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24 May 2018

Commenting on the Bill introduced to Parliament today on the UK Ivory Ban, Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF said: 

“Every day we lose 55 African elephants, slaughtered for their ivory. If we want to ensure this majestic animal still roams a generation from now, we must shut down domestic ivory markets around the world. The London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference this October can be a catalyst for that, but progress towards a UK ban is essential if we are to persuade other countries to take action. It’s great to see this Bill being introduced to the Commons, and we hope it now passes speedily through Parliament to become law.”

For more information please contact: 

Natalie Corp | ncorp@wwf.org.uk | 07760389461

or

Jonathan Jones | jjones@wwf.org.uk | 07835291907

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Play with the light

If you want to have the best chance of capturing the best images, then you need to get used to setting the alarm clock to early hours. The golden light provided by early morning sun rises and late evening sun provide the photographer with the best possible light to shoot in. Shadows are long and colours are rich. And best of all, it's usually when species are most active.

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Know Your Subject

You might only ever get to go on safari once but that shouldn't stop you learning about your subject matter before you travel. If you wanted to capture that beautiful lion image, then get online and start to better understand how a lion operates. Is it active in the daytime? When does it typically hunt? Understanding an animal's behaviour is key to understanding when and where best to shoot it. Research is key.

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Creative vs Technical

It’s all too easy to get hung up on your camera's buttons and get fixated on what aperture to shoot with, how quick your shutter should be and whether a flash really is a good idea for shooting that bird with. These are all great features to consider, but first of all think with a creative head, not a technical one. How do you want to compose the image? Perhaps a detail would be better than a full body shot. How is the light going to play with the image? All these things and more should be running through your head first as an animal won't wait for you while you dial in a new shutter speed.

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Rule of Thirds

It's a rule and we're often told to break the rules but more often than not, following this one hard and fast rule in photography will transform your imagery.

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Perspective

It's so much easier to simply stand and shoot your subject but you need to think about perspective as much as possible. Don't be scared to get on the ground, shoot from above or just do things differently!

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Patience

Above everything else, if you're shooting wildlife, you need to be patient. There's a good reason why people say never work with children and animals - they don't do what you expect them to! So, be patient, get your flask out, enjoy your surroundings and wait for that special moment.

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Have fun

Be it wildlife, people, landscape or whatever you're shooting, most of all, enjoy it! Photography shouldn't be a chore. It should be a process of learning, discovering and ultimately enjoying what you are producing. The more you enjoy, the better your photographs.

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Practise

It's a simple but effective rule. The best photographers haven't just become brilliant overnight. They've put the hours in, learnt their trade and if they didn't succeed at first, they tried and tried again.

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Tripod

If you have the budget and the patience to carry a tripod up a mountain, across a river or through a forest - then bring it. A tripod brings stability, especially when shooting with a telephoto lens, so if you want that image as sharp as possible then three legs is the way to go.

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Think close and far

Wildlife photography often involves a telephoto lens and an obsession with getting as close to your subject as possible but sometimes this is not always possible or sensible. Placing your subject in its natural habitat and not being afraid to reveal this is a great way of a photograph telling a wider story. A close up portrait of a urban fox is always lovely but why not try to capture it in its environment to provide a sense of where this fox lives and how it survives.

22 May 2018

Commenting on the Government's Clean Air Strategy, Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF said:  

“Empowering local authorities is an important step towards helping clean up our dirty air, but does not address one of the largest polluters - diesel and petrol vehicles. These are one of the biggest threats to our nature, and we need to move to an electric future by bringing forward the UK Government’s phase-out of the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 to 2030. When it publishes its new EV strategy, the Department of Transport has an opportunity show that the UK can be a global leader on climate. A 2030 commitment would not only cut carbon emissions, but could also secure up to 100,000 jobs in UK electric vehicle production.”

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Please take action today by asking your MSPs to push for changes to the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.

We’re asking MSPs to support the following in the bill:

1. Targets to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest and cut emissions by 77% (on 1990 levels) by 2030

2. Measures in the Bill to ensure future finance budgets are consistent with climate targets

3. Policies to cut emissions from buildings and agriculture – ensure all homes have at least Energy Performance Certificate rating ‘C’ by 2025 and create a Nitrogen Balance Sheet for Scotland with nitrogen reduction targets introduced by 2020.

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How to bee friendly

There are at least 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK, including the honey bee that normally lives in hives managed by beekeepers. Others, like many species of bumblebees, solitary bees, moths, butterflies and hoverflies live in the wild. They all play a critical role in healthy ecosystems, and they are essential for our food production. More than three quarters of the world’s food crops are in part dependent on pollination. Yet, pollinators are dying. The IUCN European Red List of Threatened Species showed that as many as 24% of Europe’s bumblebee species are now threatened with extinction.

There are big changes planned with the way Agriculture and the Environment are approached across the UK and we are working to ensure that these help us protect wildlife everywhere. We wanted to share some tips with you on how to be bee friendly even if you’re not a beekeeper yourself.

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1. Grow your bee friendly garden

Plant a range of flowers in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October. Bees love traditional cottage garden flowers and native wildflowers, like primrose, buddleia, and marigolds. If you plan carefully you can have a range of flowers through the whole season. Incidentally, because of climate change and exotic plants in people’s gardens bees are beginning to be active in winter, so you could be helping them all year round!

 If you have space, leave a section of the garden untended – some bees love long grass, or making nests in compost heaps or under hedgerows. Bees love large drifts of the same flowers. And they look spectacular as well!

You can also buy (or easily build) an ‘insect hotel’ using hollow stems like bamboo, twigs and string – just tie together a length of these and put them in a hedge or bush, or hang somewhere sheltered to provide a home for bees and other insects.

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2. Treat your buzzing friends to some sugar and let it rest

A tired bee really does like a tiny hit of sugar (never honey!) Make a mix of two teaspoons of white granulated sugar with one teaspoon of water and put it on a plate or drip it on the flower, to revive a tired bee. Make sure to always use white granulated rather than other sugar. Sometimes when bee lies on the ground and doesn’t move, it might be just resting, so after you’ve given it some sugary water, just simply let it be(e).

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3. Get involved with campaigns near you

As the new Agriculture Bill goes through parliament, we will be pushing for specific measures to restore bee and other pollinators’ habitats.

We need the new Agriculture Bill to bring measurable changes benefiting pollinators and biodiversity at large scale by protecting and restoring pollinators’ habitats. Only then can we ensure the long-term sustainability of pollination which we rely on for our food. Although the Bill only applies to England, we’d urge the governments across the UK to adopt similar measures.

We need to make sure farmers are supported to do things that are good for nature but don’t bring in direct income.

Find out more about why Nature matters Sign up for updates

With spring in the air, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy our Great British countryside – including the amazing wildlife that call it home.

But we’re losing our incredible wildlife at an alarming rate. Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species in the UK declined. We need to act quickly to restore nature to its glorious best.

Here we look at 5 threats to UK wildlife and how we can overcome them together.

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1. Agricultural Intensification

The problem

The biggest impact on UK wildlife has been the intensification of agriculture.

Agriculture accounts for over 70% of land use in the UK, but the environmental damage we have suffered while inside the current Common Agricultural Policy has been significant.

Soil health has deteriorated. Numbers of farmland bird species such as the grey partridge, tree sparrow, skylark, linnet and yellowhammer have dropped. Precious UK habitats have been eroded.

Intensive farming has resulted in the loss of flower meadows, hedgerows and trees – all of which are vital habitats for pollinating insects such as bees, with knock-on effects for species further up the food chain.

What we can do about it

We need to make sure farmers are supported to do things that are good for nature but don’t bring in direct income. Our recent poll found that you agree – with 91 % of the UK public saying they want the UK government to pay farmers to protect nature.

The government recently consulted on an exciting new agricultural policy that could help bring back butterflies, birds and bees to the English countryside. If it goes ahead, farmers would be encouraged to take steps to create new habitats for wildlife, improve air quality and reduce flood risk.

The consultation has now closed but thanks to you, we sent almost 16,000 emails to Defra to show support for the new bill.

More about the Agriculture Bill
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2. Plastics

The problem

It’s been hard to miss some of the shocking facts about our plastic waste recently. Did you know for instance, that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish? Or that we flush away 3.4 billion wet wipes each year?!

Plastics are choking our rivers and seas and killing our precious wildlife – including here in the UK. Seabirds are found with their stomachs full of plastic items, while microplastics are consumed by animals such as plankton, passing the problem back up the food chain.

What we can do about it

Individuals, businesses and governments all have an important role to play in stemming the plastic tide. We’re supporting Sky Ocean Rescue’s #PassOnPlastic campaign to tackle the plastic pollution crisis that’s choking our seas. And we’re calling for a ban on avoidable single use plastics by 2025.

But we can all play our part. Help us put an end to the plastic surge by cutting out single-use, everyday plastics, starting today.

10 tips to reduce plastic waste
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3. Climate change

The problem

You’re probably aware of the threat that climate change poses to iconic species such as polar bears or snow leopards. But it will increasingly have an impact on wildlife right here in the UK too.

Changing weather patterns – for example longer periods of drought, warmer summers, or more flooding – will all have a knock-on effect on our wildlife. Many of our most iconic mammals, such as badgers, moles and hedgehogs, eat invertebrates that favour wetter weather and could be threatened by climate change.

Many migratory birds could also be affected, as their passage is closely synchronised with food availability. Shifts in seasons could therefore have a serious impact on their survival chances.

What we can do about it

We have the knowledge and the technology to reduce our impact on the climate and ease the pressures on the world's most vulnerable places, people and wildlife. We just need to make it happen.

Through our campaigning and advocacy work, we're driving changes in policy and legislation in the UK. You can do your bit to help by eating more sustainably, or making a promise for the planet and switching to green energy.

Take our footprint calculator
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4. River Damage

The problem

Our rivers not only help make the British landscape so picturesque and vibrant, they’re also a vital source of fresh water for people, industry, farming and wildlife.

But our rivers have suffered from ‘over-abstraction’ – taking too much water out – as well as pollution from fertilisers and pesticides. Less than a fifth of England’s rivers are healthy, which poses a big threat to amazing UK wildlife such as water voles and kingfishers.

What we can do about it

We’ve been working with Coca-Cola to improve farming practices and reduce agricultural pollution. Working with farmers in Norfolk, Kent and Greater London, we’ve been helping to deliver methods that will reduce the pollution currently harming chalk streams.

You can help support our work by becoming a member and helping us to make nature matter.

Become a WWF member
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5. Pesticides

The problem

Another result of the intensification of agriculture has been an increase in the use of pesticides. Specific types of pesticides – neonicotinoids – were recently banned by the EU due to concern about the large scale harm caused to bees.

But they’re not the only pesticides that pose a threat to UK wildlife. In fact, many slug pellets used in gardens around Britain contain an active ingredient called ‘metaldehyde’ (a chemical also used widely by farmers) which can cause huge damage if it's not applied carefully. It can enter our waterways and into our drinking water. 

The pellets can also be washed into drains or ditches, find their way into our rivers, and harm animals much larger than slugs. Like microplastics, this toxic chemical can be passed up the food chain, harming predators like hedgehogs or birds.

The solution

In your own garden, you can try to avoid metaldehyde, using natural alternatives such as copper strips to deter slugs – or look to create an environment that encourages predators like slow-worms or hedgehogs.

On a larger scale, we’ve been looking at the UK government’s plans for a new environmental watchdog. We’ve joined calls for the new watchdog to have strong jaws and big teeth – and real targets for it to enforce, to ensure nature is protected once we leave the EU.

More about why nature matters

Nottingham school wins national 'Wonky Veg' competition.

Actor and presenter Cel Spellman recently visited pupils at Gilthill Primary School in Nottingham to present them with a special award for their winning ‘wonky veg’ recipe idea as part of WWF’s Plant2Plate campaign sponsored by Alpro.

The schools’ ‘crazy courgette’ recipe caught the eye of judges who liked their quirky take on a traditional recipe using lots of produce grown in the garden – the judges also thought it sounded rather tasty too! The competition encouraged primary schools across the UK to design a recipe using ‘wonky veg’ grown in their own school gardens themed around WWF’s Livewell principles for a healthy and sustainable diet. Cel Spellman said:

"Huge congratulations to Gilthill for winning this fantastic competition with their ‘crazy courgettes’ recipe.  It’s so important that young people are given the opportunity to learn more about where our food comes from and how a greener diet can have a positive impact on both us and our planet."

Cel who supports Plant2Plate visited the school to present pupils with their prize – a 12 month growing box from Seed Pantry. Cel also joined a special planting workshop, led by Neil Whitehead from Seed Pantry, at the school to help replace raised beds, plant fruit and veg seeds, and develop the school garden with more plants and garden equipment. Sian Lamb, Headteacher at Gilthill Primary School said:

“Outdoor learning is something we embrace here at Gilthill and the pupils love getting involved with planting, growing and learning more about our environment and natural world.  We are very proud to have won this recipe competition and it was really inspiring to see our pupils thoroughly enjoying the planting workshop with Cel.”

WWF’s Plant2Plate, sponsored by Alpro, provides teachers with classroom resources and learning materials, encouraging pupils to grow and cook their own food at school. Kate Arthur, Nutrition Manager at Alpro UK & Ireland, said:

At Alpro we believe that plant-based foods – whatever shape and size - are not just good for you but good for the planet as well and that’s why we support Plant2Plate.  Encouraging schools to plant and grow their own veg is the perfect way for young people to learn about sustainable food.  We’re delighted for pupils at Gilthill who stepped up to the ‘wonky veg’ challenge and created this brilliant recipe.”

WWF’s Plant2Plate campaign aims to inspire youngsters in school to  learn more about sustainable food and how what we eat can have a huge impact, not just on our health – but also on the health of our planet. 

14 May 2018

 

  • New report finds UK is on track to phase-out coal by 2025 and can keep the lights on without building any new large gas plants

Renewables, storage and more flexible technology will provide enough electricity and keep the UK’s electricity grid stable as coal is phased-out over the next few years – eliminating the need to build new carbon-emitting large gas plants, a new report by WWF and Sandbag has found. The report concludes that, even by conservative estimates, planned large scale gas projects aren’t needed; renewable generation will surpass coal’s contribution to the energy mix by 2022, ensuring the UK doesn’t need to replace one dirty fossil fuel with another.

 

The report, Coal to Clean – The end of the gas era is near, outlines the energy mix up until 2025.  The National Grid confirmed in April that the UK broke a new record and went without coal generation for 76 hours for the first time since the 1880s, a trend that is set to continue with renewable generation on track to surpass coal’s contribution to the energy mix by 2022.

Gas generation has dropped as well, after peaking in 2008. In 2017, gas generation was already 24% lower than that peak. If all current gas development in planning was to go ahead it could lock the UK into emissions for the next 40 years at levels way above what the UK can afford if it is to tackle climate change and deliver on its international commitments under the Paris agreement. At best it leaves us with expensive, white elephant infrastructure overtaken by renewables. 

 

Gareth Redmond King, WWF Head of Climate and Energy said:

“The UK government is leading the way and has set an international precedent by sending coal to the dustbin of history. However it is essential the Government does not substitute one dirty power source for another.

“We need to continue to look forward, doubling down on investment in renewables and targeting our efforts on long term energy storage. We should focus next on removing gas from the energy mix altogether.”

 

The UK has half of the planned gas power stations in Europe, according to Platt’s Power Station Tracker. The analysis by WWF and Sandbag shows that these gas projects don’t need to go ahead to keep the lights on – and will cost energy bill payers more if they do. The results also show that only approximately 5GW of gas capacity will be required to provide a basic, underpinning level of power in 2025 to support intermittency in renewables. The UK already has almost 10GW of highly efficient combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations built in this decade; these are likely to remain operational well into the 2030s.

 

By 2020 renewables are forecast to be the single largest source of electricity generation in the UK.The UK Government needs to take advantage of the boom of renewables – unleashing the potential of solar and wind, supporting investment in renewable technology, and innovation in long term electricity storage. This would allow the UK to reduce its carbon emission in line with pledges made in the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

To reach our international climate commitments, we need to lower the total hours gas plants are allowed to run each year. The only foreseeable space for gas in the UK’s energy mix will be on a small scale, to fill in gaps when other sources of supply are unavailable.

 

Charles Moore, Analyst at Sandbag, said:

“Amazingly, the UK’s coal phase-out will not require a ‘gas bridge’ as many predicted: surging renewable energy ensures that gas use in the power sector has already peaked. The UK does not need to build any more large gas power plants to keep the lights on.

 

“Measures to support the construction of a new wave of large gas plants would prove a costly mistake for energy bill-payers and the climate. Ultimately, meeting our climate objectives will require a total gas phase-out: the Government must begin planning for this now.”

 

Government policy in this parliament will be key to capitalizing on renewable opportunities while avoiding the expense of any new large gas plants, setting the UK on a trajectory towards a gas phase-out. The report includes five key recommendations for Government as we navigate through a coal to clean transition. The recommendations include:

  • Unleashing the potential of solar and onshore wind now
  • Not bringing forward policy measures to support new build large gas
  • Preventing excess emissions from small peaking gas
  • Increasing innovation funding for long term electricity storage technologies
  • Mitigating the risk of a slower fall in gas use and begin planning now for a gas phase-out

 

-Ends-

Notes to editors

The full report can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2jNKIPp 

  • Eggborough Case study: Eggborough power station in North Yorkshire has announced that it will close by September 2018 and has a 2.5GW new gas plant in planning. By 2020 renewables are forecast to be the single largest source of electricity generation in the UK. Our analysis shows this is unnecessary.
  • Policy is needed to address the emissions from small peaking gas as poor market design may be artificially inflating running hours. The 450gCO2/kWh instantaneous limit proposed in the coal phase-out legislation should be extended to all new build generation with a thermal capacity of over 1MW. This will ensure small peaking gas is only used when absolutely necessary to support the grid.

For more information please contact:

Jonathan Jones | Press Officer at WWF | 0148412241 | jjones@wwf.org.uk

Phil McDonald | Head of Communications at Sandbag | 07547521346 | phil@sandbag.org.uk

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural

About Sandbag

Sandbag is a climate change policy think tank based in London and Brussels. Sandbag focuses on accelerating the coal phase-out, putting a price on carbon, and rapid industrial decarbonisation. We do this through targeted, evidence-based research and advocacy. Sandbag's annual European Power Sector reports are the definitive analysis on the energy transition in the EU.

11 May 2018

WWF responds to Government plans for a new environment watchdog

Responding to the launch today of the UK Government’s consultation on  Environmental Principles and Governance Bill with plans for a new environment watchdog, Tony Juniper, Executive Director of WWF said:

“As we leave the EU, it's vital we create a new environmental watchdog that has strong jaws and big teeth -- and real targets for it to enforce. Legally-binding carbon emission targets have committed successive governments to tackling climate change. Setting targets for nature's recovery won't just help save our wildlife, it will also have economic, social, health and quality of life benefits. That’s why we hope an ambitious and bold new Environment Act is something the whole government will support.”

Make a promise for our planet

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Will you add your promise to the many made already?