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The end of the Natural England website

Way back in 1995, when Naturenet began  – yes fact fans, that was nearly twenty years ago – there were very few official government websites about anything – certainly not conservation and countryside. Naturenet blazed a trail that made it one of the biggest and most popular conservation websites in the UK. This wasn’t actually that hard, as there was little else. So when the government’s nature conservation agency, English Nature, first created a website in 2001, Naturenet had been publicising the same things for over five years.

Time has moved on, and lots of government websites came along publishing huge amounts of useful information and making Naturenet just one of many small websites. English Nature became Natural England, but then when the current government came to power that in turn was absorbed within DEFRA, no longer an independent government agency charged with “championing the cause of wildlife and natural features throughout England”. Instead, just another arm of government with no separate voice or policy. Maybe a part of the government’s campaign to reduce what  Chancellor George Osborne described as the “ridiculous costs on British businesses” that complying with environmental laws brings. Continue reading

Autumn mowing? Look out for spider egg sacs!

I was out looking at a site preparing for an autumn cut. Hopefully we will get it done before it rains too much – but I did discover something interesting. This is a site where in the summer I saw Argiope, the Wasp Spider. This spectacular creature is now found in long grassland habitat across the southern parts of England.

Argiope eggsac

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Under the Pier

“Ever seen a sponge garden or spotted a star ascidian? Now’s your chance! Join Spectrum’s Natural Wight and Ian Boyd from Arc for a unique rockpooling opportunity and discover the amazing array of marine life living under Ryde Pier.”

This is the video we made when we accepted that invitation on a sunny Ryde afternoon. have a look at the fun on the sand, and some of the exciting marine wildlife we saw. Not to mention how far out we went!

Prepare yourselves for the crazy spider story season

It’s that time of year again, when the media warms up for a summer of ‘False Widow’ scare stories. Not for nothing is Steatoda nobilis known as the Daily Mail Spider. For although it’s more-or-less harmless to most people, it gets rolled out every single year with the same old lame tales of impossible injuries and reactions to a supposed spider bite.

Prepare yourselves!

Really, there’s little or nothing to worry about if you’ve got false widows in your house or garden. And here’s why. Continue reading

Floating Pennywort (c) GB Non-native Species Secretariat

GB Non-native Species Secretariat offering free online courses

If you’re interested in non-native species and their impact on the environment, and you’d like to learn more, this is the thing for you.

One of the very few parts of environmental work that the government has not cut back on recently is the focus on non-native invasive species. In fact, the establishment of the GB Non-native Species Secretariat has given considerable momentum to ongoing work to understand and control the species of animal and plant that cause problems when they spread invasively in the wild.  Typical species that hit the headlines include Japanese knotweed, American mink and Himalayan balsam. But there are many others and lots to learn about them – like floating pennywort (shown above). Continue reading

The human being and the fish: can they coexist?

Guest blog post from Rowan Adams

Naturenet visitors are almost like George W. Bush. We know that the human being and the fish can co-exist peacefully.

The human being and the fish can co-exist But we also know that the way we live now – the way we manage our land, especially the way we grow our food, and the way we generate our energy – is more like a civil war. We humans are destroying the homes and the food of our fellow-lifeforms. And that means we are destroying our own homes and our own food supply.

Sadly these basics of biology appear to be unknown to the people who control most of the money.

All across the country there are people with expert knowledge of how people and wildlife can get along together. But just when we most need that knowledge, government cuts mean that these people are losing their livelihoods.

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Twirl-a-squirrel

Of little interest to The Ranger, safe on his Island fastness with no grey squirrels (and plenty of red ones), this American invention will no doubt be much in demand when it is introduced in the UK.

The manufacturer’s website claims:

Hilariously funny! Amazingly effective! Squirrel’s weight on feeder activates a motor which gently twirls him off!

Needless to say, the weight of the little birdies does not have the same effect. And it is rather funny. The video illustrates it very well – with the added “attraction” of some cod Beach Boys harmonies. And if you want to buy one, don’t ask The Ranger. He doesn’t have any. Ask the makers.

(First published 2007, updated 2014 with corrected links)

Isle of Wight Natural Area profile: what it is and why you should read it

The government’s advisor on the natural environment, Natural England, has just published the long-awaited Natural Character Area profile for the Isle of Wight.Isle of Wight Natural Area ProfileSounds dull? It isn’t. NCA profiles are being compiled for the whole of England, and each one is an in-depth analysis of the landscape, wildlife and human activity within one of England’s 159 Natural Character Areas. It’s not an action plan but it does have some “Statements of Environmental Opportunity” which mostly prove to be longwinded ways to make some pretty obvious suggestions for priorities if we want to conserve and enhance our natural area.  And given how we have done so far, obvious suggestions are not at all a bad thing. Continue reading