Category: Eco-systems

Bees get a boost from Welsh action plan

The impact our bees have on the environment is no secret; their work pollinating crops is a crucial eco-system service, and without our furry friends we’d lose a third of our food stock. Sadly, they’ve been in severe decline for the last 30 years, raising fears for both the environment and the economy.

However, an ambitious new plan is committed to halting this decline and boosting the bee population. Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths has announced a Pollinator Action Plan for Wales – the first of its kind within the UK. As part of the programme, road verges and embankments will be planted with pollinator-friendly plants, and the planning system will be altered so that future developments support and nurture the airborne buzzers.

In light of the proposed plan, the Minister said that Wales will be leading the way on this “vitally important” issue, adding that the value of pollinators to the UK Government is “conservatively estimated to be £430 million”.

The plan will be implemented in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘Sustaining a Living Wales’ programme.

Scientists puzzled by hundreds of dead penguins

More than 700 Magellan penguins have washed up dead on the beaches of south Brazil over the last month, capturing headlines worldwide and leaving scientists puzzled.

The penguins are currently migrating from Patagonia to south Brazil – a journey which no doubt claims some lives but not at this magnitude.

According to the Brazilian Center for Coastal Studies at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, however, the penguins likely died of natural causes.

In a press release, the center said it had analysed the dead animals’ conditions and found that most of the birds were young, and showed no signs of external injury or oil in the plumes.

According to biologist Mauricio Tavares: “Birds in the first year of life are inexperienced,” adding that dead birds at this time of year is common and the result of “the process of natural selection”.

Some questions have been raised as to just how natural this occurrence is, however. According to TreeHugger, dead penguins washing ashore happens with “disturbing” regularity.

A more detailed report on the latest penguin deaths is expected later this month.

Are cats having an ‘apocalyptic’ effect on the environment?

BBC Springwatch star Chris Packham stirred controversy last week after claiming that domestic cats could have an ‘apocalyptic’ impact  on the environment.

In an interview with Radio Times magazine he said: “In Australia, introduced species such as foxes, rabbits, rats and cats have had an apocalyptic impact.

“They’ve decimated the indigenous fauna and as a direct consequence the natural ecosystems of this continent have been damaged.

“In urban areas, cats are the culprits and when they go feral they wreak havoc in the countryside, killing bandicoots, wallabies, quolls and bettongs; the intricate relationships of the entire ecosystem are destroyed and it collapses and dies.

“Although it’s in a very different part of the world, it makes you wonder what an impact Tibbles has on our own beleaguered, battered and badly damaged ecosystems.”

According to Packham, over 200 million creatures are killed by domestic cats each year. This figure could be reduced by as much as 50 percent if owners introduced a ‘cat curfew’, he says.

In response to horrified cat owners’ complaints, he added: “I love cats, I think they are beautiful, a wonderful predator. But what’s the point of feeding birds in the garden if you’re feeding them to your cat?”