Last month the results of a survey by 25 wildlife organisations were announced. I haven’t really had to time to blog on this and do it justice , but here is a brief summary:
The results of the State of Nature Report did not make good reading:
60 per cent of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.
It gets worse however, as we only have data on 5% of the species found in the UK and for those we do have sufficient data there has be contractions in range and 77% reduction in overall numbers in the last 50years.
The declines are hardly a surprise however to those involved in conservation and wildlife, shocking as they are.. Turtle doves are probably one of the best known examples. Previously common, with flocks seen in farmers field feeding on grain, they have declined 93% since 1970. I am lucky enough to work in one of the better sites for the species in Essex. I saw my first ever there and had a number of sightings each year 5 years ago. But they have become increasing hard to see and below is my one and only sighting of one in the whole country last year:
This year I have heard only 2 and not seen one. And yet at my place of work 20 or so years ago they were common place and easily seen purring away from the telegraph wires.
So with all this doom and gloom you’d expect the government to be proactive right? Surely they will be pushing through laws and grants to encourage wildlife to recover? Well don’t hold your breath. The 2 most important Environmental ministers in the current government are both prominent members of the hunting establishment:
- The Wildlife minister, Richard Benyon, a millionaire landowner who owns both a pheasant shoot and a Scottish grouse moor and who showed his true haracter by refusing to ban a poison only used to illegally poison BOP.
- Environment Secretary Owen Paterson bringer of the badger cull, tried to stop bee killing pesticide being banned and generally think of wildlife and NGOs trying to protect them as a nuisance . Bill Oddie probably described him best when I asked recently what he thought of him “well the word c**t comes to mind.”
Its no surprise that the policies of DEFRA so closely resemble the NFUs you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them.
On the launch day of the state of nature report Iolo Williams gave this wonderful passionate speech which summed up the anger and frustrations of those in conservation who have watched or been left with the result of successive governments failure to protect our wonderful wildlife.
And the next day it was announced Natural England had licensed the destruction of buzzard nests, to protect an alien bird, in the form of the pheasant, just so they themselves could be shot. Throw in a watering down of Marine Conservation Zones/reserves to make them pointless and a pointless scientifically and purely farmer please badger cull and is it any wonder conservationists like Iolo and others that care about wildlife (myself included!) are so pissed off!!!
Richard Benyon at the launch of ‘State of Nature’ said:
The Government has set its clear goal that it should be this generation that leaves natural Britain in a better state than that which we found it.
As the old saying goes actions speak louder than words, and the actions so far seem to show this government has a totally opposite goal…
(And before anyone accuses me of be a lefty Labour supporter, Labour’s response to the Coalitions onslaught on nature has been pathetic to non existent)