Friday, 30 May 2008

"False Optimism" Compromising Fight Against Climate Change

Writing in Nature Reports Climate Change this week, researchers have called for a move away from the 'curious optimism' which they believe has characterised Governments' actions to date to tackle global warming.

Martin Parry, Jean Palutikof, Clair Hanson & Jason Lowe, members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) state that there is a "false optimism...obscuring reality" at major international climate change summits, hampering progress towards mitigation of the impacts of dangerous climate change.

Referencing the 2007 IPCC report, the authors state that a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by 2050 will be insufficient to prevent a 2 degree C rise in temperature by 2100. Due to inertia in the climate system, a warming trend will continue to 2100. They call for an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 as the only way to avoid dangerous climatic change. Under an 80% cut, the IPCC report indicates that there will be almost no chance of exceeding the 2 degree rise in 2050, and only a very small likelihood of reaching the 2 degree rise by 2100.

The article also stresses the vital importance of investing in measures to adapt to climate change immediately. "The sooner we recognize this delusion, confront the challenge and implement both stringent emissions cuts and major adaptation efforts, the less will be the damage that we and our children will have to live with."

'Stern Review' of Biodiversity Reports

The preliminary findings of the EU-funded review into the economics of biodiversity loss, the so-called 'Stern Review' of Biodiversity, were unveiled yesterday at the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) review has found that global GDP could decline by 7% by 2050 if ecosystem degradation is not tackled. Mankind is causing almost £4obn of damage to terrestrial ecosystems each year. The leader of the study, Pavan Sukhdev, warns that "urgent remedial action is essential because species loss and ecosystem degradation are inextricably linked to human well-being". The report warns that the world's fisheries are likely to collapse within the next 50 years if current trends are not reversed.

The final results of the study will be reported at CBD COP-10 in 2010.

As part of the COP meeting, which draws to a close today, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, launched a 'Life Web' initiative, which provides financial and technical assistance to those developing countries in a position to provide protected areas on land or sea. Indonesia has declared it will designate 20million hectares of its territory as marine protected areas, establishing the largest marine protected area in the world.

See a webcast of the 'Life Web' side-event at the COP CBD meeting - 25 May 2008.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Vacancy: Director, Living With Environmental Change

Applications are invited for the position of Director of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) initiative.

LWEC is a ten-year, £1bn, cross- Research Council initiative which will provide decision makers with the best information to effectively manage and protect vital ecosystem services. It will improve our tools and knowledge needed to build resilience, mitigate problems, and adapt to environmental change. Further information on the aims of the LWEC programme can be found here.

The Director of LWEC will be the public leader of the overall programme, recruiting and leading a supporting team to work with the programme's advisory groups and partner organisations to enable the strategic objectives to be met. A high calibre individual is sought for a salary of £85,000, plus benefits.

Further information on the role and how to apply

Ecological Education: Starting from Scratch

On Tuesday, 27 May, members of the British Ecological Society gathered in York to discuss the future of ecological education in the UK. The Education team at the Society organised the "Starting from Scratch" workshop with the aim of producing concrete outputs, from researchers, applied ecologists and teachers - school to university - which could eventually filter into policy making at the highest levels.

Participants in the day were clear in their views on the ecological component of the biology curriculum: for too long students have been taught content with little regard to its wider applicability or in an abstract fashion with little connection the the real world outside the classroom. There has been little change in the biology curriculum since it was drafted by Huxley in 1875. Are there components of ecology which should be removed or reworked? Participants were encouraged to consider "ecological thinking". Why are, for example, food webs, food chains, pyramids of numbers and the nitrogen cycle, taught in schools? What are these things for?

A presentation from the Field Studies Council highlighted the decline in fieldwork in schools, and the closure of field studies centres since the 1970s. This stressed that further work should be done to encourage confidence amongst teachers, whether during initial teaching training or at later career stages, through Continuous Professional Development, to take students out into the field to experience natural science first hand.

After discussion, many felt that the elements of the ecology curriculum currently in place were correct, but that these had to be taught in a different way, encouraging students to see ecology for what it is - applied biology in all its senses, with relevance to the real world and human impacts on it, and engendering an understanding and passion for nature outside the four walls of the classroom.

The BES policy and education teams will be working closely together later this year to develop this work. If you would be interested in getting involved, please contact the Society

GB Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy Launched

Defra yesterday launched the Great Britain Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy, aiming to coordinate existing programmes to tackle non-native invasive species in England, Scotland and Wales and to introduce means to spot threats posed by invaders much earlier. It is estimated that there are now more than 3,000 non-native species wild in Britain, with climate change expected to bring more foreign species to Britain's shores. Invasive non-native species, such as Japanese Knotweed, cost the British economy upwards of £2bn a year.

The strategy is built around the three-stage approach agreed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002, to:

  • to help prevent introductions in the first place by raising awareness of the risks and increasing understanding of the impacts;
  • to better enable early detection and rapid response to introductions before they become major problems; and,
  • to develop longer-term control programmes based on sound science.
Key points from the GB strategy include:
  • Measures to educate the public on the risks posed to native habitats and wildlife by non-native invasive species, and on how to prevent introducing these species.
  • The development of a web-based, shared central directory showing types of invasive non-native species in particular areas and how they have spread.
  • Developing a clear framework for rapid responses when invasive non-native species are detected in Britain.

In addition, the GB Strategy also contains measures to improve the effectiveness of legislation, to improve integration of activities and programmes and to better focus research effort.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Global Physical and Biological Impacts of Climate Change

Significant changes are occurring in physical and biological systems in all continents and most oceans, according to a paper published recently in Nature.

The researchers conducted a huge meta-analysis using data sets from 829 documented physical and 28,800 biological responses from 1970-2004. Changes that were reported in biological systems included earlier blooming, leaf unfolding and spring arrival. In marine biological systems changes were observed in phenology, migration and community composition in algae, plankton and fish. Physical changes included glacier wastage and an earlier spring peak of river discharge. The team found that globally, the changes were directly attributable to anthropogenic climate change, rather than natural variability or other events such as solar flares or volcanic eruptions.

Disturbingly, the findings confirm the fact that anthropogenic climate change is already impacting these systems globally.

BES Meeting: The Ecological Consequences of the Severn Barrage

The British Ecological Society's Conservation Ecology Specical Interest Group (SIG) is holding a one-day event on 2 July to discuss the ecological consequences of the proposed development of a Severn Barrage. The workshop provides an opportunities for ecologists and policy makers to interact to discuss the Barrage proposals and what these might mean for the natural environment of the Severn Estuary.

This will take place at the University of Wales, Cardiff. The draft programme and details of how to book a place at this event are available here.

Friday, 23 May 2008

'Green Capital' of Europe Award Launched by European Commission

Yesterday evening saw the launch of the 'European Green Capital Award' at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.

The new award is designed to encourage European cities to become cleaner and greener, and will commence in 2010. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas is hopeful that "...this award will act as a powerful incentive for local governments and authorities to improve living conditions for Europe's city-dwellers."

The award will be given to a European city that has achieved a proven record of high environmental standards and that can act as a role model for other European cities.

New Grants to Safeguard Species and Habitats in England

Natural England yesterday announced a new £5million package to support Voluntary Conservation Organisations in safeguarding England's priority habitats and species. The new scheme, 'Countdown 2010', will run for the next three years, funding projects which protect specific endangered species but also supporting initiatives dedicated to the revival of habitats and species across large areas.

Voluntary Conservation Organisations can apply for three-year grants, with a minimum award of £25,000 and a maximum of £250,000 in each of the three years. The programme finishes in March 2011.

Defra yesterday published a revised list of England's priority habitats and species, which sees the number of priority species nearly double, to 914. The Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund will support projects which target species and habitats on this list.

Modelling the Health Impacts of Climate Change

A new report suggests that more needs to be done to adapt systems models to adequately reflect the dangers posed to human health by climate change.

Most research on the impacts of climate change has focused on the environmental consequences, rather than the health impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that it is very likely that climate change will increase threats to human health. Direct impacts are posed by an increase in the incidence of extreme temperature and weather events, whilst indirect effects could be the increase in infectious disease, for example malaria, caused by warmer temperatures and changes in the hydrologic cycle.

Modelling the health impacts of, for example, malaria, and how this may change under climate change scenarios, is complex, due to the range of factors which can affect the geographic range of the vector, such as drug resistance and economic development. The report suggests that new models should better account for these drivers and develop country-specific projections of risk.

The priorities of healthcare funders are identified as one of the key factors limiting development of these models. To date, healthcare funders have had little interest in developing interdisciplinary models - for example modelling the interaction between land-use and climate change on human health.

Wildlife Diseases: POST Seminar - Tuesday 3 June

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is holding an afternoon seminar on Wildlife Diseases on Tuesday 3rd June (Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall, 4.00pm)

POST will be joined by speakers with experience of the scientific and practical aspects of wildlife disease, including colleagues from Defra and the Institute of Zoology. The seminar will examine the impacts of wildlife disease, the current status of surveillance in the UK and options to strengthen UK policy in this area.

If you would like to attend, please contact or telephone 020 7219 2840.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Bogged Down: Peat Bog Loss Means Greater Carbon Emissions

Peat Bogs are hugely significant in the fight against climate change, playing a critical role through carbon sequestration. Peat bogs act as sinks, which fix and store carbon from the atmosphere.

The gradual erosion of England's Peat Bogs diminishes their capacity to store carbon, and physically releases it in gaseous form - carbon dioxide - when dried out. Mismanagement of peat bogs through overgrazing by sheep and pollution from industry, has resulted in their decline. Overgrazing leads to greater surface runoff, accelerating topsoil loss and releasing carbon.

Fred Worral, a peat specialist of Durham University, says that land-based emissions are possibly as serious as those of aviation and road transport. Peat bog can potentially store up to 5000 tonnes of carbon per hectare. The National Trust organised hundreds of volunteers from energy and conservation bodies to help begin restoring Peat Bogs in England, though it is unlikely they will return to complete blanket bog.

The fight against climate change continues to be fought on several fronts.

The BES would like to invite members and readers of the blog to comment on this article.

Science and the Welsh Assembly: Green Chemistry and the Environment

The Science and the Assembly meeting was held yesterday at the Welsh Devolved Assembly Government in Cardiff.

The British Ecological Society took the opportunity to create a presence at The Welsh Assembly Government, to promote the science of ecology and forge links with relevant organisations.

Talks were held at the Wales Millennium Centre on the theme of 'Green Chemistry and the Environment,' hosted by the The Royal Society of Chemistry. Of particular interest were talks of relevance to ecology and policy; 'Grassland for a Sustainable Future' by Professor Mervyn Humphreys of Aberystwyth University and 'Bioactive Natural Products from Common Plants' by Professor Mark Baird of Bangor University.

Grassland for a Sustainable Future

Key aims of current and future research included using renewable feedstocks, preventing waste, reducing pollution and renewable energy. Prof. Humphreys hopes to develop methods for screening genotypes of grass species such as Miscanthus, (a perennial grass native to Japan and China that can be used as a fuel). Genotypes differ in lignin content, which affects the boiling point of oils produced and thus their potential for different uses. Other topical work included looking at how clover roots can improve soil structure and sequester carbon; and investigating high sugar-content grasses' ability to reduce nitrogen wastage from cows and sheep and possibly reduce methane output.

Bioactive Natural Products from Common Plants

Chemical compounds naturally produced in plants can be used for human benefit in terms of pest control, health purposes and biofuels. For example, bioactive products from native welsh bluebells could potentially be used to control bracken, and products could also potentially be used to help fight TB, cancer, diabetes and be used for glues and pigments. Additionally, fatty acids (triglycerides) in certain native welsh plants could be used and/or modified for the purpose of biofuels. However regarding the use of native plants as biofuels, there was uncertainty surrounding the scale of plantations needed in order to match existing fossil fuel supplies, and scant mention of the potential social and environmental consequences of such a move.

Jane Davidson encouraged the scientific community to contact her with any information that could be of use to help the Welsh Assembly Environment team in future policy making, or such matters.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Natural England Publishes First Annual Report

Natural England has today published its first annual report and a manifesto setting out the action needed "to set the nation on a greener path".

The report reveals that, amongst other findings:

  • The natural environment is less rich than 50 years ago and remains under threat from a significant number of pressures: from more intense land and sea use, economic development and climate change.
  • Lack of woodland management has caused a 50% decline in species of native woodland butterfly.
  • Well-managed, targeted projects can have successful outcomes: the long-term decline of farmland birds is slowing due to more environmentally friendly farming practices.

The report also reveals that more species are colonising urban environments. In the 12 years to 2006, pigeons, green woodpeckers, goldfinches and great tit populations all increased in cities and towns. Birds, bees and other insects are leaving intensively farmed rural areas for urban gardens and brownfield sites.

Natural England has pledged to publish a map of suitable areas for onshore wind farm development and to better allocate the £2.9billion it governs under green management schemes to support people and nature in adapting to climate change. The agency also plans to connect existing wildlife sites through a "wildlife super-highway". Natural England has called for a more joined up, landscape-scale approach to conservation.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Biodiversity in Drastic Decline

Data from the Zoological Society London (ZSL) suggests that between a quarter and a third of all species have been lost since 1970. The Earth is currently undergoing a major extinction episode, the like of which has not seen since the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, 65.5million years ago. However the fundamental correlates of decline of this extinction episode are rooted in pollution, farming and urban expansion resulting in habitat loss, over-exploitation of marine resources and hunting.

According to the ZSL's data, populations of land-based species have fallen by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater species by 29%. African antelopes, swordfish and hammerhead sharks are said to have undergone some of the most marked declines.

The press release is timely insofar as the Convention on Biological Diversity is hosting the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Bonn on the 17-18th May this year. The aim of the convention was to accomplish a "significant reduction" in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. The ZSL is sceptical that the target will be met, and is critical of governments; citing a lack of policy implementation in order to achieve this goal.

BES members are invited to comment on this article.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Invasive Non-Native Species: BES POSTnote Seminar at Parliament

Fay Collier, this year's Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) fellow (awarded by the British Ecological Society), researched and wrote a review for POSTnote on Invasive Non-Native species: their ecological and economic threats. A seminar was held on the topic today at Portcullis House, Westminster, chaired by the Earl of Selborne with speakers Prof. John Mumford (Imperial College London), Dr. Niall Moore (Non-Native Species Secretariat), Dr. Paul Raven (Environment Agency) and Dr. Dick Shaw (CAB International).

Prof John Mumford:

Described invasive species colonisations as 'explosive and insidious events.' Highlighted how establishment and impact are key predictors of risk. Professor Mumford called for more money to be spent on natural competition research, given the uncertainty surrounding the impact of natural competition on invasive species.

Niall Moore:

Spoke of the economic implications of non-native species, citing them as the 2nd biggest drivers of biodiversity loss, with a huge economic cost - 5% of world economy is the cost of cleaning up all invasive species. Niall suggested that improved monitoring and rapid response will help tackle invasive species. For example, between 1999 and 2004, Bullfrogs were identified in south-east England, but the problem was identified quickly and they were dispatched before they became a problem; prevention being better than cure.

Stakeholder input is required into identifying policy objectives, public engagement should be actively encouraged. Currently there are legislative shortcomings such as no compulsory access for government agents to sites where removal of invasive species is required.

Dr Paul Raven:

Gave an overview of invasive species' social and economic impacts including describing the following:

Top ten 'most wanted' invasive species by the EA:

1) Japanese Knotweed (structural damage to buildings; clogs waterways)
2) N. American crayfish (outcompetes native crayfish; impacts on invertebrate plant communities
3) Mink (linked to huge decline in water vole and moorhen populations)
4) Giant hogweed (toxic and causes skin irritation; suppresses native plants)
5) Floating Pennywort (forms mats that choke waterways and starve them of light, nutrients an d oxygen)
6) Himalayan Balsalm (lures bumblebees form native plants)
7) Australian Swamp Stonecrop (destroys pond life and impacts on recreational activities)
8) Chinese Mitten Crab (secondary host of parasitic lung fluke; outcompetes native species)
9) Parrots Feather (forms dense mats; can increase drowning risk for children)
10) Top mouth gudgeon (prolific breeder that outcompetes native species)

Dr Dick Shaw (CABI):

Believes control is the most effective way of dealing with invasive species. He talked about a number of problem species in the UK and in Australia, including the loss of eucalyptus forest to rubber vine weed. Identifying host-specific natural enemies of exotic invasives (i.e species that will naturally specifically predate/attack the target species and not other species), is a key aim of CABI's research. For example, CABI determined that the weevil Aphalara itadori specifically attacks japanese knotweed, and their research is now being subjected to 'Pest Risk Analysis' scrutinized under peer-review, and subject to public consultation, will be released to tackle the knotweed.

The seminar was an excellent event in its own right, with fascinating talks from high-profile speakers in the subject area, and with some thought-provoking discussion and ideas at the end.
It is also an excellent opportunity to meet and speak with researchers and people from industry on a topic of great interest.

Read more about POST at

Click here to read about how to apply for this fellowship.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Greater Scientific Evidence Required by Policy Makers

Policy-makers need to build stronger relationships with the scientific community in order to access the best scientific evidence: that was the message from today's Institute of Biology Affiliated Societies' Forum, attended by the BES's Science Policy Team.

Sari Kovats, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, outlined just some of the risks posed to human health from climate change, including an increased incidence of heat waves and vector-borne diseases. The 2003 heatwave in Europe caused 14,000 excess deaths in France, affecting the sick and frail but also younger, healthy members of the population. Climate models predict that by 2040, the conditions experienced in that heatwave could be the average summer temperature.

Dr Andrew Stott, Defra's head of Biodiversity and Landscape, Natural Environment Division, stressed the need to improve the two-way flow of information between the research community and policy-makers. Policy can no longer be based on considerations of the way the environment has behaved in the recent past but must be based on the latest scientific evidence.

Professor Katherine Willis of the University of Oxford's School of Geography and the Environment, gave a compelling presentation outlining the resource offered to policy-makers by long term ecology: analysing the fossil record to reconstruct the climate of the past. An analysis of the pollen record of the biologically diverse littoral forest of Madagascar has revealed that a combination of periods of drought and increasing salinity, through sea level rise, led to the ecosystem 'tipping' from forest into heathland. Such an approach can assist an understanding of non-linear ecosystem effects, potential tipping points and biological thresholds.

Finally, Professor James Crabbe, University of Bedfordshire, gave a fascinating presentation comparing conservation approaches taken towards coral reefs in Jamaica and Belize, outlining, in the case of Belize, how co-operation between NGOs, policy-makers and scientists, and an understanding of the economic value of environmental resources amongst local communities, can help to conserve these precious resources.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Record High

Latest figures published in the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached a high not seen in 650,000 years. Levels now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), which is 40% higher than levels seen during the industrial revolution.

There are now fears that anthropogenic induced climate change has spun out of control, given that the average rate of input of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has been higher in the last seven years (2.1 ppm per year) compared to the 1970-2000 average of 1.5ppm per year. The last four years have seen incremental rises in input of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the chief greenhouse gas. This comes despite strong talk by governments on tackling climate change and stern advice from economists and top scientists concerning the imperative to reduce greenhouse gases. Some scientists now believe that this increase is down to the Earth losing its capacity to absorb the vast quantities of carbon dioxide being inputted to the atmosphere each year.

See the trend for the last four years on The Earth Systems Research Laboratory.

The BES invites members and readers of the blog to discuss these findings.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Politics vs. Ecology: The Spotted Owl as a Case Study

The northern spotted owl Strix occidentalis caurina of North America inhabits old-growth forests from British Columbia to northern California, and faces threats of logging, fires and a competitive invasive species; the barred owl. The species was listed as threatened in 1990 due to the multiple threats it faces, and a species recovery plan has been proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service's.

However the recovery plan has met criticism from a panel of scientists, who suggest the plan has major flaws. A team was formed to draft the recovery plan that was made up of environmentalists and timber industry representatives, but lacked top scientists. As such, the draft legislation contained a clause (Option 2) that was said to reduce the amount of land set aside for owl conservation and give greater flexibility for logging. An inside source also claimed that those drafting the plan wanted the threat from the barred owl to be given greater weight than habitat loss.

There are fears now that the final legislation will not include the necessary measures to combat the decline of the spotted owl (3.7% a year), and that pressure from the Bureau of Land Management and the Forestry Service will result in inadequate protection of old-growth forests.

Read the full article here (subscription required).

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

New Inquiry into Halting the UK's Biodiversity Loss

The Environmental Audit Committee has launched a new inquiry into halting biodiversity loss in the UK.

The UK and EU are committed to halting domestic biodiversity loss by 2010. The Wildlife and Countryside Link warned last year that the UK was on course to miss its own biodiversity target, and that 38% of target habitats and 27% of target species were still in decline. The RSPB has calculated that there is at least a £300 million per annum spending shortfall for biodiversity protection. The Environmental Audit Committee also found in a report last year that the Government is failing to provide adequate support and funding for biodiversity protection in the UK Overseas Territories, where some 240 species are at risk of extinction.

The full list of issues on which the Committee would welcome comment can be found at the Committee's website. The deadline for submitting evidence is 2 June.

If you would like to contribute to the BES's response, please contact the Policy Team

EU Biofuel Policy: Environmental Implications

A new report published by Birdlife International suggests that EU's biofuel policy could lead to global environmental harm.

The proposed legislation states that 10% of all fuels will be biofuels by 2020. The Commission proposal fails to consider the indirect impacts of biofuel production, including an increased use of European oil-seed rape driving demand for South-East Asian palm oil and soya expansion in the amazon resulting from US corn ethanol subsidies. Set-aside schemes (i.e. areas of farmland excluded from agricultural activities) will come under pressure from the Commission proposal. Wildlife that has thus far benefited from set-aside schemes and could be at risk, include corn marigold, insects such as the white-tailed bumblebee, as well as the brown hare and the lapwing.

BirdLife International has called upon EU decision makers to
drop the 10% biofuel target, and made a series of recommendations.

Do BES members and blog readers believe that this legislation should be introduced? Are the recommendations and calls to EU decision makers in the report realistic/enforceable?

The BES welcomes comment and debate on this article.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

DFID: Live Web-Chat with Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, will be taking part in a live web-chat on the Number 10 Downing Street website tomorrow (7th May) from 13.00.

This is an opportunity to question the Secretary of State about DFID's work in a range of areas; including how the UK is helping to tackle climate change in Africa, how ethical shoppers can make a difference and progress made towards the Millenium Development Goals.

Visit the Number 10 website for more information.

2nd July 2008: The Ecological Consequences of Severn Barrage Development

The BES Conservation Ecology Special Interest Group is organising a one-day meeting (2nd July, Cardiff University) on the ecological consequences of the development of the Severn Barrage.

The conference will examine the ecology of the Severn estuary and explore the possible ecological consequences of a barrage. Topics will include birds, fisheries, sedimentation and saltmarsh ecology. Includes speakers from BTO, Cardiff University, CCW and the Environment Agency.

A full programme will be posted on the BES's website in due course. In the meantime, for further information or to register, contact the Secretary of the group, Mick Green, for more details on 01970 832491 or e-mail the policy team at the BES (

Friday, 2 May 2008

Improving Current Agricultural Practices

A new study in the Journal of Environmental Health Management identifies new farming practices that could eliminate non-target effects of pesticides by 2010.

Fungal pests are a particular problem in the Netherlands due to climatic conditions. Pesticide usage in the Netherlands has declined since 1991, however current practices still result in spray-drift, that is the spreading of pesticides onto non-target plants, fungi and insects.

Using modeling techniques, the researchers were able to measure the impact spray drift had on non-target species in three different scenarios; the recent past (1999), the present (2005) and the near future (2010). The study showed that by introducing non-crop borders around agricultural fields, pesticide impacts on non-target species could be cut to zero. The paper has strong policy implications, given that current best practice techniques result in negative impacts on 41 per cent of areas next to treated fields, despite the use of low-drift nozzles and unsprayed borders.

A European policy framework directive for sustainable pesticide use is currently being developed as is a new Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

The BES welcomes comments from BES members and blog readers

Shell Pulls Out of London Array Wind Farm Project

Shell, one of three major investors in the proposed London Array Windfarm Project, has chosen to withdraw its commitment to the project. The wind farm is planned to be built in a region 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts in the outer Thames Estuary.

Carolines Lucas, Green MEP for the south-east of England has spoken out against Shell's decision, describing the loss of one of the three investors in the project is a "huge setback" for the future of renewable energy in the UK. Key representatives from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have also expressed dismay at Shell's decision. However Maria McCaffery, the chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, anticipates that there will be significant interest from industry in replacing Shell's share in the project.

The BES invites members and followers of the blog to discuss this topic.