In this week’s Nature News Round-up, we start with a concerning new report from the UN Environment Programme on the ever-growing danger of wildfires to biodiversity, climate and communities. On the positive side of the ledger (and heaven knows we need some good news this week) we look at stories about the many ways technology is aiding wildlife conservation and find out why pine martens are being brought in to act as ‘bouncers.’ 


There are few starker examples of the links between the climate and biodiversity crises than the growing risk of wildfires. Driven by higher temperatures and land-use changes, the frequency of extreme wildfires is likely to increase by around 50% by the end of the century, a new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said this week. Wildfires can be devastating to wildlife due to mortality during the fire and, for some animals, post-fire habitat change,” the report says. Wildfires can impact vegetation on multiple scales, from landscapes to individual plants. There is evidence that wildfires are pushing some animal and plant species closer to extinction.” Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath has more for the BBC.   


The UN Environment Assembly will meet next week with the session set to be a major milestone on the road to the first international plastics treaty. Karen McVeigh in the Guardian quotes UNEP Director Inger Andersen saying it’s a “critical moment” that could lead to the most important multilateral pact since the Paris Climate Agreement. Expectations are that next week’s session will get the ball rolling on the formal negotiation of an eventual treaty. Hats off to activist and artist Benjamin von Wong for this stunning sculpture that will greet delegates at the meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.  

#TurnOffThePlasticTap © Von Wong Productions

#TurnOffThePlasticTap © Von Wong Productions


The Earthshot Prize, an initiative launched by FFI’s patron Prince William, this week published a new guide for how the Prize will search for and select its next winners. The Roadmap to Regeneration shines a light on specific tipping points that will be critical as we seek to repair our planet in this decisive decade. Read it here.  


More fascinating research out last week on the impact of large mammal reintroductions on ecosystems. Carolyn Cowan in Mongabay reports that a new study by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Ecology, found that “restoring just 20 large mammal species to their historic habitats could revitalise ecosystems and boost biodiversity across almost one-quarter of the Earth’s land area.”  

The study identifies seven predators and 13 herbivores whose reintroduction could help restore ecosystems. Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras / FFI


Great piece in the Guardian by Graeme Green, which cites research by WILDLABS (of which FFI is a proud partner) on the growing number of ways that artificial intelligence is helping to protect wildlife around the world. Just one of the reasons FFI identified the use of tech as a tool for conservation as one of five ‘Breakthroughs for Nature’ last year.  


Forestry and Land Scotland are installing 35 artificial pine marten dens at strategic locations in a bid to keep grey squirrels, an invasive species, out of the Highlands, where native red squirrels still have a stronghold. Pine martens prey on grey squirrels. Reds, having evolved alongside pine martens, appear to be better at evading them. Reporting on the plan for the Guardian, Patrick Barkham says the pine martens will be effectively “deployed as wildlife bouncers.” 

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