Posts Tagged ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’

Trick or Treat? #BDGS ‘Debate’

November 3, 2016

‘Honourable Friend(s)’ …. is an oft used term in the Palace of Westminster.

After sitting through some three hours of Parliamentary TV and subsequently reading the Hansard transcript of the Debate to ‘Ban Driven Grouse Shooting’ subsequent to Petitioner (or ‘perpetrator’ per R Benyon MP) Dr Mark Avery securing some 123,077 signatures.  Surprisingly the counter petition currently standing at 24,361 also secured a part in the debate despite not reaching the requirement threshold of 100,000 signatures.  As yet I’ve been unable to locate how the Parliamentary Procedure allows for this.  Yes, there are excuses in Hansard offered by vested interest MPs involved in the debate.  But as a young blogger asks, how is anyone taking an interest in Governance of the country to understand the process if it is oft adjusted to accommodate private interest?  Is this democracy on the hoof?

I don’t think anyone involved in the campaign to secure safeguard of the upland moors as a safe haven for raptors, for their flood alleviation potential, for their usefulness in water quality delivery or for their climate change function expected MPs to recommend a ban on the sport.  But what has shocked so many observers is the utter contempt and disregard of the petitioners.  Personal attacks, obfuscation and filibustering were rife.

The live ‘performance’ is available online as is the transcript.  One has to experience the pain to understand why Parliament and some Parliamentarians are held in such low esteem?

Many more eloquent writers have provided some excellent critiques of the proceedings and are worthy of being read.

Wilde About Birds offers us Don’t Dismiss The Public NGO

The debate – some first thoughts from the Petitioner Dr Mark Avery

Even someone ambivalent to BDGS (James Common) comments on the behaviour of the ‘honourable members’ …. The Grouse Debate: some follow-up thoughts

See also Anneka Svenska Driven Grouse Shoot Debate – Flooding, Burning & Wildlife Crime talking to people about why they traveled to Westminster to register their opposition to the ‘sport’ and the issues associated with it.

I’ve not yet managed to relocate the reference by one observer to the more reasonable and better quality offerings coming from female MPs.  It has to be said that Rachael Maskell, Kerry McCarthy, Angela Smith and Caroline Lucas did their best to restore quality to what rapidly declined from debate to debacle, sadly they were in a minority.

I think this chapter in the campaign is quite well summed up by Angela Smith MP who tweeted “This is the most frustrating debate I have ever attended.  Polarised and missing the point most of the time”  I couldn’t agree more and if in the cold light of day we recognise we didn’t expect a positive outcome but we did have to give Parliament a chance.  Parliament has shown it’s contempt for their own published process of petitions.

More analysis to follow …. the role and stance of the NGOs, where were our MPs and did they represent our voice in this debate?

In the interim the next chapter takes shape, the fiasco that masqueraded as ‘democracy’ served well to harden the campaigns resolve to continue …. from a first skirmish onwards to the battle?

Honourable Friend(s)?  The best offering is that written by Caroline Lucas, the ‘debate’ to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting and the behaviour of a score or so of MPs on Halloween in Westmionster Hall certainly brings the reputation of some Parliamentarians into question?

Parliament debates Driven Grouse Shooting : trick or treat?

October 30, 2016

The epetition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting reached the required level of signatories and then some.  The House of Commons Petitions Committee decided to hold an evidence session where the petitioner Dr Mark Avery and Jeff Knott of the RSPB answered questions from the Committee members.  Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Association and Liam Stokes of the Countryside Alliance had, according to some bloggers a much easier time from members of the Committee who had at least declared vested interest in pro DGS.

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Rob Sheldon offers us a view of the proceedings in “A grouse about evidence-based decision making”

Ollie’s Birdwatching Blog also provides a pretty good critique of the HoC Petitions Committee conduct?

But lest we be accused of bias, the readers are encouraged to watch and read the Parliamentary record

The Parliamentary website offers public access to the 477 submissions made as well as the Oral Evidence taken on 18 October 2016.  Parliament TV also makes available the proceedings and the nuances which cannot be as easily sensed from a written format are laid bare to the reader here?

Will tomorrow’s Debate in Parliament see Driven Grouse Shooting banned?  Here’s hoping for a more evidence based debate tomorrow, with MPs offering facts and not fiction.  To see the erroneous peddled as fact then read the series of submission critiques by Avery.  Of particular interest are submissions from ex-gamekeepers and local communities troubled by grouse shoots, there are some heart wrenching pleas to accompany the more academic critiques citing reports and papers.  The tragedy of the increase in illegal raptor persecution is offered by the dedicated raptor workers who have monitored the decline over decades.  Together it is a pretty damming indictment of a ‘sport’ and the submissions offer a compelling case for reform?

But this is Westminster, this is Parliament – will it be for the many or for the few?

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Henry wants to safeguard his pals future & we enjoy their visits to Thorne & Hatfield Moors, so let’s hope we’re in for a treat tomorrow?

Call for evidence: Parliamentary debate on Driven Grouse Shooting.

September 23, 2016

Readers who are able to manage to keep up with the pace surrounding the complex and controversial ‘discussion’ around Driven Grouse Shooting will be aware that the long awaited date for Parliament to hear evidence on the issue has been released.

Tuesday 18 October 2016, will see Dr Mark Avery and Jeff Knot of the RSPB offer robust evidence for the case to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting whilst, as yet un-named representatives from the Countryside Alliance and the Moorland Association will offer evidence that the sport should not be banned.  Why are the names of those supporting driven grouse shooting not named?

The Parliamentary website is also inviting submissions to be sent to that same Committee Inquiry:

Scope of the inquiry (terms of reference)

The Petitions Committee has decided to hear evidence about grouse shooting before a debate in Parliament.

The Committee would also welcome written contributions from people who want to share their expertise on this subject. In particular, the Committee would welcome evidence on the following points:

  • Should the law on grouse shooting be changed? If so, how?
  • What effect does grouse shooting have on wildlife and the environment?
  • What role does grouse shooting play in rural life, especially the rural economy?

The website also provides links to the two epetitions on their site, one which has achieved this ‘discussion’ the other which seeks to “Protect grouse Moors and grouse shooting”.  There is also the opportunity to link through to the Countryside Alliance paper which extols the virtues of grouse shooting and its many (perceived) benefits.  As with much of the marketing material provided by pro driven grouse shooting and therefore intensive upland moorland management, it does not provide any validated or peer reviewed science to underpin the claims.  Perhaps they will be made available in due course?

Anyone willing or able to submit evidence to the Inquiry is invited to do so and has until Wednesday 5 October to do so.  Click here for more details.

As more information becomes available on the issue we will update the blog.  Particularly the list of MPs who will be provided with (we assume) the written submissions and then hear the oral evidence on 18 October.

To date the only list made available relates to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation, see here.  It is interesting to note, perhaps, that the secretariat is provided by the BASC.  The Chairman is Geoffrey Clinton-Brown) Con. (The Cotswolds).  As well as supporting the Govt position on bTB he also opposes the ban on snares.  It maybe that as the Chairman he will hold a neutral view on matters placed before the group, it may be that as Chair he is required to act with impartiality?  It would seem that the Vice-Chair Lord Cunningham of Felling has more experience in environmental politics?

Please, those of you who signed the petition (and even if you didn’t but wish you had) write to your constituency MPs* asking for them to make your views known.  All MPs are entitled to attend the Inquiry (currently there are 650, so if each were to be given a 10 minute slot then the Inquiry would need around 108 & 1/2 hours, so approaching three weeks?  We have one of our Humberhead Levels MPs prepared to attend the debate, diary commitments permitting.  We are grateful for the letter received back from The Rt Hon Andrea Leasom MP on the issue. We are informed by the SoS that “grouse shooting” delivers “water regulation and carbon storage” services.  We will seek clarification on those claims, particularly set against the costs of utility company treatment of water to remove sediments and colour from the drinking supply.  Similarly the costs through the public purse of restoration projects in the uplands where management has damaged deep peat through burning etc.

See a recent post where details of a Durham University study condemns upland burning as a management practice. See also the link below:

A modelling study and investigation into how annual burning on the Walshaw Moor estate may affect high river flows in Hebden Bridge.”

A well researched and referenced critique of the sport is available, and there is also a paperback version, which contains an update chapter.

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* To find your MP visit TheyWorkForYou.

Twitterati : confession time?

September 20, 2016

Technology has added greatly to all our abilities to communicate with a wider audience, be it through an email network or a blog such as you are now reading.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter has thousands of users and followers.  But is it  the epitome of mindless gossip for folk with nothing better to do?

Sat at a conference recently I pondered more deeply than usual the question as to whether it could work for us, could it bring benefit to environmental conservation campaigning at our level ?

If the recent campaign initiated by Dr Mark Avery through the on-line epetion to “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” then despite being something of a skeptic, I have to confess that I can see positives.  So, as I was told perhaps a year or so ago, “get over it and get on with it” so we have ….

Follow “Bog-trotter”  @4peatssake2 

Be patient, it’s a learning curve.  We plan to ‘tweak’ the website again shortly and embed the above Twitter account in.  We also hope to incorporate a ‘calendar’ so people can see up and coming events which might be of interest to them.

 

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Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton le Hole is where CCT’s Cornfield Flowers Project can be seen.

Another bit of news which might be of interest to readers with an interest in the Humberhead Levels and Lower Derwent Valley geographical is that the Carstairs Countryside Trust have just launched a new website here.

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Thanks to all readers who have signed Avery’s Ban Driven Grouse Shooting, having just passed 123k it is credit of tenacious campaigners (Avery, Packham, Oddie et. al.) that it has achieved the required number of signatories for it to be ‘discussed’ in Parliament.  It is also indicative of the reach of social media, the mycelium of which are beyond the influence of ‘mainstream manipulated media’?  Watch this space for updates.

Recent events, forget illegality let’s go for conflict resolution?

September 16, 2016

Day two of the Sheffield ‘Raptor’ Conference.  With apologies for the delay in this posting, in part caused by another exciting invertebrate discovery in the Humberhead Levels, more on that in due course!

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The Workstation and Showroom in Sheffield were the venue for the recent two day Raptor Conference.

It’s human nature perhaps to focus on one or perhaps two aspects of a problem?  As someone who was aware of raptor persecution, upland management issues around damage to peat through burning, increased run off potentially increasing flood risk downstream, increased costs associated with water quality, increased home and business insurance etc. I can appreciate the complexities, I can see a need for calm and considered discussion and solutions through consensus.

Where I struggle is the entrenched views that land ownership and land management for private benefit from the public purse should continue.  Public funds, and we are told every public service is facing continued cuts, then surely there is a need to evaluate returns on expenditure?

There are other websites now who have provided analysis of the presentations at the conference, Raptor Persecution UK have intermittently provided transcripts from some of the presentations.  These provide a useful resource to compare other reports elsewhere, which might be perceived as selective or subjective.  For sure, the conference has been applauded and admonished in equal measure.  What it did do was keep the debate about upland moorland management in the public arena and that can only be good as Government start to consider where ‘subsidies’ will be provided post Brexit and CAP ‘support’?

Speakers included Rhodri Thomas (Peak District National Park), Barry O’Donoghue (Eire National Parks & Wildlife Service), Tim Baynes (Scottish Land & Estates), Sonja Ludwig (Langholm Project) and Alan Fielding (contributor to the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework still to be published by Defra).

In terms of the introduction of Vicarious Liability in Scotland*,it transpires that SLE ‘did a lot of the work to put it in place’ in Scotland.  The first case involved a landowner who was not aware that the law had changed but in fairness the speaker did acknowledge that ‘ignorance is no excuse’.  Might the issue have been one of communication?  Who should have undertaken communication?  The Scottish Government certainly but Estates have a trade body so it would be strange if that trade body did not alert its membership and indeed the wider audience?  The introduction of VL in England is an option, it is unlikely to solve illegal persecution of raptors on sporting estates but it might be a measure which sends a signal that this Government is no longer prepared to tolerate increasing levels of wildlife crime?  *It [VL] is not available in England.

It was fascinating to hear an appeal for anecdotal science to be taken into account, an attempt was made to persuade the audience that land managers views should be regarded as valuable social science.  One couldn’t help but wonder if this was because some of the shooters ‘science’ had been found wanting?

Why are we still waiting for the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework update (previous was published in 2011)?  Fielding suggested that the numbers to be reported would be lower than anticipated.  He further tried to suggest that there was insufficient understanding of Hen Harrier ecology, something challenged by some of the audience.  Whilst all would probably accept the need for ongoing study it is evident that ‘conflict resolution’ has failed because the numbers continue to decline?  Those promoting themselves as being able to ‘fix it’ because they already have landowners ‘signed up’.  If public funds are to be used in any re-introduction in the south, or ‘brood management’ trials (supposedly when ‘a threshold’ of  breeding success has been reached then it seems reasonable to assume that any commission will be awarded through the usual open tender process?  There is also a potential conflict of interest for Natural England to consider as they would be responsible for the issuing of licenses, how would the support for the buzzard cull to protect commercial pheasant shoot be reconciled given the interests of commercial Red Grouse shooting?  Credibility might be an issue where they are pressured to co-operate with developers and land owners yet they are reputedly responsible for safeguarding protected species?

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Pause for thought along the route back to the car park, reason or radical measures?

Who will be the voice of reason and passion when he goes? Without agenda, personal gain, or fame? Just nature.

David Attenborough bringing the wild into heart of Sheffield. I’d love to hear his reasoned voice in grouse debate.

Reasoned voices have witnessed continued decline, conflict resolution has failed so what is the solution?  There is passion, passion and drive has brought debate and a raised profile of the associated issues, well done to all involved in the delivery of the Sheffield Raptors Conference.

If readers haven’t already signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting then they might consider doing so?  See also the series of short informative videos on “The Real Price of Grouse”.

Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Land Management & Issues

September 9, 2016

Day One of the Sheffield Conference “Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Land Management & Issues” yielded an interesting selection of quotes across a range of speakers.

It has to be said that there was certainly selective quotes used by some to try to further their particular case(s), but ever the case when politics enters the arena at the expense of robust facts?  There were plenty of placatory sound bytes but also some excellent talks based on studies, so a collection of thought provoking offerings.  Tomorrow promises more but in the interim dear readers could you match the quotes to the speakers?

Day One speakers are listed at the bottom of this post.  Please note that I have not provided a quote from each, some speakers have more than one quote offered here and not all speakers are quoted.  Answers to execsec@thmcf.org 

“Love these moors with a passion”:  A member of the RSPB and who recognised the work of Moors for the future on the most degraded moorland [locally].  Mentioned the RSPBs withdrawal from the Hen Harrier Action Plan.  That the challenge is clear now and that whilst politicians prefer consensus, grouse shooting is now in the ‘last chance saloon’ and a precursor to any compromise is that the illegal killing has to stop.

Chris Packham was described as “talking out of his a**e” because of his view that it’s about the science.

“A junior keeper acting on his own” [referring to a recent pole trap incident].

“It was an utter disgrace” and “it really is despicable” [reference to illegal activity].

“Everything done to date had not produced anything” [reference to the decades of seeking consensus and compromise].

Referring to the southern re-introduction “sourced birds would not be from northern England but European and the programme would follow IUCN guidelines”.  

“Government has made it clear that it will not ban it [DGS], or licence it, but it will back the  Defra six point plan”.

“It’s a trial, [but only] when the threshold is reached”.

I did ask the Natural England representative (Policy) later what that threshold was, but …. guess what, so watch this space perhaps?

“A lot of moorland land managers are signed up all ready to be receptor moors, many would be honoured to have hen harriers on their land”.

Paid tribute to Mark Avery’s “Juggernaut”.

“Scotland are ahead of England as they have Vicarious Liability”.

“Vicarious Liability has so far not been allowed in England”. 

The fact that the Minister refusing to consider this option was himself a grouse moor owner might have been a factor in this issue?

Day One speakers:

Angela Smith MP, Steve Redpath (Uni. of Aberdeen), Stephen Murphy (NE), Adrian Jowitt (NE), Philip Merricks (H&OT), Pat Thompson (RSPB), Adam Smith (GWCT), Alan Charles (former Derbyshire PCC) and Mark Avery (Inglorious).

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Who should get the right to kill this?  A Hen Harrier to feed its young or shooters for a hobby?  Image (with permission): Tim Melling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uplands, raptors, badgers, campaign updates and Short-winged Coneheads.

August 26, 2016

Last Friday at Rutland Water listening to inspirational campaigners and naturalists.  Today back on the moors.

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The first bird of the day was a Hobby, a fantastic little falcon who breed here and then depart for their winter quarters in Africa in September.  We were fortunate with perhaps four birds seen including a juvenile.  They are aerial masters and easily take sizable dragonflies on the wing and can be seen eating their catch in the air or from a perch.  Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were the other raptors seen.

Waders were evident with Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Snipe in good numbers as well as Lapwing on the exposed margins of pools.

The intriguing observation of the day was of a female Short-winged Conehead, spotted on the car window as I crawled along Limestone Road – where had it heralded from?  The curved sickle shaped ovipositor a good identification indicator and distinguishes it from C. discolor (Long-winged Conehead).  Records of this species are uncommon in Yorkshire but understood to be increasing although there is no mention on the YNU website of any occurrence on Thorne Moors.

SWConehead MW 160826 webConocephalus dorsalis: Image courtesy of Martin Warne.

CONSERVATION CAMPAIGN UPDATES

Readers having signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting are asked to follow this up by contacting their MPs about the possible Parliamentary debate on the issue.  Obviously bespoke letters are best but for useful pointers and guidance see Mark Avery’s ‘Firm Briefings’

Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Conservation, Land Management & Issues

Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September 2016: Sheffield. 

For more information see here

 

Another equally controversial topic is that of the ongoing Badger Cull which is to be rolled out to other areas.  One of the excellent but equally frustrating talks at last week’s Birdfair was that given by Dominic Dyer, Chief Executive of the Badger Trust.  This small but incredibly energetic organisation has led the campaign opposed to the unscientific Badger Cull.  Badgered to Death is a compelling read, but it is also a horror story in so much as it provides a critique of failure by Government to address the real causes of the bTB outbreaks.  Bad enough that Badgers are illegally baited against dogs, that they are now demonised by Government who have discarded their own scientific evidence and ignored their own veterinary advisers for what?  Slaughtering badgers in a cruel, inhumane and astonishingly expensive way has failed to address the spread of the disease, failed to help farmers combat the disease of cattle, that is to say bovine Tuberculosis.

Any blog reader with an interest in the Badger Cull / bTB issue is recommended to read Dyer’s critique of the sorry saga as it contains much useful background and brings focus to failure to underpin policy with evidence.

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A reminder too that Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands is now available in paperback and has an additional chapter providing an update to the campaign to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting’s progress.

Missing again?

August 19, 2016

Just a quick post, to recognise today’s Birdfair contribution to the debate about the future of the British Countryside, and for facilitating a debate on the topical issue to “Ban driven grouse shooting”.

Conspicuous by their absence were the Moorland Association, the GWCT and the Countryside Alliance.  No sign either of YFTB spin bowler Botham either, perhaps still licking his metaphoric wounds from recent radio debates?

Simon Lester (retired Langholm Project gamekeeper) did his best to defend the indefensible?  He received a welcome and due acknowledgement for his attendance, and it was refreshing to hear him acknowledge publicly that grouse shooting walked up / over dogs is not economically viable.

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It was great that the leader of a political party also attended and did an excellent job in advocating for the wider public interest in the issue of upland land management, Natalie Bennett was very well received by an appreciative audience who realised that she had a good grasp of the topic, the Green Party is the only political party to have made a Manifesto commitment to Ban driven grouse shooting.  She certainly held her own when it was inferred that because she’d not worked on grouse moors, she couldn’t understand or appreciate the complexities of the issues.

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Panel left to right: Mark Avery, Natalie Bennett, Chairman, Simon Lester & Stuart Housden.

It was an inspiring day with some excellent speakers and if the Ban driven grouse shooting debate attendees all 500 each went away and did write to their MPs, did talk about the issues around upland moorland management with family, friends and colleagues then the panel did a great service and are thanked for their motivational offerings.

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Chris Packham and Tim Appleton enjoy a lighter moment. 

It was suggested and clearly supported by the 500+ audience that the Birdfair organisers having, in the words of Mark Avery ‘dared and won’ should make this kind of event / debate a regular feature – I agree, to have this debate and to hear Simon King‘s talk “Enough” is good; people were engaged, they were educated and they were empowered so well done Birdfair!

Charlie Moores and the BAWC team, Dominic Dyer (Badger Trust), Simon King and Chris Packham and not least Mark Avery – thank you.  As was recognised, the hard work is just beginning.

The first casualty is truth?

August 17, 2016

So says George Monbiot in yesterday’s Guardian and who describes the grouse shooters campaign against the RSPB as a shameful example of ‘astroturfing’. Adding that the public should beware.

It is certainly a hard hitting piece and well worth reading, one might wonder if it will now see Monbiot as a ‘target’ alongside Packham, Avery and other high profile campaigners?

Readers are asked to consider writing to their MPs ahead of the forthcoming debate in Parliament to “Ban driven grouse shooting”, Mark Avery provides a template via his recent blog post ‘Writing to your MP’.

Interestingly the Doncaster constituencies have increased steadily but haven’t yet achieved the campaign target for each of the parliamentary constituencies.  The only HHL constituency nearing the 154 target is Brigg & Goole with 140 as I write.

Don Valley, Caroline Flint MP : 124

Doncaster North, Ed Miliband MP : 95

Doncaster Central, Rosie Winteron MP : 125

To find how your area is doing click on the petition map link herePlease help push the word out so the numbers increase to the extent that when MPs are contacted by their constituents they can see how many have already signed it, there is still just a little over four weeks left to run, the closing date is 20 September.  It’s not just about the Hen Harrier but the land management practices associated with driven grouse shooting which have consequences and impacts on all of us through the public purse and increased costs to resolve some of the problems arising from ‘sporting practices’ not least illegal persecution of raptors.

For anyone considering a trip to the annual Birdfair at Rutland Water this coming weekend, there is to be a debate on the issue of driven grouse shooting on Friday at 16:45 until 17:30 in the main events marquee.  There is seating capacity for 500!

For some interesting videos outlining the issues surrounding driven grouse shooting see Chris Packham’s website here.  Judge for yourself who bowled the best over, Packham or Botham?  See also the BTO statement around the report cited by ‘Sir’, what an own goal?

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A glorious ‘inglorious 12th’?

August 12, 2016

As I compose this brief update on the Ban driven grouse shooting petition, I recommend readers visit “Our St Crispen’s Day” post by Mark AveryWhat a day, in excess of 10,000 signatures added to the petition! 

Add to that the fact that the advocates for driven grouse shooting look like they have metaphorically shot themselves in the foot (maybe even feet) by the exposure of erroneous argument to further their cause?  It seems highly probable that the interview on Radio 4’s Today programme involving Sir Ian Botham has helped the ‘ban’ case, Packham was far more erudite and knowledge but I suppose that view is no surprise to readers?

Why is it that the BBC appears to be allowing selective reporting, why are their interviewers failing to ensure points raised are addressed, why do they duck the illegal persecution and the damage to peat which can exacerbate flooding in places like Hebden Bridge?  It is fair to say that they have been signposted to reports such as the Leeds University study EMBER, but they fail to refer to it, why?  Congratulations to ‘Ban the Burn’ for their contribution to BBC Look North earlier this evening.  A shame that the interviewer allowed the Moorland Association spin bowler to get away without explanation why they promote the burning peat and by virtue the damage and associated costs it causes to the public purse?

Will they, that is to say the BBC now that the Botham’s erroneous statement has been found lacking (to say the least) provide a statement explaining why they allowed reference to it?  Will they apologise?

Marks & Spencers too have capitulated to public pressure and have issued a press release stating that they will not sell red grouse in their food stores.  We are still waiting to receive a response about the levels of toxic lead residue in the grouse meat that they consider safe for human consumption, and a copy of their much mentioned Code of Practice developed with the grouse industry.

As I sign off the petition which is rapidly approaching 98,000 – it is still possible that it might reach that magic figure by midnight but if not then it will be early tomorrow morning – somewhere in the hundreds of comments, someone has written that the ‘phlebs’ have taken back the ‘glorious inglorious twelfth’, it most certainly feels that way?  Here’s to the next chapter of the challenge ….

Thank you to all who have promoted the petition, Henry too I’m sure feels supported.

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First there was Brexit, now it’s Clexit?

August 10, 2016

Political agendas with a little p seem to be gathering traction since the UK voted to leave ‘Europe’?

Principally promoted by business who sought to divest regulation and constraints for an open market where trade deals would be easy and of course the UK tax payer would still be expected to subsidise private businesses (agri-industry, banking, pharmaceutical research etc.)?

There is now a group Clexit recently established – well, perhaps they’ve existed previously, but have now gone ‘public’?

According to Michael Gove MP (lead Brexit campaigner) and repeated by Dana Nuccitella, people in this country have had enough of experts.  Interestingly there are no statistics offered to support this, nor a study or report cited, so is this Ministerial spin?  Do politicians really believe what their script writers say?

Clexit calls for withdrawal from climate treaties, rejects the conclusions of 97% of climate science experts and 95% of economics experts.

So much for government saying policies would be evidence based?

People new to conservation campaigning ably capture the mood and the momentum which is gaining pace as we head towards the “notsoglorious 12th”.  Entry Level Naturalist, met Iolo Williams at her first ever HHD and little wonder she’s now engaged?

The 38 degree petition “BBC – Don’t sack Chris Packham” steadily gains support as the word spreads that the popular conservationist appears to be in the Countryside Alliance and shooter’s sights?  As this post goes to press the petition has in excess of 19,000 signatures in just three days.

Readers might recall that in June this year the National Trust served notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018.  This is a brave step and one which we must congratulate the NT under Dame Helen Ghosh‘s leadership.

That is an excellent start and we noticed recently that a local group, Friends of Derbyshire Moorlands have now acted in the interests of two other areas which are managed for grouse shooting benefit, perhaps you might take the time to read and consider their case, “No moor management for grouse-shooting on two National Trust estates in Derbyshire“?

Other petitions of potential interest:

Suspend Natural England licence to kill buzzards.  7,437 – approaching the level which requires a response from the relevant government department, yes….  Defra again!  Curiously it is Therese Coffey MP whose constituency which leads the petition in terms of contributing signatories, close behind is the ex-Defra Minister Rory Stewart’s constituency with Ian Liddell-Grainger MP a close third.  Can we help to boost the Humberhead Levels support?

Ban driven grouse shooting.  82,296 as we approach the “notsoglorious 12th” wouldn’t it be ironic if it were to reach the magic 100k on that date?  Realistically the following week – and just imagine the cheer going up from Rutland Water (Birdfair) if that were announced over the PA system?

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Please, readers let us know if there are any online petitions you think are worth while supporting and promoting through this blog?  Please bear in mind the aims and objectives of the Forum and relevant subject matter.

 

RSPB withdraws support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan!

July 25, 2016

There are various opinions as to why the RSPB supported the Defra Hen Harrier Action Plan in the first place and now there are a number of assessments as to the very public withdrawl from it.

Irrespective of the reasoning for either scenario, they may well have, at a very fortuitous point in the calendar dealt a considerable blow to the new politicians at Defra?  Erudite as ever, Avery ponders Ms Coffey’s capability to pick up the pieces left by her departing colleagues.  He reminds us that as Ms Truss departed Defra she rejected the findings of the Lead Ammunition Group and it is certainly worth readers recapping on that ‘saga’ and easy enough to by using the links provided in Avery’s blog posts on the various ‘chapters’ which can be found via the menu on the right hand side of his blog under the heading ‘Lead’.  He also asks us to remember the speech by Theresa May about being on the side of the many rather than the powerful few? Here’s your chance to live up to those fine words. [May et. al.]

Martin Harper suggests that by their withdrawing support licensing is the only viable option.  Many conservationists never believed the [In]Action Plan had any chance of success, despite as Harper writes the RSPB played a full part in the production of Defra’s Hen Harrier Action Plan and despite disagreeing with certain points (notably brood management), welcomed its publication earlier this year.  The RSPB appears to be supporting licensing despite many believing and providing some case studies as to why it is unlikely to work.  Are they following the previous model …. “I’m generally very patient.  My natural preference is to build partnerships and work to make positive change from the inside with those who want to abide by the law and deliver progress.”  Laudable but the decline continues apace for the magnificent Hen Harrier and other raptors.

But, let’s celebrate this announcement and let’s keep the momentum up that this carnage in the uplands must stop.

Please spread the word, persuade friends, family , work colleagues and anyone who loves wild places and wild things to join Avery, Packham, Oddie et. al. to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

See other assessments of today’s announcement

RSPB humming Shania Twain

RSPB walks away from Hen Harrier Action Plan

And from the metaphoric horse’s mouth, via Martin Harper’s blog:

Why the RSPB is withdrawing support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan

Another useful site to offer friends in order that they can understand some of the background which has brought us to the current situation is Raptors Alive UK

For more information on events and gatherings this year across the country see details via HHD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not so glorious?

July 24, 2016

https://i1.wp.com/markavery.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NotsoGlorious-23.png

Regular readers will be at least aware, if not familiar with the issues of raptor persecution in the uplands where driven grouse shooting occurs, and where equally worrying is the management regime practiced by those managing these uplands for the ‘sport’.

A series of short, very informative videos have been produced which are being released in the run up to the “Not so glorious” 12th August.  For anyone familiar with the ‘quaint, archaic and outdated practice’ that is the day on which thousands of Red Grouse are shot for sport, it is the first day in a season which extends to 10 December in England and Scotland, 30 November in Northern Ireland.

These excellent videos are worth a couple of minutes of anyone’s time, and for more information on the topic see Raptor Persecution UK where one of today’s post reports on an incident in North Yorkshire!  See also Standing up for Nature and for events relating to see also Hen Harrier Day – help make 2016 “the biggest yet”.

The first in the series “The Real Price of Grouse”

Released today, the second  “The Real Price of Grouse: Greenhouse Gases” outlines issues relating to the management practice of burning peat and the unseen cost to us all.

These videos presented by Chris Packham, provide a bite size chunk in each as to why ordinary members of the public, taxpayers, should seriously consider signing the epetition “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” via the parliamentary web site  here

The epetition is approaching 64,000 signatures but we need more …. “At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament” the response made by Defra upon reaching 10,000 signatures might have been considered by some as patronising and selective in the statistics it offered, indeed there have been some suggesting that it might even have been written by advocates for the ‘sport’,

Remember also that there is an excellent opportunity on 9 & 10 September (in Sheffield) to hear a range of speakers at “Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands : Conservation, Land Management & Issues”.  For more information and a booking form see UKEconet.

https://i1.wp.com/markavery.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NotsoGlorious-23.png

 

Will you be going to Henry’s picnic rally?

June 19, 2016

butt%20henry

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the ongoing issue of raptor persecution, particularly that involving  Hen Harriers and the issue of upland management for driven grouse shooting. 

We are informed that there is to be a ‘picnic’ next Saturday, 25th June 2016 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  It is being billed as a Hen Harrier rally to mark this year’s virtual absence of nesting Hen Harriers from the English uplands.

The details will be released on Wednesday this week, for details visit Standing up for nature via http://markavery.info/blog/  and or Raptor Persecution UK via https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

Another useful and informative website is Birders Against Wildlife Crime, Charlie Moore’s recent blog post is worth a read via  http://birdersagainst.org/where-do-you-stand/

Have you booked your place on the Raptors, Uplands and Peatlands conference to be held in Sheffield on 9 & 10 September?  For more details visit http://www.ukeconet.org/news/raptors-upland-peatlands-conference-2016

Meet the author of “Inglorious” at the above event.  An authoritative tome which presents a well researched case against the management of the uplands for grouse shooting.

Inglorious front cover

Help get the epetition to Ban driven grouse shooting to the 100k in order that it can be ‘considered’ for discussion in Parliament, via https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

 

 

Breaking News ….hope for Hen Harriers?

June 10, 2016
6694350331_79fdccefcb Tim M HH

Image: Tim Melling

We are delighted to report that the National Trust have evoked a break clause in a tenancy agreement and have given notice on a lease for driven grouse shooting in the Peak District National Park.

So, to borrow Raptor Persecution UKs words, the NT have gone from “zero to hero”.

The lease will terminate in 2018, some 22 months hence.  But, let Raptor Persecution UK, BAWC, Mark Avery, Chris Packaham and so many others who resolutely refuse to be intimidated enjoy the well deserved victory.  It is worth reading the comments on the post via the link below.

For more details on the story see Raptor Persecution UK post https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/national-trust-pulls-grouse-shooting-lease-in-peak-district-national-park/#comments

See also Raptor Politics

http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2016/06/10/national-trust-give-notice-to-rescind-grouse-shooting-lease-after-gamekeeper-deployed-decoy-hen-harrier-in-peak-district/

Other comments will be available on other websites such as that of the Moorland Association.

This story is sure to run, will the notice be challenged?  Will the BBC and other media cover the story? Watch this space as well the key campaigners websites.

Avery’s Ban Driven Grouse Shooting epetition is now at 41,216 – let’s keep pushing it to that all important 100,000 that will see Politicians ‘consider’ discussing it in Parliament.  Defra did eventually issue a response to the petition quite some time after it passed the 10,000 mark.  See the link below for that statement, the constituency map and to sign the petition

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

Apologies that we’ve had to include lengthy links but for some inexplicable reason the usual link option is not available …. now if one were minded towards conspiracy theories ….

butt%20henry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nut job?

May 13, 2016

Yesterday we reported on habitat loss and failure to address by a number of public bodies.  Today we raise the issue of the behaviour of an MP, an elected public servant ….

Some readers may be aware that Chris Packham has written “Fingers in the Sparkle Jar”.  It is reviewed in the May issue of BBC Wildlife and  also features as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.

Packham’s stance on the Hen Harrier issue is well known, it has gained him supporters and conversely it has attracted  abuse from some quarters.  Whilst campaigners might expect to attract criticism and to some extend verbal abuse, is it acceptable that a Member of Parliament ‘tweets’ in support?  To make matters worse, the MP in question is a Right Honourable  …. For more detailed background on the sorry story see Springwatch host Chris Packham branded “nut job” by hunting firm after Asperger admission.

Miles King and Mark Avery have both featured analysis of the slur on their respective blogs.  They are worth a read thus far and in all probability as they update the saga.

Bad enough that a business elects to use offensive terminology towards someone with opposing views to theirs, notably someone who is vehemently against illegal activities involving protected birds of prey.  But that an MP then supports their stance is quite out of order, MPs are reputedly public servants and it seems wholly reasonable that they behave in a courteous and polite manner?

An honourable gesture in light of the slur, which has the potential to offer more than Packham would be for ‘The Rt Hon’ Nicholas Soames to apologise?

Packham has responded and said: “It’s very disappointing to see such comments retweeted by an MP.  “People with Aspergers are not ‘nut jobs’ they are simply different.   Hunting Solutions and their supporter ‘The Rt Hon’ Sir Nicholas Soames MP clearly has a different opinion, and we are all entitled to opinions but the issue being is it right he uses such terminology given his public office?

We understand that attempts to contact him through social media were blocked, perhaps a polite note via email might persuade him to reconsider labeling people with Aspergers as nut jobs, and to apologise to Packham for inappropriate and offensive language?

End illegal persecution of protected species and manage the upland moors for public benefit?  Then ….

Ban driven grouse shooting

 

 

 

Cuckoos, missing Hen Harriers & moorland (mis)management?

May 2, 2016

Often called the ‘Cuckoo Flower’ Cardamine pratensis or ‘Lady’s Smock’can be found in wet meadows and pond margins.  The plant can still be found in such places in the Humberhead Levels but sadly like so many meadow flowers it is not as common as it once was even, in my memory.  The decline is due to loss of habitat, areas previously hosting this delicate plant have been been drained to facilitate increased agricultural intensification.  There may be remnant meadows, hidden gems secreted away where this and other meadow species can still be found.  Pastoral areas of the Doncaster borough still have some fields which retain hedges for stock and are cut for hay in summer months.

160430 Cardamine pratensis hrk 266 - web

The Cuckoo Flower, so called as it is often in flower as the cuckoo arrives with us is the county flower of Breckonshire and Cheshire where it was called ‘Milkmaid’.  The origins of the vernacular ‘Lady’s Smock’ is not as innocent as it might first appear?

Cuckoos have arrived with one logged on Hatfield Moors on 23 and on Thorne 28 April.  Wheatears, hirundines and swifts too are here for the breeding season, all we await now is our nightjars and given that it appears to be an early season they probably won’t be too much longer.  Recent early dates include 19 May 2013 on Crowle Moors.

Missing Hen Harriers & moorland (mis)management?

We seem to have lost the Hen Harriers for the summer season, with the last being seen on on Thorne Moors 19 April and 25 April on Hatfield Moors.  As our wintering birds leave us for the uplands, let’s hope they avoid persecution which appears to remain rife in areas with managed grouse moors.  Two items which may be of interest to readers relate to raptor persecution and the issue of moorland management and the EU!  One is a quite astonishing piece of footage and equally astonishing is the various exchanges of correspondence it has generated not least on Avery’s blog and Raptor Persecution UK (formerly RP Scotland).

Will we ever get the 300+ pairs of Hen Harriers in the north of England that the habitat could host?  Help get the deficit discussed in Westminster, if you’ve not already signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting epetition created by Mark Avery.  It’s doing well nearing 34,000 but we need it to reach 100,000 soplease spread the word.  Listen to the passion behind the message on the first HH Day in 2014 by Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Charlie Moores.

Realists will acknowledge that the epetion is unlikely to see a ban introduced, but if we can achieve the required 100k signatures then it might be discussed in Parliament.  It is just one of the tools in the big box.  Many of us know the sincerity of Ministers words from the variety of correspondence received, but for the Government to ignore its own words ….

butt%20henry

Help Henry – sign up to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

Diversions & Defra odds & sods….

April 17, 2016

This delightful Wheatear, recently arrived with us from Africa along with the other Spring migrants such as Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows already with us is looking a little puzzled perhaps?  Not quite sure which way to go but happy to have found a refueling station extremely rich in high quality Humberhead protein.

160417 Confused migrant hrk 124

Buddleia is often found high on buildings but this Yew takes some beating for tenacity and resilience – how much longer it will be able to reside on Periplaneta’s roof is another matter.

160417 Yew on P roof hrk 082

‘Moor grousing’?

Thanks to readers who have signed the epetition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting posted by Dr Mark Avery on the Government website.  It has long since passed the 10,000 signature requirement to receive a response from the appropriate Government Department.  Defra have missed the target (no pun intended) and we’ve all been Waiting for 24 days for a government response”.  In the interim, momentum is propelling the epetition to the target when we are told “At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament”.  Call me a skeptic but as ever there’s a caveat in that piece of ‘information’?  Just in case readers and are still considering the issues then if the loss of that fabulous ‘silver ghost’ from our local moors each winter isn’t sufficient motivation consider the land management issues and impact on flooding and water quality?  This evening signatories approach 28k so come on let’s help keep the momentum for change going ….

The Humberhead constituencies have provided, to date:

Brigg & Goole (Andrew Percy) 41.  Don Valley (Caroline Flint) 27.  Doncaster Central (Rosie Winterton) 25.  Doncaster North (Ed Miliband) 18.  Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) 17.

Another epetition on an equally contentious issue and discussed widely is Ban toxic lead ammunition. This epetition is similarly posted on the Government website by Rob Sheldon and has received support from a wide range of conservation NGOs.  It is underpinned by peer reviewed evidence and reported on by Mark Avery amongst others.  As far as we are aware the findings of the Lead Ammunition Group are still to be published, one might question why we are still waiting?  We have asked Ms Truss and received the anticipated excuses, that is to say it is not for Defra to publish the LAG Report but for the Group to ….. See the Lead Ammunition Group website, last updated July 2015.

The Humberhead constituencies have provided, to date:

Brigg & Goole (Andrew Percy) 29.  Don Valley (Caroline Flint) 21.  Doncaster Central (Rosie Winterton) 15.  Doncaster North (Ed Miliband) 18.  Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) 14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Hen Harriers deserve a future in the uplands?

March 20, 2016

Readers of this blog (others are available) will recall that there has been much discussion over the plight of raptors, particularly the Hen Harrier.  There is just something absolutely magical at the end of a day spent on Thorne Moors when a ‘silver ghost’ drifts in to view, glorious ….

But that stunning bird which we see here in winter is under serious threat, despite legal protection on its upland breeding moors.  Where land management practices on some large estates continues to see decline or absence.

Anyone who has listened to a talk by Chris Packham,  Mark Avery or Iolo Williams amongst others will be familiar with the issues surrounding the ‘debate’?  Anyone who has read Inglorious: Conflict in the uplands has a wealth of research available to them to consider the evidence as presented for a change.

It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that Avery has just launched his third epetition on the issue, titled unsurprisingly Ban driven grouse shooting.  Readers are encouraged to consider signing it, they are encouraged to read the various blog posts which offer evidence and insight into the issue, read Inglorious, read the EMBER Report and then offer justification against a change in upland management practice?

If one sets aside the legal status, i.e. the bird is protected in law full stop, is one permitted to enquire, should landowners receive public funds without delivering public benefit?  With rights go responsibilities?  We hear constantly that such estates are beneficial for wildlife, yet these same estates appear devoid of raptors so where is the balanced ecosystem?

If you’ve not heard Avery speak on the subject then remember that we provided advance notification of a two day conference in Sheffield Raptors, Uplands and Peatlands : 9 & 10 September 2016.  See also UKEconet and download the booking forms.

Ban driven grouse shooting

150821 MA

Resources down the drain(s)?

January 14, 2016

A recent article Government planning thousands of new homes in flood plains in The Ecologist assessed a ‘plan’ that seeks to build some 9000 new homes in floodplains ….

Mary Dhonau OBE, a flood campaigner, told Greenpeace: “No developer in their right mind would build a house in the middle of the river so why build it where we know the river will be when the floods come? It’s setting people up for misery. In the light of the appalling floods we’ve seen in Cumbria, coupled with the threat that climate change brings – it has never been more essential that new homes are not built where there is a risk of flooding.”

But the government are to fast track developments in flood zones.  Read the full article to learn how Greenpeace established the areas and the level of risk.  Readers may recall that we asked that you consider responding to the government consultation on proposed changes to the FoI legislation.  Had not Greenpeace been able to obtain important information, funded through the public purse in the first instance, then use this to establish risk then people unaware of an areas ‘potential’ would be left with a mess to sort out?  This is a prime example of why it is crucial that the FoI legislation is strengthened not weakened?

Let’s hope that the issue of floods and land use remain high on the medias agenda and that of conservation because it is evident that much public money will be spent, but …. will it deliver value for money?  Will it be predicated on robust science, or will those with vested interest endeavour to manipulate and manage the discussions to steer the outcomes favourable to their agendas?

See an interesting commentary on a recent parliamentary discussion via Standing up for nature likewise in a new nature blog.  Read the Hansard report on the debate.  Surely the debate is not simply food or floods, more it is about a holistic and strategic approach to land use?  Oh dear that’s probably too much for government to tackle in their short-term economic ‘outbursts’?

We have been relatively fortunate here in the Humberhead Levels, whilst we have experienced precipitation it has not been the ‘unprecedented’ scale much heralded in the media.  The image below shows an area in the Danvm Drainage Commissioner’s area, an area which saw a massively engineered solution to mining subsidence relatively recently ….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fishlake January 2016

It looks like Avery’s petition will pass another milestone tonight, but more signatures are needed to see upland land management more sympathetic to wildlife.

Ban driven grouse shooting

Ban driven grouse shooting?

January 13, 2016
Red Grouse TM

Image: Tim Melling

Ban driven grouse shooting?

Readers may recall intermittent updates on the situation around illegal persecution of raptors in the uplands where driven grouse shooting occurred?

Readers may also recall that Dr Mark Avery set up an epetition Ban driven grouse shooting on the Parliamentary epetition website?  100,000 signatures are needed to secure a discussion in Parliament.  The deadline for these is Thursday 21 January 2016.

Anyone who has read Avery’s book Inglorious Conflict in the Uplands can be left in no doubt as to the issues involved and the impact they have on water quality, the impact on the peat as a consequence of the management practice of burning as well as a whole host of other issues.  The EMBER Report by Leeds University  presents a robust evidence based case for change.  See also the issue of lead shot in game.  Ban toxic lead ammunition is another ‘related’ epetition and there is discussion around this issue via Standing up for nature and other websites.

Whilst the Humberhead Levels may not have breeding Hen Harriers we do get them as winter visitors and they are a part of our avifauna that we should value and be able to enjoy?  Yet, if you look on the map facility on the epetition you can see constituency statistics.  Come on, if you’ve not already signed then please do think seriously about doing so.  If you have, then persuade your friends and network?  Spread the word via social media.  This is one situation where ‘tweeting’ on ‘twiter’ really will help the birds.

6694350331_79fdccefcb Tim M HH

Image: Tim Melling

Interestingly Avery’s blog Standing up for nature was voted Blog of the Year by Birdwatch magazine, Chris Packham Conservation Hero of the Year and the Guano Award for Environmental Harm went to the Rt Hon. Liz Truss!

Ban driven grouse shooting?

2016 – resolved or resolute?

January 2, 2016

Should New Year Resolutions be a personal issue or can organisations take them up?  Perhaps organisations call them Business Reviews, wonder what politicians call them?

The author of this post decided to start the year proactively and whilst not a serious NYD list, a few species of note were recorded making the short excursion worthwhile and carbon neutral by virtue of cycling ….

Stunning views of two Short-eared Owls hunting over arable grassland reverting to scrub, very wet and waterlogged in the lower areas of the field, ideal small mammal habitat.

Short-eared Owl Image copyright: Tim Melling

Short-eared Owl
Image copyright: Tim Melling

The same field, in a drier area, provided a sheltered microhabitat for Viola arvensis or field pansy, something agri-industrialists would consider a weed.  But on a cool ‘winter’ day quiet delightful.

Viola arvensis: Field Pansy flowering on New Year's Day 2016

Viola arvensis: Field Pansy flowering on New Year’s Day 2016

So, in terms of ‘New Year Resolutions’ that ticked the

*Get out more and enjoy the wildlife / spend ‘moor’ time out in the field recording findings,

*Reduce carbon footprint (including continued *cutting back on ‘commercial’ meat),

Which leaves:

*Focus on a couple of key ‘conservation’ themes to ‘campaign’ on, research them thoroughly to ensure up to speed with the current science involved to underpin case.  Topical issues at the moment might include climate change and what better example to use than the recent flooding episodes and the role of the various agencies and drainage boards?    The use of and impact of neonictinoids on pollinators?  Equally topical might be fracking?  It might be badger culls or illegal persecution of raptors (particularly Hen Harriers)?  In case any reader hasn’t signed the epetition ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ then that might be a topic to consider?  Management of upland moors (burning) for grouse has been shown to be damaging for water supplies as well as other eco-system services, see Leeds University’s EMBER Report Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River basins.  For background reading an informative and well researched book Inglorious Conflict in the Uplands provides a good understanding and a starting point for further investigation into a sport which has cost implications for all tax payers.

*Enter into ‘regular’ correspondence with a variety of ‘people’.  Ministers, Defra officers, media, MEPs, MPs, local councillors etc.  Write a minimum of one letter a month to relevant MP / Minister (ial Department).

*I suppose we might / should also consider taking up ‘Twitter (ing)‘?  I recall an audience being told, or at least those who didn’t  to ‘get over it’ and effectively get on with it …. whilst I recognise the gains made through the use of ‘Social Media’ I’m not entirely convinced that it is something for us, but ever an agnostic?  Rural internet is sadly still none existent in parts of God’s own county and its hinterlands, so blogging isn’t as easy as it ought to be, twitter and tweeting – I thought that was something the birds did?

*There has been suggestions made that one should review the NGOs you support, and there has to be merit in periodic reviews of this nature because there are the large, medium and small or for those sufficiently motivated there’s always the option to DIY if a gap exists?  Whilst the large can have impact through advocacy on some key issues, they may not help local community groups protect locally important sites.  The regular direct debit becomes a habit.  Regional offers or specialist organisation can help you learn identification skills and can confirm difficult identifications, and are valuable networking opportunities and generally appreciate contributions from volunteers.  It’s not a case of what you receive but what wildlife receives for your contribution and some it has been suggested spend too much on recruitment, PR and spin through regular press releases?  Conversely, they can be a force for change?

*Remembering the late Stephen Warburton, one of the Forum’s founding members, we should remain true to those principles, particularly Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 

*Enthuse the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts / amateur naturalists.  Once upon a time, that would almost certainly have been deemed to be children and whilst that is important, there is a resource with considerable capacity that could take up natural history as a hobby and or conservation campaigning to influence change etc. and they are the early retired proportion of the population.  We should be promoting wildlife and natural landscapes as important habitats at any and every opportunity.  If we don’t then they will be lost to agri-industrial intensification, to green belt development or mono-culture commercial theme / country parks?

So a few for nature conservationists to consider?

Here’s to 2016 – challenges and opportunities it’s sure to bring?

Greenblobpride

New Year’s Resolutions: Avery offers suggestions ….

December 13, 2015

It was a packed Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre on Friday evening, Dr Mark Avery’s message to people – don’t just leave it to others, but act as individuals and then the critical mass has the potential to cause change (that assumes that there is sufficient collaborative conservation) ….

IVRLC willow birder 0164 hrk

Avery, author of a number of ‘campaigning’ tomes which if you’ve not already read might feature on your Christmas wish list?  Fighting for Birds written post RSPB employment, A Message from Martha and significantly Inglorious A Conflict in the Uplands provides background information and peer reviewed science on the ‘sport’ of driven grouse shooting.  Updates and supplementary information is available via Standing up for Nature.

Mark Avery IVRLC 0165 hrk

Avery asked the audience various questions about their love and actions for the natural environment, with much as expected results.  The acid test as they say would be in twelve months if that same audience returned their with lists of actions and outcomes?

Consider cutting back on meat consumption, Avery now enjoys a four days a week meat free and insists that it’s not difficult.  I’d agree and readers can see why by clicking on the link above.  One person was rather too pleased with themself for being a vegetarian, whilst that is laudable it wouldn’t actually make any impact post talk.  It might be that Avery was trying to encourage meat eaters to think a bit more about the impact of their choice, to inform themselves more about the issues involved with eating meat and thus by cutting back there was recognition but also a compromise which didn’t stop enjoyment of the great bacon butty or succulent steak from locally reared rare breed cattle (not agri-industrialised ‘processed’ meat for supermarket chains with far too many food miles and astronomical carbon footprint).  The talk, was I think designed to make people look at their lifestyles without trying to make them feel guilty, it was about making informed choices and coming to acceptable compromises.

Get out there more and connect with nature, and encourage others to.  By enjoying a space made available for nature to heal, through planning mitigation or industry transfer for an NGO to ‘garden’ then the wilder and less accessible places come into focus and remind people who pay taxes and support ‘agri-welfare’ schemes that they are valuable and not just playgrounds for elite sport or tax deductable forestry developments for pension funds but areas of land which can positively benefit the whole population through carbon sequestration or flood allieviation etc.

Choose a couple or so of ‘causes’ to get involved with, research them well and write, attend rallies etc. to further them.  Neonictinoids and bees, badgers and bTB and climate change were some offered as suggestions.

Write to MPs.  Mark suggested a letter a month as being an easy target.  We’d agree but you must recognise that MPs don’t always respond, a recent letter about hen harriers and driven grouse shooting was sent to one of our local MPs who then sent this on to the Minister and the most patronising ill informed response was sent back via the MP.  Indignant that the respondent had clearly failed to read the letter let alone the eight questions asked which have still not been answered a follow up letter was written, sadly to date no response from either the MP or the Minister.  Other correspondence awaiting replies include such topics as bTB and NeonictinoidsThey work for you?  I must look up what it is that they do such that if they were all (including the other 850 in the Westminster Palace) kidnapped by aliens what in our daily lives would cease to happen ….

Review your membership of the NGOs you support, setting aside reasons like the cost do they still reflect your interests, do they take action on issues you consider important, are they able to evidence claims of outcomes they publicise?  One member of the audience cited a charity seeking additional funds for target species and Avery rightly offered advice on testing the marketing material used, it is certainly something to consider before responding to direct marketing?

Support and get involved with an NGO.

Write to the NGOs of which you are members and praise positives and present a case for action on particular issues that people felt strongly about in the hope that they might become involved.

Sign ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ and encourage others to.

Iceland RG 0146Game meat offered for sale locally, toxic lead content of the brace illustrated???   Click on the image to see more detail and price. 

You’d need to do some backround research as to the case for banning lead ammunition but the epetition to “Ban toxic lead ammunition” is something that is worth considering if you are not already a signatory to it?  Avery’s forensic attention to detail makes a compelling case, a case already supported through the banning of lead shot in wildfowling, supported by the likes of Lord Krebs so one could be forgiven when one reads the pontificating badly briefed MPs in shooting constituencies worried about the cost of converting their pairs of Purdy’s when the topic was discussed recently in the Westminster village?  I suppose if a dozen shooters wrote to them they can claim to be representing views of constituents, but I would still be interested in why they see no issue with no regulation on toxic metals in the human food chain for game when it exists for farmed meat, common sense, consistency?

I’d probably add a couple of other suggestions, if not a daily dose of Avery via Standing up for Nature then at least a weekly look at his blog posts?  He offers thought provoking and often topical items, he prompts action even if it is only a nudge to respond to a goverment consultation, he offers you a ‘right of reply’ through a comment facility.  There are other blogs available, “a new nature blog” is one such offering let us know who you follow and why?  There are of course the ‘corporate’ blogs offered by the NGOs but the two offerded here are independent and not marketing linked to membership organisations.

If you read one book this ‘consumerfest’ then I recommend and challenge any agnostic to not be persuaded after a Yuletide dose of ‘non-medicated nor toxic’ Inglorious A Conflict in the UplandsI suppose if one were to reflect on the description of Inglorious being non-toxic, then it is all relative and those who participate in the activity which appears to endorse illegal acts then it is a spotlight on practices some would prefer kept below the public radar?

As for undertaking the above suggestions, will you if you’ve not already done so?

With apologies to Mark for not providing his full list, NYR – really must do better? 

butt%20henry

Henry the campaign’s mascot (above) – I dipped out on meeting him at the Birdfair, but here’s to 2016 and a good year for Hen Harriers.  To Birders Against Wildlife Crime, long may their endeavours see wildlife crime remain a high profile campaign.  To Chris Packham and the other wildlife ‘celebrities’ who have rallied and risked being threatened by the ‘sack’ a massive thank you.

Greenblobpride

Hear Mark Avery promote 10 New Year’s resolutions?

November 29, 2015

For readers of this blog who have not heard the motivational author of Inglorious Conflict in the Uplands speak, then now is your chance.  Avery, also the author of the equally inspiring and insightful Fighting for Birds and who presents, in A Message from Martha a stark warning to us to act ‘today’ before it is too late and we witness other extinctions of species previously considered ‘common’.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Idle Valley Nature Reserve present

150821 MA

A Christmas Lecture by Dr Mark Avery

10 New Year’s resolutions for the wildlife enthusiast

who wants to make a difference

Friday 11 December 2015 

Doors open at 6.30pm with lecture at 7.30pm followed by Q&A book signing & raffle.

Tickets £10pp MUST be purchased in advance online or directly from Idle Valley Nature Reserve, Retford, DN22 8SG

Please note there is also an additional cost as “NWT invites a car parking donation of £2 per car.  All donatations directly support the charity”.  Order your tickets here.

Inglorious front cover 

What might be Avery’s offering in terms of NYR?  Amongst his top ten might be to read Inglorious and consider signing the epetition Ban Driven Grouse Shooting, read Inglorious and understand the issues behind Rob Sheldon’s epetition Ban Lead Shot and consider signing that too?  Avery encourages readers to write regularly to their MPs, there are rumours that they work for us (but that’s a debate for another blog) and he encourages readers to let them know about environmental issues.  Other clues might be found in his very readable blog Standing up for Nature.   Ok, there is emotion but importantly there is well researched evidence to back up statements.  Let’s face it some of the topics he airs and those often avoided by others  are ones which if some could they would litigate so clearly a master of carefully crafted case presentation, long may such narrative be produced and published?  Avery would probably also encourage you to join one or more of the usual conservation NGOs.

‘Thunderclaps’ & rough weather to benefit environmental justice?

November 11, 2015

Technology as a tool for conservation campaigning is something we should all embrace?

This has to be where the knowledge and the expertise combine to create a collaborative critical mass for the benefit of the cause?

It looks like there is to be a bit of rough weather out there soon?  Rumblings in the region of 5,000,000?

The ‘Thunderclap’ that is scheduled to break at the end of November in support of justiceforannie is being promoted by Mark Avery who appeals through today’s blog post to sign up in support of the appeal from Moving Mountains Nature Network. There is a network of groups and organisinations working collaboratively to seek justice for protected species and for legal compliance with the legislation.  See also Birders Against Wildlife Crime website, not just about birds but Wildlife Crime in general.

Let’s help them get a debate in Parliament?

Image: Tim Melling

Image: Tim Melling

 

So, who was ‘Annie’?  For readers not familiar with the ongoing issue of declining raptor numbers and particularly Hen Harriers in the uplands, then read and sign up to Standing up for Nature and there are occasional references on Martin Harper’s blog, a recent one ‘Reflections on the Hen Harrier season’ provides a flavour of the issues involved.

‘Other brands are available’ …. please contact the Execsec@thmcf.org if you would like to submit a guest blog.

 

Diary date reminders:

Northern England Raptor Forum Conference: Saturday 21 November 2015.

DaNES Insect Show: Saturday 21 November 2015.

South Yorkshire Archaeology Day: Saturday 14 November 2015.

 

‘Moor’ Inglorious & RBA poll on ‘brood management’.

August 27, 2015

Never mind ‘gripping yarns’, Inglorious is compelling reading and whilst I am not able to read it as quickly as some seem to have done according to Avery’s recent blog post it is perhaps because it is also motivational and prompts action as one reads the various chapters.

This is the kind of volume that is helpful to people who want to help but need encouragement and probably more importantly direction as well as a ready reference of easily digested facts and figures.  In combination with a talk by, or a discussion with the author then you have not only the inspiration, but motivation and a significant resource at your finger tips to be part of a collaborative ‘community’ campaign.

Inglorious front cover

This kind of community action is interesting because to a large extent it might be said to have arisen from inactivity or rather a robust challenge by the ‘conventional suspects’ to achieve or deliver a positive conservation success story?  Quick wins seem the preference these days and challenges are not for the faint hearted as they require dedication, tenacity, an effective and committed network as well as funding to fight the deep pockets of self interest?  It seems that those self proclaimed champions of conservation are constrained through funding related relationships, so should they act as a catalyst and or support infrastructure for this kind of community campaign?

It is against a similar kind of background that the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum was created.  In our case it was through the peat issue, or rather the destruction of peatlands particularly those here at Thorne & Hatfield Moors.  The founding membership saw benefit in collaborative endeavours through an independent organisation able to act in a timely manner and with principle without recourse to copious committees and tedious policies and protocols.  The ability to think and act through an extensive and experienced network  as well as commissioning and publishing robust science brought credibility and a catalogue of campaign involvements and successes.

So back to the current conservation campaign, or at least one very high profile one which is the plight of the Hen Harrier and other persecuted raptors which appear to interfere with the ‘sporting interests’ of a relatively small number of people.  Avery offers an estimate in the region of around 15,000.

At the moment it seems that the Hawk & Owl Trust are promoting ‘brood management’ as a mechanism to try to find compromise and a way forward for Hen Harrier conservation in the uplands particularly.  Rare Bird Alert are running a poll which is seeking peoples views on the option, there is also the opportunity to add comments on the proposal.

HOT founded in 1969, markets itself as being dedicated to conserrving owls and birds of prey in the wild.  Interestingly their website also explains that they ‘create and manage nesting’ …. they appear to manage just three reserves in Norfolk, North York Moors and Somerset.  ‘The HOT say stop this illegal killing’.  It all seemed laudable but then their high profile President resigned ….

The epetition Ban driven grouse shooting is steadily but surely increasing numbers daily, potential signatories are informed that “Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers”.   Can we help get it to the 100k by the end of the year, therein ensuring a discussion in Westminster about the issue?  It’s well past the first milestone of 10k and the reply from Defra is well overdue ….

A more in depth analysis, forensically researched and referenced with robust science is available …. in the form of ‘Inglorious’. Avery’s uncompromising style pulls no punches which is precisely what is needed as the patient endeavour to achieve compromise has, it must be said, failed miserably?   

 

Greenblobpride

 

 

 

 

Inglorious & keep on the campaigning ….

August 25, 2015

Fresh from the Birdfair I’ve been wading (no pun intended) through “Inglorious” and whilst previously considerably annoyed from the accounts and information provided via such sites as Standing up for nature that has now morphed into ‘considered’ anger.

It was cheating I suppose, but curiosity as to what Avery would advocate we all do is summed up in eight short paragraphs in the book and a resume here (for those of you yet to read Inglorious):

  • Attend a Hen Harrier Day event
  • Write to your MP
  • Write to supermarkets and restuarants
  • Write to your water company
  • Write to newspapers
  • Use social media
  • Support BAWC, the RSPB and other wildlife NGOs
  • Finally he encourages readers to keep an eye on his blog and Twitter account @markavery  He also recommends people read his book.

We’d certainly encourage readers to do all the above and another easy one to consider would be writing to Ministers as well as MPs, if there is a critical mass of community campaigning then Westminster is more likely to take note and listen?

Another …. if readers have not already done so is to sign Avery’s epetition Ban driven grouse shooting.

It’s no longer simply an issue of challenging a minority sport, but the impact that that sport has on many other things including the quality and cost of our drinking water.  See post of 1 July 2015 in which a number of reports are referenced, including that of Leeds University’s EMBER findings.

Ban driven grouse shooting

Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious – conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

Of the epetition, which now stands at over 14,000 signatures, is that whilst it is increasing at a reasonable rate that it is not to the magic 100,000 (the number needed to ensure a ‘discussion’ is held in Parliament) and government in their wisdom have reduced the time permitted to secure the number of ‘required’ signatories to six months (previously 12 months).  So please, working on the assumption that many of you have already signed it, please promote it ‘moor’ so that we might all write to Defra and their Ministers welcoming the forthcoming debate ….

Avery very generously suggests support of the larger NGOs such as the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, but where are the 1 million members?  Just 10% of the RSPB membership would be enough, the WTs claim a combined membership of around 800,000 and ok there will be overlap but come on NGO hierarchy never mind the whispered personal views get the corporate message behind conservation of the uplands, please?

 

BAWC_Slider_Wildlife_Crime_Henry_v3

See more images of Henry as he searches for a ‘mate’.

‘Moor’ missing wildlife?

August 17, 2015

Spectacular views but then it is Yorkshire, but worryingly where was the wildlife?

Beloved of Yorkshire folk & beyond.  Ilkley Moor.

Beloved of Yorkshire folk & beyond. Ilkley Moor.

A couple of Small Heath butterflies and a small, very dark Lizard scurried quickly across the track in front of me.  A solitary ‘windhover’ doing what they do best.  A few Meadow Pipits but little else until we reached the masses ‘mountaineering’ over the Millstone Grit that is at the very heart and soul of ‘baht ‘at’ territory!  Then a few Swallows and a Peacock Butterfly to add to the depauperate list.

Not quite Stonehenge but the 12 Apostles on Ilkley Moor.

Not quite Stonehenge but the 12 Apostles on Ilkley Moor.

Heard Grouse, saw a single Red Grouse, found the remains of a casualty – no more the evocative bubbling voice that typifies moorland from this Curlew.

Perhaps a peregrine took a fancy to it, after itself running the gauntlet?  Maybe another one of those nasty predators destroying the wildlife of the upland moors?  Just possibly maybe at a distance a flying mottled brown object  on an upland moor could be construed as 'game'?

Perhaps a peregrine took a fancy to it, after itself running the gauntlet? Maybe another one of those nasty predators destroying the wildlife of the upland moors? Just possibly maybe at a distance a flying mottled brown object on an upland moor could be construed as ‘game’?

Magnificent views and before long some oddly placed markers or were they shoot pegs?  Bradford Council, who owns much of Ilkley Moor and who promote open access to the moors has recently agreed to allow grouse shooting to continue on their holding.  The Report by the Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee Ilkley Moor Sporting Rights Deed (2013) can be reviewed here.

Answers on a postcard please ....

Answers on a postcard please ….

Thus far according to the research (not mine) some 45 people from the Doncaster constituencies have signed the epetition “Ban driven grouse shooting”, can we swell the number from the wider Humberhead Levels?  See ‘Standing up for nature’ for an explanation of the statistics as well as excellent and extremely erudite argument.

Find out more about Henry here.

 

 

Campaign updates ….

August 14, 2015

 

beeguy_m

Un bee-lievable?

Damian Carrington of the Guardian recently reported that pesticide companies took part in a key meeting about the banning of chemicals which have been linked to bee deaths.  Documents previously suppressed have shown that the chemical companies and the NFU have sought to have the EU ban on the use of Neonics in the UK lifted.  FOE have written a judicial review pre-action letter to the environment secretary Liz Truss who is the prospective defendant.  What is even more astonishing, or maybe not is the fact that these companies Bayer, BASF and Syngenta are suing the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world.

If readers have concerned about bees and other pollinators being harmed and the actions of the big pesticide companies then they might consider the epetition calling upon the industry giants to drop their lawsuit?

When the UK government suppress documents then is there any wonder people ask the question “is this an example of open and transparent government that we were promised”?  Is this cause to trust government when multi-national companies are deemed to have a right at the table?

Fracking update

Another worrying example of reneged promises is that of allowing local councils to make local decisions, Lancashire Council who rejected a fracking application appears to have been overuled by government, is that another example of the local democracy we were promised?  Fracking continues to remain a contentious issue, readers may recall the chart we used to show corporate and government links to the industry?  If any reader can provide any updates to these details from November 2014 then please contact execsec@thmcf.org

Forthcoming events

Treat yourself to a day out at a fantastic open air venue and hear some inspirational speakers guaranteed to motivate and inspire.  Mixing with like minded is a good antedote for momentary lapse in focus or determination to champion the case for environmental conservation and protection for the species and habitats we share the planet with.  A week today the 27th Birdfair at Rutland Water opens.  It runs from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 August and the programme is to say the least pretty impressive.   Mark Avery, Nick Baker, Simon King, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham, Iolo Williams are just a few of the ‘names’ attending.  For more details visit the Birdfair website.

and finally for now …. help Henry and his kind and promote the signing of the epetition

Ban driven grouse shooting

Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious – conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

 

Today it stands @ 13,404 and gaining momentum by the day

2015 HH Day logo

 

 

 

 

Hen Harrier Day 2015

August 7, 2015

Tomorrow evening there is an event in Buxton ahead of the second annual Hen Harrier Day.  Some 275 people will gather at the Palace Hotel in Buxton to hear a series of talks, and to meet Henry …. for more details see here.

2015 HH Day logo

Then on Sunday, when the weather threatens a repeat of the previous year, masses will gather in the Goyt Valley at Goytsclough Quarry in Derbyshire as well as other sites across the UK to show solidarity against the ongoing illegal persecution of one of the UKs favourite birds, the magnificent Hen Harrier.  Remember it came 9th in Britain’s National Bird poll organised by David Lindo the Urban Birder.  Ahead of the Puffin!

150321 CP & Henry hrk 878

Mark Avery’s epetition on the GOV.UK website has already passed the required 10,000 signatures to make it eligible to receive a response from Defra!  In fact it’s heading rapidly to the next 1000, the question is can we get it to the magic 100,000 level to secure a discussion in Parliament?  Interestingly the Government have reduced the time period they allow epetitions to run for, six months instead of twelve – wonder why that is?  Come on, can the critical mass of collaborative conservation get the Westminster village to discuss illegal persecution of one of the nation’s favourite birds?  If you’re not already one of the first 10k, then please think about signing the epetition.

If you need to understand the issues and have a case laid out then read “Inglorious – Conflict in the Uplands”.  

Alternative opinions are available, for example that expressed by a writer in the Daily Telegraph.   It is interesting to note that many conservationists have now submitted complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).  Freedom of the press ought to be something we are keen to support, but what when they fail to establish facts instead preferring to repeat unsubstantaited PR and spin?

Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to deliver HHD 2015, here’s to continued momentum ….

Have you seen Henry?

 

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter? Image: Tim Melling

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter?
Image: Tim Melling

‘Moor’ meetings & other conservation campaign updates

July 22, 2015

A reminder that the Hen Harrier Day 2015 is Sunday 9 August

2015 HH Day logo

the various venues are detailed here but the ‘local’ event is to be held in the PEAK DISTRICT with the location confirmed as Goytsclough Quarry

The Goyt Valley, Derbyshire OS Grid Reference SK 011 733

There’s also an event the evening before HHD in Buxton at the Palace Hotel, more information and how to book can be found via Standing up for nature website.

 IT’S BACK …. the long awaited return of the Government epetition website, so those readers who are supportive of the stance taken by proactive conservation campaigners in ‘challenging’ the established incalcitrant stance exhibited by Government are invited to consider adding their names to it again. 3,272 already, read some of the history behind ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ creation and the renewed epetition campaign progress here.

[Ban Driven] Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)  See also Standing up for nature where the reasoned rationale is presented.

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

It has a deadline of 21 January 2016, so clearly the new offer is a reduced one in line with the proposed 40% cuts across Government Departments.

It’s already raced to the first 1000, can collective connservationists and campaigners get it to that ‘target’ 100k by the reduced deadline?

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition (what are the odds on a recycle of their previous reply)

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in ParliamentThe Government website ‘boasts’ …. Parliament hasn’t debated any petitions yet but we note that another epetion has been started which calls for a Parliamentary recall if 100k signatures are reached it’s what we pay for …. now there’s a challenge?  Which other sector gets a 10% payrise and an immediate recess?
It’s interesting that the Government still use the same old software which fails to identify accurately people’s MPs. But hey, do Government or civil servants do accuracy?  Perhaps I should start writing to their offering maybe then the error will be addressed, then again …. there’s bigger fish to fry or harrier haters to harry?

Remember also that we have “The Flood Untamed” with Jeremy Purseglove, Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian D Rotherham at Crowle Community Hall (DN17 4LL) on Friday 31 July. 

2015 TtF front cover

To book a place please contact execsec@thmcf.org

‘Moor’ campaigning?

January 14, 2015

Wow, who’d have thought when we started this blog that we’d pass the 10,000 views milestone?  Well amidst the recent hiaitus we did – thank you readers.  Today’s posts are a bit of a catch up of comings and goings and in the main linked to concern for the natural environment and wildlife.

Readers will have noticed that the Government released the results of the badger culls just before Christmas and it seems that the culls are scheduled to continue this coming year despite another season of failed and realigned targets dressed up by Ms Truss the Defra Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs when the Report was made public. The Yorkshire Post ran the headline (in the weekend farming section) Calls to extend culls after latest pilot hailed as a success.  Around the same time the Farmers Guardian reported on a failed appeal by a farmer found guilty of falsification of the results of a bTB test.   

  800px-Deceased_Meles_meles_-_head[1]

Of other persecuted wildlife, the Hen Harrier controversy continues.  Mark Avery in his Standing up for nature blog reports on the Mutch case.  The RSPB video  posted on another media site is sickening and one wonders if slowly there is a change in the attitude of the law around wildlife crime? It is to be hoped that it does not turn out to be like the MPs sorting their own expense scandal out?

Sightings of Hen Harrier on Thorne and Hatfield Moors appear to be down this winter but the Blacktoft roost is still attracting a handful amidst the good numbers of Marsh Harriers. One observer in neighbouring Lincolnshire commented of a coastal site “Having completed the winter roost surveys since 1982/3 this is the poorest year of any for Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl”.

Readers might also be interested (but dissappointed if you’ve not secured tickets because I see that it is sold out) in the forthcoming Eyes in the Field Conference being organised by Birders Against Wildlife Crime on 21 March 2015 in Buxton Derbyshire.  It is essential that we collectively continue to keep the issue in the public arena and the profile high, only then is there any chance of change.  Patrick Barkham (author of Butterfly Isles) writes in the Guardian of The mystery of the missing Hen Harriers.  The entrenched attitude of some has forced people like Avery to adopt a high profile stance by creating a GOV.UK epetition Ban driven grouse shooting.  

Greenblobpride

Another recent issue, well perhaps it would be better described as recently reported, are the stink pits full of Mountain Hares reported killed because of the need to eradicate disease which threatens bags of Red Grouse.  Readers might like to consider supporting another epetition Protect the Mountain Hare?

At least the Tawny Owls are still contentedly calling despite the cold winds outside as I sign off on another post.

‘Moor’ missing Hen Harriers?

January 2, 2015

A glorious day out on the moors, my first of 2015 …. bitter winds blowing from the west but that just adds to the experience and if common sense prevails it makes little difference if you’ve dressed as they say in Yorkshire, ‘like an onion’ (that is to say, with lots of layers).

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

There is still that wonderful feeling of space and of open skies, although in my opinion the views from the platform are no longer as pleasantly panoramic as they used to be.  Despite Thorne Moors being around 4700 acres, or 1900 hectares in today’s currency there is now a clear boundary which previously was not so drastically demarcated but rather a steady realisation.

Disappointingly no magnificent male Hen Harrier, so I made do happily enough with a distant Marsh Harrier seen from the viewing platform as it quartered the reedbeds to the south of Will Pitts.  The other species which is indicative of winter is Whooper Swan and a family party were seen from Bank Top ‘festive feasting’ on farmland just off the reserve.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or 'Razorstrop Fungus'.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or ‘Razorstrop Fungus’.

The ‘moor’ interesting observations were made out of the wind, good numbers of Carabus granulatus overwintering under salix bark along with similarly good numbers of the snail eating Silpha atrata.  But what was fascinating to find were two smooth newt efts.  The smallest you have to wonder about the chances of it surviving through the winter, particularly if it is a long cold season.  The larger of the two shown below is about the same size as one found on 20 October last year under an abandoned plastic piling remnant.

Lissotriton vulgaris

Lissotriton vulgaris

Are there fewer Hen Harriers about in their traditional lowland wintering areas?  What impact the 2013 failure to breed and just three pairs in 2014 bred in England?  Please pass details of any sightings to us via execsec@thmcf.org so the data can be used to monitor change.

For regular updates on what’s about on the Moors visit Thorne Moors Birding Blog 2015, and Hatfield Moors Birding Blog.

In case our recent recruits are not aware of the issues around the decline of the Hen Harrier, then a good source of information can be found via Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Standing up for Nature, Mark Avery’s excellent ‘campaigning’ blog.  Avery also created an online petition “Ban driven grouse shooting” any reader not having signed it already might consider doing so?

Draining, badgering & harrier (ing) …. ‘moor’ calls for action?

November 24, 2014

DRAINING ….

Readers may recall that the Forum have an interest in the workings and particularly the open and transparent conduct of business by Internal Drainage Boards, public bodies who receive substantive funding through Special Levy collected by the Local Authorities.  Regular readers will also be aware that the Forum’s area of geographic interest is in the main, the peatlands of the Humberhead Levels, principally Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI.

Danvm Drainage Commissioners have recently been subject of a Governance Audit, the published report is hard to locate but to the determined it can be found on the Shire Group of IDBs website through the Danvm Drainage Commissioners page.

Linked to this Audit, an investigation into the modus operandi of the DDC, the Forum have also submitted a follow up Freedom of Information request to DMBC / DDC via the WhatDoTheyKnow website.  A response is advised as 4 December.  On the previous occasion we submitted a request, the refusal to release was five days overtime and further to the response we requested an Internal Review – we have heard nothing since!

The Shire Group of IDBs also provide management services to a number of other ‘Humberhead’ IDBs, including Doncaster East IDB and Black Drain Drainage Board.  Both Danvm DC and Doncaster East IDB were formed through amalgamation of a number of smaller boards in 2012, Black Drain DC is one of the last remaining smaller boards operating in the Humberhead Levels principally funded through the public purse.

The DDC Audit was not as damming perhaps as that which saw the demise of the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Drainage Board, but it was a revelation of current practice of a recently formed amalgamation of smaller Boards.

P1030608

A Hatfield Chase drainage channel …. debris first noted 28 September, still there despite more recently mown drain sides.  This despite an understanding that there are inspections carried out ahead of regular maintenance works.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

BADGERING AWAY STILL ….   

The Badger Trust is still very active, quite rightly in our opinion, with events and activities which are keeping the issue in the public domain.  If you have an interest in the issue and the views of those listed then click on their names and assuming that the technology co-operates you will be taken to a UTube video with some excellent statistics offered in relation to the failure by Defra to undertake science and monitoring to validate the Badger Cull policy.

Chris Packham       Dominic Dyer       Pete Martin     Adrian Coward

The crucial message is that as well as caring people should also DO.  So, as winter draws in and the General Election looms get the pens out or better still a series of emails or start or join a social media campaign and play a part in raising the profile of unecessary and expensive cruel acts devoid of any credible scientific foundation.    The Badger Trust and Birders Against Wildlife Crime  websites are excellent source of ideas.

 

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

The recent badger cull has reputedly cost in the region of £5,200 per badger, they must be moving the goalposts again?  Weren’t we told it would only be a few hundred pounds per animal when OPatz initiated the trial? 

 

Birders Against Wildlife Crime: Recognise, Record, Report‘Eyes in the Field’ Wildlife Crime Conference, Buxton, Derbyshire Saturday 21st March 2015 has an excellent line up of speakers – limited places so get on and book yours.

The call for making wildlife crime a performance measure for the Police will bring resources to the issue.  With the illegal persecution of birds of prey particularly Hen Harriers, it is difficult to gather evidence to secure a prosection so Dr Mark Avery has set up an epetition calling for the Banning of driven grouse shooting which he suggests would be more effective.  It has certainly been a blue touch paper in terms of igniting a concerted effort to raise the profile of nature conservation, long may the debate continue ….

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter? Image: Tim Melling

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter?
Image: Tim Melling

Raptor politics, another campaigning website is also a valuable source of information.

In the words of Ghandi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win!

Greenblobpride

 

 

EMBER …. Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River Basins

October 3, 2014

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the issue of grouse moors, Hen Harriers and campaigning to hold upland shooting estates to account through the launch by Dr Mark Avery of an online epetition to Ban driven grouse shooting.  Others are far ‘moor’ erudite and knowledgeable so I hope when I offer links to such blog posts or articles that readers find the information or critique useful and persuasive?  In keeping with that theme, we join with other campaigning conservationists to encourage you to read the recently released

Brown, L. E, Holden, J. and Palmer, S. M. (2014) Effects of moorland burning on the ecohydrology of river basins. Key findings from the EMBER project. University of Leeds.

Given that Government is funding quite a number of peat restoration projects, the findings of this report should give civil servants and Ministers serious cause for a rethink on funding for upland grouse moor management?

Controlled heather burning on Derbyshire grouse moors.   Paul Adams: Wikipedia Commons Licence.

Controlled heather burning on Derbyshire grouse moors.
Paul Adams: Wikipedia Commons Licence.

Of the fifteen key findings outlined in the report’s Executive Summary, we offer below a sample as ‘evidence’ that we believe that a serious review of the practice of heather burning should be undertaken and funding for estates which practice burning be similarly reviewed.

Prescribed burning on peatlands was shown to have clear effects on peat hydrology, peat chemistry and physical properties, river water chemistry and river biota.

Burning reduces the organic matter content of the upper peat layers.  The net result is that the peat is less able to retain imortant particles known as exchengeable cations.  In other words, the peat in burned sites is deprived of chemicals which are important for plant growth and for buffering acidic rainfall. 

Sphagnum is an important peat forming species.  Changes in the hydrological properties of the peat after fire make the peat less conducive to Sphagnum moss growth.

River flow in catchments where burning has taken place appears to be slightly more prone to higher peak flows during heavy rain.  However, this was not a conclusive finding.

Particulate organic matter (predominantly peat) deposits were increased up to four-fold in the bed sediments of burned rivers compared to unburned rivers. 

It is interesting additionally to note that the authors report that “while the area of burned moorland has increased in some areas of northern England significantly since 1995*, the implications for peatland soils, their hydrology and biogeochemistry, river flow regimes, water quality and biota remains poorly understood”.  *Yallop et. al. 2006.

Read the key findings here.

I’m not sure of who came up with the title to create the acronym, but they certainly seem to have a sense of humour.  How long will it be before the ashes settle for the final time on this archaic practice?  Was there a great a loss or inconvenience to the agri-industrialists after stubble burning was reviewed and banned?

So, if the epetition nears its target of 100,000 signatures by the end of the ‘window’ made available by this Government will the ConDems allow discussion in the ‘House’?

Perhaps there’s an opportunity here, sell tickets to raise funds for charity or better still to help finance independent scrutiny of grouse moors in receipt of public funds or maybe Hen Harrier monitoring?

Defra’s response to it achieving the 10,000 signature milestone was late and when it arrived it was somewhat lack lustre.  Avery’s analysis of it made far better reading, the kind of persuasive prose which should encourage others to expend a little effort and contribute energy to the campaign for change.  Critical mass can deliver conservation, the failed forestry sell of is perhaps an iconic example?

 

‘Moor grousing’ …. Defra answer …. at last

September 2, 2014

Red Grouse TM

The epetition created by Dr Mark Avery Ban driven grouse shooting has at long last received a reply of sorts from a nameless Defra bureaucrat.  It is provided verbatim below:

The e-petition ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ signed by you recently reached 16,828 signatures and a response has been made to it.

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: It has been estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities that provide significant benefits for conservation. Shooting makes an important contribution to the rural economy. When carried out in accordance with the law, shooting for sport is a legitimate activity, and our position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so. Landowners are free to manage wildlife on their land, provided it is carried out appropriately and legally, in accordance with any the relevant wildlife legislation. Hen Harriers It is encouraging to learn that there are four hen harrier nests this year which have chicks, given that in 2013 there were no known hen harrier fledglings in England. Some of these fledglings will be tracked with satellite tags we have funded. The Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group was set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in Hen Harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority and the RSPB. Defra welcomes the involvement of all parties. The Sub-group has developed a draft Joint Action Plan containing a suite of complementary actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier population in England. We are working with Sub-group members to finalise the Plan. Illegal killing of birds of prey The killing of birds of prey is illegal, all wild birds being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who kills or injures a wild bird is committing an offence and could face jail if convicted. Bird of prey persecution is one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities. The England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group leads on action to address these crimes through prevention, intelligence and enforcement activity. The National Wildlife Crime Unit gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey, providing assistance to police forces when required. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that the Home Office and Defra would together provide funding until 2016, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime. Alongside this, there have been successful conservation measures which have led to increases in buzzard, peregrine and red kite populations over the last two decades. Peatland In February 2013 we, along with the devolved administrations, made a statement of intent to protect and enhance the natural capital provided by peatlands in the UK. In September 2013 the Pilot Peatland Code was launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of UK peatland through business investment. It is intended that the Code will assure restoration delivers tangible benefits for climate change alongside other benefits such as restoring habitats for protected species and improving water quality. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of conservation initiatives (such as Nature Improvement Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest) many of which are focussed on peatland restoration in the UK. We are working with a wide range of partners on peatland restoration, including land owners and environmental NGOs. Rural Development Programme We are committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, which are endowed with natural assets that are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing. We will be investing over £3 billion in agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship and its successor) in the next Rural Development Programme 2015-2020. Addressing loss of biodiversity will be a priority for the new Programme. In addition funding will look to maximise opportunities to deliver biodiversity, water quality and flooding benefits together. Defra is working with a wide range of interests to finalise scheme details in good time for 2015. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

View the response to the e-petition

Thanks,

HM Government e-petitions http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/

140818 Middlemoor butt hrk 430

Do readers think it actually addresses the issue?  There are some excellent comments made about it on Avery’s blog post.  Unless I need to go to specsavers there is very little which provides any confidence that there is serious intent to tackle the crime.

The petition currently has 16,912 – help get it to 100,000 so that they have to discuss the issue in the Westminster village.

HEN HARRIER DAY

August 10, 2014

 

Hen-Harrier-Day-lg

For any reader unaware that today is Hen Harrier Day, then where have you been?

Despite the weather, a peaceful protest was scheduled to take place today in the Peak District, Lancashire and Northumberland.  It seems that many others took place in other parts of the country, so well done to all organisers and to those who showed their support by attending.

The Fairholmes Visitor Centre near the Derwent Dam was the meeting place for the Peak District photo call which took place at 10am this morning when around 250 people had signed up to take part.  See the image via Facebook and courtesy of Rare Bird Alert here.  This peaceful protest, against a sombre backdrop is intended to highlight to the press and to the moorland managers who might still persist in the illegal practice of raptor persecution.  Some great comments from the participants who braved the weather, well done to them all!

There are literally hundreds of comments to be read on Dr Mark Avery’s blog and many are testament to the pain of the industry targetted by the conservation consortium promoting awareness and pressure, but principly protection of raptors.  The term ‘grouse’ really does seem applicable, they have had years to get their house in order and still plead for time whilst taking the public funding for habitat management and failing to safeguard protected species.

The critical mass of NGOs are waking up and supporting the inspirational leadership demonstrated by Dr Mark Avery and Chris Packham, the number of signatures on Avery’s epetition is clearly growing and long may it do so with this last day or so seeing an increase of over 500.  In case any reader remains undecided then read the plethora of claim and counter claim, the media frenzy pushing out pleas by those whose failure to address the issue in any meaningful way is now being seen for what it is?  Then read the reasoned science and facts, then analse and then sign here?  Currently standing at 12,896 & increasing daily – next target 100,000 at which point it has to be discussed in the ‘House’, that is to say the one in the Westminster village.  Ban driven grouse shooting might receive a boost following the Thunderclap earlier and the press coverage of the HHD 2014, so here’s to the momentum continuing apace.

There may be inclement weather out there but clearly there is a climate change in terms of tolerance of illegal persecution, this is heartening and here’s hoping that politicians wake up to the issue of environmental issues ahead of the forthcoming 2015 General Election.  Even a Thunderclap has passed, social media at its best?  In terms of magnitude on the Richter scale of social media I wonder how it fared?

Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a new organisation which has been formed to raise the profile and highlight issues which need address. Their website is worth a look, so too the new one Raptors Alive accessed via Chris Packham has done much to raise the profile of wildlife crime, he raised the profile of the Malta Massacre on Migration issue, and an issue we featured on this blog a number of times.

Malta

‘Moor’ badgering, upland Hen Harriers, Natural England have a new Chief Executive & Beverley Common.

June 27, 2014

BADGERS

The plight of beleaguered brock was brought home to me recently when I attended a meeting to explore ways of safeguarding the last few setts in the area.  We knew the situation was bleak but apparently it’s actually worse than we’d imagined and local naturalists are pretty hardened to public attitude to wildlife and the natural environment.  We were aware that South Yorkshire is the known cruelty capital and Doncaster is particularly bad.

Why do people enjoy inflicting cruelty on animals?  Why are the police unable to secure prosecutions?  Why do such crimes go unpunished?  Perhaps more cattle should be farmed here where there is a reduced badger population and then there would be no need for Paterson to continue his vendeta against the species elsewhere in England?  Recent press coverage questions efficacy of the culls.

HEN HARRIERS

Of persecution, the Hen Harrier epetition “Ban driven grouse shooting” created by Dr Mark Avery continues to secure additional signatures and now stands at 5,861 could it reach the 10,000 threshold by the inglorious 12th?  Anyone interested in attennding a peaceful day out with like minded folk is invited to meet not only Mark but Chris Packham as well, see “Standing up for nature” post for ‘moor’ details.

The Ethical Consumer Research Association (May 2014) has written a very readable, well researched and informed report Turn your back on GROUSE A popular campaign against greed and intensification on England’s grouse shooting estates.

NATURAL ENGLAND

Another bit of news material to any reader interested in the politics of Defra agencies, is the announcement of the new Chief Executive of Natural England, James Cross.  The usual PR material is available on various websites but suffice to encapsulate the spin, Andrews Sells, Natural England’s Chairman, commented: “I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of James Cross as our new Chief Executive. He brings a wealth of experience which will be invaluable to us.

“Natural England does vital work on behalf of the environment and we are keen to drive forward the programme of reform outlined in the Triennial Review, further develop our status as a trusted advisor to government and build confidence and respect among our many stakeholders and customers for the way we work with them. James will bring an important combination of experience, energy and drive to enable this to happen.”   

Previously CE of the Marine Management Organisation we await evidence to back up the words.  Interestingly Dave Webster who was appointed Natural England’s Acting Chief Executive in March 2012 and continued in the role while the Triennial Review was underway, confirmed in March this year that he would not be seeking the role on a permanent basis and will be leaving Natural England on 18 July 2014 to take on a new executive role within Defra.  Natural England’s Executive Director, Guy Thompson will act as interim Chief Executive until James Cross takes up the permanent Chief Executive role on 1st September 2014.  So along with the recent restructuring how long before there is any robust science to underpin the dash to Dedicate Open Access across all publically owned NNRs?  We’ve already had reports of increased equine access and even 4 x 4’s attempting to cross ditches to access Hatfield Moors …. one might be forgiven for having concerns about the proportion of reduced budget has been spent on yet another restructure, redundancy packages, recruitment and the like?  Nature conservation a very poor second perhaps even third if you contrast against access and engagement?

BEVERLEY COMMONS

Readers may be aware that in the ERY applications are progressing to Deregister and Exchange Land at Beverley Westwood COM544.  It seems that the local authority have been writing to objectors ahead of the Public Inquiry seeking to get the withdrawl of those objections.  The campaign has hit the front page of the Hull Daily Mail.  There is a real fear that a precedent would be set by the approval of such an application.

The Open Spaces Society have added their objection to a growing call for more open and transparent conduct of business by the local authority.  For details of the full saga then the reader is signposted to the excellent Beverley Commons Blog which regales the debacle in full technicolour.  There are a number of related issues which add to the complexity including procedural issues around the application by developers to build luxury housing on the former Westwood Hospital.   The ERYC planning website refers to the development as application 3876, yet a letter received by the Forum yesterday refers to the same description as application number 0573!  Confusing, definitely!  Even more so when I tried to locate the Forum’s representation, as rare as a South Yorkshire Meles meles!  In fact it appears rarer …. so watch this space for updates.

It is a dilemma of modern living perhaps that finds what we previously took for granted as being protected sites are slowly being eroded and nibbled away at the edges to benefit business and not retained for the public benefit, the basis on which they were established.

& finally for tonight ….

For those readers who are not able to receive the Thorne Times as a newspaper, then read the June edition of Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter here.

 

 

 

‘Moor’ action needed, particularly by politicians of all persuasions?

June 22, 2014

Reading the Regional broadsheet recently and an article by Ben Barnett (Agricultural Correspondent) “Woodlands still wait for action to secure future” reminded the reader that despite the Government convening a panel to assess the future of the publicly-owned woods there has been no progress since the sell off / give away was abandoned.  The panel’s report, puiblished two years ago, called for the public forest estate to remain in public ownership but one might be forgiven for wondering what part the epetitions and lobbying of Ministers and MPs played in that conclusion?

The recent Queen’s speech did not include measures on forests, prompting members of the panel led by its chairman the Rt Rev James Jones to write an open letter.  The Guardian heads the story Forestry panel attacks UK government.   The Independent Panel on Forestry Final Report was published in 2012.

It is laudable that the IPF urges the Government and all political parties to make manifesto committment to legislate as soon as possible after the General Election to ensure that the future of the public forests are assured. Their report said that the forests cost the taxpayer about £20m a year, around 90p per household in England!  Apparently, that same estate provides an estimated £400m in benefits to people, nature and the economy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other ‘estates’ provided that kind of value for public money …. some of the upland moors in receipt of HLS funding yet failing to safeguard Hen Harriers and other raptors perhaps?  See Avery’s commentary on Simon Barnes’s comments in the Times and just in case readers are still minded to provarication about “Ban driven grouse shooting” then read his message to “wishy-washy liberals”.   His epetition on the Government site currently stands at around 4,773 and his ambition is to achieve 5,000 by the ‘inglorious 12th’ (August) so anyone able and minded to twitter, please sing loudly ….

Someone reputed to know a bit about forestry, Roderick Leslie has written a book “Forest Vision” and if Mark Avery’s review is anything to go by it promises to be an interesting read?  Avery writes that “This is a book about the politics of forestry by someone who knows them better than just about anyone else in the UK.”  Sadly, whilst politics ought not to have a place in nature conservation it most certainly appears to infest and worse still it appears to be from top right down to even regional level?

Since his departure from the RSPB Avery might be regarded as having become more outspoken in defence of the natural world, perhaps Roderick Leslie is joining the ranks and who could forget Iolo Williams passionate appeal when he was part of the launch of the “State of Nature” report in May last year?  It’s worth a periodic revisit to hear him remind us all why we must keep trying …. for the sake of the next generation, who if we fail will not have the experiences we enjoyed as children.

 

For how much longer will our grandchildren be able to find gems like this Fly Orchid in the countryside?

For how much longer will our grandchildren be able to find gems like this Fly Orchid in the countryside?

 

It would be even better if political parties were to show an interest in the natural environment, its future and particularly its protection?  In one lifetime we have seen “A Muzzled Watch-dog” become a “toothless terrier” and more recently perhaps it is morphing to a “lapdog”?  We have seen suggestions that it is acceptable to replace an ancient tree with its saproxylic invertebrate assemblage and epiphytic bryophytes etc. with a 100 new saplings! No doubt that contract would probably be awarded to a hard pressed NGO trying to keep their staff in work, so effectively preventing opposition to yet more loss of species rich habitat?  Perhaps it’s time that we all started to contact our MPs and prospective MPs and ask what their party plans for the natural environment?

Thanks to Phil Lee for the stunning image of a Yorkshire Ophrys insectifera.

 

 


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Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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