Category Archives: Endangered Species

Environmentalists challenge the RSPO to rein in its members

A group of environmental non-profit groups including Save Wildlife Conservation Fund, Friends of Borneo, Jakarta Animal Aid Network and research scientists today filed a complaint to the RSPO over the destruction of a biodiversity hotspot in Borneo.

The group alleges that the actions of palm oil company PT Mekar Bumi Andalas (MBA) a subsidiary of Wilmar Group is in open violation of many of the RSPO’s Principles & Criteria including encroachments into areas that are considered High Conservation Value Forests. MBA and other RSPO members have been building crude palm oil bulking stations in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan which has open access to sea shipping. According to Stan Lhota, a research scientist that has studied the area since 2005, Balikpapan Bay is home of one of the five largest known populations of proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus). It counts about 1400 animals, which may possibly be 5 % of the world’s population of the species. Proboscis monkeys occupy mangroves, but they are vitally dependent on food resources found on dry land forest. They are therefore critically dependent on the existence of corridors, and the activities of these RSPO members are threatening the integrity of these forest corridors. The activities from building the palm oil refineries and holding stations will have a devastating and permanent impact on the area according to Stan Lhota.

Besides the destruction of terrestrial habitats, there are unique coral reefs and sea grass beds near the estuary of Sungai Berenga, that have been affected by brackish and muddy waters created by the developments in the area. Huge amounts of soil have also been washed away from the construction site and corals are dying as they are being covered by several millimetres of thick sediments.

The area is home to Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaela brevirostris) with approximately 60 – 140 animals counted. Studies have determined that the area is crucial to their feeding and daily migration between the upper and lower sections of the Bay, in accordance with tides. One of the few remaining populations of dugongs (Dugong dugon) is found in Balikpapan Bay as well and their prime feeding grounds are in in sub-tidal sea grass beds. An early indicator of localized extinction can already be seen in the decreased sightings of Green turtles that once lived in the coral reefs and sea grass beds.

The complaint against PT MBA cites over a dozen violations of the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria and is demanding that the RSPO put a stop to all activities not only from PT MBA but also from all other RSPO members in the area until all environmental concerns have been addressed. This complaint is a new challenge to the RSPO whose Principles and Criteria do not apply to bulking mills or refineries but in the words of Lars Gorschlueter, Director of Save Wildlife Conservation Fund, “If RSPO standards are not mandatory to their members and forests of High Conservation Value can be torn down because it’s a refinery and not a plantation, then when does the RSPO standards apply and why should we trust its certification?”

The group further demanded that the stoppage be immediate to prevent an embarrassing repeat of the Muara Tae situation where a long drawn out discussion between RSPO member, First Resources Ltd of Singapore and complainants became meaningless as the forests in question were almost completely clear cut in the two years it took the RSPO to try and decide on the case.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust Finds Getting Kids Into Nature Starts At Home

The National Trust has revealed that parents need more support to make the outdoors a part of everyday family life to avoid rearing a generation completely cut off from the natural world.

The Natural Childhood Inquiry – which sought submissions from experts and the public on the barriers and the solutions for children’s connection with nature – found that children’s love of nature is best started in the home.

The Inquiry follows on from a national childhood report for the National Trust by award winning nature author and wildlife TV producer Stephen Moss, published in March, which documented children’s declining connection with the outdoors and nature.

Inquiry respondents said parents need more access to family-friendly, green and natural spaces, as well as more opportunities for children to enjoy nature.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “It is clear from the huge public response that our Natural Childhood report struck a chord with the nation.

“Parents want their children to have a better connection with nature, but they don’t feel completely confident in how to make that happen in a safe and stimulating way.

“Our inquiry showed that there is widespread agreement that this is an important issue and that now is the time to act. The worlds of conservation, government, education and child welfare need to work together with families and communities to find solutions.”

The Inquiry however recognised that there were some big barriers to a closer relationship with nature. These include excessive health and safety rules, the rise of indoor entertainment competing for children’s time and attention, traffic dangers, over-stuffed school days, and the poor quality and accessibility of green and natural spaces in many communities.

Research with children and parents commissioned by the National Trust to accompany the publication of the inquiry findings strongly validates these conclusions.

A YouGov survey* of 419 UK parents of under 13s revealed that a range of parental fears and concerns could be preventing children from getting the most of the great outdoors.

Stranger danger (37%), lack of safe nearby outdoor places to play (25%) and too much traffic (21%) were the top ranked barriers amongst parents of children aged 12 or under.

Just short of half (45 per cent) of parents of pre-teens identified ‘more local safe places to play’ as the thing which would most encourage them to let their children get outdoors and explore more where they lived. The other two top solutions supported by parents were ‘more supervised play spaces’ (32%) and ‘more activities organised by schools or youth groups’ (31%).

As part of its response to the lack of connection between kids and nature the National Trust launched its 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign in May. More than 250 Trust places took part and in the first two months more than 200,000 activity scrapbooks given away and nearly 20,000 users registered on the 50 Things website.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust-commissioned Writer Delves into Meaning of the White Cliffs of Dover

The National Trust has commissioned writer and philosopher Julian Baggini to spend a week at the White Cliffs of Dover, much of which is cared for by the Trust, exploring through verse what this much loved stretch of the Kent coast says about the UK.

Based at the world famous and iconic South Foreland Lighthouse, he will be delving into why the White Cliffs have become so wrapped up with our national identity and the role they play in creating our sense of belonging.

Julian Baggini, who co-founded The Philosophers’ Magazine, said: “For millions of Britons living across the world the White Cliffs is a clear symbol of Britain, in much the same way that the Statue of liberty has defined America. Even if we’ve never been to or seen the White Cliffs of Dover there is a collective sense that they matter.

“I want to get a real sense of what the White Cliffs of Dover mean for British people, including those for whom the cliffs were the first sight of the country, which would become their adopted home.

“But it’s not just about symbolism. Many important episodes in our national story have taken place on this stretch of coast, so I also want to look at how its local history has shaped our national history. And I also want to talk to people about home some contemporary debates, such as fishing and immigration, are being played out here.

“My suspicion is that if we look, there is an insightful portrait of the nation to be found engraved in the chalky cliffs of East Kent.”

Julian was born in Folkestone, his mother is from Dover and his father is an Italian whose first sight of his adoptive land in the early 1960’s was the White Cliffs of Dover.

The National Trust is currently trying to raise £1.2 million to acquire a stretch of the most famous segment of the White Cliffs above the Port of Dover.

Launched in late June*, the White Cliffs of Dover appeal has seen more than ten thousand people supporting the campaign to acquire this missing link: the National Trust already owns five miles of the White Cliffs.

During his residency Julian will be blogging and capturing on camera his thoughts and observations and will be talking to the people that live and work in vicinity of the White Cliffs, taking time out to travel to France for a fresh perspective and debate their meaning with local experts, trying to appreciate why the coast has defined our sense of collective and personal identity.

A book of Julian’s observations and musings from his time at the White Cliffs of Dover will be published in late September this year.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust names Dame Helen Ghosh as next director general

The National Trust has announced Dame Helen Ghosh DCB will be the next director-general of the charity.

Helen joins the Trust from her current role as permanent secretary to the Home Office. Previously, Helen held a variety of civil service roles including as permanent secretary to Defra between 2005 and 2010.

Dame Helen Ghosh joined the civil service from Oxford University, where she read Modern History. She has worked in a number of government departments, starting off in the Department of the Environment, and returning to environmental issues when she became Permanent Secretary at Defra in 2005. In between, she followed her interest in providing public services to local people with jobs in the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Government Office for London, and has also worked at the centre of government, with two spells in the Cabinet Office. Helen is a long-term member of the Trust and of her local Wildlife Trust in Oxfordshire.

She will take over from Fiona Reynolds who has been at the helm for nearly 12 years. During that time, Fiona has grown the charity’s membership to four million and built a volunteer base of more than 67,000 people.

Helen said: “I have been an admirer of the Trust and its work all my life, and I am thrilled that I have been given the chance to be part of its future. I am delighted to be able to build on Fiona Reynolds’ great work in setting the Trust’s direction for the 21st century.”

Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, said: “The Board of Trustees is delighted that Helen will be the Trust’s next director-general. The Trustees’ strategy is to widen the Trust’s appeal and grow its membership. Helen is a distinguished and energetic public servant. We are convinced she is ideal to lead the organisation through what is proving a challenging time. We all look forward to working with her.”

Fiona Reynolds, who moves on to become Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2013, said: “I am delighted by Helen’s appointment. The National Trust is a fantastic organisation to work for and I wish her, and the Trust, all the very best for the future.”

The National Trust was founded in 1895 to protect threatened coastline, countryside and buildings for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone.

Today the Trust employs more than 5,500 people and cares for special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and 300 historic houses and gardens.

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust Recruiting for Kid’s Council

The National Trust has announced it is recruiting a group of advisors made up entirely of children to provide advice on how to get more of the nation’s kids outdoors.

The idea follows the charity’s recent Natural Childhood Report and 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign, and shows the Trust stepping up its game in encouraging children to explore the outdoors and get closer to nature.

The National Trust is looking to sign up ten children aged between seven and twelve to the Kids’ Council* where they will play an important role in developing the charity’s outdoor campaigns, and making their properties more fun for younger visitors.

The perfect candidate will be brimming with enthusiasm and fun, plus have a natural love for the outdoors and fresh air. Potential applicants are also required to have an adventurous spirit and a wild imagination. A fondness for rolling down hills or jumping in muddy puddles would be considered a bonus.

To offer children a chance to try out the National Trust and get inspiration on what they would like to change if they were appointed to the Kids’ Council, the Trust will open up its doors to children for free for the whole month of August. Over 200 places will be free of charge to children**, giving them the opportunity to explore National Trust places across the country.

The successful council applicants will be announced later in the year and will be offered free access to National Trust places for themselves and their family. Canoeing, surfing and camping are among the activities that will be part of the winning prize to ensure kids and their families experience the full National Trust offering. The Kids’ Council will meet throughout 2013 and report their findings into the National Trust’s Visitor Experience Director, so their suggestions can be put into practise to help make the outdoors more fun for the nation’s kids.

The application process will close on 7th September 2012. Applications can be downloaded from the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kidscouncil and sent back via email, post or handed in at National Trust properties***.

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, commented: “We are really committed to helping kids enjoy the great outdoors and we want to make our places the most fun and family-friendly day out destinations in the UK. I’m really excited that our new Kids’ Council will help us do just that. Our kids go free promotion for the entire month of August will not only give kids and their families the chance to get out and explore, but hopefully inspire them to apply for our Kids’ Council and let us know what we can do better in the future.”

Via EPR Network
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National Trust White Cliffs appeal in bid to break £1 million

The National Trust has announced a Shakespearean actress, soul singing sensation, a world beating sailor and a passionate seafood champion have thrown their weight behind the charity’s biggest ever coastal appeal to acquire a stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Dame Judi Dench, Joss Stone, Ben Ainslie and Rick Stein have joined thousands of people that have already supported the Trusts bid to raise £1.2 million to buy 1.35km of this much loved Kent coast.

Soul singer Joss Stone, who was born in Dover, said: “I love Dover and the White Cliffs. They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.”

The appeal was launched in late June to acquire this ‘missing link’ between the lands the Trust already cares for and enable it to be managed for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “In just one month, thousands of people have backed our appeal and we’ve raised almost half of the money needed.

“This tremendous support shows the love we as a nation have for our special places – thank you to everyone who has contributed. We now need to keep going to make sure we reach the target and secure this piece of coastline for ever.”

Other high-profile figures that have given their support to the Trust’s campaign include actor Richard E. Grant, actor and TV presenter Tony Robinson, Comedian, presenter and Kent resident Paul O’Grady, Kent born and world famous fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, iconic singer from the 1940s Dame Vera Lynn, round the world yachtswomen Dame Ellen MacArthur and BBC Coast presenters Neil Oliver and Miranda Krestovnikoff.

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968 as part of its Neptune Coastline Campaign.

There are three easy ways that money can be donated to the appeal:
– Online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal where supporters can choose to have their name engraved on their virtual White Cliffs of Dover.
– Text a donation to support the appeal. For example, if someone wanted to donate £5 they’d need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount that you wish to donate must be included in the text.
– Over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

The Twitter hashtag #whitecliffs will be used on twitter to keep people updated about the progress of the appeal.

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust Launches Fundraising Appeal To Save England’s White Cliffs Of Dover

The National Trust has launched a £1.2 million fundraising appeal in a bid to secure the long-term future of the world famous White Cliffs of Dover in Kent.

The appeal is the charity’s biggest ever coastal fundraiser and will help ensure that public access to the White Cliffs can be improved for future generations to enjoy.

It will also mean that this much-loved stretch of Kent coastline can be cared for in a way that will improve its habitat for local wildlife.

If the appeal is successful, the most iconic stretch of the White Cliffs – the 1.35km (just under one mile) sweep overlooking the port of Dover – will be looked after and managed for the benefit of the public and for wildlife.

It will complete the missing link of coastline under National Trust care, uniting a stretch of more than 7km (nearly 5 miles) between the Trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland lighthouse.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said: “Immortalised in song and literature, the White Cliffs of Dover have become one the great symbols of our nation.

“We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure their future for everyone to enjoy.

“If we don’t raise the money then the future of the White Cliffs is uncertain and this stretch of coastline might one day be disrupted by inappropriate management or development.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Historian and television presenter Dan Snow, who is supporting the appeal, added: “For me it’s simple. The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the country’s greatest and most iconic landmarks.

“When I heard that the National Trust had this opportunity to safeguard this crucial stretch of the Cliffs, I thought great.

“It’s brilliant that they have a chance to secure this important section of the cliffs, for ever, for everyone.”

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year to enjoy coast walks and take in the wonderful views across the English Channel.

The funds need to be raised by the end of the year to help acquire this piece of the Kent coast and help with the conservation and management of the whole White Cliffs of Dover.

People can make National Trust donations the following ways:
– Make a donation online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal and you can choose to have your name engraved on our virtual White Cliffs of Dover.
– Text a donation to support the appeal. For example, if someone wanted to donate £5 they would need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount must be included in the text.
– Make a donation over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust recognises unsung ‘Green Heroes’

The National Trust has announced the six winners of the first ever Octavia Hill Awards at a special ceremony in London.

A prolific drystone waller, an intrepid volunteer youth worker and famous TV walker were among the green heroes celebrated by the National Trust.

The awards are named after Trust founder and social reformer Octavia Hill who died in 1912. They are being run in partnership with Countryfile Magazine.

Nominated by the public and then put to an online poll that saw nearly seven thousand votes, each winner is keeping the spirit of Octavia alive – standing up for precious natural spaces and places.

The winners of the Octavia Hill Awards were: Patrick Frew from Country Antrim, Northern Ireland is the ‘Growing Hero’ – Patrick has turned a one-acre site into a diverse growing space. Young children enjoy visits to the site to reconnect with nature while elderly residents are treated to home deliveries of compost and easy salad plants ready to make their own DIY ‘Doorstep Allotments’.

Roger Parkinson from Wakefield, West Yorkshire is a ‘Natural Hero’ – Roger is an inspirational tree conservation leader, a public speaker and field teacher. As a practitioner, he’s helped restore a five-acre arboretum with more than 150 tree species and he’s helped individuals and groups with their own woodland creation projects.

Matt Smith from Bootle, Liverpool is the ‘Inspirational Hero’ – Volunteer youth worker Matt is tackling anti-social behaviour by getting young people into the outdoors. As a volunteer he organises nature hikes, camping and self-sufficiency trips that educate, inspire and sometimes change lives.

Julia Bradbury was voted ‘The People’s Campaigner’ – Julia picked up the award for someone in the public spotlight who’s championed an issue or cause. Her passion for walking began at an early age and she was formerly President of the Ramblers Association. Her public profile as a popular TV presenter gives her the chance to champion and promote the landscape she loves.

The Friends of King Henry’s Walk Garden in North London are the ‘Green Space Guardians’ – A scrap of wasteland in North London is now a tranquil community garden thanks to this group. King Henry’s Walk Garden is enjoyed by the many families who don’t have outside space and people can rent space to grow their own produce.

Eric Shorrocks of Arnside Knott, Cumbria wins the ‘Love Places’ Award – A self-taught professional drystone waller, Eric has passed on his skills, training up at least 20 others in the craft and, as a National Trust volunteer, he’s been dedicating his free time to everything from litter picking and path clearing to saving precious limestone grassland from scrub invasion.

The Awards attracted more than 160 entries and a final shortlist was selected by a panel of judges with a wide knowledge of green and social issues. Sitting on the panel alongside Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, were Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine, academic and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts and journalist and writer Candida Lycett Green.

The public then voted, in their thousands, for the shortlisted entries.

Each of the winners will receive a specially commissioned bowl made by Tony Alderman who works at the National Trust’s Chartwell in Kent. The bowls have been made using English elm, oak and yew collected from woods near to Crockham in Kent where Octavia Hill lived.

They also win the opportunity to be mentored by a Trust expert and will be profiled in Countryfile Magazine.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust MyFarm Experiment To Go Free

The National Trust has announced that one year on from the launch of its innovative and award-winning MyFarm project, the charity is dropping the £30 sign-up fee in a bid to widen its success and inspire even more people to engage with farming and food.

The experiment – based at the Trust’s 1,450 acre Wimpole Home Farm in Cambridgeshire – was launched last May to encourage people to learn about day-to-day farm life and get a better understanding of where their food comes from.

The virtual farmers are able to view day-to-day farm activities via blogs from the farm team, videos and live webcams. Significantly they can also influence what happens on the farm by voting on key decisions usually made by the farmer.

As the project moves into year two, the team behind the project are seeking to increase the number of people who take part in MyFarm, and cover
a wider range of food topics.

Farm Manager Richard Morris said: “We’ve learnt a lot from our 5,000-strong audience over the last 12 months, especially how interested people are in following and finding out about the day-to-day running of the farm.

“The experiment has helped us deepen people’s understanding of the challenges faced by farmers in the wider market place including the European and World markets, and enabled those involved to comment on a wide range of farming issues.

“It’s been the animal stories that have really captured the public’s hearts – both births and deaths. MyFarmers have also loved getting to know the farm team, the rare breed animals kept at Wimpole and the monthly votes which explore one particular aspect of farming in more depth, with the majority vote then carried out on the farm.”

The National Trust is the country’s biggest farmer and through MyFarm hopes to help people understand the issues facing farming today, the numerous and daily decisions farmers have to make, as well as the joy and the heartache which is part and parcel of farm life.

As part of the changes the Trust will also now host the experiment on its own website rather than the current microsite. It will also make broader use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with users and to encourage further discussion on food and farming issues.

Founding Farmers – those who joined in the first year – will be invited to continue as ambassadors on these platforms to encourage more people to join in; sharing the journeys they have been on over the last 12 months.

MyFarm Project Manager Andrew Cock-Starkey added: “Our members come from all over the world as well as from the UK and after a successful first year we believe we’ve established a clear demand for this kind of learning. Now we want to reach even more people and build a broader understanding of farming.

“Waiving the membership fee will, we hope, help us reach a much wider audience, as will ensuring we have appealing content for users of different ages across various platforms.”

Deputy President of the National Farmers’ Union Meurig Raymond said: “This project is an effective and fun way of engaging people in farming and the hard work and skill that goes into producing food for their table. With more and more people using social media to communicate, share views and influence decisions MyFarm also tackles some of the more serious issues and involves its supporters in the day-to-day running of a real-life farm.”

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust Launches New Competition To Capture The Spirit Of Octavia On Camera

The National Trust has launched a new amateur photography competition called ‘Your Space’ which is set to celebrate green spaces and the life of National Trust founder Octavia Hill.

Run in conjunction with National Trust Magazine, the competition will run from May until August and asks people to capture what green spaces mean to them.

Four internationally-acclaimed photographers, Mary McCartney, Joe Cornish, Arnhel de Serra and Charlie Waite, have helped launch the ‘Your Space‘ competition with a new collection of pictures at National Trust places that capture the relationship between people and green places.

Octavia Hill was a leading environmental campaigner in Victorian Britain. She campaigned to save green spaces in and around London, such as Parliament Hill, and, years ahead of her time, saw the benefit of spending time in the outdoors and closer to nature.

As one of three founders of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, set about acquiring green places and built heritage to be looked after by the charity for the benefit of the nation until she died in August 1912.

The competition is based around her writings on green space: ‘We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently [and we need] places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in…’

The competition includes all green space in the UK, not just National Trust places, and hopes to capture images of everyday green places.

These could include pictures from the local park, where people play with their kids or walk their dogs, or favourite strolls in the countryside.

What is important is that the images capture what these places mean to the photographer and why they matter.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “This competition is all about using photography to reflect on why green spaces matter to us as a nation. We’re looking for powerful and inspiring images that celebrate this special relationship that we have with our parks and countryside.”

There are four categories in the competition: ten and under, 11-16 year olds, over 16s and smartphones. Entries need to be submitted by 31 August 2012 and the full terms and conditions can be found on the website*.

The prize for the overall winner, worth £1,500, will include a bespoke one-to-one day long workshop with award winning landscape photographer Charlie Waite, a special landscape print and up to two nights stay in a National Trust holiday cottage.

The three runners-up will join Charlie at a National Trust property for day which includes lunch and behind-the-scenes tour.

A panel of judges, including Mary McCartney, Joe Cornish, Arnhel de Serra, Charlie Waite, Sue Herdman (Editor of National Trust Magazine) and Chris Lacey (National Trust Photographic Manager), will decide on the winners for the four categories. One of the category winners will then go on to be the overall winner of the competition.

Entries for the competition can be uploaded at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yourspace and shared via Facebook and twitter.

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust Launches Legal Challenge Against Landmark Wind Farm Decision

The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council have made a joint legal challenge against planning permission for a wind farm that would be built within one mile of a Grade I listed building and registered park and garden.

The proposal would see four 126.5m wind turbines built within the setting of the Lyveden New Bield site, a place described by the Planning Inspector who granted approval for the plans as “probably the finest example of an Elizabethan garden [with a] cultural value of national if not international significance”.

After planning permission was initially refused by the local Council, the development was given consent on appeal in March 2012. The three organisations started legal proceedings on 23 April under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It is extremely rare for English Heritage and the National Trust to pursue legal action and it is the first time that East Northamptonshire Council has ever taken a case to this level.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust explained the decision to take the matter to the Administrative Court: “We fully support renewable energy and have made our own commitment to halve our dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. We have also backed a number of wind proposals where scale and setting have been considered appropriate.

“However, the decision to allow a development of this size so close to one of the country’s most treasured historic places is both damaging to Lyveden New Bield and could have serious implications for other heritage sites across the UK.”

As a Grade I listed building, registered park and garden and scheduled ancient monument, Lyveden New Bield’s unfinished Elizabethan lodge and gardens have the highest heritage designation possible. The wind turbines would be prominent, modern structures in a landscape that still evokes the character of Lyveden New Bield’s historic Rockingham Forest surroundings. The turbines would be visible from almost everywhere on the property.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Our challenge to his decision is not simply about the balance of professional judgement between heritage and renewable energy. The Inspector did not adequately take into account the contribution that Lyveden New Bield’s historic and rural surroundings make to its immense significance.”

Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Steven North added: “It is regrettable that it has come to this, but we fully support this legal challenge and will be working closely with the National Trust and English Heritage to protect this heritage site.”

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National Trust Launches New Heritage Gardening Courses

The National Trust has announced two new heritage gardening courses, representing the charity’s most significant development in horticultural training for 20 years.

Co-funded by the National Gardens Scheme, the new courses will offer budding gardeners the opportunity to study for qualifications in heritage gardening and replace the Trust’s Careership training scheme launched in 1991*.

For those new to heritage gardening, the one year Foundation Certificate will develop the essential practical skills needed to look after and nurture heritage gardens, and is aligned with the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Level 2 in Horticulture.

The two year Diploma in Heritage Gardening is unique to the National Trust and offers what is arguably the most comprehensive grounding in heritage gardening available for those with some prior experience and relevant qualifications. It builds on the Foundation level training, providing trainees with an in-depth and working knowledge of heritage gardens.

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust said: “Our new gardening courses are a great step forward and have been designed to develop the modern skills needed to sustainably manage major heritage gardens into the future. We believe they are a significant development for the sector and fill the training gap between existing botanic horticulture and amenity gardening diplomas.

“We can now offer two entry points and great opportunities for people wishing to develop a long and rewarding career in heritage gardening and a spring board for those aspiring to become our Head Gardeners of the future.”

Developed in conjunction with Reaseheath College in Cheshire**, the gardening coursesare largely practical, with trainees based at major National Trust gardens. To supplement this practical learning, trainees also spend 10 weeks a year at Reaseheath developing their horticultural knowledge.

In addition to traditional and modern techniques used in major gardens, trainees on the Diploma course will cover plant conservation, GPS surveys and plant databases; garden history, period planting styles, restoration, and interpretation and visitor engagement techniques.

Trainees on both courses will be able to work alongside the National Trust’s most experienced Head Gardeners in some of the most famous gardens in the country such as Sissinghurst, Hidcote and Stourhead. They will also learn about garden conservation from the National Trust’s gardening experts and will have opportunities to develop additional skills and knowledge with placements at other Trust gardens.

The new courses start in September 2012 and there are 10 places available on each. Applicants can find out more information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardencareers and apply from 27 April 2012.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust Launches Campaign To Get Children Outdoors

The National Trust has launched a nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors and enjoy classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.

The ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾‘ initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which highlighted research that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree and one in ten can’t ride a bike.*

The charity’s ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ campaign provides a checklist for under-12s (and those who are young at heart) including everything from running around in the rain and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, damming a stream, flying a kite and making a (delicious) mud pie.

To help bring to life these simple pleasures, the Trust has formed a group of Elite Rangers who will share their expert tips on enjoying outdoor adventures and their enthusiasm for encouraging children to play alfresco.

The five rangers, all Trust staff, come from across the UK and range in age from 29 to 49. They include a 6ft 3″ tree climbing expert, who has scaled 50 metre-high trees, (a.k.a. Tree Man), Captain Skim who can skim a stone over 26 times and Midas the treasure hunter. The other rangers are Den-Boy, an outdoor hideaway-building champion, and a mini-beast expert, a.k.a. The Bug Catcher.

The fantastic five will be offering top tips on their chosen skill to the nation’s children over the National Trust Free Weekend (21st and 22nd April) when the National Trust will open up over 200 of its houses and gardens for free over the weekend, as well as all the countryside spaces it cares for, which are always free access

Kids can pick up a free ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ scrapbook from participating properties and start ticking off their outdoor adventures to do list. Plus, the fun can continue at home by visiting nationaltrust.org.uk/50things where children can fill in their completed activities and earn points towards their very own explorer badge.

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, commented: “Our Elite Rangers are a fantastic bunch, with bags of enthusiasm for the outdoors and what it can offer kids. We’re hoping that the nation’s children will embrace the 50 things and start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family, with our Free Weekend the perfect opportunity to get outside in the fresh air.”

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The National Trust Acts Now To Save Children’s Relationship With The Outdoors

A new National Trust report has found that evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors is ‘overwhelming’ and urgent action is needed to bridge this growing gap before it’s too late.

In his Natural Childhood report* naturalist, author and TV producer Stephen Moss charts years of academic research and a steady stream of surveys on the subject, highlighting how a generation of children is finally losing touch with the natural world.

The report outlines a clear need to tackle the rise of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder‘, a term coined by the US based writer Richard Louv, to describe a growing dislocation between children and nature**.

Report author Stephen Moss, said: “We all know the benefits being outdoors can bring, and as parents we want our children to spend more time outdoors than they do.

“But despite this overwhelming evidence and the different initiatives and schemes run by organisations across the UK, our kids are spending less and less time in the outdoors.

“The time to act is now, whilst we still have a generation of parents and grandparents who grew up outdoors and can pass on their experience and whilst there remains a determination to do something positive in this area.”

A two-month inquiry, facilitated by the National Trust, will take evidence from leading experts and the public to look at how we can reconnect this and future generations of children with the natural world.

The National Trust is working alongside Arla, the NHS Sustainable Development Unit and film-makers Green Lions, to organise a summit this summer to bring together a range of experts to develop a roadmap for reconnecting children and nature.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “Getting outdoors and closer to nature has all sorts of benefits for our children. It keeps them fit, they can learn about the world around them and, most of all, it’s fun.

“That’s why it’s so worrying that so many children today don’t have the opportunity to experience the outdoors and nature. Building a den, picking flowers, climbing trees – the outdoors is a treasure trove, rich in imagination. It brings huge benefits that we believe every child should have the opportunity to experience and there are huge costs when they don’t.”

During the last decade conservation groups, academics, social and health professionals and the media have charted the rise of so-called ‘cotton-wool kids’ and countless examples of what is going wrong.

Authority figures and layers of bureaucracy have combined in a climate of ‘don’t do that’ to create an environment where fewer children play in the outdoors. This has led to a situation where kids having fun in the outdoors are painted as showing signs of anti-social behaviour.

The research shows that capturing children before they enter the teenage years is crucial with the research clearly showing if kids get hooked before they reach twelve years old, they will develop a lifelong passion for the environment and outdoors activities***.

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The National Trust reports son of RamCam born live on LambCam

A ewe that was tupped in a video made as part of the National Trust’s MyFarm* project has, nearly five months later, given birth on camera too.

The Portland ewe, unimaginatively named ‘3462’ after her tag number, shot to prominence after starring in MyFarm’s ‘RamCam’ video.

RamCam saw Peacland Paolo, a Portland ram, fitted with a horn-mounted webcam as he went out for the tupping season at Wimpole Home Farm, the home of MyFarm, last November.

In his first tup, Paolo took a special shine to experienced ewe number 3462, one of 30 ewes in his field for the tup. The video has been viewed more than 18,000 times on YouTube.

As the end of the 145-day gestation period drew nearer, the MyFarm team moved the ewe into a lambing pen fitted with another webcam.

On Sunday evening, viewers on the MyFarm website saw the as-yet unnamed ‘Son of RamCam’ born into the world.

MyFarm Project Manager, Andrew Cock-Starkey, said: “First RamCam and now LambCam have been great fun and we hope people have enjoyed watching them.

“Though it’s all done slightly tongue in cheek – and we’ve had lots of pun fun with titles like RamCam and EweTube – there is a serious message too.

“Carbon footprints, food miles and food provenance are becoming more and more important both to consumers and the industry.

“Most people have eaten lamb, still more will have heard of the lambing season at farms but I’d wager not many knew what the tupping season was.

“Through the MyFarm project we want to involve people in farming and where their food comes from.

“MyFarm members vote on key decisions that affect the future of the farm.

“If Paolo, ewe 3462 and their son help us teach people that British lamb born in the Spring is available to eat in Autumn, and not in the next few weeks as most people think, then they’ve done their job.”

The lamb’s birth was amongst the first at the home of MyFarm, Home Farm on the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire. It signals the start of the farm’s lambing season that starts on Saturday 17 March and runs through to Sunday 5 April. Home Farm is open to the public and is expecting around 40,000 visitors during the five week period.

Andrew Cock-Starkey added: “Lambing is a very busy but hugely enjoyable time on the farm and the farm staff work really hard to share the goings on with the public.

“It’s quite a magical thing to see a lamb that’s a few hours or even minutes old and lucky visitors may even see a birth for themselves.

“For those that don’t we suggest they keep an eye our MyFarm webcams. We’ve had pigs farrowing recently and even a rare Bagot goat having twin kids all live on camera.”

For more information on MyFarm visit www.my-farm.org.uk.

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The National Trust Reports Lovesick Cows Get New Mate For Valentine’s

The National Trust has revealed that an Irish Moiled bull is set to be in the ‘moo-d’ for love at Wimpole Home Farm after the romantic future of a rare breed cow herd was put to the vote.

The National Trust’s online MyFarm community voted on which breed should get a mate for Valentine’s Day.*

The farm team at the 1,450 acre farm in Cambridgeshire, home to 65 rare breed cows and four bulls, are on the hunt for a new bull, but can only afford one.

Setting a ‘Moo Who?’ challenge, The National Trust MyFarm community had six days to research and vote on which of the three (Gloucester, Irish Moiled or Shetland) rare breed cow herds living on the farm was the most deserving of a new mate.

After the ‘battle of the cattle’ the Irish Moiled herd took an ‘udderly’ overwhelming 51% of the vote. When a suitable beast is found it will mate with the 10 cows from the herd ‘ready for the bull’ to create pure breed offspring.

Cows from the other herds will be cross-bred with Juggernaut, a one tonne, Long Horn bull who already lives on the farm.

Farm Manager Richard Morris said: “Each breed has its own characteristics and is special for different reasons. All three herds are on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s ‘At Risk’ register – meaning there are fewer than 750 breeding females in the UK.

“But, it’s never as simple as just choosing the rarest, this had to be weighed up against bull prices, the number of cows in each herd, (more cows mean more calves); and the quality of the meat produced when the cows are ready for slaughter.

“This was truly one of those heart versus head votes and we’ll now be buying a Irish Moiled bull. Hopefully he’ll mate successfully with our 10 Irish Moiled cows.”

Stockman Mark Field at Wimpole said: “Back in 2000 we only had three Irish Moiled cows on the farm. Since then we’ve been working hard to enlarge the herd, working with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust to extend the gene pool.

“Thanks to the MyFarm communities votes we can now continue that work. I’m looking forward to getting into the market to find a suitable Irish Moiled bull to introduce to our herd – and to MyFarmers.”

The new Irish Moiled bull and the four other bulls will be expected to mate with all 65 breeding cows over the spring and summer at Wimpole Estate with calves expected in 2013.

To sign up and to get involved with everything related to farming, food and where it comes from, visit www.my-farm.org.uk.

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Warick University Research into possible Woodchester wild cat finds no cat DNA on deer

The National Trust asked the University of Warwick to test a roe deer carcass found near Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire in early January after examination of the wounds led to speculation that it may have been killed by a big cat.

Comprehensive DNA tests have found fox DNA on the Woodchester carcass and what is expected to be fox DNA on the second deer carcass found a few miles away.

Dr Robin Allaby, Associate Professor at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, said: “We did not detect cat DNA on either deer carcass. Other than deer, by far the strongest genetic signal we found on the Woodchester Park carcass was from a fox. That fox DNA was found on the ribs, legs and fur plucking sites from the Woodchester deer carcass.

“On the second deer carcass we found canid DNA. A more detailed analysis is underway to pin down the canid species but our expectation is that that will also be fox DNA.”

Dr Robin Allaby took 45 samples in total, from the wounds of the deer carcasses with the aim of testing specifically for DNA from the saliva of any canid (for instance dog or fox) or felid (cat) species which had killed or scavenged from the deer.

He used those samples to carry out 450 PCRs (the polymerase chain reaction is a standard scientific technique to amplify the target DNA), and almost 600 sequence reactions. The team searched for two gene targets each of deer and canid, but over 30 different cat gene targets.

David Armstrong, Head Ranger for the National Trust in Gloucestershire said: “The story of the investigation of the dead deer has really sparked off local curiosity with a lot of people who visit Woodchester Park to explore. People love a mystery like this and although we haven’t found a wild cat, many of our visitors clearly believe there might be something interesting living quietly hidden in Woodchester.”

Rick Minter, author of a new book on big cats reported in Britain, said: “There has been speculation of breeding amongst feral big cats in the UK. We are no closer to indicating that with these results, but lessons have been learnt from Warwick University’s valuable input to this exercise. The strong media interest suggests an appetite to look into this subject further, and recent community surveys in Gloucestershire have indicated a strong desire for big cat evidence to be researched carefully.

“We should not be complacent about possible big cats in the UK, but considering these animals living secretly in our landscape can fire people’s imaginations and help us consider all of the wild nature around us. Our outdoors can still hold surprises maybe.”

Big cats will do their utmost to avoid contact with people but anyone who does see a big cat in the wild is advised to stay composed and back away from the animal.

Any sightings or possible evidence on National Trust land can also be reported by email to nature@nationaltrust.org.uk.

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The National Trust boost for Box Hill wildlife also benefits Olympic spectators

Rare wildlife has a better chance to thrive thanks to a scrub clearance at the National Trust’s Box Hill in Surrey.

The work also allows many more cycling fans to watch the Olympic Road Races in July, combining a sustainable Games with excellent sporting facilities.

The hill is home to many endangered species that only live on chalk grassland such as small blue butterflies and man orchids. These species are protected nationally and internationally which is why Box Hill is a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest,

A detailed wildlife survey funded by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) proved the Trust could safely remove some areas of scrub, creating more grassland where these species can flourish.

The National Trust, LOCOG and the government’s wildlife and landscape advisers, Natural England, have worked together to create a balance between protecting wildlife and promoting enjoyment of top level international sport.

It is hoped the work will make room for up to 15,000 spectators to watch the world’s best cyclists tackle one of the most exciting sections of the Olympic race route – Box Hill’s Zig-Zag road – on July 28 and 29.

Andy Wright, the National Trust Countryside Manager for Box Hill said: “It’s great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting.

“Since traditional farming ceased in the 1930s, woodland has been encroaching onto the grassland at Box Hill and we’ve been battling to keep it back.

“The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and they have really helped us understand the best way to manage the habitat for the long term.

“The scrub alongside the road has very few species living in it so after we removed it, it didn’t matter if people walked in those areas.

“Gradually, over the years that land will turn back into chalk grassland which is a much richer habitat – supporting around 60 to 100 species of plants, animals and insects per square metre.”

As well as being a valuable area for wildlife, the steep and winding Box Hill loop is considered to be one of the most challenging stages of the Olympic Cycling Road Race.

Jim Smyllie, Natural England’s Executive Director for Delivery, said: “The cycling road races will be world class events in world class scenery and the restoration work at Box Hill will help ensure they leave a living legacy.”

The scrub clearance work began on January 30th and the Zig-Zag road was closed for a week to allow trees to be felled. Strips of land on both sides of the road were trimmed but occasional bridges of overhanging trees were left to allow dormice and other woodland creatures to cross.

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The National Trust’s MyFarm Experiment Extends to Include Conventional Farm Methods

The National Trust has announced that a 250 acre conventional farm is set to become part of the MyFarm* experiment which aims to reconnect people with where their food comes from.

The farmland will form a key part of MyFarm project which enables members to make decisions on what happens on the farm.

The arable land at Cambridge Road Farm is next to the 1,200 acre Wimpole Home Farm which is at the centre of the MyFarm project in Cambridgeshire.

Owned by the Trust, Cambridge Road Farm has always been farmed conventionally by a tenant, who has now retired.

Its inclusion in the project means that participants will be able to get closer to both conventional and organic farming methods.

Richard Morris, Farm Manager at Wimpole, said: “This is an exciting development for the project as we can now explore the differences between organic and conventional farming methods rather than simply talking about them.

“With only four per cent** of farmland in the UK farmed organically we felt it was important to demonstrate the different benefits and challenges presented by each method.

“We’ll be asking the MyFarm members to make decisions on the conventionally farmed land in addition to the 1,200 acres of organic farmland at Wimpole.

“We hope to make the differences and reasoning for both farming methods clearer and easier to digest. Whatever scenario the MyFarmers are presented with, we will be relying on them to make sure their decisions lead to both farms being profitable businesses.”

Paul Hammett, Senior Policy Advisor at the National Farmers Union, said: “The MyFarm community will now have a fantastic opportunity to run the farms in parallel and learn about the advantages and disadvantages of both farming methods. It will be really interesting to see how their views and attitudes change, if at all, over the coming months.”

For more information and to sign up to join the MyFarm experiment visit www.my-farm.org.uk.

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The National Trust Reveals Consumers Need A Leg Up With Farming Knowledge

The National Trust has revealed the results from a new survey* which show that the vast majority (93 per cent) of people in Great Britain don’t know the best time of year to enjoy eating British lamb.

Only seven per cent of respondents correctly identified autumn as the time for tucking into one of Britain’s favourites, with half (49 per cent) choosing spring as the best time to serve lamb – the time of year when most lambs are born.

The research marks six months of the National Trust’s mass on-line MyFarm experiment at its 1,200 acre organic farm at Wimpole in Cambridgeshire.

The innovative project aims to involve people in farming and where their food comes from by enabling them to make decisions on a real working farm.

An online straw poll of the MyFarm community revealed that 19 per cent knew the best time of year to enjoy lamb – more than double the outcome of the wider non-subscriber survey – suggesting the experiment is making useful progress.

Richard Morris, the National Trust’s Farm Manager at Wimpole, said: “Eating lamb when it’s in season ensures consumers can enjoy the meat at its best.

“Lambs born in the spring feed outside on grass throughout the summer resulting in really flavoursome and tender meat.

“The lamb we see on our supermarket shelves in the spring is either shipped in from abroad, or has been barn-reared out of season without the benefit of maturing and developing naturally on grass.”

Other results highlighted consumer confusion over hogget (a mature lamb between one and two years old) with only 16 per cent of respondents aware that hogget is meat from sheep.

It also revealed only 40 per cent of Britons buy British lamb with 21 per cent buying its New Zealand relation and 16 per cent just indiscriminately selecting whatever is on the supermarket shelves.

By contrast, 51 per cent of MyFarm subscribers could identify hogget – three times as many as the wider survey – and 63 per cent brought British lamb.

Richard Morris added: “The National Trust is the country’s biggest farmer – more than 80 per cent of the 250,000 hectares of land under our care is farmed in some way and we see it as our role to re-connect people with farming and to encourage them to care more about where their food comes from.

“We can do this via experiments such as MyFarm which lift the lid on the realities of farming in the 21st Century.”

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