A time for contemplation or for action?

Sometimes as the year comes to a close one is minded to contemplate the successes and the failures of that year from varying perspectives.  This might then contribute to setting the tone for the coming year.

How has the wildlife around your ‘backyard’ fared?  How has the wider environment regionally and nationally fared, what of the issue at an international level?

It’s easy enough to think that individuals alone can’t make much difference and that decisions are made elsewhere.  In the main that is perhaps true.  But reflect on some critical mass achievments in recent years and you begin to think that it might just be worth the occasional letter to your MP, the Secretary of State and even the Prime Minister perhaps or his opposite numbers in the other party(s)?  If nothing else the style of response is often an interesting experience in itself, or perhaps it’s just the letters that we write because very rarely do we receive a clear definitive response to the specific question we ask.  It took quite some time for me to realise that it was best to keep letters simple, a bit of background information and a simple question, mmh that should do the trick?

In reality we have come to realise and appreciate that MPs are conduits, Ministers have to respond to them whereas ordinary members of the public asking awkward or complex questions tend to be ignored or are just thanked for raising the isue or matter with them.  A good example relatively recently was a case of deliberate damage to a SSSI by a landowner’s lawful tenant.  Natural England and their Defra colleagues in the Rural Payments Agency delivered a stunning performance of Nero!  This action ought to have seen the receovery of public funds consequential of breach of cross compliance, but no absolutely nothing not even a site visit to investigate.

So as we approach the politicians run up to the next election, what are the issues for environmental conservationists?  Are there any politicians who actual understand the ‘environment’?  If there are then they are a rare species indeed.  Mark Avery undertook a fun poll on green MPs, asking his readers to vote for the Wildlife MP of 2013.  OK, it was very superficial and subjective but a straw poll nevertheless and interesting results particularly second place!  Perhaps and we’d be forgiven for thinking that’s the power of lobbying?  No real suprise as to the winner from the candidates listed but what will 2015 and the ‘real’ election see?  I suspect mass turn out from those doing well from the current incumbents (wealthy agri-industrialists, bankers &c.), apathy and no show from disillusioned and down-trodden masses?  At the risk of sounding like a Mark Avery fan club, he did encourage people to write regularly to their MPs about environmental issues and I’d endorse that sentiment.  Let them know that despite the austerity measures still evident here in the north particularly (oops, up-turn in the economy) that people do value and expect the environment to be protected.  There is a naive belief that it will be there for future generations, but will it?  If it has a commercial value then the chances are that it will be subject to ‘development’ pressures of some shape or form.  I am reminded that in 2009 Natural England staff were actively encouraged to develop money making schemes on NNRs.  That manifested itself in the form of a proposal for a commercial trout fishery on Hatfield Moors SSSI.  Reflecting upon Ralph Underhill’s recent cartoon, I wonder what is on the horizon for 2014?  Perhaps Nick Bee (DCPP) has the answer, he certainly offers an interesting perspective or perhaps he’s already on the inside track?  If ‘we’ rehome and garden the wildlife elsewhere and then develop NNRs, mmmh …. many a true word eminated from jests?  Projects are more profitable perhaps than protection?

So, do we let those who ‘govern’ us dictate what is best or do we interact and even more controvertial do we dare to be proactive?

If everyone wrote a weekly or even just a monthly letter to their MPs then ‘environment matters’ would at least be on their radar if not actual agenda’s.  Better still set up your own blog site, link with other environmental conservation or campaigning groups.

A recent discovery was one involving Beverley Westwood and Swinemoor, how many other regional examples such as this are out there?  Let me know and let me know why it is important that we as individuals as well as collaborative collectives have a voice when it comes to our natural environment …. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Just in case you think the Forum have abandoned science, to let you know that another ‘gem’ has been discovered on Thorne Moors.  Idioptera linnei Oosterbroek an RDB 1 cranefly(Falk 1991)  is the latest addition to the inventory of invertebrate assemblage.  From a bit of cursory research this species seems to be found mainly from Cumbria and Shropshire, unless you know differently?  The findings of the 2012 Invertebrate Survey from which this and many other ‘gems’ have been identified have been presented at a seminar in the autumn, but it is planned to published the findings next year.  Watch this space for the next installment! 

Perhaps we should write to the Humberhead MPs and let them know of our discoveries ….

Perhaps we should write to the SoS for the Environment and invite him and his team to visit to see the assemblage in situ?  I’d love to know what value they’d place on this gem if it were eligible to be considered as part of an ecosystem service ….

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