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The ancients of Savernake Forest are something of an anomaly in the wider landscape. A thousand years ago, Savernake was wood-pasture grazed with livestock. Then from the 12th Century it was a royal hunting forest with woodland, coppice, common land and small farms. In the 20th Century, that picture changed dramatically. Worldwide over a third of primary forests – ones that have been undisturbed by humans for over 140 years – were cut down between 1900 and 2015. The loss is attributed to land-use change like the creation of farms or housing developments, and tree harvesting for wood. In Britain, although the canopy cover grew throughout the 20th Century, most of this new growth was down to planting new saplings – the country has lost almost half of its ancient woodland since the 1930s.bitcoin index meaningThe way we manage forests has changed, explains Paul Rutter, woodland advisor for Plantlife and project officer at Ancients of the Future, a collaboration between conservation charities Buglife, Plantlife, and the Bat Conservation Trust. The intensification of agriculture has meant the removal of many hedgerows and trees that grow within them, as fields have been made larger. Traditional forest management practices have largely been replaced by plantation forestry and whole-tree extraction. Ancient trees are becoming smothered by overcrowded canopies, saplings, shrubs and brambles. Many have been felled for timber or urban development. Add to that an increase in tree diseases and the challenges of climate change. The result is that fewer trees are surviving – or being allowed to grow – into their old age.
Which means that the race to old age is on. The Ancients of the Future has an unusual aim: to speed up the ageing process for some trees to ensure these habitats don't disappear for good.Tree time"In the tree world everything happens slowly," says Rutter. "We call it tree time."Trees reach their ancient (or senescent) phase of life at different ages. For beech this is from 225 years old, oaks from 400 years and yew 900 years. During this phase the trunk hollows, holes and cavities appear and deadwood reaches above the living canopy.It can take up to 300 years before heart-rot, the decay at the centre of an ageing tree, is established enough that insects can start moving in and laying their larvae, says Rutter. "It becomes a complex ecosystem. The ancient trees that we have today, ones that are 300-900 years old – perhaps older – support an incredibly wide range of species."
"With current trends towards general invertebrate decline, we need to support as many pollinators as possible," says Skipp.Fast forwardThe night saw setbacks for both the Green Party and the People's Party of Canada (PPC).
New Green leader Annamie Paul was badly defeated in her efforts to secure a seat in Toronto, after she struggled with internal party divisions that threatened her leadership."I am disappointed - it is hard to lose, no one likes to lose," Ms Paul said as she thanked supporters.Still, the party is still projected to send at least two members of parliament to Ottawa.The PPC failed to secure any seats despite a late surge as its populist leader tapped into a vein of anger among some Canadians over vaccine mandates and lockdown measures, but did increase its overall vote share.
A third Russian faces charges over his alleged involvement in the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, which left three people critically ill and one dead.Prosecutors have authorised charges against Denis Sergeev in the Novichok attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Dawn Sturgess died after the poisoning and a police officer was badly injured.Police also confirmed they believe the suspects in the case belonged to a Russian military intelligence team.Security sources believe Sergeev acted as the on-the-ground commander for the operation and was the senior member of the team from Russia's GRU.He has also been linked to other covert activity across Europe.
On 2 March 2018, the alleged GRU hit team came to the UK.Two men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, arrived in the afternoon at Gatwick airport. Police have now for the first time confirmed their real names as Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin.The third man, Denis Sergeev, using the name Sergey Fedotov, had arrived at Heathrow airport earlier that day at 11:00 GMT.Chepiga and Mishkin travelled to Salisbury on Sunday 4 March, allegedly to smear the military-grade nerve agent Novichok on the handle of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal's front door.
He and his daughter fell seriously ill as did Nick Bailey, then a police officer.Sergeev remained in London the whole time before leaving on a flight to Moscow at 13:45, having made a late change to his plans. The other two left on a later fight at 22:30.
Police say they now have evidence the men were operating as a team and that all three met on a number of occasions in London over that weekend.On some occasions, this was indoors, on others it was in the open air - although the police will not specify exactly where.
But the police have been working on building up evidence of his role, a process described as "challenging" but which has eventually led to today's announcement."We remain as determined as ever to bring those responsible to justice," said Dean Haydon, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing.The charges authorised against the three men are conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm and use and possession of a chemical weapon.Chepiga and Mishkin appeared on Russian TV after being identified in 2018 and said they had been to the city simply as tourists to see the cathedral. Russia has always denied any involvement.Traces of Novichok were found in Chepiga and Mishkin's hotel room, although none were found in that used by Sergeev.The Novichok in the perfume bottle could potentially have killed thousands of people, police say.
But there remain significant gaps in the investigation, including how the Novichok came into the UK and where it was between its use in March and its discovery in June in Amesbury in a discarded perfume bottle.Dawn Sturgess died days after spraying some of the bottle's contents on herself.
The police are asking the public to get in touch if they have any more details of Sergeev's movements in London or that of the perfume bottle.Sergeev, aged around 50, is believed to be in Russia, like the other two suspects. Russia has always said it cannot extradite its citizens.
The UK authorities will inform Interpol to seek his arrest if he does travel outside of the country."We now have the evidence that links them to the GRU," Mr Haydon said. "All three are dangerous individuals."
Intelligence also links Sergeev and the team to a trail of covert activities across Europe.Sergeev is alleged to be a major general and senior member of Unit 29155 of the GRU, a team tasked with sabotage, subversion and assassination. He joined the team after serving in Russian special forces.Bulgarian authorities say Sergeev and two other men from Unit 29155 checked into hotels in the capital Sofia in April 2015, insisting on rooms with a view of the underground car park.Surveillance of that car park released by a Bulgarian prosecutor shows one man approaching the cars of a Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, as well as his son and business partner.
A toxic substance is believed to have been smeared on the handles - similar to the way Novichok was placed on the handle of Sergei Skripal's house. They would fall ill but survive.Although he had a return flight booked two days later, Sergeev left the country on 28 April - the day of the poisoning. He may be the man caught on CCTV in the car park.
Chepiga and Mishkin, meanwhile, have been linked to a blast that tore apart an ammunition storage depot used by Emilian Gebrev in a forest in the Czech Republic on 16 October 2014, killing two.The accusation by Czech authorities this summer led to a major diplomatic row with Russia and the expulsion of diplomats from a number of countries.
It followed investigative work by European security services who, since Salisbury, have tracked the travel of the three suspects as well as others from the unit to see if they can link it with covert activity.For Sergeev, this includes visits to Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well as other countries.
He is also believed to have been in touch with members of the GRU unit involved in a planned coup in Montenegro in 2016.UK police also say they believe the three all travelled to the UK before March 2018. They say they continue to investigate other suspects.Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has launched an investigation into a data breach involving the email addresses of dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces.More than 250 people seeking relocation to the UK - many of whom are in hiding - were mistakenly copied into an email from the Ministry of Defence.
Their email addresses could be seen by all recipients, showing people's names and some associated profile pictures.The MoD has apologised in a statement.
The email was sent to interpreters who remain in Afghanistan or have been able to get to other countries.Conservative MP and former defence minister Johnny Mercer told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The reality is we've left the vast, vast majority of our interpreters behind so this is going to have a profound impact on people who are still in the country."
He said he had spoken to the brother of one man, trained by the UK to serve in Afghan special forces, who had been executed after the evacuation by the US and UK and whose family is now on the run.Failings by the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office had led to Afghan allies being "hunted ruthlessly by the Taliban", he said.