Positive Conservation News - May 2019

May 31, 2019
The world's favourite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.
 - Edwin Way Teale

Today's post is a summary of more successful conservation news from this past month. May saw exciting results for Green politics across Europe, new areas around the world granted protected status, and success for a crocodile breeding project in Cambodia! A wave of local, regional and national governments declared a 'Climate Emergency' this month as the pressure rises for them to start taking Global Warming seriously.  Read on for much more, and feel free to share your favourite recent conservation news with us in the comments. 


This month saw Britain go two weeks without using coal for electricity for the first time since the 1880s! This is promising progress in the governments pledge to phase out coal-fired plants by 2025 in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, a tribe in Yukon territory, were the first indigenous tribe to declare a climate emergency. Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm is optimistic that it will inspire an Indigenous Climate Accord. The tribe are witnessing the effects of climate change and are determined for indigenous voices to be heard.

The UK Parliament has declared a climate emergency after a motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn in response to pressure from Extinction Rebellion activists. Ireland's Parliament have also declared one, and pledged to assess how their government can respond to the biodiversity loss crisis. Whether this is a serious commitment or merely PR is yet to be seen, but all eyes are now on politicians to ensure they honour their word and work toward international climate agreements.


The European Elections saw The Green Party finish above the Conservative Party for the first time in a national election after winning 7 MEPs. This is fantastic news for UK politics, as The Green Party are providing a much needed voice for climate change and other progressive policies. In addition to the UK, Green parties did extremely well across the whole of Europe, and this was the strongest election for them ever with a projected 71 MEP seats.


A pair of white storks which have settled in Sussex could be the first to breed in the wild in the UK for around 600 years, with three eggs due to hatch next month. The birds are breeding in the south of England again as part of a reintroduction project which involved using captive individuals from sanctuaries to attract passing wild birds, with hopes set on there being a self sustaining population by 2030.

An RSPB study has shown that seabird numbers on the island of Lundy in the UK have trebled since it was declared rat-free in 2006. Puffins, manx shearwaters, guillemots and razrobills have all increased in numbers. Seabirds are particularly vulnerable to invasive mammals like rats who prey on eggs and chicks and they can quickly devastate populations. Recent findings suggest culling these invasive animals could help save threatened species on 169 other islands around the world.

Scotland's growing beaver population has finally been given protected status this month. They went extinct in the UK centuries ago but were reintroduced in 2009 from populations in Norway, though the reintroduction's have been a source of conflict with farmers and landowners who have been trapping and shooting them. Beavers are a huge benefit for biodiversity and they help to prevent flooding by improving watersheds. With the UK population now at 550 it looks like they are here to stay!

High temperatures were great news for Cambodia's Siamese crocodile hatchlings, as it was hot enough for them to hatch indoors. The crocodiles are part of a breeding project in Phnom Penh, where the wild population is estimated to be around just 250 mature individuals. 65 baby crocodiles successfully hatched and will be reared in captivity until they are large enough to be released into a protected sanctuary.

Environmental protection

A newly designated protected area in Bolivia will cover 12,000 square kilometers and is hoped to  offset the effects of deforestation elsewhere in the country. The 'Ñembi Guasu Area of Conservation and Ecological Importance' will protect over 300 bird species, such as the tropical kingbird, american kestrel, and the squirrel cuckoo, as well as 100 mammal species such as jaguars, ocelots and the southern tamandua. Protected status will also ensure that the Ayoreo indigenous community who live in the area can continue to live in isolation as they have chosen.

China has proposed to create a national park three times the size of Yellowstone for the endangered giant panda. The 'Giant Panda National Park' at 10,746 square miles will be home to 80% of the wild population of pandas. It is hoped the park will improve connectivity between existing protected areas and unify their park management strategies to better coordinate conservation measures. Plans are set to be finalised later this year.

The UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a £10 million grant to plant over 130,000 trees in urban areas over the next two years. This aims to help the government meet their target of planting 1 million trees by 2022. This is a crucial step in fighting climate change, flooding and creating green spaces for communities to connect with nature.

In London, a seven-mile wildflower corridor is being planted to help bee populations. Brent City Council hope this will slow down declines of insect numbers by helping a wide range of pollinators, with the corridor set to wind through parks and green spaces across this area of the city.

Today the UK Government designated 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around UK waters, and will protect a huge variety of unique habitats and species such as cold water corals, native seahorses, pink sea fans, seals and lobsters. The move comes after 50 more MCZs were announced in 2013 and 2016, and it is hoped that these 91 protected areas will help ensure thriving seas for the future.

A fragile flame shell reef in Scotland has been granted protection thanks to the work of local divers. The reef had suffered severe damage from scallop dredging and mobile fishing was temporarily banned in 2017, and has now been designated as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

And finally...

If you are looking for something to do in June to help out conservation, you can take part in Gardenwatch, the largest citizen science project ever undertaken and a joint venture between BBC Springwatch and the British Trust for Ornithology. Let them know what's in your garden by taking part in a few short online surveys! June is also the start of 30 Days Wild, a project by the Wildlife Trusts which aims to get you to do something nature related every day of the month! Their website has tonnes of ideas, and it could be something small like planting some wildflower seeds or going for a walk!

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