011: Wildlife Trusts unveil first floating Visitor Village: Brockholes in Lancashire, a floating nature reserve easily accessible from the M6 motorway, is being launched as a kind of green and less unpleasant alternative to a motorway service station stop! It's just been opened by wildlife cameraman Simon King.
Wed, 11 May 2011: Help Buglife help bugs in Scotland: Buglife is recruiting for a Project Officer (Scotland). The lucky person will work on Buglife projects in Scotland and undertake surveys of invertebrates on a variety of habitats. Closing date is May 23rd.
Fri, 6 May 2011: Will wind farms harm leaping salmon?: Now there's an intriguing question. The answer is all to do with the way water drains from wind farm sites into watercourses used by salmon and trout. It's important to consider these things, but we'd hope that the Northern District Salmon Fishery Board and Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) would also support the environmental benefits of wind power.
Fri, 6 May 2011: River Dyfi Estuary will be star of BBC Springwatch: RSPB's Ynys-hir nature reserve near Machynlleth in mid-Wales will be the showcase for this year's watery Springwatch, beginning later this month.
Thu, 5 May 2011: Britain is shrinking: What effect will sea-level rise and increasing coastal erosion have on Little Britain? Plenty, according to a leading geologist interviewed by The Guardian's Damian Carrington.
Thu, 5 May 2011: Raising money for Pond Conservation: The Oxford pond champions are advertising for a new Fundraising Officer to help them pay for their work. Closing date is Wednesday 1st June.
Thu, 5 May 2011: SAS advertising is still crap: Who could forget that inflatable turd from the early 1990s? Going back to their roots, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have released a new series of campaign adverts to draw attention to sewage in water and litter on beaches.
Thu, 5 May 2011: James Bond takes to the River Thames: According to New Zealand Herald journalist Rebecca Barry Hill, racing up the Thames on a RIB is one of the best things to do on the river.
Thu, 5 May 2011: Tall ship moves to Glasgow's new Riverside Museum: Glasgow's new museum is only weeks away from opening and, in preparation, one of the world's last-remaining tall ships built on the Clyde has been berthed outside.
Wed, 4 May 2011: Fishy business: Kielder hatchery is open for visitors: There's an open day at the Environment Agency's Kielder Hatchery next weekend, 14th May.
Wed, 4 May 2011: WWF calls off legal action on rivers: WWF has revealed this week that it's called off a looming judicial review of the Government over its implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), after an agreement to invest more money to meet the Directive's stringent targets. As we all know, those targets are still going to be missed woefully, but well done to WWF for repeatedly (and strategically) taking the Government to task on the WFD.
Tue, 3 May 2011: Migrating geese will help plan wind farms: Geese experts at WWT are fitting migrating birds with satellite trackers so their flight paths can be recorded. Hopefully wind-farm planners will then be able to site offshore farms in places that avoid large-scale migrations.
Fri, 29 Apr 2011: Planning your green festival this year: The Guardian has a guide for festival goers who're looking for something cleaner and greener than the usual filthy festival madness.
Fri, 29 Apr 2011: Pond Conservation's Big Pond Thaw Results now available: If you've taken part in one of Pond Conservation's winter pond surveys, you'll want to take a look at this report. What damage does cold water do to our ponds and the species who thrive in them? More good stuff from this great Oxford group.
Thu, 28 Apr 2011: Can you harness the potential of sustainable hydropower in Windsor and Maidenhead?: The search is on for community groups and/or developers to construct and operate sustainable hydropower schemes on River Thames weirs in the Windsor and Maidenhead area.
Thu, 28 Apr 2011: Newbie angler lands 38lb salmon!: Beginner's luck? Maybe! But it's good luck to Huston McCollough, who certainly had his hands full after fishing the River Spey last year.
Tue, 26 Apr 2011: Farmers reminded to apply for pollution-busting grants: The deadline for applying for a Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant has been extended to 6th May. The grants help farmers to "reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture, including construction of fencing near rivers and streams, installing water troughs, and roofing manure and silage stores".
Sat, 23 Apr 2011: Walking Lough Neagh and the Lower Bann: This week's walk in the Belfast Telegraph is along the banks of Toome Canal to Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Britain and Ireland and meeting point for six rivers.
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: Make room for a water butt: Defra is encouraging us all to collect more rainwater in a laudable move to cut water use. According to their press release: "In an average summer gardeners could harvest nearly 640 litres of rainwater from a 7ft by 5ft shed, which, depending on the weather, could keep up to 50 tomato plants happy for three months."
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: Do more for the coastline, say CPRE: More than sixty years after laws were passed to protect our landscapes the UK Government and devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland need to extend the same protection to our much loved seascapes, campaign groups (including CPRE) have said.
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: World must tackle fishing subsidies through the WTO: From WWF: "The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is applauding the strong language in a long-awaited report that a key World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiating body released today, which underscores the urgent need to halt government-subsidized overfishing.
Sun, 24 Apr 2011: Forthcoming UK river events for May: Here's a bit more notice of upcoming events than we normally give you! Check out our events listing for things to do on and near your local rivers, lakes, and ponds next month, including guided walks on the Rivers Spey, Rother, Thames, and Yeo; canoeing in Durham and paddling in Wales; inland waterways events in Northampton and Wales; and conservation activities pretty much all over...
Sun, 24 Apr 2011: Fairness on Tap!: A coalition of environmental NGOs, led by WWF, has produced a compelling report that makes the case for universal water metering: it's fairer to pay for what you use and absolutely essential if we're to cut water demand and safeguard our over-stretched rivers in a warming world. But, as the Guardian reports, not everyone agrees.
Sat, 23 Apr 2011: Greenpeace: Apple's not green enough: High-tech company, low-tech power: poor old Apple has been named and shamed by Greenpeace, yet again, this time for its heavy-reliance on coal power.
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: Anglers declare war on cormorants: Fishermen on the River Thames have called for a cormorant cull, but the RSPB and the Environment Agency say there is no evidence that the birds have depleted fish stocks.
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: Aaahhhh.... water voles!: If, like me, you could happily look at photos of water voles all day long, these pictures by wildlife photographer Terry Whittaker will be a delight. They were taken as part of a vole conservation project in Kent.
Fri, 22 Apr 2011: Agency mix up over rod licences: Embarrassment for the Agency this week. It's hard enough to get people to buy rod licences, but even harder when an administrative error plunges the system into confusion.
Thu, 21 Apr 2011: The Animal's Guide to Britain#2: Grassland animals: After last week's great BBC programme about freshwater creatures, Chris Packham is safely on dry land this week.
Thu, 21 Apr 2011: Surfers launch wave protection petition: I'm not a fan of petitions and I like lazy online petitions even less (they indicate no real commitment), but if they're you're thing, why not sign up to the Surfers Against Sewage campaign to protect threatened surfing breaks.
Wed, 20 Apr 2011: New fish passes for migrating salmon: Four Dorset rivers (Brit, Simiene, Asker and Mangerton) could see a resurgence in salmon and sea trout after new measures open up 70 per cent (20 kilometres) of the river catchment to migrating fish.
Fri, 15 Apr 2011: FoE pulls up Alan Titchmarsh on peat: Commenting on news that celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh has said that he plans to continue using peat-based compost, Friends of the Earth's Policy and Campaigns Director, Craig Bennett, said: "Alan Titchmarsh has done a lot to help raise awareness on environmental issues, so it's extremely disappointing he's encouraging gardeners to use planet-wrecking, peat-based composts.
Thu, 14 Apr 2011: The Animal's Guide to Britain#1: Freshwater animals: Chris Packham's new BBC TV series attempts to see the world through the eyes of the animals with whom we share it. In this first episode, Chris looks at freshwater animals.
Thu, 14 Apr 2011: Weeds by Richard Mabey: So this week I've been reading another fine book by Richard Mabey, who (I believe) is now in his fifth decade of writing consistently excellent and gently provocative nature books. His latest, 'Weeds', explores a fascinating idea: these unwanted "plants in the wrong place" are champions of the wild that challenge our conspicuous contempt for nature. One iconoclastic chapter that will be of particular interest to river-minded folk tests received wisdom about Himalayan (Indian) balsam and Japanese knotweed. Mabey amusingly writes off "balsam bashing" events as "high points in the social calendars of conservation volunteers. Whether these jollies are justified, or have any ecological impact, are moot points". On knotweed, he explores recent research (by David Pearman and Kevin Walker) that invasive plants are most abundant in urban and suburban (i.e. disturbed) areas and least detected in ecologically rich areas. Do alien invaders have any positive benefits? And when do we accept them as native plants? Good, thought-provoking questions.
Wed, 13 Apr 2011: Government announces "funding boost" for rivers... or does it?: Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has announced a "£110 revamp which will bring more otters, salmon and other fish back to England's rivers", with the really excellent news that some of the money will go to community-centered projects such as those promoted by the Association of Rivers Trusts. Would it be churlish to look at this announcement critically? Possibly, but let's do it anyway. First, let's remember that the government slashed £170 million from flood defence budgets only last October. So, on crude figures alone, that's still a net loss of £60 million to the river environment (and there's still a massive hole in the flood defence kitty). Second, let's read the small-print of the announcement, which reminds us that the UK government has a legal obligation (under the EU Water Framework Directive) to "bring all water bodies to Good Ecological Status (GES) by December 2015", but only expects to achieve "an improvement from 27% to 32% of water bodies achieving GES in England by 2015". In other words, about 70 percent of "water bodies" are still going to miss out. So the announcement is actually "government scrambles frantically to meet legal obligations and will almost certainly, spectacularly, fail to do so". Let's not forget that meeting the Water Framework Directive is a legal obligation, not an act of generosity. Third, there's more to rivers than otters, salmon, and other cuddly species. Fourth, there's more to the water environment than rivers—and, as groups such as Pond Conservation are showing, investing money elsewhere can make far more sense for biodiversity. Finally, is it altogether too cynical to suggest that putting a little money in the direction of community groups now is a good way of insuring against criticism from those same groups later on when the WFD target is spectacularly underachieved? Yes, that's probably going a bit far, but it's still a thought worth thinking. The money's great, but let's not forget the big picture.
Tue, 12 Apr 2011: A Humble little book about wetland birds: 11 out of 10 for BBC nature presenter Kate Humble and WWT Slimbridge warden Martin McGill, who are donating all royalties from their new book, Watching Waterbirds, to the WWT.
Tue, 12 Apr 2011: Llamas pitch in to help Lake District fish: A fascinating story of alternative transport! Llamas have been used to carry endangered vendace (the UK's rarest freshwater fish) 500m up the mountains in the Lake District to protect them from rising temperatures.
Mon, 11 Apr 2011: How climate change is hitting Brazil's electricity: From WWF: "A massive 80% of Brazil's electricity is generated by water power. So the changes to the flows of the country's rivers, caused by global warming and climate variations, are a serious threat—for Brazil's economy as well as its people, environment and wildlife."
Sun, 10 Apr 2011: School pupils lead the way on Northern Ireland cleanups!: The Belfast Telegraph has been running a number of inspiring stories about community cleanups recently, including this one about pupils from Bangor Grammar and Glenlola Collegiate.
Mon, 11 Apr 2011: Nitrogen pollution costed at GBP280 billion: A study by 200 European specialists reveals the huge cost of nitrogen pollution.
Sun, 10 Apr 2011: Environment Agency invests in Peterborough River Nene access: Peterborough City Council and the Agency are working on a project to improve Orton Mere for local people and water-borne visitors.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Stop the spread of invasive aquatic species!: Natural England is supporting a new campaign to raise awareness of the threat posed by aquatic invasive non-native species. The 'Check, Clean, Dry' campaign is being led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is helping inform the public of the practical steps they can take to stop the spread of non-native aquatic plants and animals.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Resistance to Shell's Rossport pipeline!: Our friends at Rossport Solidarity Camp in Mayo are calling once more for help from activists in resisting the Corrib pipeline.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Pond Conservation Big Pond Dip 2011: Survey your garden pond, enter the results online, and you'll be helping Pond Conservation build up its national database of pond wildlife.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Sea-level rise threatens Manhattan: Could it be good news that one of the world's best-known cities is facing major flooding from climate change? Will that prompt more drastic action from the world's biggest carbon polluter?
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Scottish beaver cull called off: It seems that beavers let loose in Scotland won't now be killed: only 20 animals are believed to be involved.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Salmon & Trout Association exposes sham of salmon farming industry claims: A dossier of material obtained under freedom of information regulations reveals alarming results of Government inspections of Scottish salmon farms including high levels of sea-lice. S&TA CEO, Paul Knight, commented: "This dossier lays bare the reality of what is happening on Scotland's marine fish-farms. The breaches of the industry's own Code of Good Practice, in which Scottish Government places so much faith, are so widespread as to call into question the Code's basic credibility.".
Fri, 8 Apr 2011: Celebrating the nightingale: The Independent's Michael McCarthy continues his nature notes with a nice little piece about one of our finest songbirds.
Thu, 7 Apr 2011: UK challenged over attitude to eco-law: The European Commission is taking the UK to court over its alleged failure to ensure that citizens can challenge environmentally damaging decisions in a way that is "fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive". Great news for campaigners if the EU wins the case.
Thu, 7 Apr 2011: Otters found dead in eel traps: Four otters have drowned after becoming trapped in a net set illegally to trap eels. The otters, a protected species, were discovered by members of the Barton Wildfowlers group at Barton Clay Pits on Thursday, 31 March (the last day of the first ever close season for eel fishing).
Thu, 7 Apr 2011: River cleaners uncover WWII bomb!: Intrepid volunteers cleaning the Sixmilewater River in Antrim discovered all kinds of stuff in their waterway, including a wartime bomb.
Wed, 6 Apr 2011: Royal Jubilee celebration for the River Thames: Sinclair McKay explains how next year's Jubilee Celebrations will mark an astonishing rebirth for the country's premier river.
Wed, 6 Apr 2011: Less than a third buy "sustainable" fish: Seven in every ten people say that buying sustainable fish is important, but only 30 per cent say they do so because they're unsure how to choose sustainable fish products and are confused by labelling, according to new research published by Defra.
Sat, 2 Apr 2011: River events happening in April: Here's our usual monthly roundup of events happening this month.
Sat, 2 Apr 2011: Can polemic save the planet?: In The Guardian this week, John Vidal presented a sturdy rebuttal of the suggestion that Chernobyl was an insignificant blip in nuclear history, while George Monbiot was forced to clarify his hasty pro-nuclear piece from last week with a better-argued attack on the double standards of green anti-nuclear opponents. But the interesting thing is the comments both articles have attracted. Vidal is roundly attacked by the pro-nuclear; Monbiot is scorned and vilified by the antis. And once again, the vast majorty of ordinary people are left bewildered, confused, and thoroughly bored in the middle. Is polarised debate the way to save the planet? What we really need is a more rational consensus about the way forward for energy policy; in this respect, calmer, more objective voices (such as Dieter Helm's Nuclear alone won’t keep the power flowing and David MacKay's Nuclear? (a chapter from his excellent Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air)) are surely far more helpful? Ditto for climate change.
Fri, 1 Apr 2011: Helping the River Aire (once again): It's a few years since the demise of river group Eye on the Aire, but now a new force promises to look out for the river. As has happened already on other Yorkshire rivers, a group of people in the Aire Valley has decided to form the River Aire Trust with the aim of improving the Aire and its tributaries. A public meeting to discuss the proposal will take place at Shipley Library at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 27 April and all are welcome.
Fri, 1 Apr 2011: Spelman escapes on flooding... for now: The Guardian point out that Caroline Spelman has missed being taken to task for cutting flood budgets, but it's only a matter of time (and another catatrophic flood... and more misery for hundreds or thousands) before the short-sighted flood cuts come home to roost.
Fri, 1 Apr 2011: 10-mile flood pipe will boost Essex water: Essex and Suffolk Water are laying a huge new pipe to supply 1.5 million people in the Colchester area from the River Stour.
Thu, 31 Apr 2011: The Itchen Initiative: smarter water management: Water scarcity is a growing problem in England and Wales. It threatens our natural environment and the security of water supplies. WWF's new report, called the Itchen Initiative, suggests a fresh approach: working with industry, government and local communities, combining innovation and incentive schemes to create smarter water management that benefits people and nature.
Thu, 31 Apr 2011: UK carbon emissions rise even in recession: In 2010, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were provisionally estimated to be 491.7 million tonnes (Mt). This was 3.8 per cent higher than the 2009 figure of 473.7 Mt. Reacting to the publication of UK carbon emission figures for 2010, Dr. Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace, said: "Climate-changing pollution should be falling, not going up, so what these figures show is that the UK is moving in the wrong direction. Politicians can't blame it on the beginnings of the economic recovery because whilst the economy has grown slowly, carbon emissions have grown faster."
Wed, 30 Apr 2011: All change for canals: a ew era for waterways?: From Defra: "Plans to create one of Britain's biggest charities to secure the future of more than 4,000 kilometres of canals and rivers in England and Wales have been set out today. The Government announced last year that the publicly-owned inland waterways, currently managed by British Waterways and the Environment Agency, should in future be managed by a new charity. This would secure the waterways' long-term, sustainable financial future by enabling the new body to access new sources of income and greater public support, and give local people a greater say in their upkeep." Isn't the last sentence a non-sequitur? Does making a waterways charity automatically secure its financial future? How?
Tue, 29 Mar 2011: Does Fukushima Change Anything?: Great to see Jonathan Porritt saying essentially the same thing we did last week: "It's ludicrous to come to a conclusion about nuclear power principally on the grounds that it's 'safe'... because it helps obscure all the other far more problematic concerns about nuclear power—about the medium-term availability of uranium, about financial costs, about opportunity costs (what won't be done if we do nuclear), about nuclear waste and decommissioning, about 'lock-in' to increasingly redundant distribution systems, about proliferation, about security concerns and terrorism, about the misuse of public money, about transparency and secrecy within the industry, about intergenerational ethics—and so on". Porritt takes George Monbiot firmly to task for supporting nuclear power instead of championing renewable energy; Porritt's argument is that you can't do both.
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: The secret world of reedbeds: From RSPB: "An intensive two year programme of research called Bringing reedbeds to life has culminated in a better understanding of what makes reedbed wetlands tick for the variety of wildlife that lives in them: from mammals to birds and frogs to endangered moths. This innovative scientific research and habitat monitoring represents one of the largest coordinated programmes of such work for over a decade."
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: Surfers celebrate better information on beaches: From SAS: "A Surfers Against Sewage campaign victory, secured in the revised Bathing Water Directive was launched on the 25th of March by the Environment Agency with the publishing of beach profiles for bathing waters. These beach profiles highlight what forms of pollution the beach suffers from and identifies the discharge points." They don't make the water cleaner, but they help water users understand the risks involved.
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: Scottish salmon haul breaks records: Scottish anglers caught a record number of salmon from the country's rivers last year.
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: More beach quality information goes online: In a move welcomed by campaign groups such as Surfers Against Sewage, more information about the quality of beaches in England and Wales has been made available online by the Environment Agency. Details have been provided on how safe the water is to swim in at 500 beaches. The information includes maps, photos and details relating to any sewage or algae in the water.
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: Lobster midwives wanted: divers apply within: The National Lobster Hatchery in Cornwall is appealing for help from divers to release baby lobsters into sheltered hatching sites.
Fri, 25 Mar 2011: Nuclear campaigner attempts legal "nuke" of nukes: An anti-nuclear campaigner from Lancashire is attempting a high-court challenge of energy secretary Chris Huhne over failure to properly consider links between nuclear power and childhood leukaemia. Meanwhile Schnews summarizes arguments against nuclear power.
Thu, 24 Mar 2011: How Pacific salmon help the rainforest: The BBC's Mark Kinver shows how the annual migration of Pacific salmon plays a key role in fueling other Canadian ecosystems, including the world's biggest temperate rainforest.
Tue, 22 Mar 2011: Why biofuels are a "carbon con": African biofuels destined for Europe will result in up to six times the carbon emissions of fossil fuels, a new study has revealed. The report, commissioned by the RSPB, ActionAid and Nature Kenya, focuses on the Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya which are set to be destroyed to make way for jatropha plantations.
Sat, 19 Mar 2011: Poll finds people do care about flooding and water scarcity: A new UK-wide opinion survey, commissioned by WWT, highlights growing awareness and concern about water usage and a willingness to do more to reduce flooding and help wildlife. WWT is using the survey to launch a campaign to raise awareness of how we can manage rainwater better for communities, whilst benefitting wildlife and making financial savings.
Tue, 22 Mar 2011: Celebrating World Water Day 2011: Check out videos, photos, and other material on the World Water Day website, recording some of the inspiring actions and events people held around the world to mark the importance of water.
Sat, 19 Mar 2011: Helping hands boost the Agivey River: A story from last months' Belfast Telegraph about a pair of friends in Northern Ireland who are doing their bit for the Agivey River in Garvagh.
Sat, 19 Mar 2011: UK marine policy statement published: From Defra: "The UK Marine Policy Statement has been jointly published today by all UK Administrations as part of a new system of marine planning being introduced across UK seas. Adopted by the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, the Marine Policy Statement will help achieve the shared UK vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas."
Sat, 19 Mar 2011: Sorry, but it's still No New Nukes: We put together our anti-nuclear mini-site No New Nukes about 5-6 years ago to oppose the UK return to nuclear power and (out-of-date though it is) it still gets zillions of hits today. It's unfortunate, to say the least, that Japan's current nuclear catastrophe has massively overshadowed the actual tragedy: the earthquake and tsunami and the horrific human suffering they've caused. All kinds of people have been scribbling in blogs and newspaper editorials that the Japanese disaster is not really relevant to the current nuclear debate, which might well be true—but not in the way they suggest. I don't remember anyone (us included) ever arguing that potential tsunamis were a good reason not to build nuclear power plants in Britain. If and when nuclear power makes economic sense without massive public subsidies, doesn't displace investment in renewables, doesn't contribute to international tensions and confrontations, and can deal with its ongoing pollution (forgotten about Sellafield and the Irish Sea? Or Cap La Hague?) and toxic legacy (again, without billions of public subsidy), then—and only then—might it be worth looking into.
Fri, 18 Mar 2011: The quintessence of early spring: The Independent's Michael McCarthy celebrates the joys of spring in his Nature Studies column from The Independent.
Fri, 18 Mar 2011: New Oxfordshire river walks online!: Detailed, large-scale maps of the 65-mile Oxfordshire Way, including sections that run along the Thames, have just been published online.
Thu, 17 Mar 2011: Consumer water demand is putting river wildlife at risk: Conservationists and anglers are calling on the Government to act over the one third of rivers in England and Wales which are threatened by household water demand. The Our Rivers campaign (which includes RSPB, WWF, and others) is asking people to write to water minister Richard Benyon to stop unsustainable abstraction through the forthcoming water white paper. Find out more on the Our Rivers website.
Thu, 17 Mar 2011: Poacher caught trying to 'gaff' salmon in broad daylight: A Minehead man has been ordered to pay £400 in fines and costs after he was caught fishing on the River Exe with a gaff and a net. Both methods are illegal.
Tue, 15 Mar 2011: Giant lobster makes fisherman's day: Fishing for sole, Marcus Hyde hooked a rare lobster in Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex. What were those old "crew station" jokes? I wish I could remember...
Tue, 15 Mar 2011: £7.5m worth of grants come on stream to help farmers tackle water pollution: Good news for rivers from Natural England: "Farmers can now apply for grants of up to GBP10,000 from the Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grants Scheme, which is open for its fifth year. The fund is open to farmers in 50 priority catchment areas across England for a range of improvements to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture, including constructing fencing near rivers and streams, introducing water troughs, and roofing manure and silage stores."
Fri, 11 Mar 2011: Pesticide reviewed by government, but what about our wild pollinators?: Buglife and other environmental charities are very concerned that Government inaction means that controversial neonicotinoid pesticides are continuing to damage bees and other wildlife; this is despite a newly released Government report claiming that field studies show 'no gross effects' on Honeybees.
Fri, 11 Mar 2011: Sites of Special Surfing Interest: Surfers Against Sewage are stepping up their campaign to protect classic breaks from developments, access problems, and other threats.
Fri, 11 Mar 2011: Nominate your local wetland protectors for an award!: From WWT: "We're asking you to nominate the wetlands—ponds, lakes, streams and others—that you enjoy visiting and think benefit your community. We will find the hard-working, talented people that look after them and shortlist them for the Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation 2011, giving them the chance to win £1,000. The nomination form is available online until 30 April. It is simple and easy to complete in less than five minutes." Go for it! Let's celebrate our water-cleaning champions!
Mon, 14 Mar 2011: International Day of Action for Rivers: 14 March 2011: Last year, people from 27 countries put on 136 different actions to draw attention to the threats facing the world's rivers. Let's hope it's even better this year! Find our more by following the link to our friends at International Rivers.
Fri, 11 Mar 2011: New Scottish Marine Atlas available!: Exciting news from a group of organizations including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), who've produced a spanking new atlas of the Scottish seas. All Scottish schools are getting copies and the rest of us can view the atlas online.
Fri, 11 Mar 2011: Spotting sparling in the River Cree: Under cover of darkness, BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston goes in search of one of the last remaining bredding colonies of sparling in Scotland.
Thu, 10 Mar 2011: Opponents of River Tamar dumping get more say: Coastal groups in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall are apparently going to be "consulted" after protesting vehemently against the dumping of dredged silt from the Tamar.
Wed, 9 Mar 2011: Great British marine animals in picture: Marine photographer Paul Naylor's new book for the Wildlife Trusts shows wonderful marine creatures in a wonderful new light.
Wed, 9 Mar 2011: Princes back down over tuna: Princes (who sell more tinned tuna than any other company in the UK) are going to stop using a fishing method which is responsible for killing sharks. And supermarket chain Asda have today also announced that they will shift to greener fishing methods for their canned tuna. The move follows a campaign waged by Greenpeace, who earlier this year placed Princes at the bottom of a tinned tuna sustainability league table.
Tue, 8 Mar 2011: Environment Agency invites public to Ouse Washes drop-ins: The Environment Agency is holding drop-ins next week at Coveney and Sutton for the public to come along and discuss work on the Ouse Washes and associated habitat creation project.
Tue, 8 Mar 2011: 10,000 people take part in Britain's biggest ever civil emergency exercise: 10,000 people have taken part in Exercise Watermark this week, Britain's biggest ever civil emergency exercise, designed to test the country's response to catastrophic floods. The exercise has brought together ten government departments, 34 local resilience forums, emergency responders, water and energy companies, hospitals and schools.
Fri, 4 Mar 2011: More Ethiopians enjoy clean water: Another good news story from The Guardian about the slow, slow progress of getting clean water and sanitation to people in the developing world. The last decade has seen a huge increase in the number of Ethiopians who have safe drinking water. Hurrah! More please.
Tue, 1 Mar 2011: RSPB kids' book recommended for World Book Day: Forget tedious TV talent shows and soppy soaps, nature's got the 'X' factor in abundance, surprises by the forest-full and 'wow power' by the pond load! A new RSPB book for children, Wild things to do with Woodlice, has been recognised by the organisers of World Book Day 2011 as a great tool for encouraging kids to explore the pleasures of reading and the joys of the outdoors.
Tue, 1 Mar 2011: Help design eco-friendly fishing for WWF!: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has announced the launch of the 2011 International Smart Gear Competition to find innovative ways to reduce the amount of fisheries bycatch. Open to anyone from fisherman, backyard inventors and students, the competition will be open from March 1 to August 31, 2011.
Fri, 3 Mar 2011: Over-wintering birds benefit from work on the Somerset Levels: An internationally important wildlife site near Glastonbury has received a boost from the Environment Agency following the successful completion of a water level management project that will improve the habitat for over-wintering birds.
Fri, 3 Mar 2011: Christmas trees make great river shock absorbers!: We've reported on many natural forms of river restoration over the years, but here's a new one: the Environment Agency is using hundreds of Christmas trees to act as energy absorbers on the sandy banks of the River Bollin in Wilmslow.
Wed, 1 Mar 2011: 100 traps set for invasive shrimp: The Environment Agency is stepping up measures to stop the spread of the invasive shrimp Dikerogammarus villous, first found in Cambridgeshire and now threatening inland waters across the country.
Tue, 1 Mar 2011: Action on fish discards will protect fishermen: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explains one again why we need to stop half the fish caught in the North Sea from being thrown away.
Wed, 1 Mar 2011: Kites could harness tidal power in Northern Ireland: Is it a great idea? Is it a gimmick? Don't we always ask ourselves that about tidal power schemes. Anyway, here's the latest: engineers have developed undersea kites with turbines built-in to harness tidal power and they're suggesting the technology could power a city the size of Belfast within a decade.
Tue, 1 Mar 2011: World water woes explored at Canadian conference: It'll soon be World Water Day again, but before that some of the world's leading water experts will be meeting in Canada to reflect on agricultural water demand, water wars, climate change, poor sanitation... and other water problems that the world just doesn't seem able to tackle.
Mon, 28 Feb 2011: British Waterways moves closer to charitable status?: In a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament, Minister for Inland Waterways Richard Benyon has announced that the Government has decided the Environment Agency's navigations (waterways) should transfer to a new waterways charity, similar to the National Trust.
Mon, 28 Feb 2011: New report helps fight risk of alien plant invasion: The risks of nearly 600 alien plants threatening to enter England's fragile ecosystems have been assessed as part of new research, undertaken by Plantlife on behalf of Natural England.
Sat, 26 Feb 2011: Fracking gas wells threatens rivers: The New York Times has alleged that injecting water into wells to fracture them and recover more gas (a technique called hydraulic fracturing or fracking) leads to contamination of rivers with toxic wastewater.
Fri, 25 Feb 2011: Is it wiser to invest in ponds or rivers?: This BBC nature blog contains a timely repeat of Pond Conservation's suggestion that investing in ponds is a better way to build on biodiversity than wrestling with rivers. Jeremy Biggs of Pond Conservation, quoted in the piece, argues: "Fixing rivers is incredibly expensive, so we need to find out if we can make it work. We also need to spend more on the things we really are sure make a difference. More cost-effective initiatives might include putting back clean water ponds and protecting the remaining top notch rivers. At present, we spend too much cash making mediocre rivers slightly, or not at all, better."
Sat, 26 Feb 2011: Still time to join the International Day of Action for Rivers!: The annual International Rivers day of action is coming up on 14 March, giving you lots of time to organize even a simple event to show your solidarity with all the people, worldwide, who are defending or otherwise protecting rivers.
Fri, 25 Feb 2011: Restoration of River Nar heralds return of wildlife: From the Environment Agency: "Work is starting next week at three sites on the Nar following the November launch of the River Nar Restoration Strategy. Fish and other wildlife will benefit from the improvements and it will also improve public enjoyment. At Narborough, Castle Acre and West Lexham, diggers will be used to restore natural features such as pools, meanders, and shallow gravel areas in the river channel and reed beds along the banks. Dilapidated weirs will be removed to allow more dynamic flows and reduce the build up of silt in the river. Fish such as eels, brown trout and sea trout as well as water voles, rare dragonflies and otters will benefit from the schemes along the River Nar, most of which is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)."
Fri, 25 Feb 2011: Transporter bridges aim for long-term protection: Three amazing, historically important transporter bridges (gantries that carry people and vehicles across a river on a kind of suspended ferry) in Newport, Middlesbrough and Warrington are hoping for designation as World Heritage Sites to safeguard their future indefinitely.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011: New newsletter from Pond Conservation: An interesting, downloadable read from the Oxford-based group on their latest efforts to conserve our inland waters.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011: Anglers urged to help stop invasive shrimp: Aliens ahoy! Fishermen are being asked to help stop the spread of what the papers are laughably calling a "killer shrimp" (the invasive eastern European species Dikerogammarus villous) through lakes and rivers in the UK.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011: Thames Water looks at new options for super sewer: A site at Chambers Wharf, Bermondsey is now being considered as a major portal to the London super sewer, following determined protests about the destruction of an alternative site at King's Stairs Gardens.
Tue, 22 Feb 2011: Irish rivers and lakes are slowly getting better: Latest update on a story we've covered for over a decade: a newly issued report from Ireland's Environment Protection Agency (EPA) shows a major improvement in water quality, with seriously polluted rivers apparently cut by half. But almost a third of the country's rivers are still polluted.
Mon, 21 Feb 2011: Is pricing wetlands the way to cut carbon?: That time-honoured suggestion (give nature a value so market economies don't give it zero value by default) is back again, with a plan (called Blue Carbon) to value the carbon stored in wetlands.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011: New calls for garden peat levy: Conservation groups and gardening suppliers have called on the Government to introduce a levy on peat products bought from garden centres in the March budget to protect wetland wildlife habitats that also serve as important carbon sinks.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011: Greenpeace hang dead sharks in Princes protest: From Greenpeace UK: "Bosses arriving for work this morning at the giant food company Princes were confronted with the consequences of the destructive, shark-killing fishing methods used to catch the tuna for their tins. At around 8am this morning Greenpeace volunteers climbed onto a balcony at the front of the Liver building, where Princes is based, and are now hanging huge fabric 'dead sharks' from the front of it." Back in the day, it would have been real sharks...
Fri, 18 Feb 2011: Scottish Water invests in River Avon: A £10 million investment plan in water treatment works across West Lothian is great news for the River Avon and its users.
Fri, 18 Feb 2011: Eating down the food chain?: You might remember Daniel Pauly's work from a decade or so ago about how we're gradually fishing our way down the food chain. Well now we're being encouraged to pre-empt the process by eating our way down instead, allowing fish at the top of the chain a bit of breathing space so their stocks can recover.
Thu, 17 Feb 2011: Exercise Watermark: Can we cope with catastrophic flooding?: The nation's biggest emergency exercise is set to take place across next month (7-11 March 2011). Exercise Watermark will test the UK's responses to catastrophic flooding from overflowing rivers, collapsing reservoirs and tidal surges. It will bring together ten government departments, 34 local resilience forums, emergency responders, water companies, hospitals and schools to test responses to a range of flood scenarios over four days. For the first time, communities will also be taking part, evacuating schools and hospitals and installing flood defence products to protect properties.
Thu, 17 Feb 2011: Hudson River fish have evolved toxic immunity: A research group led by a New York University School of Medicine scientist has discovered a genetic variant that allows a fish in the Hudson River to live in waters heavily polluted by PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), chemicals used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications. Read the original press release.
Thu, 17 Feb 2011: Japanese call time on whaling (for now): Japanese "scientific" whalers have called it a day this season after being dogged by campaigners from Sea Shepherd.
Wed, 16 Feb 2011: Royal Commission urges us to move north: We can't all go and live in the Highlands, but we can certainly plan the way we live on a small, overcrowded island to make better use of natural resources, according to a new Royal Commission report.
Wed, 16 Feb 2011: Machynlleth residents call for new Dyfi bridge: High river levels have prompted calls for a new bridge in Mid Wales.
Thu, 17 Feb 2011: Climate change is linked to extreme flooding: New scientific studies suggest climate change does indeed produce increased precipitation and may well have caused the disastrous British floods in 2000.
Tue, 14 Feb 2011: Freshwater pearl mussels are breeding in the North: The Environment Agency reports successful experiments at its Kielder Hatchery.
Tue, 14 Feb 2011: Super-diary plan withdrawn: Plans for a massive US-style dairy in Lincolnshire have been pulled (for now) amid mounting concerns about the effects on groundwater and the local environment. But don't think for a moment that's the last we've heard of these factory farms.
Sat, 12 Feb 2011: SAS beach clean tour starts in March!: Surfers Against Sewage is launching a new Motivocean Beach Clean Tour on March 11th in Weston-Super-Mare, working with schools, universities, youth groups and other community partners. Events are happening around the country between March 11th and May 8th 2011, offering volunteers the chance to get involved with beach clean activities and learn to surf as a reward.
Sat, 12 Feb 2011: Kent Wildlife Trust clamp down on mink: Kent's wildlife champions are planning to trap mink in north Kent in an attempt to boost the dwindling population of water voles.
Fri, 11 Feb 2011: Fishing for solid silver: The River Deveron fishing season has opened, with anglers competing for a valuable solid silver trophy of a leaping fish.
Fri, 11 Feb 2011: River water quality in Norfolk: How you can help: From the Environment Agency: "Do you know where your local river is, what the water is like and how you can help improve that quality? Did you know that 90% of our local rivers do not yet achieve 'good status' under a new European system for classifying water quality? Well now, if you live in the larger part of Norfolk, you can find out because the Environment Agency has produced a booklet for householders about the rivers that go out to sea at Great Yarmouth."
Fri, 11 Feb 2011: Southampton fluoridation legal challenge is rejected: Southampton resident Geraldine Milner has failed in her attempt to judicially review her local health authority's decisio nto add fluoride to Southampton's tap water.
Thu, 10 Feb 2011: Kayak Libre: Ambient TV's artists are inviting you to participate in a "temporary experimental infrastructure for Hackney Wick and Fish Island area in the form of a kayak taxi service along the waterways. Commissioned by Muf Architecture and Art. The fare is a conversation."
Thu, 10 Feb 2011: Yes, flood defence is being CUT: Michael McCarthy busts the latest Defra spin, pointing out that flood defence has been cut by 27 percent for next year. Defra, meanwhile, boasts about how many flood defence schemes are going ahead and doesn't mention cuts anywhere in its latest press release on the subject.
Thu, 10 Feb 2011: Porritt slams environmental NGOs over forests: When it comes to forest cuts, the big green NGOs are lagging well behind popular opinion and grassroots campaigns to defend our environment—at least if Jonathan Porritt is to be believed. He describes the NGO's "foolish and irrelevant", compromised campaigning as "...a massive failure of collective leadership. It demonstrates to me how completely out of touch our environmental NGOs have become with the people that they purport to speak on behalf of." A great critique, listing each NGO's failings... though one wonders why it's taken Porritt so many years to say it?
Thu, 10 Feb 2011: Buglife: Stepping Stones for Wildlife Project Officer Vacancy: Can you make space for rare invertebrate species in south Essex by taking a lead on this exciting new project? Buglife (The Invertebrate Conservation Trust) needs an enthusiastic person with knowledge of habitat creation and management. Closing Date: 11 March 2011.
Wed, 2 Feb 2011: What will happen to the New Forest ponds?: It's not just trees that are threatened by forest cuts: as Pond Conservation's Jeremy Biggs points out on his Garden Pond blog, the New Forest "has the biggest collection of clean, unpolluted, ponds south of the Scottish Highlands—and streams too—and its one of the last places in England where every pond you visit is likely to contain some wildlife treasure..."
Fri, 4 Feb 2011: Holy Trinity River Warriors fight for the Ballinderry River: Students and teachers from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown have been busting rubbish and boosting wildlife on their local river this week, according to this report from the Belfast Telegraph.
Fri, 4 Feb 2011: "Greenest government ever: that's a sick joke": The Independent's Michael McCarthy rounds on the coalition government's plan to be "the greenest government ever", arguing "it is so far from the truth as to be risible".
Thu, 3 Feb 2011: Water flea has built-in environmental response: Scientists studying the water flea (Daphnia pulex) have been astonished by its ability to react to stresses in its environment, apparently by drawing on a genome of 30,907 genes (more than any other animal).
Thu, 3 Feb 2011: Are we near the Amazonian tipping point?: Some fear the loss of billions of trees in the Amazon in 2010 is a sign the region is about to switch from being a carbon sink to a carbon source, with major implications for catastrophic climate change.
Thu, 3 Feb 2011: Habitat of the month: Vegetated shingle: Natural England's website is featuring a different habitat each month, with a useful little summary of each one. This month they're looking at vegetated shingle.
Wed, 2 Feb 2011: Wetland scheme is wildlife success: UK wildlife is benefiting from national wetland restoration, two years in to a three year scheme, according to The Wildlife Trusts, on World Wetlands Day. The work to restore ponds, peat bogs, chalk streams and floodplain grassland is benefiting more than 40 species, including wading birds like curlew, snipe and ringed plover, the rare great crested newt, nightjar and 12 nationally important species of moth.
Wed, 2 Feb 2011: Can we all agree on on climate change?: Long-time New Scientist correspondent Fred Pearce explains how climate change scientists and sceptics are trying to reach common ground for the common good.
Tue, 1 Feb 2011: Kent residents oppose new River Thames crossing: Local people spoke up against suggestions for a new Thames bridge at Gravesend, North Kent at a public meeting this week.
Tue, 1 Feb 2011: New flood strategy for Derby and Derwent Valley: The Flood Risk Strategy looks at the River Derwent from Milford and then downstream to where it joins the River Trent. Working with Derby's masterplan objectives, it identifies proposals for reducing flood risk over the next hundred years as well as looking at what needs to be done in the short term.
Tue, 1 Feb 2011: RSPB: Biggest Garden Birdwatch?: The RSPB hopes to gather the most comprehensive set of garden bird survey results ever this year. Record numbers of people have submitted their results over the weekend of the wildlife charity's 2011 Big Garden Birdwatch, with over 100,000 forms received.
Sat, 29 Jan 2011: A life in the day of a Thames Harbour Master: A fascinating, lengthy article in The Guardian describes how former submariner David Phillips now operates a patrol boat on the Thames River.
Sat, 29 Jan 2011: Beaver chasing continues on the River Tay: Scottish Natural Heritage is stepping up its controversial plan to recapture escaped beavers.
Fri, 28 Jan 2011: Environment Agency opens access to flood warning data: The Environment Agency today unveiled plans for tailored flood warning services to be developed to better prepare utility providers, emergency services, insurers, retail and transport companies for flooding.
Fri, 28 Jan 2011: Cruising the Greenwich Peninsula: London planners have granted permission for a huge redevelopment at Enderby Wharf, bringing 770 homes, a cruise ship terminal, and much more to the River Thames.
Fri, 28 Jan 2011: Climate change: caught between denial and mitigation: While the tediously vocal minority of climate deniers continue to witter, Defra has unveiled its plans for adapting to a world of increasingly challenging, changing climate. Will lighthouses survive rising seas? How will we protect the rail network? Where will we live? Meanwhile, how about more effort to avert catastrophic climate change?
Thu, 27 Jan 2011: Last refuges of England's rarest species revealed: Ten of the most important wildlife sites in the country, the last refuges of some of our rarest species, are disclosed today by Natural England.
Wed, 26 Jan 2011: Million ponds project ahead of schedule: Good news from Pond Conservation on the Million Ponds Project, which is using pond creation as a simple, cheap and effective way to bring back clean water to the countryside: "The Million Ponds Project has tough targets, so it's a great testament to the work of the many people and organisations involved that at the end of Year 2 we are ahead on all the project's major targets. The most important of these is that 30% more ponds than planned have been made for this stage of the project, with just over 1,600 ponds created by the end of the second year. 480 of these ponds were dug specifically for Biodiversity Action Plan species."
Wed, 26 Jan 2011: "Shell get pipeline permission. We need your help now.": From Rossport Solidarity Camp in County Mayo: "On Thursday 20th January An Bord Pleanala announced their decision to approve the Shell high pressure raw gas pipeline. This is the last chance to resist the plan by the Irish Government, state bodies and Shell to force their will on communities and on the country as a whole, regardless of proper process, economic sense, people's safety, environmental laws and human rights."
Wed, 26 Jan 2011: Minister helps celebrate rare species on former quarries: RSPB is gleeful about the regeneration of former quarries, and rightly so: "Some the country's rarest birds, butterflies and wild flowers are reclaiming former quarries, wildlife surveys have revealed. In 2010 surveys recorded species including bitterns, once extinct in the UK, as well as threatened birds of prey and wading birds, rare native orchids, smooth snakes, sand lizards and a host of priority moth and butterfly species." But let's not forget that quarrying is often hugely destructive of river valleys and wetlands to begin with and successful reclamation isn't carte blanche for more of the same.
Sat, 22 Jan 2011: Thames whale is on display at the Museum at Tring: The Thames whale goes on display at the Natural History Museum until May, in their latest temporary exhibition, the Thames Whale Story.
Fri, 21 Jan 2011: Improved sanitation means more than building toilets: Writing in The Guardian, Juanita During, head of governance at WaterAid in Nigeria, explains how tackling the world's sanitation crisis means more than just supplying toilets: it involves engaging powerfully with local communities and empowering them to change their lives.
Fri, 21 Jan 2011: Locating the source of the River Tay: Surveyors have just pinpointed the exact source of the Tay on the Allt Coire Laoigh. Here's how they did it.
Fri, 21 Jan 2011: Tackling knotweed on the River Quaggy: An old piece this, from October 2010, but worth a read. It describes efforts by the Quaggy Waterways Action Group to keep Japanese knotweed in check.
Fri, 21 Jan 2011: River Tame improvement programme nearing completion: An Environment Agency programme to help to restore the River Tame, which has taken more than six months to complete, will come to an end early next week, having reduced flood risk and improved habitat across Birmingham.
Tue, 18 Jan 2011: Some depressing news: Fish are popping Prozac: This alarming story from Montreal reports on how researchers have discovered that fish are being affected by high levels of antidepressant drugs in water supplies and concludes the pattern is probably repeated worldwide.
Fri, 21 Jan 2011: RSPB: Alarming decline in farmland birds: A Defra report, issued today, has highlighted that around half of our farmland birds have been lost in England and the UK since 1970, reaching their lowest recorded levels.
Tue, 18 Jan 2011: Scottish river coalition fights River Doon power plan: A broad-based coalition has been formed to fight a plan by Scottish Power to cut the water level in the River Doon which, the opponents say, threatens jobs and salmon stocks in the river.
Tue, 18 Jan 2011: New oil platform threatens rare whales: From WWF: "We're astonished and disappointed to hear that Sakhalin Energy (a company part owned by Shell) is planning to build a big new oil platform near vital feeding grounds for a critically endangered population of gray whales. We want them to reconsider."
Fri, 14 Jan 2011: Cuddly killers: Wensum anglers concerned by otters: Not everyone is so keen on welcoming otters back to rivers. In this piece, angler Chris Turnbull warns about the negative effects of "cuddly killers" on fish stocks. Well, we like to give you all points of view!
Fri, 14 Jan 2011: British Beekeepers Association caught endorsing toxic pesticides: Some people will do anything for money including, it seems, the beekeeping body, which has caused a storm of protest by putting its logo onto four pesticides that are fatal to bees.
Tue, 18 Jan 2011: UK environment in great shape? Think again!: John Vidal comprehensively demolishes recent government spin about rivers, SSSIs, and the rest of the environment, showing that government claims are regularly economical with the truth.
Fri, 14 Jan 2011: Official: 2010 was the joint warmest year on record: In 2010, global temperatures continued to rise. A new analysis from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, and was part of the warmest decade on record.
Thu, 13 Jan 2011: Rotherhithe residents fight Thames super-sewer: STOPtheSHAFT is opposing plans for a £3.6bn super-sewer that they insist will not stop raw sewage from entering the river.
Wed, 12 Jan 2011: Your coastline needs you: From SAS: "Clean water campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) re-enacted the iconic Kitchener recruitment poster to enlist surfers, waveriders and coastal users into the Marine Management Organisation's (MMO) new Marine Planning programme. Our surfing Kitchener stood on the frontline for SAS at the first Marine Planning workshop on the 12th of January in Peterborough".
Wed, 12 Jan 2011: The frozen river Severn: There's a great photo in this week's Shropshire Star showing the frozen River Severn at Ironbridge on Christmas Day.
Tue, 11 Jan 2011: Sourcing water: A BBC Guide: Here's another great little BBC educational page for students and teachers. This one explores and compares how people get access to water in different parts of the world, from Samburu hunters who use elephants to discover water holes to people in mountainous regions who trap fog in nets.
Tue, 11 Jan 2011: Eating animals = dirty rivers?: Is it really that simple? This week I've been reading Jonathan Safran Foer's long and very measured book "Eating Animals", an unusual argument for vegetarianism that gives plenty of space to opposing and contrary views. For example, he interviews, at length, a vegetarian meat rancher and a vegan who's helping to build an ethical slaughterhouse... and his view that meat-eating is of huge cultural importance gets a lot of space. Most of his arguments concern humane animal treatment, but he does touch on the massive environmental impact of industrial factory farming: it's one of the biggest contributors to climate change (around 20 percent of emissions), but gets off relatively lightly compared to transport and energy use. Well worth a read!
Tue, 11 Jan 2011: Fight the Lincolnshire Nocton Mega Dairy: Food and Water Watch are among the NGOs opposing plans for a giant, American-style dairy farm in rural Lincolnshire. Is this the beginning of American super-industrial agriculture in the UK? Bill Oddie hopes not.
Mon, 10 Jan 2011: Boaters urged to look out for wildlife: Sea-users are today being urged to consider their impact on marine wildlife and report sightings, as a new guide is launched by The Wildlife Trusts and The Green Blue, the joint environment initiative from the Royal Yachting Association and the British Marine Federation.
Mon, 10 Jan 2011: Fish pass boosts salmon stocks on River Tamar: Salmon and sea trout are spawning on a previously inaccessible tributary of the River Tamar thanks to work carried out by the Environment Agency and local angling enthusiasts.
Mon, 10 Jan 2011: Greenpeace fish chart slams Princes: From Greenpeace: "Princes (who sell more tinned tuna than any other company in the UK) have been caught using a fishing method which is responsible for catching sharks and turtles, and possibly even dolphins, a new report reveals today. The food and drink company, owned by Japanese giant Mitsubishi, has been ranked bottom of an environmentally friendly tinned tuna league table, compiled by Greenpeace, due to their use of destructive fishing methods to catch its tinned tuna."
Fri, 7 Jan 2011: Boris Johnson accused of breaking River Thames promises: Writing in The Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan argues that the Thames is a hugely underused resource for transporting Londoners around the city.
Fri, 7 Jan 2011: Wildlife improvements along the River Loxley: Wildlife habitats along the River Loxley in Sheffield are being restored as part of a GBP4 million programme of flood prevention work in the city. Staff from the Environment Agency's in-house workforce have completed the first stage of work to restore habitat at Malin Bridge in Sheffield.
Fri, 7 Jan 2011: Incinerator and river fears in Plymouth: Campaigners in Devon's South Hams area are still fighting riverside incinerator and landfill plans by South West Devon Waste Partnership.
Thu, 6 Jan 2011: Open Country: River Thames: In this 23-minute BBC radio programme (listen on the iPlayer by following our link), Helen Mark begins an exploration of the Thames at Woolwich in South East London with author, Iain Sinclair, who has described the river as a story of ruin and revival and the very lifeblood of London.
Thu, 6 Jan 2011: Telegraph announces wildlife friendly farming award partnership: The Telegraph and the RSPB have joined forces to recognise the efforts of the country's most dedicated wildlife friendly farmers with the annual Nature of Farming Award, which is given to the UK farmer who does the most to protect threatened wildlife on their land. The award is the largest of its kind and is run by the RSPB with support from Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife International.
Wed, 5 Jan 2011: Nicotine-like pesticides implicated in bee decline: A leaked US government memo has reignited concerns raised in a 2009 scientific report by UK charity Buglife over the role of neonicotinoid pesticides in the sudden decline of bees. Michael McCarthy picks up the same story in The Independent.
Wed, 5 Jan 2011: Looking after your garden pond in cold weather: We're a little slow off the mark passing on these tips from Pond Conservation, but the cold weather hasn't gone yet!
Tue, 4 Jan 2011: Giant Welsh incinerator proposal will be key test for new planning rules: From FoE: "Plans to build a giant new incinerator in south Wales have been slammed by Friends of the Earth. The environmental campaign charity warns that building a new incinerator in Merthyr Tydfil will undermine green waste policies, destroy jobs, and saddle local councils with unknown liabilities for decades to come."
Wed, 5 Jan 2011: Letters on river quality in the Times and Independent: Six cheers for Pond Conservation's Jeremy Biggs, who managed to get letters rebutting the Environment Agency's absurd press release about river quality into both the Times and the Independent this week. You can read the text on his garden pond blog.
Wed, 5 Jan 2011: GM riseup begins again: The campaign against GM crops in Britain is warming up again. The Stop GM website warns that "commercial growing could begin as soon as 2014".
Mon, 3 Jan 2011: Working together for the River Wandle: Eifion Rees has written a nice little article for The Ecologist summarising the work of The Wandle Trust on one of London's lesser-known rivers.
Sat, 1 Jan 2011: Hey river groups: Be part of something BIGGER in 2011!: Most of us are used to the concept of ecosystems: that living things are intimately connected and interdependent. But a similar idea I'd really like to see catch on is the idea of a global "watersystem": that there's really only one waterway on Earth and--if you think about the water cycle--every ocean, sea, river, lake, and even open-air lido is a part of it. Now river groups do superb work in their local areas, but sometimes it's good to feel you're part of the bigger picture as well. Each year, there are a number of worldwide events that allow local groups to "act global". If you run a river group, why not organize a special event (or simply schedule one of your regular events) to coincide with one of these big days? It's a great way to get yourself some new publicity and help to make an international event more powerful at the same time. Here are eight of the bigger, best-known worldwide action days you could choose from. Each one has its own website where you can promote local events and you can find links on the events page of our own site (or by Googling): World Wetlands Day (2nd February), International Day of Action for Rivers (14th March), World Water Day (22nd March), International Dawn Chorus Day (2 May), World Environment Day (5 June), World Oceans Day (8 June), World Rivers Day (25 Sept), and World Toilet Day (19 November). Know any more? Please add them to our calendar.
Sat, 1 Jan 2011: Outdoor gym is best says National Trust: A new month-long outdoor challenge developed for the National Trust is giving Brits the chance to shed the estimated 80 million kilograms (80,000 tonnes) put on over the Christmas period. Starting on New Year's Day, the challenge builds on recent research by University of Essex which shows that exercising in a natural environment boosts people's physical and mental health more than going to indoor gyms, even in winter.
Sat, 1 Jan 2011: What's on near you in January 2011?: I was amazed to see the canal in Birmingham totally frozen over the other day, and lots of rivers may still be frozen too, but don't let that dampen your enthusiasm for the outdoors. There are still plenty of walks, talks, and cleanups happening this month. Check out usual monthly roundup of events near you this month and please feel free to add in any more events you know about.
Sat, 1 Jan 2011: Who's telling the truth about river quality?: Journalists from virtually every newspaper (and even the better ones) have swallowed whole the latest Environment Agency press release "Noughties were nice years for rivers", spinning for all its worth during one of the year's quietest and most news-hungry weekends: "The last decade has been the best for rivers since the industrial revolution".
Anyone with more than a two-day memory will recall recent news stories screaming that three quarters of UK rivers fail to meet the European definition of "good", while only five meet the highest standard, and the recent stir about bad rivers following on from the Our Rivers poll. Or how about the National Audit Office stating a few months ago that "The Environment Agency's approach to tackling diffuse water pollution, such as run-off from agricultural land, has not, to date, proved value for money." The highly respected, well-informed freshwater team at WWF also seems to take a very different view from the Agency, with its website stating that UK rivers: "are in danger... only 15% of the total length of our rivers are healthy enough to support a vibrant ecosystem, and they're increasingly under pressure from growing human populations and the effects of climate change." No cause for celebration or complacency there. And even Defra's most recent (September 2010) statistical release on river water quality (PDF) notes that in terms of biological quality of English rivers, "there has been little change in recent years" while for Wales "there has been little change since 2007" and Scotland too has seen "little change since 2000".
Our own state of our rivers page charts the Environment Agency's and the government's tendency to be selective and/or economical with the truth about river quality over the last couple of decades: if in doubt, talk about how bad rivers were during the Industrial Revolution. That's quite enough spin, thanks: yes, let's have full recognition for all the hard work many people have done to improve our rivers, but also frank and objective recognition of where our rivers are, where they need to be, and what needs to be done to help them.