Posts Tagged ‘Dr Mark Avery’

Updates & Volume 10 of T&HM Papers

September 5, 2017

Apologies for the lack of posts but things have been very busy recently, not least the days & nights with [fantastic] Fern-owls.  Also things like the great turn out to the Hen Harrier Day in Sheffield, and indeed elsewhere over the weekend of 5th and 6th August.  Congratulations to the organisers BAWC, Sheffield Environmental and Sheffield WT.  Pleased that the Sheffield event attracted around 350 people to listen to (image below right) l-r: Liz Ballard (S&RWT) Dave Dickinson (Sheffield Environmental) Dr Ross Cameron (Sheffield University) Dave Wood (Sheffield Bird Study Group) Dr Mark Avery (author of best selling Inglorious: conflicts in the uplands), Blenaid Denham (RSPB Skydancer Project Officer), Natalie Bennett (Green Party) and Iolo Williams of Springwatch fame question the impact that driven grouse shooting continues to have on upland moors.

Then there was the Birdfair 18 – 20 August at Rutland Water, another fantastic opportunity to acquire some bargains, to network and to hear some excellent talks as well as the great debates around the future for the environment and wildlife.  “The Politics of Wildlife Protection in Britain” and “Brexit and the Environment: the way forward” were both excellent but it was a shame that the MP scheduled to appear had to send apologies.  The debate would might be better described as a discussion around how the speakers thought that we (yes, that’s all of us) could contribute to raising the profile of wildlife and the natural environment amidst the plethora of other (rightly) high profile topics such as the future of the NHS etc.

Then there’s the fieldwork to continue and the ongoing issue of trying to understand the issues around the local badger populations which continue to receive unwarranted attention.  Is it because Government are sending out an unsavory message through rolling out extensions to the badger cull in the south west counties (and the Welsh Government too have decided to cull in some areas despite the previous successes without culling)? It is interesting that there are people who have cancelled family holidays to areas where culls are being rolled out, likewise people are beginning to look closely at animal welfare issues around the dairy industry.  None of this is helpful in so far as farmers or poor brock are concerned.

Amidst all this we’ve managed to get Volume 10 of Thorne & Hatfield Moors Papers in print and in no small part down to the tenacity of our Editor Dr Paul Buckland.  In keeping with tradition it has a wrap round photographic cover, comprises of some 140 pages with 10 papers (containing colour photographs), a short note and a book review.  The Executive have decided to offer the latest volume at below cost, and are offering it at £5 plus £1.70 s/c p&p.  If readers would like a copy then please send a cheque made payable to T&HMC Forum for £6.70 to Publications, PO Box 879, Thorne, Doncaster, DN8 5WU.

Volume 11 is already in hand and will focus on Hatfield Moors so if any reader has any research or observational note relating to Hatfield Moors then please give thought to submitting it to the Forum’s Editor for consideration.  Guidelines to Authors are available upon request or can be found in the various Volumes of the journal.

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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.

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?

 

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


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Mark Avery

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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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