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Gaston K.J.,University of Exeter | Bennie J.,University of Exeter | Davies T.W.,University of Exeter | Hopkins J.,Natural England
Biological Reviews | Year: 2013

The ecological impacts of nighttime light pollution have been a longstanding source of concern, accentuated by realized and projected growth in electrical lighting. As human communities and lighting technologies develop, artificial light increasingly modifies natural light regimes by encroaching on dark refuges in space, in time, and across wavelengths. A wide variety of ecological implications of artificial light have been identified. However, the primary research to date is largely focused on the disruptive influence of nighttime light on higher vertebrates, and while comprehensive reviews have been compiled along taxonomic lines and within specific research domains, the subject is in need of synthesis within a common mechanistic framework. Here we propose such a framework that focuses on the cross-factoring of the ways in which artificial lighting alters natural light regimes (spatially, temporally, and spectrally), and the ways in which light influences biological systems, particularly the distinction between light as a resource and light as an information source. We review the evidence for each of the combinations of this cross-factoring. As artificial lighting alters natural patterns of light in space, time and across wavelengths, natural patterns of resource use and information flows may be disrupted, with downstream effects to the structure and function of ecosystems. This review highlights: (i) the potential influence of nighttime lighting at all levels of biological organisation (from cell to ecosystem); (ii) the significant impact that even low levels of nighttime light pollution can have; and (iii) the existence of major research gaps, particularly in terms of the impacts of light at population and ecosystem levels, identification of intensity thresholds, and the spatial extent of impacts in the vicinity of artificial lights. © 2013 Cambridge Philosophical Society.

In 1949, the British parliament passed the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, the first national nature conservation legislation to include specific provision for the conservation of geological and geomorphological features. This Act played a pivotal role in establishing geoconservation as part of nature conservation within Great Britain and has provided the foundation for more than sixty years of geoconservation legislation, policy, practice and participation. Despite the 'ground breaking' nature of this Act, little is known about what it was intended to achieve for geoconservation and no assessment of its effectiveness has ever been made. Whist the aspirations for wildlife conservation that informed this legislation are well known, those for geoconservation are not. Through reviewing early examples of geoconservation practice and through analysis of the reports commissioned by the British government to inform the development of the 1949 Act, ten aspirations for geoconservation in 1940s Britain are identified. For each aspiration, an assessment is made as to whether it was recognised within the 1949 Act, whether it could be delivered through the wider provisions of the Act and whether it has been met over the sixty-plus years since the Act was passed. It is concluded that virtually all of the aspirations have been met, largely as a result of 1949 Act, but in some cases through voluntary action unrelated to any form of conservation legislation. It is now timely to develop new aspirations and a new geoconservation agenda for the future. © 2012 The Geologists' Association.

Prosser C.D.,Natural England
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2012

The profile of geoconservation is now higher than ever before with a significant number of people employed worldwide within geoconservation or having an element of it included within their role. Sixty years ago, employment within geoconservation, and even geoconservation itself, were largely unheard of. In 1950, an experienced geologist in his late 50s, William Archibald Macfadyen, 'Macfadyen' or 'Mac' to his colleagues, became the first full-time professional geoconservationist. After serving in two World Wars and enjoying a long career working as a geologist and hydrogeologist in the Middle East and Africa, he was employed by the newly created government conservation agency in Great Britain, the Nature Conservancy. His role was to help implement new national nature conservation legislation that included the conservation of geological and geomorphological features. Between 1950 and 1960, Macfadyen pioneered geoconservation, working to interpret and implement the new legislation to protect a series of geological and geomorphological sites across Great Britain. Working largely alone he visited, and scheduled for protection, a series of well over 600 sites, developed records to support their conservation, addressed practical conservation issues relating to site damage and enhancement, established a geological advisory committee to support his work, published an account of some of the sites protected and successfully applied his geological expertise to wider issues relating to wildlife conservation. He undoubtedly built the foundations of geoconservation in Great Britain, and in doing so influenced its development worldwide. It is argued here that Macfadyen is worthy of recognition as the 'father of geoconservation'. © 2010 The Geologists' Association.

Macgregor N.A.,Natural England | van Dijk N.,Atkins
Environmental Management | Year: 2014

Although good general principles for climate change adaptation in conservation have been developed, it is proving a challenge to translate them into more detailed recommendations for action. To improve our understanding of what adaptation might involve in practice, we investigated how the managers of conservation areas in eastern England are considering climate change. We used a written questionnaire and semi-structured interviews to collect information from managers of a range of different conservation areas. Topics investigated include the impacts of climate change perceived to be of the greatest importance; adaptation goals being set; management actions being carried out to achieve these goals; sources of information used; and perceived barriers to taking action. We identified major themes and issues that were apparent across the sites studied. Specifically, we found ways in which adaptation had been informed by past experience; different strategies relating to whether to accept or resist change; approaches for coping with more variable conditions; ways of taking a large-scale approach and managing sites as networks; some practical examples of aspects of adaptive management; and examples of the role that other sectors can play in both constraining and increasing a conservation area’s capacity to adapt. We discuss the relevance of these findings to the growing discussion in conservation about identifying adaptation pathways for different conservation areas and a potential progression from a focus on resilience and incremental change to embracing “transformation.” Though adaptation will be place-specific, we believe these findings provide useful lessons for future action in both England and other countries. © 2014, The Author(s).

Clarke S.J.,Natural England
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2015

Freshwater biodiversity is globally threatened and while most conservation efforts are focussed on natural and larger freshwater systems such as rivers and lakes, in many lowland agricultural landscapes artificial water bodies including ditches may be equally important as habitats for freshwater species. Ditches occur across the agricultural landscape but in particular, those associated with coastal and floodplain grazing marsh, have high conservation value. The importance of this habitat for rare and threatened species afforded priority status under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan is explored. The characteristics of ditches that have high conservation value are described and a set of targets against which such ditches can be assessed are presented. An analysis of the current condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the wider coastal and floodplain grazing marsh habitat demonstrates the range of pressures affecting these sites and highlights that alongside generic freshwater issues such as eutrophication and non-native species, these sites have a unique set of pressures associated with their ongoing management and the vulnerable location of many sites at the coast. Wider conservation strategies for freshwater biodiversity in lowland landscapes across Europe need to factor in the different management requirements of artificial habitats such as ditches alongside more ambitious restoration projects for natural waterbodies. In low lying coastal areas the threat of coastal squeeze for many important grazing marshes will require a strategic approach to allow upstream migration of important biodiversity. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH.

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