Newswire – Defra: Help keep them down and out - England, Scotland & Wales have launched a co-ordinated plan to reduce the threat to Britain’s native biodiversity from invasive non-native species. Invasive non-native species such as Floating Pennywort and the North American Signal Crayfish can have a serious impact on our native wildlife and economic interests. Controlling their spread is key to conserving our native wildlife.
Key measures in the strategy include developing:
* ways to educate people on the risks from invasive non-native species & avoiding risk of their introduction
* a web-based shared central directory that will show the types of invasive species in specific areas
* expertise for early identification of potential problem species and the best ways to handle them
* a clear framework for rapid responses when invasive species are detected for the first time in Britain
The strategy is built around the 3-stage approach to tackling invasive species that was agreed in 2002 by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to:
* help prevent introductions in the first place by raising awareness of the risks & increasing understanding of the impacts
* better enable early detection & rapid response to introductions before they become major problems
* develop longer-term control programmes based on sound science
STFC: A step beyond video conferencing - A British amateur astronomer has discovered the fastest rotating natural object known in our Solar System. His observations, made using a telescope (which he operated remotely via the Internet from his home in Dorset) normally shared by school students and professional scientists, have proved that the newly-discovered asteroid, 2008 HJ is revolving once every 42.7 seconds, classifying it is as a ‘superfast rotator’.
His discovery will boost our sparse knowledge of near Earth asteroids and is another successful find for the Faulkes Telescope near-Earth asteroid project. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) was involved in the initial set-up of the Faulkes Telescope Project and continues to provide support.
The early success for the Faulkes Telescope near-Earth asteroid project bodes well for the future and should prove especially encouraging to schools, colleges and other amateur astronomers looking to participate. It now appears that the chances of success are high and one challenge will be to find objects spinning even faster than 2008 HJ. Our knowledge of the near-Earth population of small asteroids is very sparse, so schools and others can contribute directly to our understanding of these nearest neighbours of ours.
NICE: It’s more important than just a failed New Year Resolution - The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance for employers on how to encourage employees to increase their levels of physical activity. People of working age are not active enough to benefit their health; this contributes to sickness absence and decreased productivity.
Physical inactivity in England costs an estimated £8.2bn each year - this includes the direct costs of treating diseases linked to lack of activity and the indirect costs caused through sickness absence. This guidance on workplace physical activity is aimed at employers in all organisations who have a responsibility or a role in improving health in the workplace. This especially includes staff responsible for human resources or occupational health.
DH: Biggest ‘polluter’ takes action - The NHS (the biggest employer in Europe) has committed to reduce its carbon footprint. The NHS currently contributes approximately 3% of England's total carbon dioxide emissions and the Carbon Reduction Strategy, published last week for consultation (closes on 21 August 2008), commits the NHS to reduce these emissions by 60% by 2050 in all areas, including procurement, travel & building energy use and sets out ways that this can be achieved.
The NHS is responsible for over 18m tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and is the largest public sector contributor to climate change. The Strategy shows where NHS carbon dioxide emissions are coming from and then proposes actions for reducing that carbon footprint.
Proposals suggested within the strategy include:
* all NHS bodies to have a Carbon Management Strategy by 2009
* organisations to report annually on their sustainable development progress
*for the NHS to recycle 75% of its waste by 2020
The Strategy is the first output of the new NHS Sustainable Development Unit which is hosted by NHS East of England.
Forthcoming event: Government co-ordinates fight back against fraud - The National Audit Office, HM Treasury and the British Bankers’ Association are organising a conference Taking Forward the Fight Against Fraud, which will be held at 2 Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL on 24 and 25 June.
Day one of the conference (National Initiatives to fight Fraud) will cover the significant steps taken to strengthen the fight against all types of fraud in the UK – the Attorney General’s Fraud Review and the Government’s response are putting in place an enhanced strategic approach and dedicated resources to tackle the effects of fraud both on individuals and on the UK economy.
Day two of the conference (Good Practice in Tackling External Fraud in the Public Sector) will highlight good practices in tackling external fraud and will launch an updated version of the National Audit Office/ HM Treasury guide on the subject. The sessions will also draw on recent NAO reports such as:
* Progress on Tackling Benefit Fraud
* International Benchmark of Fraud and Error in Social Security Systems
* Tackling the Hidden Economy
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
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