FIVE questions with Brownsea red squirrel leprosy researcher Anna Schilling

Earlier this year we announced that some of the red squirrels on Brownsea Island, Dorset, are suffering from leprosy. The island, which we manage in partnership with Dorset Wildlife Trust, is home to around 200 red squirrels.

We are working with researchers from the University of Edinburgh to better understand the disease and its impact upon the island’s wildlife.

Conservation vet and researcher Anna Schilling will spend the next three years studying leprosy in red squirrels. Based at the University of Edinburgh, we are part-sponsoring her PhD along with Dorset Wildlife Trust. We asked her five questions about her project.


Researcher Anna Schilling on Brownsea Island. Credit: National Trust/Tom Seaward





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National Trust rangers LASSO rare Norfolk beech seeds for the nation

NATIONAL TRUST rangers on the Felbrigg Estate have this week been helping to ensuring the survival of Norfolk’s rare beech trees.

Rangers are using rope lassos to collect ten kilogrammes of beech mast (seed) for Kew Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank at the organisation’s Wakehurst estate in West Sussex.

Once collected, the seeds will be stored by the Millennium Seed Bank in sub-zero temperatures in vaults deep beneath the Sussex countryside.


Ranger Richard Daplyn with a Beech Mast, credit National Trust Images/Matthew Usher

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Cider insider welcomes a bumper British apple harvest

NATIONAL TRUST cider expert Rachel Brewer has predicted a strong year for cider and apple juice, with late summer rains producing a sweet and juicy apple crop.

The pommelier and gardener manages ten acres of orchards at Barrington Court, Somerset, where over 90 varieties of apple trees grow.

Ms Brewer said: “The apple juice this year is some of the best we’ve ever made. I was worried that too much summer sun would stunt our crop but the rain came at a crucial moment late in the season, leaving us with lovely sweet and juicy apples.

“There may be some sore heads in Somerset this winter; sweet apples means that our cider will be strong,” she added.
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Conservationists call on Government to grasp a better future for the countryside

Britain’s largest nature organisations have today launched their joint vision for a post-Brexit environment, farming and rural policy.

WWF-UK, National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB are calling for:

  • A new policy for the countryside – UK Governments to work together to replace the CAP with policies that deliver high environmental standards for land management across the UK
  • The creation of an independent Policy Commission – to examine a future policy for the environment, farming and rural development and encourage an inclusive and engaging public debate
  • A joined up approach between Government policies and plans for farming and the environment – Any future environment, farming and rural development policy must work together with the Westminster Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment
  • Continuation of agri-environment schemes – All existing agri-environment schemes should be kept open until a replacement policy is fully operational.

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Endangered water voles return to Yorkshire’s Malham Tarn after fifty year absence

One hundred water voles will be reintroduced into the National Trust’s Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales this weekend, in what is believed to be the highest upland water vole reintroduction project (by altitude) ever carried out in Britain.

This will be the first time the endangered mammals have been seen at Malham Tarn – England’s highest freshwater lake (377m) – in fifty years.

National Trust ecologists believe Malham Tarn’s water voles were wiped out in the 1960s by mink, which escaped from fur farms nearby.

180. Water Vole (Malham)

Water vole at Malham Tarn (c) National Trust Images / Paul C Dunn

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BBC’s Charlotte Smith: my TOP moments from BBC Countryfile Live

BBC Countryfile Live, the first live festival based on the BBC’s hit countryside show, ended on a high yesterday. Over four days thousands descended on Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, for sun-kissed days of debate, farm animals and play.

Charlotte Smith, presenter of BBC Farming Today, spoke to us about her top moments from hosting the speakers in the National Trust Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live. Continue reading

Talking APPLES with Killerton Estate’s Fiona at BBC Countryfile Live

We caught up up with Fiona Hailstone, from the National Trust’s Killerton Estate, Devon, to talk all things ‘apple’ at BBC Countryfile Live.

Killerton Estate scooped Best Overall Drink award for their apple juice in the National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Awards last Thursday.

Orchard manager Fiona was at BBC Countryfile Live this weekend, speaking to visitors about Killerton Estate’s cider – another Fine Farm Produce Award winner.

Killerton Estate cider, a winner of the National Trust's 2013 Fine Farm Produce Awards.


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