In the News; General from May 2023

They had that policy of neglect in gutters of this bit of London for most of the year but have just recently sprayed them with herbicide, wonder if they will do that in Bristol too.

Bristol, having eschewed the use of glyphosate some years ago, decided to do the gutters this year. Instant reaction from certain parts of the demographic and they changed their minds.

Margaret Bradshaw; botanist.

Think Teesdale.

Anyone interested in fungi names might be about to despair as the largest genus (having well over 5000 species worldwide and a lot in UK) might be about to be chopped into 10 different genera and so the names will all change.

Fungal names have been all over the place since DNA started to be used but this is quite an interesting development - won’t be able to just tip everything into the Cortinarius bucket.

It looks like fungus DNA has turned into a huge can of worms.
That is a huge file that will be heavy reading.

Similar techniques may be used in a lot of other groups of fungi, iceberg and tip.

Cortinarius is interesting though as it is so huge, considerably more UK Cortinarius species than all UK birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles put together in just this one genus.

There is a 2022 monograph of British Cortinarius which gives a number of 330 described species in Britain (and an estimate of 400 total). This is less than the British tetrapod fauna (630 species in the BOU list, 107 mammals, and a few reptiles and amphibians, giving c. 750). One could strip out vagrant birds (and 8 species not seen since before 1950), but is that enough to put Cortinarius ahead?

A couple of things, there has been a huge effort that has gone into the birds and mammals and that the list contains many things that do not actually live here but are rare vagrants.
Second people who can identify many of the Cortinarius species are almost non existent so the true number may well be much higher than the number shown, the global list is well over 5000 many of which may be able to live in UK.
Also once DNA soil sampling gets going then the number of Cortinarius may well go up substantially if the sequences can actually be put in a genus. Would not be surprised if the true number of UK Cortinarius ends up well over 1000 if it can ever be measured reliably.
I think the monograph you are referring to was mainly dealing with traditional ideas of taxonomy before DNA came to be so important and before the paper I mentioned.

If it were the first of April, I’d have put this down as an April Fool’s day article.
Perhaps ‘Unnatural England’ would be a more apt designation?

I am so disappointed in Tony Juniper - I was quite hopeful when he came into the role!

It’s absurd. The big development near me (4300 houses in total) has led to the loss of miles of hedgerows. And now they’re talking about another application just north of it.

I notice the script the Labour shadow ministers have learned includes the line that much of the green belt is abandoned petrol stations and scrubland, as though scrub is some terrible blight that needs to be eliminated.

Think people are missing the two words ‘Green’ and ‘Belt’ as in a green area around something. Once it is built on it can never be green again and it won’t be a belt so the building will spread out everywhere.
Where I agree with him is that some of the green belt is not of much value for nature or food production. But there are ways to rectify that which don’t involve house building.
There is also the issue that there are areas needed for dog walkers and other types of recreation that often don’t mix well with high value nature - thinking of all the high value nature areas that have been degraded substantially as soon as they were turned into ‘country parks’ often in or near the greenbelt. Basically about managing areas appropriately for people and nature rather than just profit, perhaps opening up private greenbelt areas for recreation of various sorts including possibly even creating school playing fields if those are ever allowed again.

I’ve been saying for years that the only way for Edinburgh to retain a green belt is for the planners to insist on green roof tiles.

And who monitors the developments even where there are plans for amelioration? Not even the SSSIs seem to be protected.

Bath City Farm ‘Fascinating and saddening’: 30 new species seen in Bath due to changing climate | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Interesting use of a location to highlight an issue. Some of those species have actually moved much further north than Bath but there is a story there about public engagement as well as climate change. Just having the dusty dry data showing range range expansions for those species may not get as many readers to understand the issue as having the species arriving at a single point.

Here’s a Guardian article from 2020 that gives an idea of how many SSSIs, etc. will/have been affected or destroyed by the construction of HS2:

Might be interesting to reassess the route, particularly the sections that are no longer going to be built to see how much has actually been lost and if it can be put back at least to some extent. Normally with developments the area is cleared well before any actual building starts so the routes may have been cleared even though they will never be built.

Some better news in South West.