Wilder Islands Conference – The Inter-Islands Meeting (IIEM), Alderney 2019

Wilder Islands Conference. Alderney 2019

The Inter-Islands Environmental Meeting – IIEM2019

What role do the Islands of the British Isles and Overseas Territories have to play in a world where ecosystem collapse is seen as increasingly inevitable? Often Islands lack the economic or political resources to have a voice on the global environmental stage and they face many of the same pressures on their environments – over-population, development, economic insecurity and resource scarcity – and often have even scarcer resources to protect – yet they are uniquely positioned to help future wildlife recovery. Could our islands act as biodiversity lifeboats, refuges for the unique endemic species they host and as shelters for habitats and species under increasing pressure elsewhere?

The Wilder Islands Conference combines the annual Inter-Islands Environment Meeting with an additional day of talks and discussions, the aim being to enable representatives from not only the Channel Islands, but also from across the British Isles and its Overseas Territories and the wider scientific community, to discuss the role of islands as biodiversity hotspots in a future response to global environmental decline. The Wilder Islands Conference aims to bring scientists, conservationists and policy makers together to focus on what steps these communities might take for a Wilder Future for their islands.

Thursday and Friday 26-27 September – IIEM2019 – A combination of presentations, opportunity for debate and field visits, hosted in a selection of venues making the best of Alderney’s historic and rugged environment. The IIEM has been running since 2000 and this year we are looking to discover more about how the islands of the Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories and wider British Isles are responding to the growing threat to island/regional ecosystems.

Wilder Islands Day –  We are delighted to be able to offer attendees this additional conference day, chaired by Dr. George McGavin and with Tony Juniper, Bryce Stewart, Jean-Luc Solandt, Sam Turvey and Rob Stoneman (see details of guests here) attending.  We envision this as a day of talks by inspirational speakers who have detailed knowledge of the importance of island biodiversity and the threats faced by our unique communities.  There will be the opportunity for discussion around each presentation, with an emphasis on how islands can secure their environment against a trend of global decline, and the very important role that islands play in retaining biodiversity on a national and global scale.

Download full details of the Wilder Islands Conference 2019 here

We’d be delighted if you would join us for all 3 days so  you have already let us know you are attending please confirm if you will be staying for this exciting days discussion wilderislands@alderneywildlife.org


The IIEM2019 and the Wilder Islands Conference have received generous support from a range of sources including the Insurance Corporation and the States of Alderney.  As a result, there will be no attendance charge for delegates, though there will be some small charges towards the cost of food for delegates. We are preparing information on accommodation and travel arrangements for delegates and will accept applications for a limited number of grants to support attendance (please contact us at wilderislands@alderneywildlife.org).



The theme ‘Wilder Islands’ is not restrictive but please consider it as a guide to the tone and intent of any presentation you might give.  Presentation slots will as usual be limited to 20 minutes unless you specifically request a longer session i.e. joint or interactive presentations; please feel free to request a shorter slot. Obviously we are restricted on the number of available slots so we would be grateful if you could let us know if you would like to present and a title of your talk as soon as possible and we will follow up for more details once we have a better idea of numbers and topics.

Please contact us to confirm if you want to give a presentation by 28th June, including an outline title and concept to– wildlerislands@alderneywildlife.org

Please note there will be a review panel made up of the existing hosts and previous hosts who will shortlist the speakers for inclusion, should there be more presentations than time allows.


We are intending to have a dedicated poster and digital display area for the event this year and also to publish contributions online. Again space is likely to be restricted so if you have an idea for a poster or digital display please let us know so we can provisionally reserve a space by 28th June, with the outline title and concept – wildlerislands@alderneywildlife.org


We intend to link in with the Island’s school as part of Wilder Islands, with some students invited to attend talks and also to produce their own posters.  We are interested in streaming sections of both IIEM2019 and the Wilder Islands Conference for schools so if you have school links and think there might be an interest in this please get in touch.


Download full details of the Wilder Islands Conference 2019 here

For all those wanting to attend we need you to please get in touch and answer the following questions as we have limited space in the venues and accommodation. We will be in touch with all those who have booked in with the accommodation and travel options.

So to help us with our planning and getting the best deals please could you let us know if:

  1. You would like to attend and which days you plan to attend
  2. If you are prepared to travel by sea and/or air, let us know your preference
  3. If you would like to give a presentation, and if so an outline title so we can begin to structure the meeting
  4. If you think you would like to display a poster or a digital display in the form of a short video

Contact us at – wilderislands@alderneywildlife.org or by calling us on 01481 822935 and asking for Roland, Claire or Lindsay and please feel free to forward this information to others who you feel might be interested in attending or speaking.

Many thanks for your time and we hope to see you in Alderney later in the year.

* ‘Wilder Islands’ will also become part of the national ‘Wilder Future’ campaign launched by the UK Wildlife Trust movement earlier this year.

Download full details of the Wilder Islands Conference 2019 here

Banque, hedgerow and tree management. Branchage guidelines updated

By Cassie Horton with Dru Burdon and Dom Wormell

A meeting was held last August last year at the request of Dru Burdon from the Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group as she was so frustrated and upset at the number of hedgehogs coming in with severe injuries. That meeting was attended by about 20 individuals/environmental organisations together with the Natural Environment Department, the Comité des Connétables and the Jersey Farmers’ Union to revise the branchage practice for the benefit of the Island’s fauna and flora. It was proposed that a small committee be formed to identify how we could improve the situation and myself together with Bob Tompkins, Neil Singleton, Alli Caldeira, Dru Burdon, Rose Anne Mitchell and Chris Perkins put our hands up! We are by no means experts in land management but we have endeavoured to seek advice and input from those in the know. Over recent months we have rewritten the branchage guidelines and hope that the revised version will be easier to understand with clear examples of photos and a diagram of best practice.

A training session was organised on 30 May and hosted by Peter le Maistre, the President of the Jersey Farmers’ Union attended by about 50 farmers and contractors, representatives of environmental organisations and John Pinel, Principal Ecologist and Assistant Director of the Natural Environment Department. It was a very successful event with honest and constructive dialogue between all concerned. One of the farmers stated that this was the first time environmentalists and farmers had come together to discuss these issues and this process should continue as it had been incredibly helpful and positive. He also suggested that results of wildlife monitoring (as a result of the new branchage regime) should be reported back to the farmers.

Peter Le Maistre and Ian Le Brun (Jersey Royal Potato Company) had earlier that week cut three examples of branchaging to demonstrate to those present and provide an opportunity for discussion and a compromise was agreed whereby the lower part of the banque is cut to a minimum height of 10cm but the top is left uncut, as this will give wildlife a chance of survival but still adhere to the branchage law. Revised guidelines on best practice for hedgerow, tree and banque (bank) management have now been agreed and will be published by Natural Environment.

Alastair Christie, the Asian Hornet Coordinator also gave a presentation on signs to look out for when undertaking the branchage process and safe working practices.

Our farmers have a symbiotic relationship with the landscape and the large majority of them (particularly those present at the meeting) consider themselves every bit as much an environmentalist. The planting of trees and hedgerows by farmers over the years has contributed to the health of our countryside and they are supportive of improving the biodiversity of our banques and hedgerows.

The Branchage Law dates back to 1914 when the aim was to improve the safety for road users and pedestrians. This is still the case today, however, a misunderstanding/misinterpretation of the law has been allowed to happen and this idea of a ‘neat and tidy’ landscape needs to be done away with. The law is very specific and, as long as a height of 3.7 metres above roads and 2.4 metres above footpaths is adhered to, then the Connétables are happy with this. The banques do not need to be cut down to the bare soil and, as long as vegetation does not overhang the road/footpaths, then the tops can be left uncut. This will allow the desired vegetation to seed but, more importantly, the protection of animals such as hedgehogs, lizards, slow worms and fledgling birds.

Work needs to continue in making private landowners and landlords aware of the new guidelines. Some tenant farmers have been told they risk having fields taken away from them if they don’t make everything ‘neat and tidy’ and it is disheartening when they adhere to the LEAF (Linking Environment & Farming) guidelines and only cut hedges every two years to then find that neighbours cut everything to the bare soil. John Pinel advised that there is legislation in place to prevent the removal of hedges and he offered support to the farmers in generating positive discussions with landowners regarding best working practices.

One of the issues mentioned at an earlier discussion was that machine operators often suffer abuse from motorists when holding up the traffic and also from home owners if the operators go out early in the morning to avoid the motorists. We sought advice from the Connétables who were present at the meeting and Len Norman advised that the Connétables were willing to close the roads to enable the branchage to be undertaken safely. It’s not easy operating machinery, trying to check where the flail is along the banque and at the same time looking out for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists so, if the level of stress can be reduced, that can only be a good thing.

I was delighted with the outcome of the meeting and, having been involved in this campaign, I have a much deeper understanding and respect for the work that our farmers do.

We have produced two sets of guidelines – a condensed version (which could be kept in the cab of a vehicle to refer to – download this version here) and the more comprehensive version which is still to be formalised by the Natural Environment Department with photos and diagrams (download the draft of this here). Polish and Portuguese versions of the condensed report are available – please check relevant websites or contact Birds On The Edge.

The intention is to distribute these guidelines to private contractors and have them available on Parish and Government of Jersey websites for Island wide use.


Banque, hedgerow and tree management guidelines on best practice. Draft May 2019

Banque, hedgerow and tree management guidelines on best practice. Condensed version.- May 2019