The ugly, the bad and the good


The State of Nature report was for many a tough read. The statistics are frankly horrifying.

In very short form, 60% of species in decline, 30% seriously so and 13% in danger of extinction. So you may wonder why I was so pleased to see it printed and publicised. Well, I've thought that for too long we've needed just such a short sharp shock because we've been to easily distracted from this horror show by our accomplished but seemingly insignificant successes in conservation. Yes, we've been making a difference but not on a scale that clearly counts. And truthfully a walk through the UK countryside has become progressively quieter and less rewarding but we have all been to scared to admit it. But now the writing is on the wall, plain and clear - we are presiding over the destruction and decay of our green and pleasant land and I for one am not happy about it.

So what can we do? Firstly read the report, man-up and face the grim reality, then rejoice that the vast majority of the declines and problems are very well understood. You see, if we know why a species or habitat is imperilled then in most instances we have a good idea of how to fix the problem. And we do... the trouble is that those problems are big ones.

We can no longer be satisfied by buying a few more reserves, re-introducing a couple more animals with big, expensive and flashy projects or simply stumping up our memberships and hoping that someone is out there patching it up. No, we have to raise our game, start to demand better service and better results from all our agencies and begin to sculpt a body of decision makers who are better informed, genuinely motivated and brave enough to turn things around.

Key targets - urgent and decisive reform of farming and fisheries policies in tandem with far enhanced support of our farmers and fishermen. Reform of forestry practices and the serious criminalisation of those who harm wildlife. We should implement national quotas of wildlife and begin to measure its yields and then seriously reward those who meet the targets. Agricultural subsidies should need earning.

But what can we do? Pick up the keypad or the pen and write to the wildlife charities that you support and tell them you want more results, less small successes and more bigger picture action. Then double the number of your nestboxes, put in a pond, plant some nectar-full species and keep your cats in at night. There's nothing wrong with making a difference on the home-front. Your wildlife needs you more than ever so lets go to it!


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