How to spend 48 hours in Riga, Latvia

Arrive in Latvia’s capital and you can feel the buzz of Baltic optimism in the bracing air. Riga is a welcoming, walkable city that’s awash with music, history, art and nightlife. 

A recent survey named Riga the best-value city for those seeking a European winter break. 

Low-cost airlines and a glut of great hotels mean flight savings can be splurged on luxury accommodation, such as the chic Bergs Hotel (slh.com/hotels/hotel-bergs), a favourite with Sir Elton John, Lady Gaga and Sting.

Vibrant: The colourful buildings of the Old Town

Vibrant: The colourful buildings of the Old Town

DAY ONE – MORNING

Get your bearings by wandering the Old Town’s cobbled streets. Every era in Riga’s rich history has left its mark: medieval defences, Gothic churches, baroque townhouses and stolid Soviet-era museums. Its heart is Doma Laukums (Cathedral Square), site of the huge medieval cathedral. More interesting is the House of the Blackheads (liveriga.com; £5 entry) on the square’s southern side. Built to house bachelor Hanseatic traders and sailors, its name is derived from the patron saint Maurice, traditionally depicted as an armed Moor. The Soviets destroyed it after the war – its Gothic-Dutch Renaissance architecture was ‘decadent’ – but after independence in 1991 it was rebuilt.

Many of the city’s grand Viennese-style cafes were also eradicated during the Soviet occupation but the genre is returning. The Art Deco cafe Kuze (kuze.lv) opposite the parliament building is the perfect place for a hot chocolate.

Understanding Latvian history will enhance a visit. In the mid-1960s, the Soviets built a Museum of the Revolution in the Old Town. In a stroke of post-independence revenge, Latvia turned it into the Museum of the Occupation (okupacijasmuzejs.lv/en). The most touching exhibits are personal keepsakes, from chess sets carved from scrap and wood in the gulags to heartbreaking, hastily scribbled notes thrown from trains by deportees to Siberia.

AFTERNOON 

Decoration on a building in the Art Nouveau district

Decoration on a building in the Art Nouveau district

Lunch afterwards, Latvian-style, at nearby Pelmeni XL (xlpelmeni.lv). The cafe offers Russian dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables.

Fight the urge for a post-lunch snooze with a walk around the beautiful Art Nouveau district. Riga boomed in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and has one of the largest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. Alberta Iela, just north of the Esplanade, is the best single street for viewing such treasures. The city’s Art Nouveau Museum (jugendstils.riga.lv/eng/muzejs) provides a fascinating glimpse of life inside these homes. Stroll back towards the Old Town through Kronvalda Park, built during the days of tsarist rule, and enjoy a diversion to the Latvian National Museum of Art (lnmm.lv/en), whose collection includes many Latvian impressionists.

For a reasonably priced early evening dinner in the park, a good place to try is Pagalms (Courtyard) behind the National Theatre building. Its low lighting, tiled walls and pop-up feel attract a cool clientele. It’s also ideally placed for an evening at Riga’s small but beautiful Opera House (opera.lv/en), which showcases Latvian music and ballet with good seats for about £17.50.

The handy free tourist magazine Riga In Your Pocket (you can download the free app at iyp.me/app) lists the programme of events and is available at all tourist offices and museums.

DAY TWO – MORNING   

No trip to Riga would be complete without visiting the Central Market, south of the railway station. With 1,200 vendors, it spreads across five enormous former Zeppelin hangars where you can find everything from fresh farmer’s cheese and lemongrass to pig snouts and the local firewater, Black Balsam, a potent liqueur. Caviar fans can snap up 100g tins for £20.

Spoilt for choice: The cavernous Central Market, home to 1,200 stalls

Spoilt for choice: The cavernous Central Market, home to 1,200 stalls

Head for lunch at Valtera (valterarestorans.lv/en) in the Old Town. Its modern twist on traditional Latvian cuisine – think venison, pork and freshwater fish – uses local ingredients. Its rye bread is celebrated, and try one of the local fruit wines.

AFTERNOON 

For a city steeped in history, it’s fitting that the jewel of choice is amber, which has been washing up on Baltic coasts for millennia. Those in a rush can buy amber at any souvenir or jewellery shop; for local colour, though, visit the stalls behind St Peter’s Church (peterbaznica.riga.lv/) and its towering steeple or along Valnu Iela behind the Hotel Riga.

For a quirky supper on the same street, try Istaba, which houses an art gallery and tiny restaurant. Expect to pay about £40 for two with beer or wine. Seating at Istaba is limited, so gastronomes might prefer Vincents (restorans.lv). Chef Martins Ritins’s passion for seasonal ingredients has attracted the discerning for more than a decade. Prices are reasonable, with mains, such as saddle of roe deer in red wine, for about £30 – a memorable way to round off a flying visit to this hip little capital.

Exclusive for MoS readers: Cruise to Amalfi with star chef Alzo Zilli

Exclusive for MoS readers: Take a tall ship to Amalfi with star chef Alzo Zilli on a dazzling culinary cruise along Italy’s coast

Mail on Sunday Reporter

There is no finer way to experience the wonders of Italy than on this unique eight-day holiday with tall-ship cruise specialists Star Clippers.

Your special guest will be the chef and restaurateur Aldo Zilli, best known for his popular restaurants Signor Zilli and Zilli Fish.

And as Royal Clipper sails down the spectacular Italian coast from Rome – with stops en route to explore Ponza, Palmarola, Sorrento, Sicily and Lipari – you will meet Aldo, hear about his remarkable life, and enjoy a cooking demonstration on board and a second one as part of a special lunch in Amalfi.

Breathtaking: Aldo Zilli will join you for a special lunch in Amalfi (pictured above)

Breathtaking: Aldo Zilli will join you for a special lunch in Amalfi (pictured above)

Royal Clipper (above) is a beautiful five-mast, full-rigged sailing ship that combines the glamour of the golden age of travel with the comfort and first-class facilities of a private yacht

Royal Clipper (above) is a beautiful five-mast, full-rigged sailing ship that combines the glamour of the golden age of travel with the comfort and first-class facilities of a private yacht

Aldo says: ‘I’m over the moon to be travelling to some of my favourite parts of Italy. I’ll be teaching and learning about the different foods this amazing region has to offer.’

OUR SPECIAL GUEST 

You will be joined by Aldo Zilli (above)

You will be joined by Aldo Zilli (above)

Aldo Zilli is an award-winning chef and restaurateur who specialises in Italian, vegetarian and seafood cuisine. One of nine children, he was born in the seaside town of Alba Adriatica and first learnt Italian home cooking from his mother. Aldo, right, is the founder and chef-patron of a number of restaurants including Signor Zilli, Zilli Green, Zilli Cafe and Zilli Bar. He has written ten books, including two autobiographies, Being Zilli and My Italian Country Childhood, and has featured in many TV series, including Celebrity MasterChef. 

Reasons to book

Meet Aldo Zilli

Born in Abruzzo, east of Rome, Aldo will be passing on his culinary knowledge and insights during this exclusive trip. He will give a special talk and QA on board Royal Clipper, as well as joining readers for a private lunch at Restaurant Sensi in Amalfi.

Cooking demonstrations with Aldo

Aldo will also give two cooking demonstrations during your holiday, in which he’ll guide readers through the secrets of preparing some of his favourite Italian recipes.

Sail on Royal Clipper

There is no better way to enjoy the Mediterranean than on the spectacular Royal Clipper, a beautiful five-mast, full-rigged sailing ship that combines the glamour of the golden age of travel with the comfort and first-class facilities of a private yacht. These include luxurious cabins, expansive on-deck spaces, three swimming pools, a three-tiered dining room and a health club and spa.

The best of Italy and the Amalfi Coast

Your magical eight-day itinerary includes some unforgettable destinations and experiences, including stops at the unspoilt town of Ponza and beautiful Sorrento, a walking tour of Amalfi, sailing through the famous Straits of Messina and an optional excursion to Barone di Villagrande winery on the slopes of Mt Etna, where a member of the aristocratic di Villagrande family will give you a private tour of the winery before you enjoy a traditional Sicilian meal in the old stables.


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Kasa Hotel Riviera Maya to open in June

Kasa Hotel Collection has announced its second hotel in Mexico, Kasa Hotel Riviera Maya, will open in June.

The hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, sits in the exclusive beach, marine and golf community of Puerto Aventuras.

This private gated community is an up-and-coming area on the Riviera Maya, away from the crowds in an area of lush tropical foliage, with a smart sailing community, full-service marina, golf course and uncrowded beach.

Puerto Aventuras is located just south of Cancun and downtown Playa del Carmen. 

The 42-accomodation boutique hotel is set among lush palm-treed filled jungle adjacent to the Caribbean lagoon.

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Kasa Hotel Riviera Maya offers oversized rooms and one- and two-bedroom suites, including three Penthouse suites with pool and terrace, as well as the Kasa Cooper Private Villa.

All accommodations are equipped with flat screen televisions, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, coffee maker and in-room safe.

Local organic toiletries add to the Mexican experience.

Décor is fresh and airy, with most rooms facing the lagoon and pool areas.

For guests seeking a wellness component to their stay, the concierge at Kasa Hotel Riviera Maya can arrange a full complement of spa services including beachfront massages and private yoga instruction.

Bicycles are available, complimentary, for guest use to explore the area, visit the shops in the village, or ride to the beach.

Marriott signs with Aleph to take Four Points by Sheraton brand into Liberia

Dubai-based hospitality management company, Aleph Hospitality, has announced the signing of a franchise agreement with Marriott International for the first Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Liberia.

Located in the capital city, Monrovia, the hotel is due to become the first internationally branded hotel in the country upon opening in 2020.

The property is situated in the city’s central business district, adjacent to the United Nations mission and in close proximity to a number of government organisations and commercial offices.

It will offer 111 stylishly appointed guest rooms to the capital’s expanding business traveller base, along with meeting facilities and a multitude of food and beverage outlets, including one all-day-dining venue, one speciality restaurant, a beach bar and grill and a rooftop bar. 

Guests will also be able to take advantage of a gym, spa, swimming pool and access to the beach.

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The hotel will boast Four Points by Sheraton’s approachable design and excellent service and reflect the brand’s promise to provide what matters most to today’s independent travellers.

The opening of the hotel will play a vital role in helping to realise the country’s tourism strategy, which aims to deliver 15 million international visitors by 2023.

“With president Weah announcing plans just last month to greatly simplify the visa entry system and look to develop a national tourism board to drive inbound visitor numbers, Liberia looks set to significantly grow its share of voice in the African tourism industry,” commented Bani Haddad, managing director, Aleph Hospitality.

“The increasing number of international guests will bring with them a strong demand for international quality accommodation and we greatly look forward to managing the operations of the hotel to world-class standards and making the Four Points by Sheraton Monrovia the destination of choice in the city.”

Expected to create over 100 new jobs when open, the hotel, which is owned by Sea Suites Hotel, will be operated by Aleph Hospitality under a third-party management model.

This model, ubiquitous in the US and European hotel industries but in its infancy in Africa, is proven to deliver superior value for the owner through a combination of the benefits afforded by an international brand married with a highly-focused and personalised management approach aligned to the interests of the owner.

Exploring the world’s most romantic wedding venues

From a chapel with the ultimate ocean view in Jamaica to an altar made of ice in Sweden: Exploring the world’s most romantic wedding venues with our holiday hero

  • Neil Simpson checks out some one-of-a-kind wedding venues around the world
  • Tie the knot in style at The Wedding Chapel at Jamaica’s Sandals Ochi Beach
  • For a really cool venue, head to The Ceremony Hall at Sweden’s Ice Hotel

Neil Simpson For The Mail On Sunday

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday idea, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. As Valentine’s Day beckons, he checks out the world’s most romantic wedding venues.

The perfect wedding deserves the perfect location – and increasingly couples are heading abroad to find it.

Tying the knot overseas can mean some extra admin and you should check the official gov.uk/marriage-abroad website to ensure your ceremony is legally binding. But don’t think the planning will be harder overseas. All the photo-friendly locations here have English-speaking wedding planners on hand.

Tie the knot in style: The Wedding Chapel at Jamaica’s Sandals Ochi Beach

Tie the knot in style: The Wedding Chapel at Jamaica’s Sandals Ochi Beach

Waterside wedding: Walk on water before taking your vows in the new ‘over-the-ocean’ chapel at Sandals Ochi Beach in Jamaica. The wooden chapel can accommodate 56 guests and offers 360-degree views of the Caribbean – and a crystal-clear view through the glass floor to the waters below. You choose how the chapel is decorated, and the more guests you invite to the resort, the more extras – such as room upgrades – you get for free.

Book it: The wedding venue is free if you stay at all-inclusive Sandals Ochi Beach, where seven nights in spring 2020 starts at £1,639pp, including flights. sandals.co.uk/weddings/venues

Legendary location: Head to Cyprus and marry in the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love. It’s hard to find a more beautiful place for a ceremony than the white-walled Ayia Anathasia chapel in the grounds of the luxury Anassa hotel. Exchange vows in the chapel, then have photos in the hotel’s olive groves, gardens or on its beach.

Book it: Wedding packages and rooms at Anassa start at £2,224 a week in spring next year. anassa.comanassa.com

Cinematic choice: For a Gone With The Wind vibe plus lashings of Southern charm consider the ivy-covered chapel in the grounds of the Sea Island hotel in Georgia in the Deep South of the US. Outside you can celebrate beneath ancient oaks or alongside lines of swaying palms. Take BA’s new direct flight to Charleston (from April 4) and the hotel is a scenic drive down the coast.

Book it: Weddings in the chapel start at £1,900 and rooms at Sea Island cost from £3,000 for a week this autumn. seaisland.com

So cool: For a one-of-a-kind wedding venue head to the Arctic Circle and the Ceremony Hall in Sweden’s original Ice Hotel. It’s unique as the hall melts every summer and is rebuilt, in a different style, each winter. Up to 40 guests can watch you exchange vows at an altar made of solid ice. If you don’t fancy spending your wedding night in an igloo, there are ‘warm rooms’ on site.

Wow-factor: The Ceremony Hall at Sweden’s Ice Hotel

Wow-factor: The Ceremony Hall at Sweden’s Ice Hotel

Book it: Full weddings in the Ceremony Hall, including photographer, drinks and a night at Ice Hotel, from £3,750. icehotel.com

Home of romance: Italy’s Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s most romantic destinations, and the medieval Cloisters de San Francesco in Sorrento make a stunning location. After a ceremony amid the marble interiors, most couples have a reception on the terraces of the neighbouring Grand Hotel Ambasciatori.

Book it: Weddings at the cloisters cost from £1,925, with a week at Ambasciatori from £2,439 per room in spring 2020. perfectweddingsabroad.co.uk


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Love at first bite: Digging into Paris’s haute cuisine

Paris, I have a confession. I’ve been seeing somewhere else. It’s Berlin – a couple of times recently. And while I’m confessing, there’s been Amsterdam and Copenhagen too. I’m greedy you see, but when it comes to food I find you a bit, well, intimidating. That’s why I devoted my last long-weekend trip to overcoming my French foodie fear to explore the most delicious dishes you have to offer.

I quizzed friends, I Googled food blogs, I set up a cookery class and food tour, I chose hotels with strong culinary links, I read guide books, I contacted the tourist board and I polished up my French with a smartphone app (Frantastique).

My first stop after Eurostar (where the Raymond Blanc menu was on offer in Business Class) was afternoon tea at Le Meurice Hotel on Rue de Rivoli (dorchestercollection.com). Afternoon tea (from £57) does not sound very French, but the attraction, other than the splendidly ornate mirrored-and-marble setting, was partly the chance for people watching while I pondered Le Fooding, Paris’s annually updated food guide (in French and English, which you can pick up locally at newsagents, £11.50).

Foodie heaven: A waiter writes up la carte du jour at a restaurant in Le Marais. Will had an evening food tour of the district

Foodie heaven: A waiter writes up la carte du jour at a restaurant in Le Marais. Will had an evening food tour of the district

Instead of tea, I chose gloopy hot chocolate – rich like soup – and tucked into delicious croque monsieur finger sandwiches, a very French take on scones (almost like brioche), the world’s meltiest chocolate chip cookie and meringuey lime-flavoured cakes fashioned in-house by Cédric Grolet, a tattooed chef whose exquisite pastries are a work of art.

No wonder he has more than a million followers on Instagram (@cedricgrolet). I was not disappointed. They were tender, gooey morsels that dissolved on the tongue.

Curiously, the menu offered an afternoon tea and a 60-minute massage combo for £223 (although I don’t think you could do both at the same time).

Delicious: The dining room at bistro Bouillon Racine near the Sorbonne with its Art Nouveau mirrors. Will said it was a great people-watching spot

Delicious: The dining room at bistro Bouillon Racine near the Sorbonne with its Art Nouveau mirrors. Will said it was a great people-watching spot

I didn’t gorge too much because hours later I’d booked my evening food tour of Le Marais, one of Paris’ trendiest neighbourhoods, where narrow lanes are packed with artisanal stores, cafes, bars and Parisians ambling around being fashionable and cool. I’d been before but needed a guide. That person was Stephane Planchais, a Frenchman who splits his time between Paris and Bath and speaks perfect English.

The tour (originalfoodtours.com, £89pp) was a leisurely process as he seemed to know everybody, so there were lots of double kisses and chat. Over four hours we paused to try ham, cheese, wine, jams, choux buns, pistachio spreads, chocolates and falafels, eventually ending up at L’Alivi (restaurant-alivi.com), a Corsican restaurant on Rue du Roi de Sicile, where we devoured warming bowls of stew containing lentils and figatellu, a feisty Corsican sausage, perfect for a cold winter night (£10.50). The herb-roasted pork chop with mashed potatoes (£18) looked just as tempting.

Passing the Eiffel Tower aboard Ducasse Sur Seine

Passing the Eiffel Tower aboard Ducasse Sur Seine

For a nightcap, I chose the intimate Little Red Door (lrdparis.com), a 15-minute walk away on Rue Charlot. It was the perfect speakeasy to end the night; lit by candles, comfy seats, a convivial crowd, friendly multi-lingual staff and inventive cocktails: I loved the Self Direction (£12.50), concocted of gin, aquavit, vermouth, oyster leaf, kombu and black radish. It doesn’t close till 3am, so if you’re planning breakfast in bed next day, it’s an easy place to linger.

That night I stayed at Le Bristol (oetkercollection.com, room-only doubles from £832), my favourite ‘treat’ hotel. Its punchy prices come with traditional, chic rooms, stellar service, a fantastic roof-top pool and the chance to catch up with Fa-Raon, the in-house Burmese cat. The breakfast is not to be missed in its three-Michelin-starred Epicure restaurant, which adds an air of theatre to the art of dining. As jacketed waiters attended to my every need, I slowly sipped my fantastically priced £13.50 cup of coffee. I devoured pain perdu (French toast, £26) which came with strawberries, vanilla sauce and gold leaf. With every cut, cream oozed out of it like a leaking dam, and it was so spongy small Parisian children could have lined up to use it as a trampoline. Utterly delicious.

Late morning, I caught the metro to Rue Boursault in the 17th arrondissement for a home cookery lesson with Françoise Guida-Davin, a glamorous ex-advertising-agency art director and anglophile who now teaches visitors to Paris like me how to cook (travelingspoon.com, from £60pp, minimum two people). Today I was to learn how to make the perfect cheese soufflé and îles flottantes (meringue ‘floating islands’) in her sunny, orange-hued designer flat so I could take the recipes home and wow friends with my new skills.

Françoise was the perfect, ever-smiling hostess who realised that the key to any recipe success included popping a bottle of champagne as I stepped through the door. She was encouraging with her praise and soon had me beating eggs whites (‘arder Wiiiiill, you need more than stiff peaks’) and grating Comté cheese (less acidic than Emmental and more rich and fruity) and made custard from scratch, as we discussed her favourite things from across the Channel; Fawlty Towers, Scotch eggs and pork pies. Afterwards we sat down to eat my efforts, which I have to boast were delicious.

Viola! Françoise Guida-Davin teaches French cuisine in her stylish flat. Will learnt how to make the perfect cheese soufflé

Viola! Françoise Guida-Davin teaches French cuisine in her stylish flat. Will learnt how to make the perfect cheese soufflé

That night there was only one place I wanted to loosen my belt: the newly Michelin-starred Frenchie (frenchie-ruedunil.com) on Rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondissement, which is owned and run by Gregory Marchand, a chef who trained at Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant in London, where he picked up his imaginative nickname. It’s a plucky French chef who opens up in the centre of Paris with nods to British and American cuisine, but he offers modern bistro fare with all the stuffiness stripped out to a cool mix of locals and tourists in a intimately lit, perfect date-night setting.

What an experience to be at the counter-top chef’s table to see the dishes for the ever-changing five-course tasting menu (from £59pp) come together, with waiting staff who were as knowledgeable as they were friendly.

I made my way through so many intriguing flavour combinations – line-caught meagre-fish tartare with cauliflower dashi, blood orange and hazelnuts, roasted pork belly with miso-braised endive, kumquat and walnuts, as well as cheese from Neal’s Yard in London, and a homemade take on a Bounty Bar with chocolate, coconut and yuzu.

Indulge: Paris is awash with great places to buy and try cheese

Indulge: Paris is awash with great places to buy and try cheese

I checked in that night at the recently opened Hotel Fauchon (hotel-fauchon-paris.fr, room-only doubles from £350), a sister to the luxury grocer of the same name in Place de la Madeleine that opened more than 130 years ago. In-room mini-bars are stocked with Fauchon goodies, including its famous macarons, which are yours to take home for free.

Greed got the better of me the following day, and I squeezed in several ports of call that had been recommended, one of which was literally a port, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

A river cruise is not really my thing, unless the catering is by Alain Ducasse, the first chef to own three Michelin-starred restaurants in three cities. Last year he launched his own boat called Ducasse Sur Seine with both lunchtime and dinner trips (ducasse-seine.com, from £88pp including three-course lunch).

Lightly smoked salmon with sorrel condiment and the Pont Neuf? Pan-seared scallops with baby leeks’ cooking jus and Notre Dame? Why, merci, yes, that’s my kind of sightseeing.

For my last night I booked the Hotel Amour (hotelamourparis.fr, room-only doubles from £121), with a lobby that’s also an intimate cafe just around the corner from the very foodie Rue des Martyrs with its host of family-run shops and restaurants.

Some of the creations on offer for afternoon tea at Le Meurice Hotel

Some of the creations on offer for afternoon tea at Le Meurice Hotel

En route to my final dining destination the next day, I snuck into the exquisite food halls of La Grande Épicerie du Bon Marché (lagrandeepicerie.com) on Rue de Sèvres, a department store that opened in the 1850s.

This is absolute foodie heaven with whole sections devoted to preserved duck, cheeses, wine, chocolates, regional yogurts, macarons, bottled water and teas.

It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home, with seductively lit shelves that beg to be Instagrammed.

Before catching the Eurostar home, I wanted to dine in the ultimate classic Paris bistro, but quizzing five friends offered up 15 options. ‘It has to be Paul Bert,’ said one. ‘No, you have to go to La Bourse et La Vie,’ said another, while a third chipped in with La Fontaine de Mars.

I plumped for Bouillon Racine (bouillonracine.fr) near the Sorbonne, founded in 1906, and was glad I did. What a great people-watching spot, a place to catch every gesture in its Art Nouveau mirrors.

Service was friendly – it’s amazing how much better you’ll get on in Paris if you make an effort with the merest smattering of school French – and the food delicious.

It’s tourist-friendly without being touristy and I watched chic locals tuck into the likes of cream of chestnut and buckwheat soup (£7), millefeuille of crispy lamb shoulder with mashed potatoes (£17) and dark chocolate cake with crunchy praline (£7). It was the perfect place to rekindle my love affair with the city.

Paris, I’m back and this time it’s for keeps.

Ryanair passenger suffered a broken ankle when aircraft lurched downwards

Ryanair passenger suffered a broken ankle when aircraft jolted to avoid a nearby easyJet plane

  • The Boeing 737 had been travelling from Edinburgh Airport to Fuerteventura 
  • As the aircraft descended, it was warned to stop due to an easyJet plane nearby 
  • The pilot suddenly switched plane to manual, which caused a huge jolt 
  • The sudden movement caused passengers and all cabin crew to fall to the floor 

Jennifer Newton for MailOnline

A Ryanair passenger was left with a broken ankle after the aircraft he was travelling in lurched downwards during a manoeuvre to avoid a nearby plane.

The incident occurred over the Canaries at 37,000 feet during the Boeing 737’s flight from Edinburgh Airport to Fuerteventura.

The crew was requested by air traffic control to descend to 13,000 feet but then told to stop to avoid conflict with an easyJet flight. At this moment the plane jolted, throwing passengers and all four cabin crew to the floor.

A report by Spanish air accident investigators has revealed a Ryanair passenger suffered a broken ankle when a flight from Edinburgh to Fuerteventura jolted during a descent (stock image)

A report by Spanish air accident investigators has revealed a Ryanair passenger suffered a broken ankle when a flight from Edinburgh to Fuerteventura jolted during a descent (stock image)

Among them was a male passenger, who was carrying a five-year-old child in his arms, who fell awkwardly, breaking his ankle.

The young child hit the back of his head in the fall, causing some bruising.

The details of the incident, which happened on February 10, 2018, were published last week in a report by the CIAIAC – Spain’s air accident investigators.

The report found that the violent movement was caused by the crew selecting then disengaging the autopilot from an ‘altitude hold’ mode in a bid to arrest the descent – because this mode appeared not to be having any effect.

The report said: ‘The aircraft’s pilot selected the ALT HOLD mode on the mode control panel (MCP) in order to maintain the altitude. At that time the aircraft was passing through FL364 at a high rate of descent.

‘One second later, as the aircraft was crossing through FL363, the pilot decided to disengage the autopilot.

‘The pilot, as per his statement, thought they had gone past their cleared flight level of FL360 and seeing that the recovery manoeuvre was taking too long, he decided to manually return to the flight level instructed by air traffic control.’

The report states that during this manual manoeuvre, the aircraft’s pitch experienced large swings, which caused the passengers and crew to fall.

The details of the incident, which happened on February 10, 2018, were published last week in a report by the CIAIAC - Spain's air accident investigators (stock image)

The details of the incident, which happened on February 10, 2018, were published last week in a report by the CIAIAC – Spain’s air accident investigators (stock image)

The report concluded: ‘The investigation has determined that the accident probably occurred when the crew executed a sudden manual manoeuvre to maintain the specified flight level.

‘A contributing factor is the fact that the autopilot was disengaged in order to carry out the manual manoeuvre, which contributed to its abrupt nature.’

The report says that after the event the injured passengers cried out in pain and that ‘their relatives were also upset and raised their voices at the flight attendants, complaining about what had happened’. 

MailOnline Travel has contacted Ryanair for comment. 


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More than half of key wildlife areas entirely under artificially bright skies

Light pollution is affecting ‘more than half’ of key wildlife areas causing disruption to plants and animals’ natural cycles (and it’s only likely to get WORSE)

  • Less than a third of Earth’s Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) have dark night skies
  • More than half lie under artificially bright skies, according to new research
  • Light pollution is known to affect microbes, plants and many groups of animals
  • It is causing trees to produce leaves early in the season, birds to sing earlier in the day and changes the proportion of predators in animal communities

Light pollution is affecting the skies over more than half of our planet’s key wildlife areas and is likely to increase, warns a new study.

Less than a third of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) were found to have completely pristine night skies not polluted to the zenith, the point in the sky directly overhead.

According to the research conducted on behalf of conservation group Birdlife International, more than half of KBAs lie entirely under artificially bright skies.

Light pollution artificially brightens the sky and has been linked to a variety of negative impacts in ecosystems affecting microbes, plants and many animals.

Night-time light pollution has been shown to have wide-ranging effects on both individual species and entire ecosystems because it plays with their natural cycles.  

Scroll down for video 

Light pollution is affecting the skies over more than half of our planet's key wildlife areas and is likely to increase, warns a new study. The map shows (a) pristine night‐time skies (ratio of artificial brightness to natural brightness ≤0.01) and (b) night‐time skies not polluted to the zenith (ratio of artificial brightness to natural brightness

Light pollution is affecting the skies over more than half of our planet’s key wildlife areas and is likely to increase, warns a new study. The map shows (a) pristine night‐time skies (ratio of artificial brightness to natural brightness ≤0.01) and (b) night‐time skies not polluted to the zenith (ratio of artificial brightness to natural brightness

Experts from the University of Exeter carried out a global assessment of the overlap between KBAs, places identified as being important for preserving global biodiversity, and the most recent atlas of artificial skyglow.

The team concentrated on ‘skyglow’ – light scattered and reflected into the atmosphere that can extend to great distances. 

The extent of light pollution of KBAs varies by region, affecting the greatest proportion of KBAs in Europe and the Middle East. 

Statistical modelling revealed associations between light pollution within KBAs and associated levels of both gross domestic product and human population density. 

This suggests that these patterns will worsen with continued economic development and growth in the human population. 

Dr Jo Garrett, who led the study, said that the results are troubling because ‘many species can respond even to small changes in night-time light’.

‘Night-time lighting is known to affect microbes, plants and many groups of animals such crustaceans, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

Dr Garrett said that that there are an ‘enormous range’ of negative effects to these species.

(A) shows the proportion of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) which have 0 and 100% coverage of pristine night‐time skies and skies not polluted to the zenith.  (B) shows the total proportion of the area with pristine night‐time skies and skies not polluted to the zenith

‘Trees produce leaves earlier in the season and birds to sing earlier in the day,’ she said.

‘It’s also changing the proportion of predators in animal communities, and changing the cycling of carbon in ecosystems. Some effects can occur at very low light levels.’ 

‘Pristine’ skies were defined as those with artificial light no more than one per cent above the natural level.

The researchers explained that at eight per cent or more above natural conditions, light pollution extends from the horizon to the zenith – straight upwards – and the entire sky can be considered polluted.

The findings showed that just 29.5 per cent of KBAs had completely pristine night-time skies while 51.5 per cent contained no area at all with pristine night skies.

More than a fifth were entirely under night skies polluted to the zenith, but 51.9 per cent of KBAs were completely free of skies polluted to the zenith.

Just under half of KBAs in the Middle East (46 per cent) were entirely under skies polluted to the zenith. 

The next-highest figures were Europe (34 per cent) and the Caribbean .

According to the research more than half lie entirely under artificially bright skies. Light pollution artificially brightens the sky and has been linked to a variety of negative impacts in ecosystems affecting microbes, plants and many animals (stock)

According to the research more than half lie entirely under artificially bright skies. Light pollution artificially brightens the sky and has been linked to a variety of negative impacts in ecosystems affecting microbes, plants and many animals (stock)

Study senior author Professor Kevin Gaston said: ‘Unsurprisingly, the likelihood of skyglow tends to increase in areas with higher GDP, and in areas with higher human population density.

‘This suggests that the proportion of KBAs experiencing skyglow will increase in parallel with the development of economies.’

He added: ‘Skyglow could be reduced by limiting outdoor lighting to levels and places where it is needed, which would also result in considerable cost savings and lower energy use.’

The study is published in the journal Animal Conservation.

WHAT IS LIGHT POLLUTION?

Light pollution, also known as photopollution, is the presence of anthropogenic light in the night environment. 

Artificial light that’s excessive, obtrusive and ultimately wasteful is called light pollution, and it directly influences how bright our night skies appear. 

With more than nine million streetlamps and 27 million offices, factories, warehouses and homes in the UK, the quantity of light we cast into the sky is vast. 

While some light escapes into space, the rest is scattered by molecules in the atmosphere making it difficult to see the stars against the night sky. What you see instead is ‘Skyglow’.

The increasing number of people living on earth and the corresponding increase in inappropriate and unshielded outdoor lighting has resulted in light pollution—a brightening night sky that has obliterated the stars for much of the world’s population. 

Most people must travel far from home, away from the glow of artificial lighting, to experience the awe-inspiring expanse of the Milky Way as our ancestors once knew it.

Light pollution is excessive and inappropriate artificial light. While some light escapes into space, the rest is scattered by molecules in the atmosphere making it difficult to see the stars against the night sky. What you see instead is ‘Skyglow’

Light pollution is excessive and inappropriate artificial light. While some light escapes into space, the rest is scattered by molecules in the atmosphere making it difficult to see the stars against the night sky. What you see instead is ‘Skyglow’

The negative effects of the loss of this inspirational natural resource might seem intangible. 

But a growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky directly to measurable negative impacts on human health and immune function, on adverse behavioural changes in insect and animal populations, and on a decrease of both ambient quality and safety in our nighttime environment.

Astronomers were among the first to record the negative impacts of wasted lighting on scientific research, but for all of us, the adverse economic and environmental impacts of wasted energy are apparent in everything from the monthly electric bill to global warming.


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Scientists warn insects could be extinct ‘within a century’

Insects could become extinct within a century if their rapid rate of decline continues, according to the first global scientific review.

A damning study found 41 per cent of all insect species are in decline and the loss of these animals will trigger a ‘catastrophic collapse’ in the planet’s ecosystems.

Scientists at the University of Sydney revealed the total mass of insects was found to be falling by 2.5 per cent a year and may go extinct within a century.

The startling claims rely on no conservation efforts being successful and the famously durable and adaptable insect phylum failing to adapt to the ongoing natural flux. 

Insects have long been heralded as the ‘great survivors’ of the animal kingdom and it would require an astonishing degree of destruction to eradicate them permanently. 

Researchers have defended the hyperbolic claims and insist they are not alarmist – saying they are hoping to raise awareness of the ongoing issue facing insect conservation. 

The findings build on previous claims that Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction – the first since a giant asteroid slammed into modern-day Mexico and triggered the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.  

The speed at which insects are dying out is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Scroll down for video 

A University of Sydney study says insects could become completely extinct within 100 years as a 'sixth mass extinction' beckons, scientists claim. They say industrial agriculture, climate change and urbanisation are to blame (stock)

A University of Sydney study says insects could become completely extinct within 100 years as a ‘sixth mass extinction’ beckons, scientists claim. They say industrial agriculture, climate change and urbanisation are to blame (stock)

Forty-one per cent of insect species have experienced decline in the last decade (pictured). Since 1990, butterfly numbers dropped by 27 per cent in farmland and by 58 per cent in woodland and neonicotinoids has seen numbers of bees plummet 

Insect numbers were found to be dwindling at an unprecedented rate and this prompted the researchers to issue a stark warning to the public as part of their scientific conclusions. 

Writing in the ground-breaking paper, the researchers used an unusually forceful manner to drive the message home.   

Its condemning tone is against the norm for scientific papers but was deemed necessary by both the authors of the study and the editors of the journal in order to bring the global crisis into view.

Figures show that 53 per cent of butterfly species have dropped over the past decade, while 46 per cent of bees species are in decline. 

The worst hit group of all is the caddisfly with 68 per cent of species declining, but dragonflies and beetles have also seen a significant drop of 37 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.  

Intensive agriculture was found to be ‘the root cause of the problem’, but a host of issues were identified by the researchers as contributing to the insect genocide, such as climate change, urbanisation, habitat loss, disease and the introduction of invasive species. 

Dr Andrew Bladon, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline that it is unlikely all insects will ever die out, but their numbers will dwindle to such a low their ecological function will be minimal.

He said: ‘It is probably very unlikely that you would lose every single insect, but highly likely that if we do not change agricultural practices we will lose the vast majority of species and individuals.

‘An important point to make is that long before the last one died it would be ecologically extinct and unable to perform their function.

‘They would offer no pollination or pest control services and be an insufficient food source for many animals. 

‘If this was to happen, humanity would be in a poor place.’

Insects are ‘essential’ to all ecosystems because of their role in pollinating plants and flowers, and as a food item for other creatures, the researchers say. 

Any major decline in the amount of insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on humans too.

There have been recent reports of heavily declining insect numbers in Puerto Rico and Germany but the review claims the problem is a worldwide crisis.

Writing in the study, the researchers laid out their damning conclusions. 

It read: ‘The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

‘Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.

‘The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.’

Francisco Sánchez-Bayo was one of the authors of the study and defended the use of the strongly-worded claims, insisting they are not alarmist.

Instead, he hopes the review’s dire outlook will ‘really wake people up’.

Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, said: ‘If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.’

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58 per cent on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. Any major decline in insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on the wider ecosystem and humans (stock) 

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58 per cent on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. Any major decline in insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on the wider ecosystem and humans (stock) 

He described the 2.5 per cent rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years as ‘shocking’.

He said: ‘It is very rapid. In ten years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.’

Insects are an essential part of the world’s ecosystem and are more plentiful and varied than any other group of animals. 

There are more than 17 times the amount of insects than humans by weight alone. 

Industrial farming and the associated use of chemical pesticides has been identified as the primary cause of decline but urbanisation and climate change have also been slated as key barriers to the revival of insects. 

‘If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,’ Dr Sánchez-Bayo told The Guardian.  

He added that the 2.5 per cent loss of insects annually is ‘very rapid’ and ‘shocking’. 

Mark Wright, Director of Science, at WWF said: ‘This is not about a summer without the chirp of crickets – this is about the disappearance of the foundation of life on Earth.

‘The collapse of insect numbers is another sign that our planet is in crisis and we need urgent action, on a global scale, to protect nature. Our future depends on it.’

Puerto Rico has served as a long-running example of the devastating impact insect loss can have on the wider ecosystem. 

WHAT IS EARTH’S SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION?  

The world has experienced five mass extinctions over the course of its history, and experts claim we are seeing another one happen right now.   

A 2017 research paper claimed a ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife in recent decades has triggered the sixth mass extinction and says the planet is heading towards a ‘global crisis’. 

Scientists warn humanity’s voracious consumption and wanton destruction is to blame for the event, which is the first major extinction since the dinosaurs.

Two species of vertebrate, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct every year, on average, for the past century.

Currently around 41 per cent of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.

There are an estimated 8.7 million plant and animal species on our planet and about 86 per cent of land species and 91 per cent of sea species remain undiscovered.

Of the ones we do know, 1,204 mammal, 1,469 bird, 1,215 reptile, 2,100 amphibian, and 2,386 fish species are considered threatened.

Also threatened are 1,414 insect, 2,187 mollusc, 732 crustacean, 237 coral, 12,505 plant, 33 mushroom, and six brown algae species.

More than 25,000 species of 91,523 assessed for the 2017 ‘Red List’ update were classified as ‘threatened’. 

The number of invertebrates at risk has also peaked. 

Scientists predict insects may go extinct within 100 years as a result of crippling population decline.   

The dawn of the mass extinction coincides with the onset of the Anthropocene – the geological age defined by human activity being the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees (pictured) around the EU and US to drop dramatically. EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War (stock)

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees (pictured) around the EU and US to drop dramatically. EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War (stock)

It has seen the number of insects fall by 98 per cent in the last 35 years and the various fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals that rely on them as a food source have since been in decline.  

In order to get an accurate look at the state of the declining animal numbers around the world, the researchers collated 73 of the leading studies done in recent years.

Most were conducted in western Europe and the US, with some focusing on Australia, China, Brazil and South Africa.

Dr Bladon told MailOnline that the methodology provided an extensive assessment of the world’s ecosystems. 

He said: ‘There are inevitable gaps in the data collection, with there being far more information for Europe and the US than some regions of Africa, for example. 

‘Despite this, I doubt any scientists reading this scientific study would collect any data that would rebuff the findings and come to a different conclusion.

‘It is important to collect more data but I don’t think any scientists reading this report would expect it to change and the expectation would be that the trend is the same regardless of any further data collection. 

‘Whilst yes we knew more certainty would strengthen the message, the conclusion would remain the same.

‘The issue now lies at the door of the general public and politicians to do something.

‘Scientists have identified the concerns and conservationists have found a solution which would fix the issue but they fail to be implemented. 

‘Scientific understanding absolutely underpins government policy. 

‘I would argue the natural world and wildlife is a human right, as much as other things we take for granted in the developed world, and this ought to be top of the political agenda.’

WHEN WERE EARTH’S FIVE GREAT EXTINCTION EVENTS?

Five times, a vast majority of the world’s life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions.

End-Ordovician mass extinction
The first of the traditional big five extinction events, around 540 million years ago, was probably the second most severe. Virtually all life was in the sea at the time and around 85% of these species vanished.

Late Devonian mass extinction

About 375-359 million years ago, major environmental changes caused a drawn-out extinction event that wiped out major fish groups and stopped new coral reefs forming for 100 million years.

Five times, a vast majority of the world's life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions. The most famous may be the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist's impression

Five times, a vast majority of the world’s life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions. The most famous may be the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist’s impression

End-Permian mass extinction (the Great Dying)
The largest extinction event and the one that affected the Earth’s ecology most profoundly took place 252 million years ago. As much as 97% of species that leave a fossil record disappeared forever.

End-Triassic mass extinction
Dinosaurs first appeared in the Early Triassic, but large amphibians and mammal-like reptiles were the dominant land animals. The rapid mass extinction that occurred 201 million years ago changed that.

End-Cretaceous mass extinction

An asteroid slammed down on Earth 66 million years ago, and is often blamed for ending the reign of the dinosaurs.

Leafhoppers (pictured) constitute a large proportion of flying insects in Europe but numbers of the animal have plunged by 66 per cent by 1950 (stock)

Leafhoppers (pictured) constitute a large proportion of flying insects in Europe but numbers of the animal have plunged by 66 per cent by 1950 (stock)

The analysis included a fresh look at a study released in June 2018 which discovered that since 1990, butterfly numbers dropped by 27 per cent in farmland and by 58 per cent in woodland.

This UK-focused study was part of a long-running research project and provided a wealth of data and information for analysis.  

The report from the UK’s department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) called this an ‘ecological Armageddon’.

Nigel Bourn, director of science at Butterfly Conservation, told The Times at the time that keeping perspective is crucial. 

‘That the worst five years ever for butterflies have all been in the last decade should ring major alarm bells,’ he explained.

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit but another high-profile casualty of the insect Armageddon are bees. 

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees around the EU and US to drop dramatically. 

WHAT ARE NEONICOTINOIDS?

Neonicotinoids are neuro-active chemicals similar to nicotine that have proved to be highly effective at protecting crops from pests, especially aphids and root-eating grubs.

They can either be sprayed on leaves or coated on seeds, in which case they infiltrate every part of the growing plant.

Years of research have shown that under controlled conditions the chemicals are toxic to honey bees and bumblebees, causing brain damage that can affect learning and memory and impair their ability to forage for nectar and pollen.

The chemicals are a key battleground in the environmental movement – with campaigners demanding a ‘complete and permanent’ ban on the pesticides as they are suspected to be harmful to bees. 

Only two to 20 per cent of the neonicotinoids, which are still used on crops such as wheat, are taken up and the rest is left on the soil. 

Samples taken in October revealed 75 per cent of samples from around the world contain the chemicals.

Researchers tested 198 honey samples and found three out of four were laced with at least one of the neonicotinoid chemicals.

For the study, an international team of European researchers tested almost 200 honey samples from around the world for residues left by five different neonicotinoids.

While in most cases the levels were well below the EU safety limits for human consumption, there were exceptions.

Honey from both Germany and Poland exceeded maximum residue levels (MRLs) for combined neonicotinoids while samples from Japan reached 45 per cent of the limits.

Samples from England had neonicotinoid levels that were no more than 1.36 per cent of the amount thought to be safe for human consumption. 

EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War.  

Neonicotinoid eradication was heralded as a ‘major victory’ by campaigners but remains a small positive step in the face of overwhelming decline. 

While areas of agricultural activity are likely seeing insects disappearing as a result of chemical usage, the tropical areas are being more heavily impacted by climate change, the researchers say. 

Conditions in these areas have remained relatively constant and predictable for a long time, with the animal inhabitants poorly adapted to changing conditions.  

In the wake of declining populations some adaptable species have found a way to overcome the widespread misery and thrive, but these pockets of success are unable to offset the wider decline. 

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of wildlife charity Buglife, said: ‘It is gravely sobering to see this collation of evidence that demonstrates the pitiful state of the world’s insect populations.

‘It’s not just about bees, or even about pollination and feeding ourselves, the declines also include dung beetles that recycle waste and insects like dragonflies that start life in rivers and ponds. 

‘It is becoming increasingly obvious our planet’s ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends – allowing the slow eradication of insect life to continue is not a rational option.’ 

He said insects made up more than half the species on Earth, but the research showed they were disappearing much faster than birds and mammals. 

‘There is not a single cause, but the evidence is clear, to halt this crisis we must urgently reverse habitat fragmentation, prevent and mitigate climate change, clean up polluted waters and replace pesticide dependency with more sustainable, ecologically-sensitive farming,’ he urged. 

The study is published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Scientists warn insects could be extinct ‘within a century’

Insects could become extinct within a century if their rapid rate of decline continues, according to the first global scientific review.

A damning study found 41 per cent of all insect species are in decline and the loss of these animals will trigger a ‘catastrophic collapse’ in the planet’s ecosystems.

Scientists at the University of Sydney revealed the total mass of insects was found to be falling by 2.5 per cent a year and may go extinct within a century.

The startling claims rely on no conservation efforts being successful and the famously durable and adaptable insect phylum failing to adapt to the ongoing natural flux. 

Insects have long been heralded as the ‘great survivors’ of the animal kingdom and it would require an astonishing degree of destruction to eradicate them permanently. 

Researchers have defended the hyperbolic claims and insist they are not alarmist – saying they are hoping to raise awareness of the ongoing issue facing insect conservation. 

The findings build on previous claims that Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction – the first since a giant asteroid slammed into modern-day Mexico and triggered the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.  

The speed at which insects are dying out is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Scroll down for video 

A University of Sydney study says insects could become completely extinct within 100 years as a 'sixth mass extinction' beckons, scientists claim. They say industrial agriculture, climate change and urbanisation are to blame (stock)

A University of Sydney study says insects could become completely extinct within 100 years as a ‘sixth mass extinction’ beckons, scientists claim. They say industrial agriculture, climate change and urbanisation are to blame (stock)

Forty-one per cent of insect species have experienced decline in the last decade (pictured). Since 1990, butterfly numbers dropped by 27 per cent in farmland and by 58 per cent in woodland and neonicotinoids has seen numbers of bees plummet 

Insect numbers were found to be dwindling at an unprecedented rate and this prompted the researchers to issue a stark warning to the public as part of their scientific conclusions. 

Writing in the ground-breaking paper, the researchers used an unusually forceful manner to drive the message home.   

Its condemning tone is against the norm for scientific papers but was deemed necessary by both the authors of the study and the editors of the journal in order to bring the global crisis into view.

Figures show that 53 per cent of butterfly species have dropped over the past decade, while 46 per cent of bees species are in decline. 

The worst hit group of all is the caddisfly with 68 per cent of species declining, but dragonflies and beetles have also seen a significant drop of 37 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.  

Intensive agriculture was found to be ‘the root cause of the problem’, but a host of issues were identified by the researchers as contributing to the insect genocide, such as climate change, urbanisation, habitat loss, disease and the introduction of invasive species. 

Dr Andrew Bladon, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline that it is unlikely all insects will ever die out, but their numbers will dwindle to such a low their ecological function will be minimal.

He said: ‘It is probably very unlikely that you would lose every single insect, but highly likely that if we do not change agricultural practices we will lose the vast majority of species and individuals.

‘An important point to make is that long before the last one died it would be ecologically extinct and unable to perform their function.

‘They would offer no pollination or pest control services and be an insufficient food source for many animals. 

‘If this was to happen, humanity would be in a poor place.’

Insects are ‘essential’ to all ecosystems because of their role in pollinating plants and flowers, and as a food item for other creatures, the researchers say. 

Any major decline in the amount of insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on humans too.

There have been recent reports of heavily declining insect numbers in Puerto Rico and Germany but the review claims the problem is a worldwide crisis.

Writing in the study, the researchers laid out their damning conclusions. 

It read: ‘The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

‘Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.

‘The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.’

Francisco Sánchez-Bayo was one of the authors of the study and defended the use of the strongly-worded claims, insisting they are not alarmist.

Instead, he hopes the review’s dire outlook will ‘really wake people up’.

Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, said: ‘If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.’

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58 per cent on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. Any major decline in insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on the wider ecosystem and humans (stock) 

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58 per cent on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. Any major decline in insect species will ultimately have a huge impact on the wider ecosystem and humans (stock) 

He described the 2.5 per cent rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years as ‘shocking’.

He said: ‘It is very rapid. In ten years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.’

Insects are an essential part of the world’s ecosystem and are more plentiful and varied than any other group of animals. 

There are more than 17 times the amount of insects than humans by weight alone. 

Industrial farming and the associated use of chemical pesticides has been identified as the primary cause of decline but urbanisation and climate change have also been slated as key barriers to the revival of insects. 

‘If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,’ Dr Sánchez-Bayo told The Guardian.  

He added that the 2.5 per cent loss of insects annually is ‘very rapid’ and ‘shocking’. 

Mark Wright, Director of Science, at WWF said: ‘This is not about a summer without the chirp of crickets – this is about the disappearance of the foundation of life on Earth.

‘The collapse of insect numbers is another sign that our planet is in crisis and we need urgent action, on a global scale, to protect nature. Our future depends on it.’

Puerto Rico has served as a long-running example of the devastating impact insect loss can have on the wider ecosystem. 

WHAT IS EARTH’S SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION?  

The world has experienced five mass extinctions over the course of its history, and experts claim we are seeing another one happen right now.   

A 2017 research paper claimed a ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife in recent decades has triggered the sixth mass extinction and says the planet is heading towards a ‘global crisis’. 

Scientists warn humanity’s voracious consumption and wanton destruction is to blame for the event, which is the first major extinction since the dinosaurs.

Two species of vertebrate, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct every year, on average, for the past century.

Currently around 41 per cent of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.

There are an estimated 8.7 million plant and animal species on our planet and about 86 per cent of land species and 91 per cent of sea species remain undiscovered.

Of the ones we do know, 1,204 mammal, 1,469 bird, 1,215 reptile, 2,100 amphibian, and 2,386 fish species are considered threatened.

Also threatened are 1,414 insect, 2,187 mollusc, 732 crustacean, 237 coral, 12,505 plant, 33 mushroom, and six brown algae species.

More than 25,000 species of 91,523 assessed for the 2017 ‘Red List’ update were classified as ‘threatened’. 

The number of invertebrates at risk has also peaked. 

Scientists predict insects may go extinct within 100 years as a result of crippling population decline.   

The dawn of the mass extinction coincides with the onset of the Anthropocene – the geological age defined by human activity being the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees (pictured) around the EU and US to drop dramatically. EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War (stock)

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees (pictured) around the EU and US to drop dramatically. EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War (stock)

It has seen the number of insects fall by 98 per cent in the last 35 years and the various fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals that rely on them as a food source have since been in decline.  

In order to get an accurate look at the state of the declining animal numbers around the world, the researchers collated 73 of the leading studies done in recent years.

Most were conducted in western Europe and the US, with some focusing on Australia, China, Brazil and South Africa.

Dr Bladon told MailOnline that the methodology provided an extensive assessment of the world’s ecosystems. 

He said: ‘There are inevitable gaps in the data collection, with there being far more information for Europe and the US than some regions of Africa, for example. 

‘Despite this, I doubt any scientists reading this scientific study would collect any data that would rebuff the findings and come to a different conclusion.

‘It is important to collect more data but I don’t think any scientists reading this report would expect it to change and the expectation would be that the trend is the same regardless of any further data collection. 

‘Whilst yes we knew more certainty would strengthen the message, the conclusion would remain the same.

‘The issue now lies at the door of the general public and politicians to do something.

‘Scientists have identified the concerns and conservationists have found a solution which would fix the issue but they fail to be implemented. 

‘Scientific understanding absolutely underpins government policy. 

‘I would argue the natural world and wildlife is a human right, as much as other things we take for granted in the developed world, and this ought to be top of the political agenda.’

WHEN WERE EARTH’S FIVE GREAT EXTINCTION EVENTS?

Five times, a vast majority of the world’s life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions.

End-Ordovician mass extinction
The first of the traditional big five extinction events, around 540 million years ago, was probably the second most severe. Virtually all life was in the sea at the time and around 85% of these species vanished.

Late Devonian mass extinction

About 375-359 million years ago, major environmental changes caused a drawn-out extinction event that wiped out major fish groups and stopped new coral reefs forming for 100 million years.

Five times, a vast majority of the world's life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions. The most famous may be the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist's impression

Five times, a vast majority of the world’s life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions. The most famous may be the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist’s impression

End-Permian mass extinction (the Great Dying)
The largest extinction event and the one that affected the Earth’s ecology most profoundly took place 252 million years ago. As much as 97% of species that leave a fossil record disappeared forever.

End-Triassic mass extinction
Dinosaurs first appeared in the Early Triassic, but large amphibians and mammal-like reptiles were the dominant land animals. The rapid mass extinction that occurred 201 million years ago changed that.

End-Cretaceous mass extinction

An asteroid slammed down on Earth 66 million years ago, and is often blamed for ending the reign of the dinosaurs.

Leafhoppers (pictured) constitute a large proportion of flying insects in Europe but numbers of the animal have plunged by 66 per cent by 1950 (stock)

Leafhoppers (pictured) constitute a large proportion of flying insects in Europe but numbers of the animal have plunged by 66 per cent by 1950 (stock)

The analysis included a fresh look at a study released in June 2018 which discovered that since 1990, butterfly numbers dropped by 27 per cent in farmland and by 58 per cent in woodland.

This UK-focused study was part of a long-running research project and provided a wealth of data and information for analysis.  

The report from the UK’s department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) called this an ‘ecological Armageddon’.

Nigel Bourn, director of science at Butterfly Conservation, told The Times at the time that keeping perspective is crucial. 

‘That the worst five years ever for butterflies have all been in the last decade should ring major alarm bells,’ he explained.

Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit but another high-profile casualty of the insect Armageddon are bees. 

The widespread use of pesticides and, more specifically, neonicotinoids, has caused the numbers of bees around the EU and US to drop dramatically. 

WHAT ARE NEONICOTINOIDS?

Neonicotinoids are neuro-active chemicals similar to nicotine that have proved to be highly effective at protecting crops from pests, especially aphids and root-eating grubs.

They can either be sprayed on leaves or coated on seeds, in which case they infiltrate every part of the growing plant.

Years of research have shown that under controlled conditions the chemicals are toxic to honey bees and bumblebees, causing brain damage that can affect learning and memory and impair their ability to forage for nectar and pollen.

The chemicals are a key battleground in the environmental movement – with campaigners demanding a ‘complete and permanent’ ban on the pesticides as they are suspected to be harmful to bees. 

Only two to 20 per cent of the neonicotinoids, which are still used on crops such as wheat, are taken up and the rest is left on the soil. 

Samples taken in October revealed 75 per cent of samples from around the world contain the chemicals.

Researchers tested 198 honey samples and found three out of four were laced with at least one of the neonicotinoid chemicals.

For the study, an international team of European researchers tested almost 200 honey samples from around the world for residues left by five different neonicotinoids.

While in most cases the levels were well below the EU safety limits for human consumption, there were exceptions.

Honey from both Germany and Poland exceeded maximum residue levels (MRLs) for combined neonicotinoids while samples from Japan reached 45 per cent of the limits.

Samples from England had neonicotinoid levels that were no more than 1.36 per cent of the amount thought to be safe for human consumption. 

EU courts stepped in last year to prevent these from being used but it comes after the number of honeybee colonies in the US has dropped by 2.5 million since the end of the Second World War.  

Neonicotinoid eradication was heralded as a ‘major victory’ by campaigners but remains a small positive step in the face of overwhelming decline. 

While areas of agricultural activity are likely seeing insects disappearing as a result of chemical usage, the tropical areas are being more heavily impacted by climate change, the researchers say. 

Conditions in these areas have remained relatively constant and predictable for a long time, with the animal inhabitants poorly adapted to changing conditions.  

In the wake of declining populations some adaptable species have found a way to overcome the widespread misery and thrive, but these pockets of success are unable to offset the wider decline. 

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of wildlife charity Buglife, said: ‘It is gravely sobering to see this collation of evidence that demonstrates the pitiful state of the world’s insect populations.

‘It’s not just about bees, or even about pollination and feeding ourselves, the declines also include dung beetles that recycle waste and insects like dragonflies that start life in rivers and ponds. 

‘It is becoming increasingly obvious our planet’s ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends – allowing the slow eradication of insect life to continue is not a rational option.’ 

He said insects made up more than half the species on Earth, but the research showed they were disappearing much faster than birds and mammals. 

‘There is not a single cause, but the evidence is clear, to halt this crisis we must urgently reverse habitat fragmentation, prevent and mitigate climate change, clean up polluted waters and replace pesticide dependency with more sustainable, ecologically-sensitive farming,’ he urged. 

The study is published in the journal Biological Conservation.