News Article | May 21, 2017
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace: “Far stronger on vision than on policy detail. Ambitious targets for renewable energy and home insulation have huge potential to create jobs, cut emissions, and lower bills. Along with banning unpopular fracking, they indicate Labour are serious about their commitment to tackle climate change. The promise to retain our vital environmental safeguards after Brexit will be welcomed by many, as will the proposed Clean Air Act. The destination is clear: now Labour need to show us how they plan to get there. Dominic Hogg, chair of environmental consultants Eunomia: “Interesting commitments on low carbon energy and a statement to the effect that a Labour government is determined to lead, internationally, on climate change: the party would ban fracking, and recognises the economic potential of the low-carbon economy. Proposal to introduce a new Clean Air Act is not backed up with much detail where the pressing matter of air pollution is concerned, although there is a commitment to retrofit ‘thousands’ of diesel buses in the most polluted areas. On the natural environment, there is not much by way of discussion of the nature of farm support in a post-Brexit world: it is not really clear what the ‘science innovation fund, working with farmers and fisheries’ would aim to achieve. Says little about waste and resource use, though the strangely worded intention to introduce a deposit scheme is welcome. Despite the commitment to a fair taxation system, there is little to suggest that polluters will pay.” John Sauven: “True mixed bag. Strong support for offshore wind can boost jobs, energy security, and trade opportunities, but the emphasis on fracking is a dangerous distraction. The commitment to lead on global climate action comes at the right time but needs to be demonstrated in practice. Aiming for every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050 is a good end goal, but we need some milestones along the way. The promise of leaving a better environment to our children tomorrow is worthless if we can’t stop them being harmed by air pollution today. Dominic Hogg: “There’s no room for anything environmental in the five giant challenges that the Conservatives have identified in their manifesto. There’s also a contradiction apparent in the commitment to meet global commitments on climate change, and the determination to develop the shale gas industry (ie support fracking) in the UK on the basis that it ‘is cleaner than coal’, conveniently forgetting that coal is being phased out anyway, so the comparator is nonsense: the proposed changes to the Shale Wealth Fund will be seen by some as a means to bribe host communities. The commitment to an additional 1 million trees in towns and cities isn’t going to change the fact that the plan for air quality, released a few weeks ago, is woeful. There is nothing meaningful on waste. On the more positive side, the mention of a new agri-environmental scheme could be of interest, and the plan to expand Natural England’s provision of expertise to farmers feels like a welcome reversal. The emphasis on environmental matters is weak, and the danger is that environmental issues will continue to be pushed aside.” John Sauven: “A number of strong proposals. Targeting diesel is the most effective way of tackling air pollution, but the party stops short of an actual phase-out plan. Their strong commitment to cutting carbon emissions is matched by good policies on renewable energy, warmer homes, and community run schemes. A robust recycling target is crucial to stop the mountain of plastic sliding into our oceans. But whether it’s waste or energy, setting targets is a lot easier than hitting them.” Dominic Hogg: Contains some of the most advanced thinking. It is the only manifesto that has much emphasis on making polluters pay, with commitments regarding waste, vehicles and disposable coffee cups. The emphasis on delivering on greenhouse gas emissions reduction is strong, with a range of measures proposed, including on buildings. Like the Labour party and the Greens, the Lib Dems would not support fracking. On air quality, the manifesto mentions reform of vehicle taxation and a scrappage scheme. It also envisages a ban on sales of diesel cars and small vans by 2025. Overall, the impression is that environmental issues run fairly prominently through the manifesto. There are also positive recommendations regarding the natural environment (and the Lib Dems win the battle of the tree-planters, going for one for every citizen over the next 10 years). The manifesto is the strongest of the main parties in the extent to which environmental issues, and the contribution to health and wellbeing, permeates the whole document.” John Sauven: “Many solid ideas but no great surprises. Prioritising renewable energy over expensive nuclear and unproven fracking makes economic as well as environmental sense. The combination of a diesel scrappage scheme and more clean air zones offers a practical and fair way to tackle air pollution. Tackling plastic waste is rightly recognised as a priority, and bottle return schemes are a tried and tested solution to this growing problem. The Greens have done their homework, but they’ll have to persuade people they can deliver on their promises.” Dominic Hogg: “The Green party’s commitments are much as one might expect. The ban on fracking is as expected. Also, we would expect to see a corresponding emphasis on promoting renewables, given the Green party’s opposition to nuclear power, and its intentions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed levy on ‘cheating car manufacturers’ is interesting, but the detail is not available. The commitment to a deposit scheme is also interesting. The proposals for a new (presumably revised) Environmental Protection Act and a new environmental regulator and court do seem eye-catching, but the details of this are not yet clear.”
News Article | September 17, 2016
Tim Boxall points at a shape in the field bordering the seven-acre wooded pen where he keeps 1,500 pheasants. “Here you are,” he says. “Look! There’s one over here.” He bends down and prises the remains of a pheasant from the long grass. “That’s a buzzard kill, you can tell by the way it’s been eaten.” Boxall is a gamekeeper, raising 10,000 pheasants a year to be killed in commercial shoots on the land he rents in Gloucestershire. This year, however, the pheasants have something other than Boxall’s clients to fear: the buzzard. “There’s an old saying: where there’s livestock, there’s going to be deadstock,” Boxall says. “You accept the buzzards are always going to have some, but this year was horrendous. I lost 500 pheasants at £3.75 each. It cost me £75 a day to pay someone to sit there all day to watch over them, basically sunbathing for two weeks, but it did keep them away.” The buzzard’s robust health – and its appetite for pheasants – has brought the protected bird of prey into the sights of the shooting industry. At the end of July, Natural England, the government agency tasked with protecting England’s wildlife, issued a licence allowing a gamekeeper to shoot up to 10 buzzards to stop them killing pheasants. Last week it announced that four more licences were under consideration. While the announcement couldn’t come soon enough for Boxall, it has left many conservationists up in arms. “If you take a buzzard out, others will move in,” said the broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham, describing Natural England’s decision as a “catastrophe”. “All you are doing is making a vacuum. In practical terms it’s doomed to fail. In ethical terms it’s abhorrent. These are native birds being killed to protect a non-native species, it’s Lewis Carroll, it’s insane. Now the floodgates will open and everyone will apply for these licences. Will it be peregrines next? Kites?” Martin Harper, conservation director for the RSPB, asked: “Why are we allowing this still-recovering magnificent bird to be legally killed? In order to protect a private business concern. To protect a few of the tens of millions of non-native game birds that are released into the countryside each year.” Gamekeepers, however, are having none of it. “The RSPB line is nonsense,” said a spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. “In law it’s quite clear: Natural England cannot grant a licence for any purpose that would adversely affect the sustainable status of the species concerned. There has to be a genuine need and no other satisfactory solution. Natural England cannot refuse a licence if those tests are met.” While campaigners question the morality of the decision, they cannot question its legality. The gamekeepers’ organisation backed a successful judicial review launched by a gamekeeper last year to challenge Natural England’s decision to refuse him a licence to control buzzards. Under the terms of the high court ruling, Natural England must “balance the protection of wild birds against the requirement to prevent serious damage to livestock”. The court further ruled that, “where birds are either in pens or are significantly dependent on people, they are classed as livestock”. The buzzard, a protected bird of prey, has recovered from near extinction in the Victorian age to become one of the conservation movement’s success stories. With between 57,000 and 79,000 breeding pairs in the UK, according to the British Trust for Ornithology, it is one of the fastest growing bird populations in the country. In support of its decision, Natural England noted that in July the trust declared that buzzards “are not considered to be of current conservation concern”. An estimated 40 million non-native pheasants are released into the British countryside each year. A report for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation estimated that on average between 1% and 2% of pheasant poults were killed by birds of prey. “There’s a huge amount of hyperbole and panic about this,” said the gamekeepers’ organisation spokesman. “All birds are protected by law. Buzzards are no different. The only difference is one of perception, that for years it’s been believed that in some ways buzzards are different, that they have a separate protection. You can’t go on saying that there was once a time when this [species] was scarce and using it as a reason to prevent licences.” However, campaigners say that the legal shooting of buzzards will make it more difficult to police the illegal shooting of birds of prey. Calling the move shameful, Eduardo Gonçalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Authorising this protected raptor to be killed purely to boost the profits of private shooting interests sets a very dangerous precedent. It’s difficult to see how the police can effectively tackle the illegal persecution of these birds of prey now the floodgate of government-approved exceptions to the law has opened.” Boxall remembers when buzzards were rare. “When I came here in 1990 you never saw buzzards,” he says. “When you did you thought, bloody hell, what’s that? They used to feed on carcasses, but they can’t do that now because farmers aren’t allowed to leave carcasses, so they turn to the next easiest thing. The next thing we’ll get is red kites. They’re lovely birds, but they have to eat.” The gamekeeper pauses and cocks an ear. “That’s a buzzard calling now. He’s up in a tree there somewhere. It must be teatime.” ■ MPs are to debate banning driven-grouse shooting, after a petition launched by Mark Avery, a former RSPB conservation director, gained more than 120,000 signatures. ■ The Hen Harrier Action Plan, a government-led initiative involving conservation groups, landowners and shooting organisations, collapsed in July following incidents of shooting and poisoning. There are thought to be only three pairs of hen harriers in England, about 600 pairs in Scotland and 50 pairs in Wales. ■ The RSPB has launched a campaign to license shooting estates, giving authorities the power to withdraw licences where birds of prey are illegally killed.
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 2.24M | Year: 2011
The U.K. population is projected to reach 80 million by 2050 and it is anticipated that the overwhelming majority will continue to live in cities. Besides becoming more densely populated, future cities will be surrounded with expanding urban areas. Interactions within cities; across urban areas and with surrounding cities, towns and rural areas with the rest of the UK will place new and different demands on infrastructure, whether housing, energy, transport, freight distribution and disposal of waste. Decisions that are made now will have profound implications for the resultant pressures on transport, living space, energy use, and ecosystem services (the benefits humans receive from ecosystems). These decisions will play out at two fundamentally different spatial scales. First, and by far the better understood, are those decisions that concern individual households and their neighbourhoods. These include issues of how their members move around, what kinds of housing they occupy, how their energy demands and waste production are reduced, and how their negative influences on the wider environment generally will be limited. Second, broad scale strategic decisions regarding regional planning will determine where in the U.K. population growth is primarily accommodated. This will determine, and be shaped by, the kinds of transport and energy infrastructure required, and the environmental impacts. Obviously these two sets of decisions are not independent. The demands for and impacts of broad scale development (whether this be the creation of new urban areas or the intensification of existing ones) - and thus how this is best achieved to deliver sustainability- will be influenced not by the typical demands and impacts exhibited now by households, but by the way in which these have been changed in response to the modification to the associated infrastructure. This makes for a challenging problem in predicting and evaluating the possible consequences of different potential scenarios of regional development. The proposed study SElf Conserving URban Environments (SECURE) will address this grand challenge of integration across scales (the global aim) by developing a range of future regional urbanization scenarios, and exploring their consequences for selected high profile issues of resource demand and provision (transport, dwellings, energy, and ecosystem services) alongside sustainable waste utilisations. In doing so, it will build on findings of research outputs of several previous SUE projects and harness its relationship in the context of policy and economic growth. The study includes specific research objectives under five broad cross-cutting themes - Urbanisation, Ecosystems Services, Building and Energy, Stakeholder Engagement and Policy Integration across themes. SECURE is designed to assemble novel deliverables to bring about step change in current knowledge and practice. The North East Region will be used as a test bed and evaluation of transitional scenarios leading up to 2050 will quantify the benefits of integration across the scales through conservation across the themes. SECURE will deliver policy formulation and planning decisions for 2030 and 2050 with a focus on creating Sustainable Urban Environment.The contributors to this project are researchers of international standings who have collaborated extensively on several EPSRC funded projects, including the SUE research since its inception. The SECURE team builds on their current collaboration on the SUE2 4M project. The Project consortium is led by Newcastle - Prof Margaret Bell as PI and Dr Anil Namdeo as co-ordinator alongside Dr Jenny Brake with academic partners: Prof David Graham (Environmental Engineering), Prof David Manning (Geosciences); from Loughborough: Prof Kevin Lomas, Prof Jonathan Wright and Dr Steven Firth (Civil and Building Engineering); from Sheffield: Prof Kevin Gaston and Dr Jonathan Leake (Animal and Plant Sciences).
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.19M | Year: 2014
This innovative interdisciplinary project aims to develop an easy-to-use, evidence-based resource which can be used in decision-making in drought risk management. To achieve this, we will bring together information from drought science and scenario-modelling (using mathematical models to forecast the impacts of drought) with stakeholder engagement and narrative storytelling. While previous drought impact studies have often focused on using mathematical modelling, this project is very different. The project will integrate arts, humanities and social science research methods, with hydrological, meteorological, agricultural and ecological science knowledge through multi-partner collaboration. Seven case study catchments (areas linked by a common water resource) in England, Wales and Scotland will be selected to reflect the hydrological, socio-economic and cultural contrasts in the UK. Study of drought impacts will take place at different scales - from small plot experiments to local catchment scale. Citizen science and stakeholder engagement with plot experiments in urban and rural areas will be used as stimuli for conversations about drought risk and its mitigation. The project will: (i) investigate different stakeholder perceptions of when drought occurs and action is needed; (ii) examine how water level and temperature affect drought perception; (iii) explore the impact of policy decisions on drought management; (iv) consider water users behaviours which lead to adverse drought impacts on people and ecosystems and; (v) evaluate water-use conflicts, synergies and trade-offs, drawing on previous drought experiences and community knowledge. The project spans a range of sectors including water supply; health, business, agriculture/horticulture, built environment, extractive industries and ecosystem services, within 7 case-study catchments. Through a storytelling approach, scientists will exchange cutting edge science with different drought stakeholders, and these stakeholders will, in turn, exchange their knowledge. Stakeholders include those in: construction; gardeners and allotment holders; small and large businesses; local authorities; emergency planners; recreational water users; biodiversity managers; public health professionals - both physical and mental health; and local communities/public. The stakeholder meetings will capture various data including: - different stakeholder perceptions of drought and its causes - local knowledge around drought onset and strategies for mitigation (e.g. attitudes to water saving, responses to reduced water availability) - insights into how to live with drought and increase individual/community drought resilience - the impact of alternating floods and droughts The information will be shared within, and between, stakeholder groups in the case-studies and beyond using social media. This information will be analysed, and integrated with drought science to develop an innovative web-based decision-making utility. These data will feedback into the drought modelling and future scenario building with a view to exploring a variety of policy options. This will help ascertain present and future water resources availability, focusing on past, present and future drought periods across N-S and W-E climatic gradients. The project will be as far as possible be open science - maintaining open, real-time access to research questions, data, results, methodologies, narratives, publications and other outputs via the project website, updated as the project progresses. Project outputs will include: the decision-making support utility incorporating science-narrative resources; hydrological models for the 7 case-study catchments; a social media web-platform to share project resources; a database of species responses/management options to mitigate drought/post-drought recovery at different scales, and management guidelines on coping with drought/water scarcity at different scales.
Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 45.28K | Year: 2013
Considering the amount of use and attention they receive from the general public, minor rights of way, public footpaths and green lanes remain remarkably under-researched by academics. Recent initiatives by Natural England have emphasized the importance of green lanes as habitats, which has led to some surveying and recording by local naturalist groups, including the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society. But the history of these features has received little attention, and that of public footpaths virtually none. Pathways to History aims to encourage local communities to research and record the public rights of way (PROW) within their own particular area. Communities would be supported by training sessions delivered by landscape historians from the School of History and our partner organisations. Training in the use of oral history will also be offered, so that participants can effectively record reminiscences about the use of particular routes in the past, lost names for lanes, and local stories and traditions attached to them. In addition, communities will be strongly encouraged to undertake fieldwork to record the physical features of PROW. Participating groups would then be encouraged to upload the results of their research directly onto the project website, which would be designed and maintained by the University, and publicised with the assistance of our project partners. We would also organise a number of guided public walks, each hosted by one of the local groups involved, where they would be able to communicate their findings directly to a wider audience. In addition, the research team will produce three articles presenting the overall results of the project to an academic audience.
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 518.36K | Year: 2016
The Earths surface (soil and plants), and the rock underneath interact, linked by rainwater flowing through the soil into the rock. The soil imparts a chemical signature to the water, sometimes bad leading to loss of water quality. This signature is mediated by movement through the rock, and then, when underground water re-emerges, in streams and rivers by bacterial activity. As such, how this outer layer of planet Earth functions is critical to key needs of mankind - how much water we have available and its quality; how well the soil functions as a result of water draining through it. The study of how these layers interact is thus called critical zone research. Our research programme uses such critical zone research in an environment where the local residents face significant environmental challenges - in rural China, an area of rapid growth and where many live under the poverty line. This is a joint research programme between UK and China. We will focus on two of these challenges: water availability and quality, and how movement of water in the critical zone influences surface vegetation. Crucial to this research is that the underlying rock is mostly limestone. Limestone is easily dissolved and water can move very quickly through the subsurface. So soils may dry sooner (as the subsurface beneath is freely-draining) and there is limited water storage on the surface and underground. Limestone is widely distributed world-wide, but particularly in China and so study here is relevant to many world-wide. The people living in the catchment generally live-off-the-land. It provides their water and food - a phenomenon known as the ecosystem providing services. Where the slopes are not too steep, the land surface is heavily-cultivated. This in turn presents problems e.g., the water quality is poor, with dangerously high-level of nitrate (a chemical that is found in fertiliser); clearance of vegetation exposes rock, limiting how land may be used. Further challenging to local residents is that the climate is changing. How rain is delivered to the catchment has been changing such that water is not available as before. Thus there have also been water shortages, and this led to crop failure and so loss of food. Land use change is important in shaping these ecosystem services, but climate change may be one of the most significant threats the residents will face; science must help them prepare for facing these threats with successful outcomes. Our research will generate models of how the critical zone functions currently and from these we can then investigate how the critical zone functioning may adapt to different environmental drivers. There is a large body of scientific modelling outside this project that has identified how the climate may change. Thus, we can draw on this to run the models we will develop of the critical zone functioning, not only under land use change, but also under future climate scenarios. All this research will contribute to understanding where this catchment critical zone is most sensitive to future threats. However, it is important that this understanding reaches the people who need to use it. So the final activity we will undertake comes under the umbrella of knowledge exchange - sharing our findings with those who need this research, and adjusting our understanding based on knowledge they too have. Thus our last, but not least, activity is working with those who live in the landscape and those who manage it, to help them identify how their activities can cause the least harm and offer the most protection to their ecosystem services. Our collaboration with Chinese colleagues is therefore crucial. We bring new skills to the project (e.g. new hydrological modelling skills) that they will benefit from. Additionally as catchment management practices will be quite different across UK-China, they will learn about other good practice to help improve their environment and remove residents from poverty
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 385.01K | Year: 2011
Improved understanding of the functioning of hydrological systems and dependent ecology is essential for optimal environmental management. Floodplains in particular are important due to the ecosystem services they provide. The species composition of floodplain vegetation and their ecosystem functions (e.g. leaf CO2 uptake and transpiration) are very sensitive to the soil hydrological regime, which is highly variable both spatially and temporally. The hydrological regime also affects the temperature and nutrient regime of the root environment, leading to indirect impacts on vegetation. However, the mechanisms controlling these interdependencies are not well established. The proposed project, FUSE, aims to advance this knowledge at a variety of scales. A better understanding of these vulnerable ecosystems will allow improved environmental management, under current and future conditions. A field study is proposed in the Oxford Floodplain (OFP). This study will build upon an existing hydrological monitoring network currently in place in the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The aims will be achieved by a sophisticated combination of environmental data and computer models. This involves state-of-the-art tools: a Wireless Underground Sensor Network (WUSN) and related monitoring of environmental variables, as well as high-resolution Earth Observation (EO, i.e. satellite) data. WSNs are a relatively recent application of technology; uptake of this technology by environmental scientists enables continuous monitoring that is both scalable and less intrusive on its surroundings. It is desirable for land-based sensor networks to have few or no above-ground components, for aesthetic and security reasons, as well as to avoid interference with land management practices. Recently, this has led to the introduction of WUSNs where all or at least the majority of the sensing and transmitting components are underground. WUSNs are rare, especially in the UK, and have not been tested long-term in a challenging environment such as the OFP. Reliability and the potential distance of data transmission depend on a number of factors, including the soil type, sensor installation depth, soil moisture content and technological factors. These will be researched extensively in the FUSE project, initially using existing data on the OFP hydrological regime, soils and vegetation height/density. The precise design of the WUSN will be determined with the aid of a geostatistical procedure. FUSE will allow researchers to reliably measure underground spatial variability at hitherto unachievable resolutions of less than a metre. The project will use a mesh of simple wireless sensor nodes previously developed at Imperial College (Beasties). These nodes will gather environmental data, and route these to a base-station that transmits to a remote database via GPRS. The low-cost, low-power Beasties have been used extensively in similar, but less challenging environments. The enhanced sensor technology will be entirely transferable. Theoretical tools in FUSE comprise of a simulation model (SCOPE_SUB), that can be used to describe and predict the interaction between the soil (soil moisture content, soil temperature and nutrient status), the vegetation (root water/nutrient uptake, CO2 uptake and transpiration), and the hydrometeorological regime. Furthermore we will use geospatial models to spatially interpolate between measured, modelled and EO data, thereby increasing data-density. EO data will serve to guide the continuous (in time) simulation model predictions. In that way high resolution maps of key soil and vegetation variables can be constructed. Computer Science tools, e.g. a so-called Integrated Development Environment to help environmental scientist to set up and test the WUSN, and a Web portal for quality control, sensor calibration, time series- and geospatial-analysis, parameter estimation and real-time model output, will be developed.
News Article | November 17, 2016
One of Britain’s most threatened farmland birds has reached a major milestone in its recovery from the brink of extinction, figures show. A nationwide survey by the RSPB shows the UK population of the cirl bunting – a small, finch-like bird – has reached 1,078 pairs after numbering just 118 in 1989. The RSPB said the dramatic rise is the result of a 25-year project recovery programme between the organisation, Natural England and local farmers in the south-west of England to help manage their land in order to provide year-round food supplies and habitat for the cirl bunting. Under the initiative, farmers took up country stewardship schemes which provide financial incentives for making nature-friendly choices. These ranged from leaving crops to go to stubble after harvest and provide seed food during colder months to planting grass margins at the edge of fields to support habitats for insects and spiders that would act as a summer food source. Many other birds have benefitted from the effects of the project, including linnets, skylarks and yellowhammer, which are all known to gain from a boost in stubble winter food sources. Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “The recovery of this charming little bird is a remarkable conservation success and shows what can be achieved when farmers and conservationists work together for nature. To go from being on the brink of extinction to have over 1,000 pairs in just 25 years – bucking the overall downward trend for most farmland birds – highlights how effective this project has been.” He added: “Without this action the cirl bunting would have almost certainly disappeared from our shores altogether.” Cirl buntings were once common and widespread across much of southern England but suffered huge declines when their food sources and nesting sites were lost due to changes to agricultural practices in the 20th century. The majority of the UK population remains confined to the fields and hedges of Devon, although the first successful reintroduction programme has established numbers in Cornwall, with 65 pairs according to the latest survey. The RSPB said it expects numbers to continue to grow and hopes the species will return to more of its former areas. But the good news for the cirl bunting comes at a time when other farmland birds continue to struggle. The number of farmland birds in the UK has declined by 54% since 1970, according to the State of Nature 2016 report, with 19 species suffering a 48% decline since 1970.
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.
Prosser C.D.,Natural England
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2013
Geodiversity, the natural range of geological, geomorphological and soil features and processes, is an integral part of the natural environment, as geoconservation is an integral part of nature conservation. Over the last sixty years, and especially since 1990, a substantial portfolio of geoconservation sites, legislation, partnerships and initiatives has developed within the UK and internationally. This includes local, national and international geoconservation audits, suites of protected sites such as Local Geological Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Global Geoparks and World Heritage Sites, geoconservation legislation, policies, frameworks and guidance, partnerships, groups, societies and associations, periodicals and magazines, regular conferences and examples of success in securing funding for a range of geoconservation activities. This portfolio is an extremely valuable resource for science and society, creating opportunities for research, education, training, and recreation and providing 'windows' through which to study and understand past environmental change and thus inform planning to accommodate future change. The current social, economic and environmental context means that the approach to geoconservation must evolve to embrace new challenges and opportunities including the ecosystem approach, adapting to climate change, increasing the relevance of geodiversity to local communities and operating in a financially constrained environment. The future of geoconservation will depend upon innovation and full engagement with new opportunities, but in so doing, it is essential to maintain and build upon, rather than cast aside, the existing hard-won portfolio of sites, legislation, partnerships and initiatives as it provides the foundation from which to build the future of geoconservation. © 2012 The Geologists' Association.