Saturday, 30 November 2013

LICHEN OF THE WEEK: Cladonia floerkeana

Also known as Redcoats, British Soldier and Devil's Matchstick.

This flamboyant lichen has a fondness for dead wood so rotting logs and fence posts are a good place to look for it. It also grows on well drained soils with lots of organic matter such as those found on heaths and moorland.

More information here.

Image by Ilja Knutman under Creative Commons licence.

Friday, 22 November 2013


Have you noticed a road, path or lane become more hirsute recently? 

In the month of "Movember" its not just upper lips turning hairy: the fluffy seed heads of our native clematis adorn many a hedge at this time of year. John Gerard, the noted herbalist, loved this plant and gave it another common name: Traveller's-joy. Has it brightened a hedgerow near you?

For more about this plant and many others visit our website.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Nature Check: Where is Defra The Defender?

Posted by Nicola Hutchinson, Head of Conservation Programmes, England and Wales.

Wildlife and Countryside Link and its members, including Plantlife, today launched its third annual report on the Government's progress against its initial claim to be "the greenest government ever".

In previous years the score card had a distinctly "could do better" feel.  Unfortunately there have been few signs of improvement and indeed in some keys areas, such as the England biodiversity strategy, the situation needs urgent attention.

Biodiversity 2020 was launched as the Government's new wildlife strategy in 2011, yet two years on progress with taking real action is achingly slow.  Defra niftily handed responsibility for 'delivering the strategy' to Natural England and it showed in Lord de Mauley's speech at the Nature Check launch; Defra clearly sees itself at a distance from actual delivery as all the biodiversity progress mentioned was in the form of Agency action.  Yet despite the best efforts of Natural England & Co it is too often the case that the barrier to progress is down to a combination of Government departments, Government resources and Government policy.  So it begs the question what positive strides will Defra itself take in the near future to make a contribution to improving species, habitats and ecosystems?

Nature Check asks for strong leadership and this is where Defra must start.  The Government Department with environment in its title should be an environmental champion.  It should have conserving and enhancing wildlife and the environment as its core purpose. Its programmes and projects should lead by example and put increased wildlife at the heart.  It should draw red lines on environmental matters which will not be crossed (yes, even by you, Treasury).  It should not be an apology for wildlife and the environment.  It should be Defra The Defender.  Have you got what it takes?