Country Life Today: Beavers set to return to Somerset and the South Downs

In today's round-up, we look at the reasons behind the National Trust's decision to reintroduce beavers to two of its sites; discover why China may derail efforts to tackle climate change; and find out what it really means to be a farmer.

Beavers to return to two National Trust sites

The National Trust will reintroduce beavers to two of its sites next spring, as part of its plan to restore more than 61,000 acres of wildlife-rich habitats by 2025. Two pairs will be released at Holnicote, in Somerset, and a pair at Valewood, in the South Downs.

The charity believes that bringing beavers back will not only boost flood resilience but also help create a better habitat for invertebrates, amphibians and freshwater species, supporting biodiversity.

‘Our aim is the beavers become an important part of the ecology, developing natural processes and contributing to the health and richness of wildlife in the area,’ says Ben Eardley, project manager for the National Trust in Holnicote.

Full story (BBC)


China ramping up coal use could derail efforts to fight climate change: ‘A major threat to the Paris climate targets’

Coal Worker With Handful Of Coal

As the rest of the world puts ever-increasing effort into finding alternatives to fossil fuels, the BBC reports that China is stepping up its coal production and usage. ‘China is now in the process of building or reviving coal equivalent to the EU’s entire generating capacity,’ claims the corporation’s environment editor Matt McGrath in his report.

Read more (BBC)


‘Even if it’s a wet, horrible night and you’re trying to lamb sheep it’s… I don’t know. It’s another level of living’

The Guardian’s have broadcast a short documentary film on their YouTube channel following the ups and downs of a young farmer  — and it’s fascinating to watch. Adam Crowe talks movingly of his work, the market and the unsustainable farming methods which have taken hold of so much of the industry in Britain.

You can watch the video here — it’s just under 20 minutes:

It’s particularly interesting to watch in the light of the Prince of Wales writing in Country Life last week of farmers’ travails that ‘there is no doubt in my mind that in their hearts many farmers would like to move in this direction, but there are no prizes for going out of business while you are trying to do the right thing’.

Read more of Prince Charles’s article (Country Life)


On This Day in 1905…

….a young clerk who worked at the patent office in the Swiss city of Bern published an academic paper that introduced mankind to what would later become known as the ‘world’s most famous equation’ — E = mc2 .

Albert Einstein

It was the fourth groundbreaking work published by Albert Einstein in a year which he described as his ‘annus mirabilis‘, though it didn’t actually contain the equation itself. That would come later; instead, in this first piece, the concept was written out as a sentence explaining the mass–energy equivalence.

Einstein’s school reports (Country Life)


Save whales to halt global warming

Until now, planting trees has been considered one of the key tools to stop climate change. However, scientists are now arguing that saving whales could top reforestation in the fight against rising temperatures.

The cetaceans soak up so much carbon that just one of them is worth more than a thousand trees, according to new research from the International Monetary Fund.

‘Coordinating the economics of whale protection must rise to the top of the global community’s climate agenda,’ the paper stated. ‘Since the role of whales is irreplaceable in mitigating and building resilience to climate change, their survival should be integrated into the objectives of the 190 countries that in 2015 signed the Paris Agreement for combating climate risk.’

Full Story (The Telegraph)


Reserving half the earth for nature ‘would affect 1 billion people’

The idea of putting half the planet aside for nature in order to safeguard the wellbeing of the planet has gained traction in recent months, but researchers at the University of Cambridge are sceptical about the scale of what the plan would mean and have carried out the first investigation. The answer, they claim, is serious upheaval for around 1 billion people — something which the scientists suggest is a very high price, particularly given that most of those affected are in middle-income countries.

‘People are the cause of the extinction crisis, but they are also the solution,’ said Dr Judith Schleicher, who led the study. ‘Social issues must play a more prominent role if we want to deliver effective conservation that works for both the biosphere and the people who inhabit it.’

Read more (Science Daily)


And finally…

…proof that even the best of us can make mistakes, as the BBC’s (normally) peerless Natural History Unit perpetrated a series of mix-ups in one of the episodes of the latest David Attenborough series, Seven Worlds, One Planet.

The sharp-eyed (and eared) naturalist who spotted mistakes in animal noises, bird identification and locations of creatures said that he found them so glaring it was ‘like watching a Mini Cooper popping up in a period drama’.