State of the UK’s Butterflies

New report on the State of the UK’s Butterflies

Submitted by Dr. Barnaby Smith on Tue, 15/12/2015 – 09:26

More than three-quarters of the UK’s butterflies have declined in the last 40 years with some common species suffering significant slumps, a major scientific study has revealed. The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report found that 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterflies declined in abundance, occurrence or both over the last four decades.

The report, by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), found that a number of widespread species such as the Wall, Essex Skipper and Small Heath now rank amongst the most severely declining butterflies in the UK.

The findings also reveal that intensive conservation efforts have started to turn around the fortunes of some of the UK’s most endangered butterflies. During the last 10 years the numbers of the threatened Duke of Burgundy have increased by 67% and the Pearl-bordered Fritillary has experienced a 45% rise in abundance. Dingy Skipper and Silver-studded Blue have shown 21% and 19% increases in occurrence respectively and even the UK’s most endangered butterfly, the High Brown Fritillary, has been relatively stable in the last decade.

But despite breakthroughs with some threatened butterflies the report revealed that other species continue to struggle. The long-term decline of the Wood White, White Admiral and Marsh Fritillary show few signs of stopping. The report found that some once common and widespread species have become a cause for concern. The Wall, once a common farmland butterfly across southern Britain, has suffered a 36% fall in occurrence and 25% drop in abundance since 2005, continuing a longer trend of decline.

One of our most abundant species, the Gatekeeper, has experienced a 44% decline in abundance in the last decade and numbers of Small Skipper have been below average in every year of the 21st century.

David Roy, head of the Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology led the CEH contribution to the report. He said, “We’ve used sophisticated analyses for this latest report, revealing major declines. This is of great concern not just for butterflies but for other wildlife species that share the same habitats. The findings act as a barometer of the overall state of the environment.”

The analysis used data gathered by two long-running citizen science projects – the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) recording scheme and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS).

Butterfly Conservation Vice-president, Chris Packham, said: “This report reveals that UK butterflies are in real trouble. Yet again we are presented with sobering evidence that our much-cherished wildlife is in dire straits. As a society we are guilty of standing idly by as once common species, never mind the rarities, suffer staggering declines. This is a situation that should shame us all. The future of the UK’s butterflies does not have to be bleak. This report shows conservation work can and does turn around the fortunes of our most threatened butterflies.”

Richard Fox, lead report author and Butterfly Conservation’s Head of Recording, said: “Thanks to tens of thousands of people who help to count butterflies in the UK each year, we have a clear picture of the changing fortunes of these captivating insects. Overall the situation is stark. Most butterflies have decreased since the 1970s and an alarming number of common species have declined severely. On the other hand, trends over the past decade provide grounds for optimism and show that our approach to conserving threatened butterflies can stem and even reverse declines.”

Key findings from ‘The State of UK Butterflies 2015’

  • The deterioration of suitable habitats due to agricultural intensification and changing woodland management are seen as major causes of the decline of butterflies that are habitat specialists.
  • Decreases of butterflies found in the wider countryside are less well understood. Climate change and pesticides may be playing a more harmful role in their declines than previously thought.
  • The report reveals a north – south split among butterflies of the wider countryside, with species in England declining and those in Scotland showing no long-term trend.
  • Less severe habitat damage in the north and the differing geographical effects of climate change are believed to be behind the split.
  • The report reveals that more butterflies are reaching the UK from overseas. Since the 1970s the three common migrant species – Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral and Painted Lady – have all increased dramatically in abundance.
  • In the last few years rare migrants such the Scarce Tortoiseshell and Long-tailed Blue have arrived in unprecedented numbers.


Nitrogen Pollution, Possible Losses and Gains

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

How can we lower the UK’s air pollution?

Submitted by Anna Feeney on Tue, 15/12/2015 – 15:44

CEH’s Professor Mark Sutton was recently invited to provide evidence to Parliament on the impacts of air pollution. Defra is consulting on how the UK can meet European Union requirements for limiting emissions of nitrogen dioxide.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee asked Mark Sutton, as well as Professor Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Professor Martin Williams, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to act as expert witnesses in a committee session on 9 December 2015.

Key excerpts from Mark Sutton’s oral evidence:

‘On the ecosystems aspect… if we express it in terms of the area of the United Kingdom where ecosystems are at threat of nitrogen deposition, it is 62% of the area. 89% of the special areas of conservation have exceedance over part of their area. That is the scale of the area threat to our ecosystems. In terms of the changes, we have loss of biodiversity, flowering plants going out, algae coming in and colonising, green, gloopy slime on trees—lots of changes.’

‘It is worth adding that, in terms of those legal limits linked to human health effects and air pollutants, we do not really have that with the ecosystems side.’

‘Essentially, the emissions are as gases, be they NOx from a car or ammonia from a cow… In the case of the hotspots on agriculture and ammonia, it is the livestock rather than the cropping. The fertilisers emit some, but it is only about 20%. It is 80% from the pigs, the poultry, the cattle. Once it gets up into the atmosphere, it slowly mixes and the different compounds form the particles… Others in Europe are getting our pollution; we are getting theirs.’

‘In terms of effects, it is fair to say that the biggest ecosystem effects you see out there are more from the farms in the hotspots than they are from the roads. One reason for that is simply that the roads are a big long line source and better distributed than the farm, which is often a point source. The other thing is that the ammonia can reach the ground more quickly; it is more soluble. Just because of those physical issues, the ammonia ends up having a bigger impact.’

‘Coming on to the ozone, we have the nitrogen oxides reacting with volatile organic compounds, some of which are from combustion sources, some of which are natural, producing the ozone. That is primarily rated as a crop problem. It is a problem for agriculture, because it means the crops are growing less, producing less yield.’

‘As I said in my evidence, one thing is to think of it as not just a problem for agriculture, but an opportunity for agriculture. I put in there some of those fertiliser values. Across Europe, €18 billion worth of nitrogen pollution goes up into the atmosphere per year. That is the fertiliser value, as compared to the common agricultural policy: let us say €55 billion. This is real stuff that is useful to keep in the farming system. If the farming part of that was €12 million, that is 25% of the CAP going up in smoke off the farm—bad for the environment, bad for the farmer. There really are opportunities there, and there are measures, which we might talk further on, that a farmer can do, where it will be profitable for him to take action.’

‘One thing that is developing is this whole nutrient recycling and reuse market. I was recently in the Po valley, where they are doing this. They are doing it in Brittany as well. Someone will take your manure at a small price; they will de-gas the ammonia and put it together with sulphuric acid to make ammonium sulphate—fresh fertiliser. They will get biogas at the same time. Then you have your processed manure back with a lower nitrogen to go into the field. It is driving an economic market with opportunities.’

In the world, $40 billion a year worth of NOx is going up into the atmosphere as fertiliser value.’



Unprecedented Storms and Floods are More Common Than We Think.

Unprecedented’ storms and floods are more common than we think.

The recent ‘unprecedented’ flooding in north-west England might be more common than currently believed, a group of scientists has warned. A team of experts from the Universities of Aberystwyth, Cambridge and Glasgow have drawn on historic records to build a clearer picture of the flooding.

They conclude that 21st-century flood events such as Storm Desmond are not exceptional or unprecedented in terms of their frequency or magnitude, and that flood frequency and flood risk forecasts would be improved by including data from flood deposits dating back hundreds of years.

Dr Tom Spencer from the University of Cambridge said: “In the House of Commons on Monday (December 7), the Environment Secretary called the flooding in north-west England ‘unprecedented’ and ‘consistent with climate change trends’. But is this actually true?

“Conventional methods of analysing river flow gauge records cannot answer these questions because upland catchments usually have no or very short records of water levels of around 30 or 40 years. In fact, recent careful scientific analysis of palaeoflood deposits (flood deposits dating back hundreds of years) in the UK uplands shows that 21st-century floods are not unprecedented in terms of both their frequency (they were more frequent before 1960) and magnitude (the biggest events occurred during the 17th–19th centuries).”

Professor Mark Macklin, an expert in river flooding and climate change impacts at Aberystwyth University, said: “UK documentary records and old flood deposits dating back hundreds of years indicate that these floods are not unprecedented, which means we are grossly underestimating flood risk and endangering peoples’ lives.

“In some areas, recent floods have either equalled or exceeded the largest recorded events and these incidences can be ascribed to climate variability in Atlantic margin weather systems.

“It is of concern that historical data suggests there is far more capacity in the North Atlantic climate system to produce wetter and more prolonged flood-rich periods than hitherto experienced in the 21st century. Looking forward, an increased likelihood of weather extremes due to climate change means that extending our flood record using geomorphology science must be placed at the centre of flood risk assessment in the UK.”

Professor Macklin suggests that new approaches to flood risk analysis be adopted to include instrumental, documentary and most importantly palaeoflood records.

He added: “Current approaches using flood frequency analysis and flood risk assessment based on 40-50 year long flow records are far shorter than the design life of most engineering structures and strategic flood risk planning approaches. They are not fit for purpose now, let alone in a changing climate.”

Professor John Lewin from the University of Aberystwyth said: “What is needed, is far more resilience for already-developed floodplains, and much more serious insistence that future floodplain development should be virtually curtailed. Somewhere along the line floodplain development has been allowed by local authorities and the UK government to continue regardless.”

Dr Larissa Naylor from the University of Glasgow said: “These floods and the 2013/14 storms have shown us that our landscape is dynamic rather than static – where rivers reshape floodplains and erosion remodels our coastline – with large economic and social costs. We need to urgently consider how we plan our cities and towns, and rebuild in the wake of large flood and storm events, to live safely in our changing landscape.”

Spencer, Lewin, Macklin and Naylor are members of the British Society for Geomorphology’s Working Group on Stormy Geomorphology, who are currently finalising a global state-of-the-art analysis of the role geomorphology science can play in an age of extremes in the Wiley journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

– See more at:

Wildlife Trust’s Project Could Help Reduce Flooding

Projects like Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Pumlumon Project could help flooding

Friday 11th December 2015

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust highlighted the need for more nature solutions to flood control when the 2014 flood swept the country. With the recent flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire, programmes like the Pumlumon project might become even more important.

The Pumlumon Living Landscape’s aim is to store 41.9 billion litres of water by appropriately managing 3,730 hectares of land.

Clive Faulkner of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, says: “Vegetation acts as a sponge, soaking up water, storing it for dry periods and realising it gradually. This can reduce the height, effects and ultimately the cost of floodwater. Sustainable land management practices can increase the water retention capacity of the environment, alleviating the effects of both droughts and floods.”

Wildlife Trusts Wales is certain that conserving nature and restoring ecosystems will reduce vulnerability and increase its resilience. Nature conservation and restoration is a major, cost- efficient ally in our fight against the effects of climate change. We estimate that it would cost in the region of 313 million to restore all the major upland bogs habitats in Wales. This would have a positive impact on almost every river that flooded Wales last year.

With this in mind and with flooding becoming increasing common in certain areas, natural defences may be the way to go.

What is BML2? Think Trains, Think Kent & Sussex

What is BML2?

BML2 is a proposal to create a second Brighton Main Line to London. However, it’s actually a lot more than relieving pressure on one of the country’s most overcrowded rail routes for the benefit of Brighton commuters travelling into London or restoring a rail link between Uckfield and Lewes.

The BML2 Project can be broken down into three phases:-

      • restoration of rail link between Uckfield and Lewes, providing a direct route from Eastbourne to London via Uckfield, releasing train paths and increasing capacity on the Brighton Main Line
      • building of new rail link between Uckfield and Brighton via Falmer – home of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex stadium and Brighton and Sussex universities, making them accessible from the northern parts of East Sussex and South LondonSussex phase:-
  • Kent phase:-
      • Re-instatement of Tunbridge Wells West and linking in to the core BML2 route, relieving pressure on the Tonbridge Main Line into London (also one of the most overcrowded rail routes in the country) and making Brighton and Eastbourne accessible
  • London phase:-
    • Re-opening Selsdon to Elmers End to rail travel to avoid the East Croydon bottleneck and provide direct link from Kent and Sussex to Canary Wharf and East London, relieving pressure on the London Underground
    • Creation of Croydon Gateway station – a possible amalgamation of Purley Oaks, Sanderstead and South Croydon, providing an interchange between BML and BML2 and relieving pressure on East Croydon – the country’s second busiest rail interchange
    • Linking into Thameslink 2 between Stratford and Lewisham, providing a rail link between Gatwick and Stansted airports (“StanWick”) and opening up a rail corridor between East Anglia and Sussex, Surrey and Kent, relieving more pressure on the London Underground and improving links between these counties.

Red List for UK Birds 2015,3WSRE,JPVF4R,E3H05,1

 Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds was published in December 2015.

Commonly referred to as the UK Red List for birds, this is the fourth review of the status of birds in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and updates the last assessment in 2009. Using standardised criteria, 244 species with breeding, passage or wintering populations in the UK were assessed by experts from a range of bird NGOs and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern.

How the lists are decided.

The assessment is based on the most up-to-date evidence available and criteria include conservation status at global and European levels and, within the UK: historical decline, trends in population and range, rarity, localised distribution and international importance.

The growing Red list.

This update shows that many bird species are increasingly at risk. Nineteen species were red-listed for the first time due to worsening population status, and one species (Merlin) was returned to the Red list. In most cases, this is due to evidence from monitoring schemes such as BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) of increasingly severe declines in breeding populations (e.g. for Curlew, Nightingale, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat Grey Wagtail and Mistle Thrush), surveys of scarce breeders such as Dotterel, Black Redstart and Slavonian Grebe, or by seabird monitoring (e.g. Kittiwake and Shag). Puffin is red-listed due to its global assessment as Vulnerable.

From green to red.

Two species moved directly from the Green to Red list: White-fronted Goose on account of the non-breeding population decline and Long-tailed Duck as a consequence of being classified as Globally Threatened. In addition to White-fronted Goose, three other species (Red-necked Grebe, Ringed Plover and Pochard) are red-listed for the first time due to increasingly marked declines in wintering populations, the latter also classified globally as Vulnerable. Woodcock joins the Red List, as a consequence of severe declines in breeding range. These changes increase the Red List to 67 species, more than 25% of all those assessed.

What kinds of birds are in most trouble?

How does the Red List break down across habitats? Despite no new additions, farmland birds still have the greatest percentage of species (12 of 26) on the Red List. Lowland wetland species have the smallest proportion: only four of 31. Five upland birds (Curlew, Dotterel, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat and Merlin) were added, bringing the total for this habitat to 12. Three more woodland birds, Woodcock, Nightingale and Pied Flycatcher, were added to the Red list bringing the total of woodland birds to sixteen. With the addition of Kittiwake, Shag and Puffin to the Red list, the number of seabirds on the list has nearly doubled and it now includes four of the UK’s sea ducks. House Sparrow and Black Restart are the only two urban species. The Red List now includes eight globally threatened species, 16 long distance migrants, three of the UK’s four gamebirds and five of the UK’s six larger thrushes.

Silver linings?

There is also good news. Two previously red-listed species (Nightjar and Bittern) have shown marked improvements in population status, attributed largely to sustainable forest management and targeted conservation action, have moved to the Amber list. The rapidly spreading Red Kite is another conservation success story, moving from Amber to Green. Former red-listed species such as Stone-curlew and Marsh Harrier, continue to show modest recovery in numbers and remain amber-listed. Overall, the Amber list has been reduced from 126 in BOCC3 to 96 in BOCC4 as a consequence of both negative changes (moves to the Red list) and positive changes (moves to the Green list). The Green list, now 81, includes a range of common garden species such as Blue Tit, Blackbird, and Robin, and saw a net increase of 14 species such as Little Egret, Little Grebe, Firecrest, Woodlark, Whitethroat, Wheatear and Bearded Tit.

End of the Line of ‘The Land Rover’

With the imminent demise of the Land Rover in 2016 as we know it, I during my working life, have had charge of five different ones, starting with dear old LOM, an ageing 1960’s Series 2. lwb. This had hand-operated wipers and a heater one could die with!  Steering it in a straight line took a lot of concentration and a sawing-motion with the steering wheel. And then there were lap only, none re-coil seat belts.

Ended up with a 1993 lwb model, L172UPN, a white jobby, with a then new design of gearbox; in which 12 of us could squeeze.  Also drove a number of others; the V8 petrol was a beast in its day with a lovely engine sound.  Recall that over the years, I got through a fair number of rear half-shafts and their oil seals.

For sheer hard 4×4 off-road graft they are hard to beat.  But now (with after all, most mileage being on tarmac), I wouldn’t give up my comfy modern Japanese-designed truck.  Guess I’ve become soft!

Below is a young me during the mid-1980’s with Landy No. 3 – and don’t take the p— over that hat!img694s


The Paris Agreement – Time To Celebrate!

YES, YES, YES!! The ‘Paris Agreement’ is not all that many of us and the environment desperately needed but it’s a good end to the start of this hopefully not too long a process.  Future generations may now find at least find some forgiveness for this and the several previous generations, who have brought such perilous threats to Life’s support systems.  Monty.

“Today is a historic day: as tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Paris, politicians finalized a major new global climate agreement.

The deal in Paris includes an agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees, and achieve climate ‘neutrality’ that will require phasing out fossil fuels soon after mid-century. That’s not what we hoped for, but it’s still a deal that sends a signal that it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and for investors to cut their ties with coal, oil and gas by divesting.

This deal represents important progress — but progress alone is not our goal. Our goal is a just and livable planet.

If followed to the letter, the agreement leaves far too many people exposed to the violence of rising seas, stronger storms and deeper drought. It leaves too many loopholes to avoid serious action — despite the heroic efforts from leaders of vulnerable nations and communities who fought for a deal in line with science.

But the coal, oil and gas corporations of the world should take little comfort. That 2 degree pledge would require keeping 80% of the world’s remaining fossil fuels underground, a 1.5 degree target even more — and countries are required to come back to the table every 5 years to increase their ambition in reaching those goals.

Paris isn’t the end of the story, but a conclusion of a particular chapter. Now, it’s up to us to strengthen these promises, make sure they are kept, and then accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy.”

May Boeve, 350° Organisation.

Death of Conservationist Douglas Tompkins

I have of course heard of the North Face clothing brand but Douglas Tompkins, sadly not until today.  This seems sometimes to be the case in life, that it only when somebody dies, that we come to appreciate how wonderful they were and what they achieved when alive. The following is an abridged version of his entry on Wikipedia.

Douglas Tompkins, conservationist, outdoorsman, philanthropist, filmmaker, agriculturalist, and businessman.

‘Tompkins co-founded and ran two companies: the outdoor equipment and clothing company The North Face; and with his then-wife Susie, the Esprit clothing company. Since leaving the business world in 1989, Tompkins was active in various environmental activism and land conservation causes. Along with his wife, Kris Tompkins, he bought and conserved over 2 million acres (8,100 km2) of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, more than any other private individual in the region, thus becoming one of the largest private land-owners in the world.[2] Together, they were focused on park creation, wildlife recovery, ecological agriculture, and activism, with the goal of saving biodiversity.

Early Life.

Tompkins was born in Ohio on March 20, 1943, the son of an antiques dealer and decorator. He spent the first few years of his life in New York City before his family moved to Millbrook, New York. He graduated from Indian Mountain School, a pre-prep school in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1957. In his senior year at Pomfret School in Connecticut, Tompkins was expelled for various minor infractions. He returned to his hometown in Millbrook, but did not graduate from high school.

The North Face company.

In 1964, Tompkins and his wife started The North Face as a mail order and retail company, selling rock climbing and camping equipment. The early years set the design standard of good quality sleeping bags, backpacks, and mountaineering tents. Around 1966, Tompkins and his partner designed The North Face tents that were some of the first to avoid a pole in the middle, by using bendable rods that push out in their sleeves instead. This design also increased the strength of the tent because the domed shape allowed the wind to roll over the tents. These tents were widely copied throughout the world. In 1969, Tompkins sold The North Face to focus on adventure film making.[5]

Adventure film-making.

In 1968, Tompkins headed off on a six-month road/adventure trip from California to Patagonia, along with Yvon Chouinard and two other climbing friends. They put up a new route on Mount Fitzroy, and made an adventure film, Mountain of Storms, about their experience. The 2010 film 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless describes a modern-day recreation of this journey. Tompkins also became a skilled whitewater kayaker, claiming first descents of rivers in California, Africa, and South America. In addition, he was a skilled bush pilot.[citation needed]

Esprit company.

In 1968 Tompkins, his wife Susie, and her friend Jane Tise began selling girls’ dresses out of the back of a VW bus. In 1971 they incorporated the booming business under the name “Plain Jane” which later became Esprit.[6] By 1978 sales topped $100 million a year and the company had formed partnerships in Germany and Hong Kong. Tompkins titled himself “image director”, overseeing all aspects of the company’s image, from store design to catalog layout, while his wife served as design director. Emerging as one of the hottest brands of the era, the company grew into a transnational company operating in 60 countries. At the same time, the company developed a reputation as a good place to work.

Growing increasingly concerned about the ecological impacts of the fashion industry, Tompkins decided to leave the business world in the late 1980s. In 1989, he sold his share of the American company back to Susie, from whom he had separated, putting most of his profits into land conservation.[7] Subsequently, in 1989 and 1994, he sold his interests in the other Esprit entities around the world.

Land conservation.

After selling his interest in Esprit, Tompkins moved to south Chile, where he had spent much time climbing, kayaking, and skiing, to focus on land conservation and environmental activism. He founded the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1990, which supports environmental activism, and The Conservation Land Trust in 1992, which works to protect wildlands, primarily in Chile and Argentina.

In 1993, he married Kris Tompkins; the two worked together on conservation projects. The Tompkins’ conservation efforts focused on preserving wild landscapes and biodiversity. After purchasing large blocks of wilderness, they worked to create national parks, believing that this governmental designation serves as the best mode of guaranteeing long-term conservation.

Pumalín Park.

Tompkins’s first major conservation project was Pumalín Park in the Palena Province of Chile, an 800,000-acre (3,200 km2) area of Valdivian temperate rainforest, high peaks, lakes, and rivers. In 1991, he bought the Reñihué farm, a semi-abandoned farm at the end of the Reñihué Fjord, planning to set aside 42,000 acres (170 km2) of this unique forest from possible exploitation. In the next decade, The Conservation Land Trust added another 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) in nearly contiguous parcels to create Pumalín Park. In 2005, then-President Ricardo Lagos declared this area a Nature Sanctuary, a special designation of the Chilean state, granting it additional environmental and non-developmental protection. The Conservation Land Trust (a U.S. environmental foundation) has donated these protected lands to Fundación Pumalín (a Chilean foundation), for their administration and continual development as a type of National Park with public access under a private initiative.[8] Through creating public-access infrastructure, including trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, and a restaurant, Tompkins sought to promote wilderness experience, in hopes of inspiring a deeper environmental ethic in the park’s many thousands of visitors.[8]

Corcovado National Park, (Chile).

Just to the south of Pumalin, Corcovado National Park represents one of Tompkins’ completed conservation projects. In 1994, The Conservation Land Trust (CLT), along with U.S. philanthropist Peter Buckley, acquired 208,000 acres (840 km2) of native forest that was slated for logging, adjacent to vast areas of federal land under the jurisdiction of the Chilean Armed Forces. CLT offered to donate this parcel back to the Chilean state, provided that the whole area became a national park. In 2005, then-President Ricardo Lagos accepted this proposal, and the 726,000-acre (2,940 km2) Corcovado National Park was born.[9]

The Iberá Project.

The Iberá project is a private conservation enterprise spearheaded by Tompkins together with billionaire George Soros and Harvard University[10] and the Conservation Land Trust[11] (Tompkins enterprise) with a goal of expanding land ownership and strengthening protection for the existing Iberá Wetlands natural preserve, in the Corrientes Province of Argentina. Since 1983, the Iberá Natural Reserve has consisted of 553,000 hectares of protected floodplains, providing safe habitat for a range of native species, and encouraging a transition from an exploitative economy to an economy of conservation and ecotourism. The Conservation Land Trust has acquired 150,000 hectares of old cattle ranches bordering the existing natural reserve, lands which include habitats not currently represented in the existing park. The goal is to donate these lands, including espinal, malezal grasslands, and forests, to the Argentine government to include in the reserve, creating a new strictly conserved park called the Great Iberá Park. This new park, which would total 700,000 hectares, would be the largest national park in Argentina.[12]

Other conservation projects that Tompkins spearheaded:

the Melimoyu and Isla Magdalena conservation projects in coastal Chile

the Yendegaia project in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego

Organic agriculture.

Envisioning “conservation as a consequence of production,” Tompkins developed models of sustainable organic agriculture, which maintain soil health and ecological integrity at the same time that they provide for families and support the local economy.

In the area around Pumalin, the Hornopiren, Vodudahue, Ventisquero, Pillan, and Reñihue farms serve as exemplars of small-scale ecological agriculture and as informal park ranger stations. Each of these farms produces a variety of products, including sheep, cattle, honey, berries, and organic vegetables. A small facility in the Pillan farm processes honey and berries for jams, which are sold under the name Pillan Organics.[13]

In north-eastern Argentina, Tompkins managed cattle ranches in Corrientes Province and polyculture grain and fruit farms in Entre Ríos Province. Each farm pays close attention to developing sustainable practices.

Environmental activism.

Through the Foundation for Deep Ecology, Tompkins published a series of large-format, photo activist books on various environmental issues. These included Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy; Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture; Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West; and Clearcut: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry.

In addition, Tompkins has been involved in several large environmental campaigns in Chile and Argentina, such as the “Patagonia Sin Represas” campaign, which opposed the construction of dams on two of the largest and wildest rivers in the Patagonia region of Chile.[14]


On December 8, 2015, Tompkins was kayaking with five others on General Carrera Lake in southern Chile when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize. Tompkins spent a “considerable amount of time” in waters under 40 °F (4 °C). He was flown via helicopter to a hospital in nearby Coyhaique, where he died from severe hypothermia.[20][21] He was 72 years old and survived by his wife, two daughters, mother and brother.[5][22]’

Britain Must Stay in the EU to Have Hope of Tackling Climate Change

Britain must stay in the EU to have any hope of tackling climate change.

Wednesday 2 December 2015|

When international climate talks opened in Paris on Monday, world leaders from almost 150 nations came together in an unprecedented show of unity and common purpose. The UK is there as a nation state in its own right, but also as part of the EU. When it comes to tackling climate change, as well as other global challenges, the UK’s membership of the EU means we’re at the top table.

It makes sense that countries need to work together in the face of cross-border issues such as climate change. It was the EU’s political decision in 1990 to cap emissions of greenhouse gases by 2000 that formed the cornerstone of the 1992 UN climate convention. Yet, as the Paris climate talks get under way, the UK’s place in Europe is under threat.

The implications for environmental progress of the UK leaving the EU are worrying on many fronts. Our influence would be diminished. And domestic progress, in particular harnessing clean home-grown renewable energy, would be hampered yet further.

The wisdom of taking a collective approach to cross-border environmental problems is backed up by the Government’s own analysis of the UK’s relationship with the EU, in its “balance of competences” review. Environmental protection emerges as a clear frontrunner among issues where EU action delivers the best results, with the review finding that: “A large number of organisations representing all sectors considered that it is in the UK’s national interest for the EU to have a degree of competence in the broad areas of environment and climate change because of the advantages that this brings for the single market and environmental protection.” It adds: “The majority of respondents believed that EU competence has increased environmental standards in the UK and across the EU and that this has led to improved performance in addressing several environmental issues.”

It’s difficult to see how we would effectively tackle air pollution from coal and cars, marine pollution, or climate change by going it alone. The fundamental principle underpinning the Birds and Habitats directives – that we need a level playing field across Europe to prevent a “race-to-the-bottom”, where member states seek to gain competitive advantage by destroying the natural environment – is more relevant than ever. These directives were a British proposal. We should be proud of them and resist attempts to water them down.

For challenges that span national boundaries, we need to work closely with other countries to solve them – to avoid duplication, increase co-ordination, and pool resources. The EU can also provide a space for more radical ideas to develop and become main stream while they’re still off the radar of UK politics.

Efforts to create a circular economy in Europe, for example, have the potential to be hugely beneficial by driving a radical shift of both consumption and production.

Now is the time for environmentalists to get off the fence and speak out about the EU’s crucial role in securing action on climate change and protecting nature. That’s not to say the EU is a paragon of climate progress. Far from it; there are many areas where it must go much further. In making the case for the UK to remain in the EU, environmentalists should also identify where the EU needs to do better.

When it comes to EU proposals that fail to adequately protect the environment, we need to make sure we’re pointing the finger in the right direction. Whether it’s the “better regulation” agenda threatening to slash crucial environmental protections, inadequate carbon-reduction targets, or weak fracking safeguards, too often it is individual countries – and especially UK ministers – that are blocking ambitious environmental outcomes sought by the European parliament.

EU-wide action is hugely important when it comes to coping with the impacts of climate change, too, especially in regard to nature and wildlife and the need for a network of protected habitats that stretch across borders to allow species to move.

With the EU referendum on the horizon, it’s more urgent than ever for environmental leaders in the UK to make their voices heard. For climate campaigners in the UK, now is the time to make the case that Britain in Europe is a stronger force for global climate justice. That’s why today Britain Stronger in Europe is launching a petition making that case, and I invite you to sign it.

As we work together for a historic agreement at the Paris climate talks, let’s embrace the extra strength of working together as the EU, and not turn our back on a significant asset in the fight for a safe climate and healthy natural world.