Testing the Guide: Feathers

This is the first article in our new Testing the Guide series, in which we test the usability and application of various guides. Feathers: An Identification Guide to the Feathers of Western European Birds is a guide to over 400 European bird species, with an innovative key that allows for exceptionally precise identification by colour, feather structure and shape. This book also provides information on collection and conservation methods, as well as the locations of feathers on birds, all of which are clearly explained and richly illustrated.

This guide discusses the characteristics useful for identification, such as feather measurements, size variations and flight and tail feather shapes and adaptions. Also included are examples of identifiable body feathers and a beginner’s exercise in the identification of feathers from some common species. There are also species descriptions, including passerines, aquatic birds and birds of prey. The sequence of which these species are described, within families or orders, does not follow the usual systematic order: the author has attempted to describe groups that may be confused in close proximity due to their similar morphological characteristics or their presence in the same habitats.

This is a large-format guide, which may limit the practicality of taking it into the field, but it does allow the presentation of different feathers to be done in the clearest way. Therefore, this guide is most useful when feathers are collected or photographed. The more than 300 illustrations and 400 photographs facilitate the identification of many different feathers, often reducing the need for further, independent research.

Using the guide

Several feathers have been gathered by our colleagues around the UK, with notes taken of the location, date and habitats in which they were found, to aid identification. The guide details best-practice methods for collecting, labelling and preserving the feathers, which we found particularly useful. As the author suggests that larger feathers are more likely to be identifiable, and body feathers are much harder to distinguish, we chose to use the largest or most distinctive feathers we had collected.

Feather 1

The largest feather in our collection was found on the edge of town in Bovey Tracey in south Devon. It is a large, rigid feather that is dark brown in colour, with a white coloured section on the inner vane and darker brown irregular bars that end in specking on the white section. Using one of the many useful figures within chapter 2 (p. 17), as well as following the key located in chapter 3, we identified it as a notched, or fingered, outer primary feather from the right side of the bird. As the pattern matched several of the colour criteria within chapter 4, the process of determining identification took a little longer than expected. Using the colour criteria 4, 5, and 7, we were able to determine the feather is from a diurnal bird of prey.

Using the table for diurnal birds of prey in chapter 8, we noted that the size of the feather (approximately 13.6in / 34.5cm) and the patternation matched several species, including the common buzzard (Buteo buteo), the rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus) and osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Referring to a number of the many beautiful photo plates and our own research, it is most likely a feather from the common buzzard, given its distribution, habitat and that they are much more common in the UK than osprey. Using the table in chapter 5 (p84), the placement of this notched primary feather is most likely between P10-P8, although it can be as far as P6 or even P5.

Feather 2

Using the information in chapter 3 again, we were able to determine that this second feather is also large feather, most likely from the left side of the bird, as the feather curves to the left when looked at from above with the base towards us. Following the key was more difficult for this feather, as the answers were not as clear. However, we determined that this feather is a rectrix, or tail feather. As the width of both vanes are similar (outer: ~1.3cm, inner: ~1.2cm, although there is some degrading along the edge of the inner vane that may be masking its original width), the feather was most likely located towards the centre of the tail. As the rachis (or shaft) is curved and not fully straight, however, it is unlikely to have been located directly in the centre.

The feather is rufous and dark brown, with an irregular bar pattern that sometimes resembles vermiculation and gradually breaks down into speckling, with a more rufous tip. As the size of the darker bars is smaller, it would be referred to as brown bars on a rufous background. Using the colour criteria list in chapter 5, the feather size (~24.2cm / ~9.53in) is within the range of several species. As the feather is not velvety, we could discount owls, diurnal raptors or nightjars. As the feather is narrow and elongated, the chapter suggested looking at falcons, but we found that it did not match any due to the pattern and pointed tip. We then researched each species or species group that the size matched and determined that the feather is most likely a  tail feather from a golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus). This is an introduced species with several small, wild populations in areas such as East Anglia and in the Isles of Scilly, preferring dense woodland with sparse undergrowth. They can also be found in many aviaries and zoos, with a number of colour variations and hybrids, particularly with the Lady Amherst Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae). Their feathers are often used by florists, as well as crafters to decorate heads, earrings, clothing and even lures for fly-fishing.

Feather 3

Bright, uniquely colour feathers have a higher chance of being identifiable to a species level. This feather was found in the wetlands around Chew Valley Lake reservoir in Somerset. The rigidity of this feather shows this is also a large feather, and the curve suggests it comes from the right side of the bird. Following the key in chapter 3, we determined that this is a secondary feather.

Using the colour criteria in chapter 5, the metallic dark blue colouration of the feather and the length (12.2cm / 4.8inchs) matches a number of species, but the handy colour plate on the next page allowed us to determine that this feather most likely came from a mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). The blue colouration makes up part of the speculum, the contrasting patch of colour on the bird’s wings. Referring to the species description and feather spread on pages 304-5, the feather is most likely a middle secondary, although exact positioning would be difficult to determine with a lone feather. The well defined dark blue colourations suggest between S3-S10. There are also a number of hybrid Anas species and the identification of these through feathers is unlikely.

Our opinion

There are several limitations to identifying feathers, as individual variability in size and colour are common amongst species, and feathers can be similar between species within the same family or that occupy the same habitat or niche. The author suggests that only a small fraction of feathers lost by birds are identifiable, therefore the practical applications of this guide are restricted. However, we were able to use this guide to identify many of our larger or more unique feathers, including the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and barn owl (Tyto alba).

It is relatively straightforward to identify where on the body the feathers come from and, while the feather can sometimes match several colour criteria, it is also quite easy to identify a list of potential species matches. From here, the size of the feather can help to narrow the list down, although this is not always possible. Using the various species descriptions and feather spreads in chapter 8, your own research and knowledge of the habitat and location that the feather was found in and the distinctive markings or colouration on the feather itself can all help you to identify your feather to species level.  We also found that, while our first feather did not resemble the osprey spread in the guide, it did match feathers from other collection photographs we found in our own research. Therefore, while this guide is incredibly helpful in determining the type of feather and the list of possible species, we encourage researching any potential match both with the guide’s species descriptions and through independent research. Feathers: An Identification Guide to the Feathers of Western European Birds is a novel introduction to the world of identifying feathers, which can be an engaging and entertaining way to increase your knowledge of Europe’s birds.


Feathers: An Identification Guide to the Feathers of Western European Birds
Cloe Fraigneau
Hardback | £44.99 £54.99

All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.

This Week in Biodiversity News – 1st December 2021

Critically endangered royal turtles have been released back into the wild in Cambodia. These 51 individuals are part of a drive to bolster the wild population, which was thought to be extinct two decades ago. There are hopes that the increasing number of adults in the wild will allow the species to begin to breed and that the number of annual nests will increase in the next few years.

Nature Restoration Fund awards £5m to projects tackling biodiversity loss and climate change across Scotland. NatureScot announced that this fund will be shared between 54 projects to restore nature, safeguard wildlife and tackle the causes of climate change. Those involved in these projects include RSPB Scotland, who are working to remove invasive rhododendron from the Atlantic rainforest of the Morvern peninsula; Forestry and Land Scotland, who are enhancing black grouse habitats in Craig Dhu; and St Andrews Links Trust, who are leading the West Sands dune restoration programme.

The extinction of megafauna may have triggered a rise in wildfires. A new study has found that the extinction of ancient grazing megafauna, such as the woolly mammoth and the giant ground sloth, may have played a role in the increase of fires over 10,000 years ago. The loss of these species had significant impacts on the environments they inhabited, leaving more grass and dead leaves as fuel for fires, leading to a cascade of consequences.

Anglers work to protect water voles on the River Gade. Together with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, a group of anglers are working to improve the habitat for this endangered species along a 350 metre stretch of the river at Croxley Hall Fisheries. The project entails removing fallen and over-shading trees to encourage plants to grow. It is hoped that this will create more diversity in the habitat, benefit a number of species, including kingfishers, bats and invertebrates.

Birdsong soundscapes are getting quieter. Annual bird monitoring data from European and American bird surveys in over 200,000 sites was translated into soundscapes by combining them with sound recordings for individual species. The results of this study by researchers at the University of East Anglia show a clear and continuous fall in the acoustic diversity and intensity of soundscapes across Europe and North America over the past 25 years.

Top 10 of 2021

NHBS’s Top 10 bestsellers of 2021

We’ve loved looking back at our bestsellers from each month and now we are very excited to share our Top 10 list for 2021.

This year we’ve had a range of exciting bestsellers, including many popular titles you may recognise from previous Top 10s, such as Seabirds, Secrets of a Devon Wood and A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland.

 

Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds: An Illustrated and Photographic Guide  | Tomasz Cofta
Flexibound | March 2021

The number one bestseller for 2021 is Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds! Tomasz Cofta’s cutting-edge book is the first field guide for identifying European passerines in flight, featuring more than 830 stunning colour illustrations. Covering 206 passerines and 32 near-passerine landbirds, this book combines Cofta’s precise illustrations with a range of photos for each species that show how they appear in flight. In addition, short, sharp and authoritative species accounts with essential information on individual flight manner and flock structure are represented concisely. This guide will appeal to all birders, and its new knowledge on flight identification makes it a must-have for professional ornithologists and scientists too.

 

Britain’s Insects: a Field guide to the Insects of Great Britain and Ireland | Paul D. Brock
Flexibound | May 2021

Britain’s Insects is an innovative, up-to-date, carefully designed and beautifully illustrated field guide to Britain and Ireland’s twenty-five insect orders.  Concentrating on popular groups and species that can be identified in the field, this guide features superb photographs of live insects and covers the key aspects of identification. Providing information on status, distribution, seasonality, habitat, food plants and behaviour, this is the go-to guide for entomologists, naturalists, gardeners and anyone else interested in insects, whatever their level of knowledge.

 

Secrets of a Devon Wood: My Nature Journal | Jo Brown
Hardback | October 2020

The number one bestseller in our June Top 10, Secrets of a Devon Wood has captured hearts and minds across the globe. Artist and illustrator Jo Brown started keeping her nature diary in a bid to document the small wonders of the wood behind her home in Devon. In enchanting, minute detail, she zooms in on a buff-tailed bumblebee, a green dock beetle or a pixie cup lichen. This book is an exact replica of her original black Moleskin journal, a rich illustrated memory of Jo’s discoveries in the order in which she found them.

Read our full interview with Jo Brown. 

 

Heathland | Clive Chatters
Hardback | March 2021

Heathlands are so much more than simply purple carpets of heather. They are ancient landscapes found throughout Britain that support a complex of inter-related species and an immense diversity of habitats. In this latest addition to the British Wildlife Collection, Clive Chatters introduces us to Britain’s heathlands and their anatomy. Heathland takes the reader on a geographical tour – from the maritime sub-arctic of the Shetlands to the mild wetness of the Atlantic coast – with an in memoriam nod to those heaths that have been erased from common memory and understanding.

You can read our interview with Clive Chatters here.

 

Butterflies | Martin Warren
Hardback | April 2021  

Butterflies is a unique take on butterfly behaviour and ecology, written by the former Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, Martin Warren. Exploring the secret lives of our British species, this book combines personal anecdotes with the latest discoveries in scientific literature. Butterflies covers everything from why we love these species and their life-cycle from egg to adult, their struggle for survival in a world of predators and parasites and the miracle of migration. Insightful, inspiring and a joy to read, this is the culmination of a lifetime of careful research into what makes these beautiful insects tick and how and why we must conserve them.

 

A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes | Dominic Price
Spiralbound | July 2021  

Featuring in a number of our Top 10 lists, A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes aims to simplify the identification of this fascinating group of plants, using characteristics that are both easy to spot in the field and simple to remember. Over 100 species are described, focusing on the key features of both their genus and species.

Read our interview with Dominic Price.

 

 

seabirds: the new identification guide | Peter harrison et al.
Hardback | June 2021

Seabirds: The New Identification Guide, a 600-page treatment to all known seabird species, including recently rediscovered and rarely seen species.  It is the first comprehensive guide to the world’s seabirds to be published since Harrison’s Seabirds in 1983. This guide contains 239 brilliant, full-colour plates, along with detailed text covering status, conservation, breeding biology and feeding habits, latest taxonomic treatments, geographic range and more. Containing more than 3,800 full-colour figures with illustrations of distinct subspecies, sexes, ages and morphs, seabirders worldwide will find this to be an authoritative, one-of-a-kind publication for use around the globe.

 

Europe’s Birds: An Identification Guide | Rob Hume et al.
Flexibound | October 2021

 

From the highly acclaimed WILDGuides team comes Europe’s Birds, the most comprehensive, authoritative and ambitious single-volume photographic guide to Europe’s birds ever produced.  Birdwatchers of any ability will benefit from the clear text, details on range, status and habitat and an unrivalled selection of photographs. Chosen to be as naturalistic and informative as possible, the images are also stunning to look at, making this a beautiful book to enjoy, as well as an up-to-date and essential source of identification knowledge.

 

Britain’s Hoverflies: A Field Guide | Stuart Ball and Roger Morris
Flexibound | April 2015

Britain’s Hoverflies is a beautifully illustrated photographic field guide to the hoverflies of Britain, focusing on the species that can be most readily identified. It is the perfect companion for wildlife enthusiasts, professional ecologists and anyone else with an interest in this fascinating group of insects, and is designed to appeal to beginners and experts alike. Accessible, authoritative and easy to use, this book contains hundreds of remarkable photographs of the various life stages of those species that can be identified by eye or with a magnifying glass, with coverage of at least one representative from each of the British genera.

 

A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland | Paul D. Brock
Flexibound |  October 2019

This expanded edition covers over 2,300 species with updated maps and over 2,900 colour photographs throughout, with fully comprehensive sections on all insect groups, including beetles, flies, ants, bees and wasps. The concise text gives information on behaviour as well as their present-day conservation status; pointers are given to help avoid misidentification with species of similar appearance.

With its wide species coverage and emphasis on not only popular but somewhat neglected insect orders, A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland will be of interest to naturalists throughout Britain and Ireland.

 

The NHBS Introduction to Habitats: Woodland

Woodland by Oliver Henze via Flickr

Woodland is the next habitat in our NHBS Introduction to Habitats series. Broadly, these habitats are land that is covered with trees, but the term woodland encompasses a diverse group of habitats that can be rich in wildlife. They are a key habitat for many invertebrates, plants, birds, mammals and other species groups. Woodlands are also incredibly useful habitats, for instance by providing flood protection by holding back water in the soil, sequestering carbon dioxide and reducing local temperatures. They also help reduce soil erosion and regulate weather patterns, such as local rainfall and temperature. Woodland may also be beneficial to our health, as it’s thought that spending time in forests decreases blood pressure, reduces stress levels and boosts your immune system. However, studies are still ongoing into the validity of these effects.

The types of woodland habitat include, but are not limited to, ancient, broadleaved, coniferous, mixed and wet woodland, as well as temperate rainforest, Caledonian forest, wood pastures and urban woodland. Each can have defining criteria such as plant types, soil moisture levels, humidity levels and age. There are also semi-natural and plantation woodlands, which are classified based on the percentage of planted trees. There are several indicator species used to determine the type of woodland habitats, such as the violet click beetle (Limoniscus violaceus), which rely exclusively on ancient decaying beech and ash trees. Several of these habitats are UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Priority Habitats, which are a range of threatened semi-natural habitats that require conservation action.

What species can you find here?
Flora

While trees often define woodland, this is not the only type of flora in these habitats. Woodland habitats host 60% of all known vascular plant species. Wildflowers, grasses, sedges, ferns, mosses, fungi and lichen all occur in woodland habitats, although the species found varies depending on the abiotic and biotic conditions within the habitat.

Oak Tree (Quercus spp.)

Oak tree by Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner and leaves by Peter Stenzel via Flickr

Did you know that there are actually over 500 species of oak tree in the world? The dominant oak tree in the UK is the English oak (Quercus robur). The sessile oak (Quercus petraea) is the UK’s other native oak species, but there are many more non-native species here, such as the Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) and holm oak (Quercus ilex). Oak trees can be keystone species in many ecosystems, with one study finding that a single oak tree can host more than 2,300 organisms (data supplied by Natural Environment Research Council). Some of those don’t occur on any other tree species. Oak trees can also live to around 1,000 years old!

Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

Wood Anemone by Stewart Black via Flickr

The wood anemone is an ancient woodland indicator species as they are slow-growing and take a long time to fully establish. Therefore, large patches show that the habitat has been relatively undisturbed for a long time.

They are a spring species, often appearing with bluebells, another ancient woodland indicator. This species has a star-shaped white flower, that can have a pink tinge. It has distinctive yellow anthers in the middle.

 

Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum)

Herb-robert by Randi Hausken via Flickr

A type of crane’s-bill, herb-robert is a low-growing plant with pink flowers and a reddish stem. It is widespread across the UK and prefers shaded habitats, such as woodland. This plant has many traditional uses, such as treating headaches, stomach aches and nosebleeds. It is an important nectar source and food plant for many invertebrates, such as bees and the barred carpet moth (Martania taeniata).

Fungi

Woodland, particularly habitats with a high amount of deadwood and leaf litter, can be key habitats for a wide variety of fungi species. These species break down dead organic matter and facilitate the recycling of carbon and nutrients back into the soil. They are also food for many species, including a number of invertebrate species, and are used as nesting material, for both birds and invertebrates.

Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

Candlesnuff fungus by stanze via Flickr

Also known as stag’s horn fungus and candlestick fungus, this species grows up to 6cm tall, with a black base, grey body and white tip that is often branched, resembling deer antlers. It is a common species within the UK and grows in groups on dead wood. It prefers broadleaf trees, often growing through moss.

Bird’s Nest Fungus (Crucibulum leave)

Bird’s Nest Fungus by Sven Gaedtke via Flickr (cropped)

This woodland fungus is so named as it resembles a bird’s nest filled with a number of ‘eggs’. These eggs are actually periodoles, structures that contain the spores. A yellowish membrane initially covers the cup, before eventually rupturing to reveal the periodoles once they’ve developed. The energy of raindrops disperses them, allowing the fungus to spread.

For other fungi species you might find, check out our NHBS Guides to UK Fungi and Puffball Identification.

Fauna

Woodland ecosystems are often rich in fauna and can host 80% of all known amphibians, 75% of all birds and 68% of all mammal species. 

Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)

Willow Tit by ianpreston via Flickr

This species lives mostly in wet woodlands, feeding mainly on insects but also berries and seeds. Unusually for tit species, the willow tit digs into decaying wood to make nest holes. This is why older woodlands are so important for this species, as there is a higher abundance of decaying wood and trees. The willow tit is so similar to the marsh tit (Poecile palustris) that it wasn’t recognised as a separate species until 1897.

Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary by Janet Graham via Flickr

Woodlands are home to thousands of invertebrate species in the UK. The small pearl-bordered fritillary is widespread across Scotland and Wales but is more limited in England. Like many other invertebrate species, they have suffered severe declines in numbers. Its bright orange and black markings make it a striking butterfly, quite easily seen against the green and brown woodland background.

European Badger (Meles meles)

Badger by caroline legg via Flickr

This unmistakable creature is one of the most well known of Britain’s wildlife, with its iconic black-and-white striped face, grey body and black stomach. Did you know that a large amount of their diet is earthworms? They also prey upon hedgehogs, small mammals, other invertebrates, toads and frogs, and also eat fruit, such as plums and elderberries. This species is fully protected by the law but is still threatened by culls in certain areas, due to its association with bovine tuberculosis.

Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

Red Squirrel by big-ashb via Flickr

Another iconic British species that use woodland habitats is the red squirrel! This native species is far rarer than its non-native cousin, the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), due to being out-competed for food and habitat. Also, grey squirrels transmit a virus called squirrelpox, which has little effect on them but frequently kills red squirrels. Because of this, red squirrels are being pushed out of their normal habitat range. They now only occur in parts of Scotland, northern England and isolated areas such as Anglesey.

Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris)

Scottish Wildcat by Chris Parker via Flickr

This elusive species, also known as the ‘tiger of the Highlands’, may be functionally extinct in the wild, as the population is too small to be viable. Threats from persecution, habitat loss, interbreeding with feral and domestic cats, road collisions and disease mean that this species will not recover without serious conservation action. There are now captive breeding programmes in place and a record number of kittens were born in captivity in 2020, with plans for the first cats to be released back to the wild from 2022 onwards.

Threats

Britain is one of the least-wooded countries in Europe, with only 13% of our land covered in woods compared to Europe’s average of 44%. The main threat to woodland habitat is deforestation, often for development or agriculture. Population growth leads to an increased need for housing and infrastructure, particularly in urban areas, often at the expense of woodland. Natural woodland regeneration is not always possible, especially for ancient woodland, which takes hundreds of years to develop. Additionally, high deer populations, particularly in Scotland, are curbing much of the growth of young plants. This is a serious threat to woodland such as Caledonian forests and it is sometimes necessary to fence off areas to allow for new growth. For more information on deforestation, as well as the potential impacts of the COP26 summit, check out our blog: Climate Challenges: 4. Deforestation.

Reduced management also threatens woodland habitats. Traditional practices, such as coppicing, which involves cutting a tree to ground level to stimulate more growth, are now less common. This led to changes in woodland structures, reducing the diversity of growth, the amount of light that can enter the canopy and reducing habitat opportunities for animals. The lack of regularly felled trees or unwanted branches that used to rot down within the woodland reduces the availability of key habitats for invertebrates and small mammals.

Invasive and non-native species can also impact woodland habitats. For instance, new plantations of tree crops, which have replaced areas of native trees, are usually less suitable for native woodland species. Diseases and pests are also causing issues for UK woodland. For example, ash dieback is predicted to kill around 90% of ash trees in the UK, and Dutch elm disease has killed millions of elm trees over the last 40 years.

Further threats also include pollution, climate change and forest fires. For more information about this threat, check out our blog: Climate Challenges: 2. Forest Fires. With the combined pressures from many of these threats and without current and future conservation efforts and protection, the future could see the loss of these habitats as we know them.

Areas of significance in the UK

Galloway Forest, Scotland – UK’s largest forest
Kielder Forest, Northumberland – England’s largest forest
Grizedale, Cumbria
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Savernake Forest, Wiltshire
Abbots Wood, Sussex
Banagher Glen, County Derry, Northern Ireland
Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia, Wales

Temperate rainforests examples: Taynish National Nature Reserve and the Caledonian Forest, Scotland.
Ancient woodland example: Wistman’s Wood, Devon.
Wet woodland example: Amberley Wild Brooks, West Sussex

Useful resources and further reading

Miyazaki, Y., et al. 2017. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(8): 1-48

Mitchell, R. J., et al. 2019. Oak-associated biodiversity in the UK (OakEcol). NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/22b3d41e-7c35-4c51-9e55-0f47bb845202

 

Forest Insects in Europe: Diversity, Functions and Importance
Beat Wermelinger
Paperback | £49.99

Read our interview with the author

 

 

Guide to Woodlands: Trees, Flowers & Fungi
Rebekah Trehern et al.
Unbound | £3.99

 

 

 

 

Guide to Ancient Woodland Indicator Plants
Alastair Hotchkiss et al. 
Unbound | £3.99

 

 

 

 

Habitats of the World: A Field Guide for Birders, Naturalists and Ecologists
Iain D Campbell et al. 
Flexibound | £24.99 £27.99

 

 

All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.

Climate Challenges: 4. Deforestation

For much of this year, we have been writing a series of articles looking at some of the toughest global climate crisis challenges that we are currently facing. This article looks at the local and global implications of deforestation and its relation to climate change.

Deforestation by Crustmania via Flickr
What is deforestation and why is it happening?

Deforestation is the removal of forests and trees from an area, which is then used for non-forest purposes, such as urban development or agriculture. It has been estimated that, since 1990, 420 million hectares of forest have been lost globally due to deforestation. The main driver of deforestation is agricultural expansion, primarily for commercial ventures such as cattle ranching and palm oil and soya bean cultivation. Around the world, we are thought to lose around 4.7 million hectares of forest per year, but as some areas are regenerated through natural expansion or replanting of new forests, the rate of forest cutting is most likely higher. However, the rate that forests are lost cannot simply be offset by new forests elsewhere; it can take years for even naturally expanded areas to develop. During this time, populations of species particularly sensitive to change could be lost.

Combined with threats from fires, droughts, increasing storm intensity and frequency, pollution, forest degradation through disturbance and the use of chemical insecticides and herbicides, forest habitats are under extreme pressure.

What are the impacts?

Thankfully, the rate of forest loss has been decreasing. Despite this, deforestation is still having widespread, devastating effects on biodiversity, the climate, and our health and wellbeing. Forests are home to a huge variety of species, including invertebrates, which represent a disproportionately large percentage of all species found in forests, and around 60% of all known vascular plant species. These ecosystems also host 80% of all known amphibian species, 75% of all bird species and 68% of all mammal species.

Therefore, deforestation is a significant threat to biodiversity, particularly for more specialist species that are unable to inhabit other areas and those already vulnerable to extinction. Around 28% of all species assessed by the IUCN red list are threatened with extinction, with many of these species being forest dwellers, such as the bizarre-nosed chameleon (Calumma hafahafa), a critically endangered chameleon endemic to Madagascar. This species is thought to only live in montane humid forests within a range of less than 100² kilometres.

Not only does deforestation impact biodiversity, but it can also increase the risk of flooding. Without the presence of trees and their roots to stabilise the soil and slow the flow of water, the soil is more susceptible to erosion which in turn can lead to more surface run-off and less water being absorbed. The removal of trees also contributes to the emission of carbon dioxide and, as tree cover provides shade and slows the rate at which the land heats up, can lead to a rise in local temperatures. Further impacts include changing rainfall patterns and the availability of fresh water. This can have a detrimental effect on agriculture, urban areas and local communities that rely on these natural processes for their water.

Deforestation caused by expanding palm oil plantations in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image by European Space Agency via Flickr
Public health

Deforestation has been linked to an increase in the exposure of people to zoonotic diseases (diseases spread between animals and people), with viruses such as Zika and Nipah suspected to be associated with human disturbance of forests. We have all seen the impact zoonotic diseases can cause on public health. As widespread deforestation continues, many experts are warning about the health of those living nearby. Around 2 billion people rely on forests for shelter, food and water resources – deforestation threatens their livelihoods.

The impact of deforestation on soil erosion, rainfall patterns and flooding may also lead to food insecurity. Low nutrient soil will reduce yields, which could be devastating as populations grow and food demand increases. This in turn means more land for agriculture is needed to produce more food, resulting in further deforestation.

What is being done to prevent deforestation?

Many countries have laws attempting to manage forest clearing and promote more sustainable practices. For example, the UK government included measures to address deforestation as part of the new UK Environment Bill, which received Royal Assent in November 2021. The new bill will make it illegal for UK businesses to use key commodities that have not been produced in line with local forest protection laws and UK businesses that fail to eliminate ties with illegal deforestation from their supply chains will face fines. However, this still allows for links to legal deforestation which, in many countries, can be just as unsustainable and damaging as illegal deforestation.

Countries are also creating annual tree planting targets, such as Scotland, whose target increased to 12,000 hectares of newly planted trees in 2020 and will increase again in 2024/25 to 18,000 hectares. Public education, trade reforms, concerted efforts to tackle illegal logging, creating protected forest areas and granting Indigenous Peoples rights to their traditional forests are also ways shown to prevent deforestation.

Individual companies are also making efforts, such as planting trees for every purchase or donating to charities and organisations involved with reforestation and conservation. Several British firms have signed up to WWF’s forest campaign, pledging to make sure that their wood and paper is legally and sustainably sourced.

By making more sustainable lifestyle choices, there are several small ways you can make a difference, such as by recycling, eating less meat and being a conscious consumer. The latter can be achieved by checking whether the product you are buying comes from a company with strong environmental and sustainability policies. Additionally, using your items for longer can reduce the amount you buy and, therefore, reduces demand for the production of new products.

The replanting of 530,000+ seedlings within the Lolo National Forest in Idaho, USA by the Forest Service, USDA. Image by Dave Gardner Creative via Flickr
COP26 Deforestation Pledge

The Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forest and Land Use has been signed by over 100 world leaders, whose countries cover around 85% of the world’s forests. The pledge aims to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, while still allowing for sustainable development and inclusive rural transformation. Twelve nations, including the UK, USA and France, have pledged to collectively mobilise £8.75 billion of public funding over the next five years to help support developing nations.  This pledge is backed by the commitment of over 30 major financial institutions to look at removing commodity-driven deforestation from their investment and lending portfolios by 2025.

However, this deforestation pledge still allows for the removal of forests, focusing on ending net deforestation, with forest loss being replaced “sustainably”. There are a number of ecological issues with this strategy, as new-growth or secondary forest is less able to support the same levels of biodiversity as primary forest, and the period of ecological succession for these habitats to develop can take decades. Therefore, while this large-scale pledge may be a step in the right direction, many forest habitats, such as ancient forests, will still be under threat from deforestation. Read more about the outcomes of COP26 in our blog: Climate Challenges: COP26 Round Up.

Summary
  • Deforestation is mainly caused by the clearing of land for urban and agricultural development. While annual rates are decreasing, it still poses a significant threat.
  • Forest habitats are home to a vast majority of all known species, such as birds, amphibians, reptiles, plants and invertebrates.
  • Deforestation can impact biodiversity, temperatures, flooding, soil erosion and public health.
  • While many countries are attempting to tackle deforestation, there is still much work that needs to be done. The COP26 pledge to halt and reverse global deforestation may be a step in the right direction, but it does not remove many of the threats to forest habitats.
References and further reading:

Burley, J. 2002. Forest biological diversity: an overview. Unasylva, 209: 3-9.

FAO and UNEP. 2020. The State of the World’s Forests, biodiversity and people. Rome: FAO

Hoang, N. T., and Kanemoto, K. 2021. Mapping the deforestation footprint of nations reveals growing threat to tropical forests. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 5: 845-853

Vie, J-C., Hilton-Taylor, C., and Stuart, S. N. 2009. Wildlife in a Changing World: An analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Switzerland: IUCN

The UK government’s press release regarding the deforestation measures within the UK Environment Bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-world-leading-new-measures-to-protect-rainforests

 

Forest Ecology: An Evidence-Based Approach
Dan Binkley
Paperback | £59.99

 

 

 

A Trillion Trees: How We Can Reforest Our World
Fred Pearce
Hardback | £16.99 £19.99

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Habitat Management: Concepts and Applications in Forestry
Brenda C McComb
Paperback | £42.99

 

 

All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.

Bat Conservation Trust – National Bat Conference

The Bat Conservation Trust’s annual National Bat Conference, held online via Zoom from 29th–31st October, covered many aspects of bat conservation through a wide variety of activities and talks, including monitoring, surveying and development. We are extremely pleased to have sponsored this event and we were lucky enough to have been able to attend many of these sessions, including talks by Professor Tigga Kingston from Texas Tech University on the human dimensions of bat conservation, and Thomas Foxley, University of the West of England, who spoke about the role of landscape features in spatial activity patterns of greater horseshoe bats. We also attended a few of the amazing workshops that took place, such as Shirley Thompson’s gardening for bats.

Bat Conservation Trust update

Bat Conservation Trust also shared an update on their current and future work. Bats make up more than a quarter of all mammal species in the UK, but sadly, these species face many threats. Habitat loss and fragmentation, decreasing food resources, chemical use, disturbance to roosts and threats from cats have all led to a dramatic decline in bat populations over the last century. Diseases, wind farms, flypaper, artificial lighting and the presence and construction of roads also negatively impact.

Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) bats roosting by Jessicajil via Flickr

Currently, Bat Conservation Trust supports a number of local bat groups, working with volunteers, scientists, industry and government on a range of projects. They focus on discovering more about bats, taking action to protect them, inspiring people to care about bats and strengthening their work by improving relevant skills and knowledge. Their programmes include a National Bat Monitoring Programme, education and engagement, the National Bat Helpline, Landscapes for Bats, and science and research.

During this update, Bat Conservation Trust spoke of the many ways they will be increasing their efforts to help bat populations, for example by increasing the spread of their monitoring programs and organising a petition regarding key amendments to the Environment Bill, including legally binding targets for wildlife recovery. Through new acoustic and monitoring approaches, they also aim to improve their evidence base and Bat Conservation Trust are also working towards improving their engagement with policymakers, the public and the media. Their Bat in Churches project has also been expanded to include training on bat care basics, surveying a church, the best architectural practices for bats and cleaning workshops.

One key scheme they are developing is the Bat Roost Tree Tag Scheme where recognisable tags are placed on trees that contain bat roosts. The aim of this is to make sure all trees that have been surveyed and found to contain bat roosts are easily identifiable. When woodland managers and workers see a tag on a tree, they will know to seek advice before proceeding with work. This will also give a significantly increased level of protection for ancient trees, which are vitally important for a large number of species.

Future events and how to get involved

The National Bat Conference was a very interesting and educational event, and it was wonderful to see such a wide range of knowledge and skillsets being shared through the many talks, activities and workshops throughout the weekend. If you missed out this time or would like to attend further events, the Bat Conservation Trust has a number of future events planned, including Spring into Action, Midlands Bat Conference and the East of England Bat Conference. More information about these and other events can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website.

There are a number of ways you can help to support Bat Conservation Trust, such as by becoming a member or donating.  You can also contact your local bat group, fundraise for bats or volunteer for their various projects. However you choose to get involved, you can make a real difference to the future of bats in the UK.

Climate Challenges: COP26 Round Up

COP26, the 26th annual summit of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, has come to a close. This historic event ran from 31st October to 12th November and aimed to secure global net zero emission targets and keep the 1.5°C target within reach. It also discussed the need to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilising finance and working together to deliver key commitments. For more information on the lead up to this event, what net zero means and the 1.5°C agreement, read our blog: What is COP26 and Why is it Important? We also looked back on the first week of COP26 in our blog: Climate Challenges: COP26 First Week Update. In this article, we discuss an overview of the major outcomes of this event and how they might affect our efforts to combat climate change.

COP26 climate march by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Insure Our Future via Flickr
Key outcomes

A number of key pledges were launched and signed during COP26, including:

  • 90% of the world’s economy now striving for net zero emissions, with many aiming for 2050.
  • The Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forest and Land Use intends to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, while also delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation. This pledge has been signed by over 100 world leaders, covering around 85% of the world’s forests.
  • More than 100 world leaders have signed the Global Methane Pledge, a U.S. and EU-led commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30% over the next decade from 2020 levels.
  • The Breakthrough Agenda, a global initiative launched by the UK, aims to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most economical and appealing option for each emitting sector by 2030, with leaders committing to review progress annually, starting in 2022.
  • The Coal Pledge, signed by more than 40 countries, aims for nations to move away from coal power by the 2030s for major economies and 2040s for developing countries.
  • A $10.5 billion fund for emerging economies to switch to renewable energies will be supplied by the Global Alliance Group, a group of philanthropic foundations and international development banks. They intend to raise $100 billion in public and private capital.
  • Around 450 financial organisations, with a combined market capitalisation of $130 trillion, have agreed to shift their investments away from financing fossil fuel-burning industries and toward “clean” technology.
  • China and the U.S. have announced an agreement to work together to cut emissions and help the world stay within 1.5°C by cooperating on key areas, such as cutting emissions from transport, energy and industry.
COP26 coalition rally – Stephen and Helen Jones via Flickr
Are they effective?

Many critics and climate experts are concerned that these pledges will not be enough to keep average global temperatures below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. There are calls for global leaders to do more to meet this goal, as exceeding it will see a worsening in the negative impacts of climate change, potentially putting millions of lives and livelihoods at risk. With countries such as Russia, China, India and Australia refusing to sign the methane pledge, and others, such as the U.S. and China, not signing the coal pledge, it is unclear how successful these agreements will be at tackling climate change. Despite signing the deforestation pledge, Indonesia has stated that it will not halt its developmental growth, which involves cutting forests for new roads and the cultivation of food crops. According to a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this pledge does not forbid the cutting down of forests, but rather seeks to end net deforestation – forest loss must be “replaced sustainably”.

Replacing primary forest with new growth has a variety of negative environmental consequences. Primary, undisturbed, ancient forests are often highly complex ecosystems that support a variety of species, including many specialist species, and have an irreplaceable value. New-growth or secondary forest are less able to support the same level of biodiversity, as they may have significant differences in forest structure and species composition. Abiotic factors can vary during development, reducing the area’s suitability for the previous ecosystem. After a major disturbance, it can take decades for an area to develop into a climax community, such as a forest, through ecological succession. During many of these stages, many of the species that previously inhabited the primary forest will be unable to survive, and the community will most likely be made up of more disturbance-tolerant, generalist species that are often of lower conservation concern.

Once the stable climax habitat has developed, even if the new habitat is similar, the community structure may differ dramatically from the original. Certain plant or wildlife species may have been unable to re-establish due to the presence of new species or a reduction in resources, potentially leading to localised extinctions. It is unknown how long it takes for a secondary forest to develop the levels of biodiversity found in primary forests, but it could be several hundred years. Therefore, this form of “sustainable” deforestation might still result in extinctions and reduced biodiversity. These new-growth regions may be far less ecologically valuable than primary forest and, during much of the successional period, store significantly less carbon.

A deforestation policy that focuses on net deforestation rather than halting or severely limiting all deforestation, could potentially help to reduce world carbon emissions by stabilising, or even increasing global forest cover, but this does not address the whole picture. This policy allows for the continued negative ecological impacts of deforestation on biodiversity and vulnerable species, which could ultimately lead to countless extinctions.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the Global Methane Pledge. Hailey Sani via Flickr
Glasgow Climate Pact

Only effective implementation of pledges and tangible action, much of which has not been seen following previous promises of past summits, can ensure the success of COP26. The Glasgow Climate Pact is the agreement reached at COP26 and the first deal ever to explicitly plan to reduce coal. This document initially aimed to clarify and build on the Paris Agreement, proposing that countries agree to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuels and for developed countries to double their climate finance commitments for funding adaptation. However, many demonstrators throughout the two-week event have called for bolder commitments and stricter accountability to combat climate change, followed by appropriate and effective action.

The first draft of the document was criticised for a variety of reasons, including a lack of financial aid for developing nations and the need for clearer commitments to force countries to increase their emissions cuts. The second draft retained the core demand to return to the negotiating table next year to improve countries’ national emission reduction plans, but included even softer language. COP26 President Alok Sharma stated he was “deeply sorry”, as this final deal shifted from requiring countries to “phase out” coal to “phase down”, a change that has disappointed some. Many now look to the meeting next year that may see further pledges to cut emissions to reach the 1.5°C goal, as an analysis showed that the world is on track for a 2.4°C rise, despite these new pledges.

COP26 light projection in Glasglow. Backbone Campaign via Flickr
References and useful resources

A news report on the countries that are now aiming for net zero: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-11-01-80-world-economy-now-aiming-net-zero-not-all-pledges-are-equal

The COP26 website information on the Glasgow Leader’s declaration on forests and land use: https://ukcop26.org/glasgow-leaders-declaration-on-forests-and-land-use/

A news report on the COP26 deforestation pledge: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59088498

The UK Government’s Press release on the new Breakthrough Agenda: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/world-leaders-join-uks-glasgow-breakthroughs-to-speed-up-affordable-clean-tech-worldwide

The New York Times report of the Global Energy Alliance: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/03/world/europe/global-energy-alliance-fund-cop26.html

The Guardian news report on the Coal Pledge and its criticisms: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/03/more-than-40-countries-agree-to-phase-out-coal-fired-power

Indonesia believes the pledge is unfair: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/05/indonesia-says-cop26-zero-deforestation-pledge-it-signed unfairhttps://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

Stages of Ecological Succession: https://sciencing.com/stages-ecological-succession-8324279.html

Barlow, J. et al. 2007. Quantifying the biodiversity value of tropical primary, secondary, and plantation forests. PNAS 104(47): 18555-18560. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703333104

A news report on China and the US’ plan to work together on cutting emissions: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/10/china-and-the-us-announce-plan-to-work-together-on-cutting-emissions

A news report detailing the criticism of the first Cop26 draft: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/10/cop26-draft-calls-for-tougher-emissions-pledges-by-next-year

The draft document, published on 12 November 2021: https://unfccc.int/documents/310987

A news report on the Glasgow Climate Pact: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-59277788

A new report on Climate Action Tracker’s analysis of the potential 2.4°C in global average temperatures: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/09/cop26-sets-course-for-disastrous-heating-of-more-than-24c-says-key-report

Pelagic Publishing: Publisher of the Month

Pelagic Publishing was founded in 2010 to fill the publishing gap in practical books available on ecology and conservation, aiming to encourage best-practice in research techniques and highlight the use of technology in wildlife exploration. They publish books for scientists, conservationists, ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts – anyone with a passion for understanding and exploring the natural world. Their books cover ecological survey and evolutionary biology to natural history dictionaries and environmental statistics. We are delighted to announce Pelagic Publishing as our Publisher of the Month for November and December 2021.

Browse a selection of Pelagic titles below, or explore their entire range here.

 

Wild Mull: A Natural History of the Island and Its People
Paperback | £19.99

Wild Mull guides the reader through the world of the Isle of Mull in its glory, considering every facet of the island’s natural history, diverse species and stories of past, present and future. With superb illustrations and illuminating text, Wild Mull is testimony to the power of wild places and the duty we have to protect and learn from them.

 

Bat Calls of Britain and Europe: A Guide to Species Identification
Hardback | £49.99

Providing an identification guide to bat echolocation calls for all 44 European bat species, Jon Russ has collaborated with over 40 contributors to make this book the definitive resource for bat conservationists and enthusiasts around Europe.

 

 

Paperback | £16.99 £19.99

This comprehensive photographic field guide is the first complete guide to identifying Harlequin ladybirds found in Britain and Ireland.  It also covers all the other 25 conspicuous ladybird species that occur. This clear, user-friendly field guide is ideal for anyone interested in learning how to identify a Harlequin ladybird.

 

Water Vole Field Signs and Habitat Assessment: A Practical Guide to Water Vole Surveys
Paperback | £21.99 £24.99

An essential guide to those surveying for water voles, this guide is chock-full of practical advice and field photos.  This guide provides detailed descriptions of all the habitats used by water voles, including less typical habitats, with annotated photos to help the surveyor home in on just the right areas to look.

 

Pollinators & Pollination: Nature and Society
Paperback | £21.99 £24.99

Written by one of the world’s leading pollination ecologists, Pollinators & Pollination provides an introduction to what pollinators are, how their interactions with flowers have evolved, and the fundamental ecology of these relationships.  The author also provides practical advice on how individuals and organisations can study, and support, pollinators.

 

Human Nature: A Naturalist’s Thoughts on Wildlife and Wild Places
Hardback| £15.99

Ian Carter, lifelong naturalist and a former bird specialist at Natural England, sets out to uncover the intricacies of the relationship between humans and nature. In a direct, down-to-earth style he explains some of the key practical, ethical and philosophical problems we must navigate as we seek to reconnect with nature.

 

Rebirding: Restoring Britain’s Wildlife
Paperback | £10.99

Winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation, Rebirding was written as the first book with actual solutions for how beautiful and profitable the UK’s countryside could one day look. Rebirding describes why the impending extinction of our cuckoos, turtle doves and honey-bees is entirely avoidable – Britain has all the space it needs for an epic wildlife recovery.

All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.

British Wildlife Book Reviews

British Wildlife has featured book reviews since the very first magazine back in 1989. These reviews provide in-depth critiques of the most important new titles in natural history publishing, from nature-writing bestsellers to technical identification handbooks. They are all authored by experts in relevant subjects, which ensures an honest and insightful appraisal of each book featured.

Since 2018 every review included in the magazine is available to read on the British Wildlife website. Here are ten titles that have featured so far in some of the recent issues of British Wildlife, all with links to take you directly to the full review.

1. Beak, Tooth and Claw: Living with Predators by  Mary Colwell

“She walked and travelled through the farms and uplands of Britain and Ireland. She talked to people on both sides of the divide – sheep-farmers, salmonfishers, raven-tamers, writers, scientists, conservationists, gamekeepers. She watched her chosen predators in the field and noted how they ‘fit into the landscape’.”

Reviewed by Peter Marren in the June 2021 issue (BW 32.7) – read the review here

2. Broomrapes of Britain & Ireland by Chris Thorogood & Fred Rumsey

“This monograph has been meticulously proofread, and is neatly laid out, well printed and generally excellent. I am particularly grateful to the authors for finally nailing down a violet-coloured broomrape which I found, years ago, growing on the seashore near Sandwich.”

Reviewed by Peter Marren in the August 2021 issue (BW 32.8) – read the review here

 

3. Much Ado About Mothing: A Year Intoxicated by Britain’s rare and Remarkable Moths by James Lowen

“Most of his literary energy lies in individualising the moths. He is a generous and imaginative, and, yes, ‘intoxicated’ describer. The quest has barely got going before we are introduced to the Pale Tussock’s ‘shag-pile furriness’ and the male Muslin Moth’s ‘grey mad-professor hair’.”

Reviewed by Peter Marren in the August 2021 issue (BW 32.8 – read the review here

 

4. Butterflies by Martin Warren

“In summary, I have nothing but praise for this book. Anyone interested in butterflies, and especially those involved with sites where butterflies are a significant presence, should read it. It is beautifully produced and printed.”

Reviewed by Bob Gibbons in the August 2021 issue (BW 32.8) – read the review here

5. International Treaties in Nature Conservation: A UK Perspective by David Stroud et al.

“It is therefore authoritative and densely packed, yet commendably succinct, well paced and easy to read. Inevitably specialist, it is nevertheless a compelling read and will become a worthy source of reference for years to come.”

Reviewed by Anthony Fox in the October 2021 issue (BW 33.1) – read the review here

 

6. Why Nature Conservation Isn’t Working: Understanding Wildlife in the Modern World by Adrian Spalding

“We deliberately choose big, glamorous species to release simply because we like them. Spalding thinks that all this is wrong, that wild species have an existence entirely separate from Homo sapiens in time and space, in their lives, in their habitat, and in their evolutionary and historical past (and future).”

Reviewed by Peter Marren in the October 2021 issue (BW 33.1) – read the review here

7. Human, Nature: A Naturalist’s Thoughts on Wildlife and Wild Places by Ian Carter

“As Ian Carter puts it, the many and varied connections he has with nature play a significant part in making his life feel worthwhile. They have provided the material for the journals he has kept over three decades, and form the substance of this book. His thoughts on the conundrums and contradictions in the way humans interact with wildlife build into a thoughtful and timely look at contemporary relationships between people and nature.”

Reviewed by James Robertson in the October 2021 issue (BW 33.1) – read the review here

8. Ecology and Natural History by David M. Wilkinson

“Although it is clearly written, and eschews mathematics, it is dense with concepts and facts, with a strong whiff of university teaching. It is therefore one of the more technical New Naturalists. But where does it say that nature has to be simple? Its complexity is surely part of its fascination.”

Reviewed by Peter Marren in the October 2021 issue (BW 33.1) – read the review here

 

9. Freshwater Snails of Britain and Ireland by Ben Rowson et al.

“This is a terrific book: a ‘must have’ for anyone who wants to learn how to identify, accurately, freshwater snails in Britain and Ireland.”

Reviewed by Jeremy Biggs in the November 2021 issue (BW 33.2) – read the review here

 

 

10. Britain’s Insects: A Field Guide to the Insects of Great Britain and Ireland by Paul D. Brock

“Its structured approach offers a general illustrated guide to insect orders (such as mayflies, or dragonflies and damselflies), including some larvae. Then, when you reach an order, there is a good introduction and the species accounts are further broken down into sections…”

Reviewed by Bob Gibbons in the November 2021 issue (BW 33.2) – read the review here


Since its launch in 1989, British Wildlife has established its position as the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiasts and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Individual back issues of the magazine are available to buy through the NHBS website, while annual subscriptions start from just £35 – sign up online here.

 

This Week in Biodiversity News – 17th November 2021

An extinct species could be cloned as a last-ditch attempt to find the Eungella gastric-brooding frog in the wild fails. This species, last seen in the wild between the 1970s and 80s, was the subject of a final search in the remote rainforests of north Queensland, which proved unsuccessful. Scientists across the world are now experimenting with cloning procedures “beyond the known edge of science” in an attempt to bring the species back.

China signs up to combat forest destruction, but critics say it’s not enough. China is among more than 100 countries that have committed to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, but its supply chains are reliant on the production of ‘forest-risk’ commodities, such as palm oil and cattle, which is driving deforestation outside its borders.

Federal agency withdraws plan that would all but end protection for red wolves in North Carolina. Just days after announcing that it will withdraw a 2018 proposal that would have reduced the north-eastern North Carolina protection area for red wolves by some 90%, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stated it now plans to release nine wolves from captivity this winter. This comes in response to a federal lawsuit that accuses the FWS of violating the Endangered Species Act by not releasing more wolves into the wild.

The Amazon has the highest October forest loss since at least 2007. 877 square kilometres of rainforest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, a 5% increase over October 2020, the second straight month that the rate of forest clearing has risen on a month-over-month basis. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending upwards since 2012, but there are hopes that this trend will end as Brazil signed the COP26 agreement to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030.