Peat extraction – far too little and far too late

The white-faced darter dragonfly

Ahhh, 2010! That was a classic year. Do you remember it? David Cameron and Nick Clegg formed the coalition Government. The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull blew and grounded flight across Europe with clouds of ash. Spoonbills bred in Britain for the first time in three centuries. And in December that year, the coalition Government finally introduced a scheme to end the use of peat in domestic gardens by 2020. It was a voluntary scheme, relying on the industry to get its

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Death by Burnet

5 spot burnet moth

This time is year is characterised by many things. The occasional sunny day (it is Summer, apparently).  Hayfever. England’s cricketers gloriously losing or (this summer at least) emphatically winning. Wild orchids in their Sunday best. And the sight, on many of our grassy downlands, of a butterfly that seems have to come over from the dark side. It’s black with red spots on its wings, and when you look a little more closely, you realise that’s its not a butterfly,

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Where jets once thundered and women protested, wildlife now thrives

Autumn lady's tresses

Greenham common, Berkshire. I am standing in a thousand acres of a habitat that is rarer than rainforest. To my left and right, as far as the eye can see, it is a green carpet of rough grass awash with colour – the mauve of bell heather and the delicate pink of ling, stands of bramble heavy with berries but still flowering white and pink, and impenetrable swathes of gorse. The flowers are long gone from the common gorse, but

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Flowers that glow in the darkness

violet helleborine

Following the path inwards seems unnatural, a step away from light and safety. As the dense canopy of the oaks closes overhead, the ranks of rosebay willowherb and hemp agrimony that line the woodland’s bright outer edges slowly cede ground to bramble and nettle, which in turn fade out as I enter its dark heart, home to little more than spindly grasses and seedling hawthorns who cling on, hoping for a giant above to shed a bough and give them

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