Spectacled Bears protected in the Páramo

Páramo’s long-term carbon-balancing and conservation partner, World Land Trust (WLT), has announced that the Ministry of Environment of Peru has recognised a private conservation area (ACP) that will protect a large Páramo vegetation zone of the South American Andes. The community of San Juan de Sallique has pledged to protect approximately 8,650 acres (3,500 hectares) of Montane Forest and Páramo.

This reflects three years of work by the communities and WLT’s partner Naturaleza y Cultura Peru (NCP), securing the protection of this important habitat in perpetuity – an important step for wildlife such as Spectacled Bears and endangered Mountain Tapirs, but also a triumph for the communities dedicated to preserving their water sources through conservation and sustainable agricultural practices. Continue reading

Madagascar’s ‘Silk’ Route

I’ve been visiting Madagascar for over 20 years: in fact I’ve returned each year since 1991. Back then it captivated me like no place had done before, or since, and my enthusiasm has yet to diminish. Since my first visit in 1998, one place on the island has been my favourite – Marojejy National Park in the far north east. It is one of Madagascar’s wildest places.

I initially visited the park with just one aim – to get photos of the incredibly rare silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus). Continue reading

Searching for Snow Leopards

The snow leopard is the epitome of remote, rugged wilderness and has for so long been regarded as a mythical ghost of the mountains: a creature that lives unseen amongst the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas and Central Asia. Continue reading

Owling in Páramo

Now that we’re into April, this breeding season’s owling is well into its swing. Owling is the name our group gives to the activity of putting up nest boxes and monitoring them for these magnificent birds. In the UK, Barn Owls, Little Owls and Tawny Owls breed inside pre-existing cavities, such as tree hollows and outbuildings, but all will breed in nest boxes. Short-eared Owls are ground nesters and Long-eared Owls prefer to breed in old Magpie and Crow nests.

I started owling in 2006 and have been hooked ever since. Continue reading

Zero footprint

Occasionally I have a plan when I walk out from my house, an image I’ve imagined in the moments between sleeping and waking or an inspiration sparked by something I’ve seen, but most of the time I simply pack up my gear, call the dog and head outside. Continue reading

Paratrike to the rescue: Flight of the Swans update

Sacha Dench preparing for take-off, Flight of the Swans expedition

After weeks of taking off on hard, uneven ground as she crossed the tundra Sacha was expecting a fairly straight forward take off from a field near St Petersburg on Saturday. Instead, an awkward stumble on her run up was followed by a moment of intense pain in her right knee. Continue reading

A monkey puzzle mission

Huerquehue National Park, Chile
Araucaria trees (Araucaria araucana), coigue trees (Nothofagus dombeyi), lenga trees (Nothofagus pumilio), ñire trees (Nothofagus antarctica) and Cerro San Sebastian reflected in Laguna El Toro in Autumn, Huerquehue National Park, Chile.

Although my day to day work with Trees for Life is focused on the restoration of the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands of Scotland, I have a strong interest in trees and forests elsewhere in the world as well. One of my particular favourites is the forest of araucaria (or monkey puzzle) trees in the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina, which I’ve been visiting since 1977.

Continue reading

The Little Owl in Britain

Little Owls are amazing birds. They’re only eight inches tall, yet they ooze so much personality. Their quirky behaviours are utterly charming and a sheer joy to watch. Many people are surprised to learn that this much loved owl is not native. Landowners successfully introduced the Little Owl into England during the 1880s; these were brought over from mainland Europe to control ‘garden pests’. After its initial and rapid spread across England and Wales, the Little Owl started to decline from the late 1930s. More recently, this decline has accelerated, with numbers down by 64% in 25 years.

Continue reading