Conservation Some Good News at Last.

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Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

In many of my articles I write about the plight of many species that are under threat in the UK.. In this particular article I will endeavour to bring some good news about species that are benefiting from conservation efforts, and are beginning to recolonise their former haunts. before i describe the species it would be prudent of me to give some back ground history to those unfamiliar with U.K. conservation projects.

All species in serious decline are included in the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plans {U.K. B.A.P.}. The U.K. B.A.P.are designed to help the species that are suffering declines in population and/or habitat.

They drive from the 1992 Earth Summit, when, 150 countries signed up to the BiodiversityConvention. This committed the signatories to develop a strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The U.K. ratified the Convention in 1994. The Government later delivered the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plan. {incidentally bio-means life, thus the diversity of life}.

This was the first step on a long and complex road. In 1995 the government set up a steering group which began to identify the species and habitat in need of immediate conservation, any such species were classed as Priority species of conservation concern.

Initially the steering group listed 116 priority species and 45 habitats. As of 2009 this had risen to 1,150 species and 65 habitats. The latest to be added is the grass snake, hedgehog and house sparrow. The latter, when I was a young budding naturalist were considered to be a pest species.

House sparrow

The house sparrow was once considered to be a pest species.
The house sparrow was once considered to be a pest species. | Source

Saving habitat

In the infancy of the B.A.P. it was recognised that species and habitat was saved or indeed lost at local level, therefore, it was considered to essential that local B.A.Ps was to be an important component of the national B.A.P. Thus counties had to formulate and implement these plans. there are a total of 188 such plans formulated included those in my native county of Lancashire. The Lancashire B.A.P. recognised 28 species of flora and fauna along with 10 key habitats. The Priority species was each given a Species Action Plan which is now being implemented on their behalf. The species include the song thrush,red squirrel, brown hare and Water vole.

Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is included in the Lancashire B.A.P.
The red squirrel is included in the Lancashire B.A.P. | Source

Still a struggle for many species

Many of the species are still in decline or struggling to maintain current levels of population. However, as previously stated this hub is about species that have had some relatively conservation success. the first of these is a much loved mammal the otter, Lutra lutra. these quaint mammals belong to the family Mustelidae which include the badger and the stoat. The word otter is thought to derive from the old English word otor which itself derives from an even older word wodre which also gave birth to the water. This is an apt description for the mammal which spends much of its time in or near to water. however, they do travel overland at night as road kill evidence confirms.

It is in the water that these mammals are at their best, being superb swimmers, agile and graceful. When under water it has a silvery appearance due to the bubbles being trapped within the fur.

Otter

Otters are now doing well in many rivers.
Otters are now doing well in many rivers. | Source

Otters are faring well

Otters have a body length of 55-90cm with a tail length of 35-50cm. They feed on fish , amphibians, rodents and crustaceans especially if the tenant coastal regions.

Many factors affected the decline of otters but two in particular were considered important. the first was the pollution in many forms that entered into the water systems and became prevalent. the other was loss or mismanagement of riparianhabitat. However, there is recent evidence {mainly through spraints {otter droppings} that otters have now returned to many of there former haunts, and there is reason for optimism. For this great credit must be given to the RiversAuthority, the Environment Agency and other key conservation groups for their huge effort put into the cleaning up of the rivers and riparian habitat.

Some otter facts--- the home of the otter is called a holt.

Male otter is called a dog otter female otter is a bitch otter.

Baby otters are called whelps or pups.

A group of otters are called a bevy of otters, or a family of otters.

The gestation period for otters is 60-86 days.

They have a single litter consisting of 2-5 young.

Rivers are now much cleaner

rivers are now much cleaner encouraging the return of otters.
rivers are now much cleaner encouraging the return of otters. | Source
Riparian habitat has been manged so as to encourage wildlife in many areas of the countryside.
Riparian habitat has been manged so as to encourage wildlife in many areas of the countryside. | Source

Water Vole

Another small mammal that has benefited fro conservation efforts is the lovable Water vole, Arvicola terrestris . Like the otter this creature has suffered dramatic lossed through pollution and habitat loss, it is still regarded as one of the most threatened species in the UK. Another major factor in the decline of this species was the predation by the American mink, an alien species released by misguided animal rights activist from fur farms. Once in the watersystem these creatures spread rapidly and preyed upon the defenseless herbivore. Thanks to the clean up of the rivers and management of habitat, and a targeted cull of American mink, these creatures are now returning in many parts of the country.

The harmless Water Vole

The loveable water vole is a harmless which eats vegative matter.
The loveable water vole is a harmless which eats vegative matter.

Mistaken Identity

The water vole is often mistaken for the detested brown rat being of a similar size. however the water vole has chubby cheeks and a blunt nose, lacking the sharp features of the rat. Another identifying feature is the small rounded ears that barely show above the fur as opposed to the sharp prominent ears of the brown rat.

The clean up of the rivers and water system has also benefited the wily fin folk such as salmon and trout. Native crayfish eels and other smaller aquatic creatures are also showing signs of repopulating many areas.

Salmon

fish like salmon are benefiting from the clean up of rivers
fish like salmon are benefiting from the clean up of rivers

Bird species

Bird species overall are still worryingly in decline, especially those associated with farmland with losses still occurring in Lapwingand the Skylark populations . However, other species of birds seem to be fairing better these include the gold finch, reed bunting,turtle dove, whitethroat and yellow hammer. However, unfortunately for nature lovers, this is the exception rather than the rule.

Above lapwing. Below. Skylark Bottom.-Yellowhammer

sadly lapwings are still indecline
sadly lapwings are still indecline | Source
skylarks are also suffering.
skylarks are also suffering.
The yellow hammer is showing signs of improvement as far as population numbers are concerned in some areas.
The yellow hammer is showing signs of improvement as far as population numbers are concerned in some areas. | Source

A glimmer of hope

So may be there is a glimmer of light at the end of the dark conservation tunnel for some of our threatened species.I wish the remainder eventually find that glimmer of light. Should they not it will not be through lack of trying and the Herculean efforts of a plethora of conservationists throughout the country. One can only admire their efforts.

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Comments 9 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

gr82bme, that is weird. However, at least you are dreaming good dreams. Thank you for your visit and for your kind comments.Best wishes to you.


gr82bme profile image

gr82bme 5 years ago from USA

Fantastic photos. I am glad things are doing better. Its weird I just had a dream last night about preserving outr land and living things


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Sufidreamer, good to hear from a fellow Lancastrian. It is sad fact that gamekeepers through pressures of the job have persecuted wildlife for many years. However, I think the majority are now more enlightened. You are so right that conservation issues are a duty to anyone involved in the countryside. Thank you for reading always good to see you here. Best wishes to you.

Hi B, thank you for reading and for leaving your appreciated comments. Love and best wishes to you.


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 5 years ago

brilliant hub, there should be more people who understand these things, but alas we all get too busy to care, thanks to your hubs, it brings these things back to mind.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 5 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Good news, D.A.L - I think that, alongside the conservation efforts of agencies, attitudes are changing. I used to volunteer at an RSPB reserve sited next to an estate devoted to pheasant shooting. The old gamekeeper used to leave poisoned bait for the buzzards, in the misguided belief that they took pheasants. His son, however, works alongside the RSPB and buzzard numbers have increased.

In Ireland, on the fish farm, the owners showed no mercy to the mink. However, they loved otters and didn't mind losing a few trout to our local bevy - more and more people are starting to understand that conservation is a duty of anyone living in the countryside. They are buying in to the idea :)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

timorous , there are many people to thank for the conservation effort who deserve the thanks of all who love nature. Thank you for your visit and for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.

thougtforce, your right it is a change to write about some success at last. Thank you for leaving your kind comments. Best wishes to you.

darski, all who work to conserve our wildlife and habitat are worthy of praise, many do the work on a voluntary basis, without thought of financial gain. They are passionate about the wildlife and the environment, as I know you are. We all have to share this planet of ours. Love and best wishes to you. Always a pleasure to have you visit.x


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 5 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

With you at the helm I know it will improve more and more each day my dearest friend. I adore this hub and it makes me smile to know their is a difference for the fate of so many, large and small four legged creatures of our planet Earth. Thank you for your work, your passion, and your beautiful written word. I adore you and each and every hub you write. Rate up up up love & miss you darski


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

Very interesting hub. And thank you for some positive news about animalĀ“s living condition to. It is a welcome change to all other news about species in decline! Beutiful photos!


timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You

Wow D.A.L. What a very uplifting story. It's fantastic to see some real effort going into enabling these lovely creatures to survive, even thrive once again. Congrats all round. Beautifully, clear pictures too.

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