Posts Tagged ‘Owen Paterson’

Back to Badgering : is £16m+ value for money?

September 19, 2015

Wednesday’s blog post talked of the newfangled thing called science (pers comm. CP).  Clearly the defra agencies and their Minister are not yet conversant with this evidence based approach?

Natural England have approved a cull licence in Dorset in addition to those already running for West Gloucestershire and West Somerset.  Apparently the applications were approved as the applications fulfilled all the criteria.  Natural England’s website appears to confirm that sufficient funds are in place to complete control operations, so does that means that no public funds will be spent on the continued culling in the two existing areas and the new Dorset licence area?  The ‘exercise’ thus far we understand is in the order of £16,777,000 which equates to around £6,775 per badger according to the Badger Trust.

In 2013 NE over ruled its own adviser to grant a licence to extend the Gloucestershire badger cull.  Four of nine NE Board members expressed severe reservations, particularly on the pivotal advice of the government’s chief veterinary officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens. Wood said that advice was “the key” to the decision to extend.

During the meeting (23 October 2013), the minutes of which were obtained by the Guardian, Prof. MacDonald (NE ‘expert’ advice) said: “The CVO’s advice that killing further badgers would lead to better disease control is not easily reconciled with the evidence.” He added it was “hard to understand” how further trials could be licensed following the failure of the initial culls. Other board members agreed that the extension was likely to increase TB infections in cattle, with one noting “independent advice should have been sought”. The minutes record discussion of “the fact that it was difficult to predict what the disease control benefits would be”. In the end, the board voted narrowly to allow Wood to make the decision.

Readers may further recall that …. “If, as the former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson stated in 2013, the badger cull is rolled out to over 40 areas of England the costs to the tax payer could easily exceed half a billion pounds.”  How then, with the state of the nation’s finance as it is, can this be justified?  No reasonable person lacks sympathies or understanding for the stress and problems faced by herds which are infected with bTB, but why is the English Government so incalcitrant when it comes to evidence based approach?

We read that farmers need to take consumers with them, they need to engage with the public about where food comes from so that they better understand the issues.  How is a conservationist to enjoy Somerset Brie when they know that badgers have been inhumanely slaughtered as part of the ‘production process’ of getting the product onto their plate?  Visit the news page of Stop the cull to see more detail of the issue.  Each of us effectively votes through our purse, across a wide range of ethical and moral issues and supermarkets are very sensitive to market share.

Fast forward two years, Natural England’s web page on GOV.UK clearly states that sufficient funds are in place to complete control operations.  We might read into that that the farmers, landowners or shooters will be funding the operation?  Conversely we might wonder if defra (or other department) through one of its agencies might have made available the next tranche of cash?

The Badger Trust’s recent press release in part here verbatim: “The Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers.

“The public has a right to be outraged not only by the appalling waste of badgers’ lives but also the disgraceful squandering of tens of millions of pounds on a policy that will have no measureable impact on reducing bovine TB. If famers are worried about badgers then vaccinating them is not just more effective and humane, it’s also ten times cheaper than culling.”

We are reminded of Prof. John Bourne’s comment when he was the Chair of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bovine TB.  Watch his informative presentation at the Badger Trust’s AGM Seminar 2015.

“I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician who said, we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers”.

PENTAX Image

Badgers suffer needlessly, are subject of digging, baiting and dog fighting and as if that isn’t enough they appear to be a particular target for the current Government and Natural England?

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Latest nightjar count reveals decline, robust science needs to establish why?

July 16, 2014

The annual ‘census’ or count of nightjar on Thorne, Goole, Crowle and Hatfield Moors has been completed.    Numbers are down on Hatfield Moors, but one more churring male has been recorded from Thorne Moors this season.

Thorne and Crowle Moors received two visits each and Hatfield three.  These visits were undertaken in June.  On Thorne, Goole and Crowle Moors 54 territories were mapped, on Hatfield there were 33 which is five down on 2013 numbers.

Site 2005

 

2006

 

2007

 

2008

 

2009

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

Thorne 23

 

 

36

 

 

34

 

 

30

 

 

37

 

 

32

 

 

34

 

 

34

 

 

40

 

 

41

Crowle

21

 

 

20

 

 

13

 

 

12

 

 

15

 

 

16

 

 

13

 

 

12

 

 

13

 

 

13

 

 

Hatfield

 

 

27

 

 

33

 

 

32

 

 

29

 

 

31

 

35

 

 

36

 

 

42

 

 

38

 

 

33

 

 

Total

 

71

 

89

 

79

 

71

 

83

 

83

 

83

 

88

 

91

 

87

 

The table above shows the population trend over the last ten years.  Courtesy of Natural England.

Whilst recognising that the methodology is an accepted standard one it does not evidence breeding or fledging success. The last research undertaken on the Humberhead population was back in the last decade, 2000 to be precise. Given the ever increasing numbers of wind turbines then one might reasonably expect some robust science to be commissioned particularly in light of the additional pressure created by increased visitor numbers (dog walkers, bikes and horses and even three quad bikes on Sunday) subsequent to the Dedication of the NNR as Open Access?

ALIEN SPECIES

Definitive evidence of Reeves Muntjac on Thorne Moors was captured on camera by a sharp eyed observer, Rob Watson on 8 June.  Natural England are keen to receive records of sightings, please take as much details as possible and contact their NNR office or staff directly with sightings.

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

We are pleased to report that the attempt to privatise the Land Registry has been abandoned.

The Cabinet reshuffle has taken place and casualties have been recorded across a variety of media, but one of the departures which will perhaps be being celebrated in many quarters is that of the badger hater, Owen Paterson who has been culled, or perhaps temporarily translocated?  Who could forget the suggeston of replacing ancient trees with 100 saplings, the neonictiniod saga and discounting the evidence based science when it didn’t agree with his plan?    There is an excellent report and analyses of his tenure as Environment portfolio holder which can be found through ‘a new nature blog’.  Miles King provides a series of issues which Paterson will be remembered for and asks if there were any redeeming features?  Mark Avery too provides a political perspective on Paterson’s 22 months in office and reminds us that there are only 295 days left to ‘christmas’.  In the interim we must make sure that his replacement Liz Truss is left in no doubt about the importance of the natural environment and the expectation that it will be protected not offset by biodiversity mitigation to silence those who previously championed safeguard.

NATURE NOTES

A recent visit to Thorne Moors was rewarded by a Forester Moth as the first species recorded after stepping out of the car, Forester is a delightful moth and has also been recorded from Crowle recently.

Record shot, which flew as I moved in for the close up!

Record shot, which flew as I moved in for the close up!

Phil Lee did a better job  in terms of close up with his Crowle specimen.

Phil Lee did a better job in terms of close up with his Crowle specimen.

 

It was pleasing recently to receive a report of Emperor Moth sightings near a fishery on the eastern periphery of Hatfield Moors.  Is this iconic species expanding its local range or is it a case of an increase in observers?

This stunning image by Tim Melling shows a female Emperor Moth.

This stunning image by Tim Melling shows a female Emperor Moth.

Wildlife at risk crossing roads & NFU apologise after Buglife expose misleading claims

July 10, 2014

Tonight as I was driving home along a nice stretch of road, which might better be described as ‘track’ and which runs parallel with the busy A18.  I slowed as I approached a moving ‘stick’ which was obviously a larva of some description.  Given that the vegetation on both sides of the road is rank grasses with vetches, bird’s foot trefoil, a few stands of St John’s Wort and even a bit of ragwort, so maybe an eggar of some description, but I certainly didn’t expect the beauty below.  One side of the road is a substantive drainage ditch (currently being extracted to irrigate agricultural crops) the other side is another drainage ditch but this one, the North Engine Drain is a SSSI and part of the series which make up the Hatfield Chase Ditches SSSI and which are sympathetically managed for their wildlife interest.  This particular one (NED) had been ‘managed’ earlier in the year (the first time for a few years) in such a manner that would have delivered both drainage and wildlife benefits.

 

140710 Emperor larva hrk 300

 

Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia is generally a speacies of moorland and heaths, it is present on both Thorne and Hatfield Moors.  But in the vicinity of Hatfield Chase drainage ditches?  This handsome beast made it across the road to safety and survived risk of predation by corvids or other hungry creature foraging to feed a family.  As noted by a writer for the Guardian perhaps the bigger risk might be posed by vehicles?  I have been unable to definitively establish if the larva is poisonous or if it is just unpalatable because of the spines and crusty ‘warts’ and uses the colouration and pattern to fool potential diners.  Do let us know if you are aware of a paper or such which provides an answer.

Various authors list food sources of the Emperor as being mostly woody plants including heather, but also bramble, meadowsweet, hawthorn, blackthorn, alder buckthorn, sallows and birches.  Some of these species are present in the area but it would need to be both very athletic and agile.  Waring & Townsend (2003) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain & Ireland also include fens, field margins, woodland rides, mature sand dunes and other open scrubby places.  UK Moths website describe the ‘warts’ as being yellow but Manley (2008) British Moths and Butterflies A Photographic Guide show an example similar to today’s find, with pink ‘warts’.

 

CAMPAIGN UPDATE:

Readers might recall that we have featured the issue of bees and neonictinoids on this blog.  Well, here we are again ….

The NFU have recently made erroneous claim attributing losses in crop yields in Sweden to insects.  But give Guy Smith, their Vice-President his due, he was quick to apologise about the tweets and various news reports.  It should be noted that these were made after Buglife, the invertebrate champion for ‘the small things that run the planet’. 

This embarrassing incident comes not long after Syngenta had to back down with their threats to sue the UK for upholding the EU ban on the use of neonictioids.  David Cameron and Owen Paterson were in favour of dropping the ban, but the critical mass of community campaigning through epetitions and the like caused a rethink …. for now.  The NFU and other representatives of agri-industrial interests have supported the Syngenta campaign, and this is the second time that their claims have been found to be erroneous (no doubt to the embarrassment of both the BBC and Farmers Guardian who reported the NFU claims made by Smith) and as Matt Shardlow says this latest revelation comes on top of two recent reviews of scientific evidence that have failed to find improvements in crop yields as a result of neonicotinoid use and the failure at a recent House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee of a Bayer spokesman to name a single published, peer reviewed scientific paper showing that neonicotinoids improved crop yields.

Who can we, the public and tax payer trust when it comes to honest and robust science?  It’s not unreasonable to expect corporations to promote vested interests but surely to exhibit credibility it must be accurate and honest?  Similarly, Government should be open and transparent and above all beyond reproach, demonstrating exemplary integrity in their conduct?  They are after all funded through public taxation even if their political party is in receipt of funds from third parties?

 

 

‘Moor’ B updates ….

July 2, 2014

BEES

Bees seem to keep hitting the headlines a lot recently, at the moment because there is a worry that David Cameron and Owen Paterson will overturn the EU ban on the use of neonictinoids.  The challenge has been led by Syngenta and a number of epetitions have been launched to send a message to politicians about the serious concerns posed by these toxic chemicals.

This morning hundreds of 38 Degrees members joined a host of campaign organisations to swarm on Downing Street to protect our bees.  David Cameron was meeting his cabinet to decide whether to allow banned bee killing pesticides to be used on fields across the UK.  Alongside 38 Degrees a huge range of campaign organisations came along, Buglife, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association all joined the campaign. Even Barry Gardiner MP (The Shadow Environment minister) join the ‘swarm’.  This is people power, this is critical mass collaborating to conserve and protect things people rather than corporations care about.

BADGERS

Of our beloved and beleaguered brock, with ‘apologies’ for the ’emotive’ langauge …. Miles King through his excellent blog “a new nature blog” has alerted us if we were not already aware that Farmers flout TB rules and campaign against loopholes which let TB spread

after he had analysed the recent (June 2014) Defra Bovine TB Information Note 02/14   Sadly, King draws a conclusion that the Tenant Farmers Association, chairman Stephen Wyrill considers trade to be more important than disease control, when it comes to tackling the disease in cattle.  Wyrill agreed that badgers should continue to be killed but that measures must respect the need to continue trading.

In a report by the Guardian today, new research published in the prestigious scientific journals Nature reports on National-scale research which heavily contradicts government’s badger policy and says that emphasis on cattle is only way to curb the bTB epidemic and that a mass cull of cattle not badgers is the only way to proceed.  The study was immediately rejected by farming minister George Eustice, who said a mass cull of cattle would kill the industry.  Surely, collectively we need solutions based on science not political point scoring, procrastination is costing lives of both badgers and cattle.

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

 

Brook-Pollock, Roberts and Keeling present a dynamic stochastic spatial model for bovine TB in Great Britain.  The online paper provides an excellent selection of references and they are provided with their context.  The research concludes that “Very few of the control options tested have the potential to reverse the observed annual increase, with only intensive strategies such as whole-herd culling or additional national testing proving highly effective, whereas controls focused on a single transmission route are unlikely to be highly effective”.   As this research does not provide support for the continued cull, will the farming industry commission its own (if it has not already), will the Minister ‘carry on regardless’?

Both these ‘B’ issues bring to the fore the question of political impartiality and representativeness of the public who elected them (be it proactively or otherwise) and to who they are accountable?  However, when one examines how political parties are funded then the mire gets very mirky indeed?  Multinational corporations employ powerful and effective marketing companies who naturally advocate for vested interest and Westminster has some 1450 incumbents, some elected others not so accountable but all open to ‘discussion’ and why would they not be?  When ‘reason’ fails then there’s always the courts?

 

 

Beleagured Badgers in Somerset & Gloucestershire still, but no roll out elsewhere ….

April 4, 2014

At long last …. the Government, through Defra have published the Independent Expert Panel’s Report on the Pilot Badger Culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.  The Report  was presented to the Secretary of State Owen Paterson in March 2014.  It was apparently leaked ahead of the Parliamentary debate by the Backbench Business Committee through the Commons Select Committee on 13 March.  Pro-badger cull MPs boycott vote as Government loses 219 to 1, so will those who provaricated citing the need to read the findings now act to bring the debate back to Parliament and a free vote on whether or not more public money should be wasted on an inhumane and ineffective, unscientific cull?  Consider also the cost of the cull, per badger, and in times of cuts in public services – can we afford it when there are alternatives?

800px-Deceased_Meles_meles_-_head[1]

By Andrew Gray (local userpage) (p1140372) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Panel were appointed in 2012 and despite the findings of the Panel it appears that Owen Paterson still intends to continue the two pilot culls, only this time they will not be monitored.  This from a Minister who is reported to seek evidence based science.  This despite the cost per animal, this despite the IEP findings that the cull was inhumane and ineffective.  Perhaps a glimmer of hope on the horizon is the announcement that there is some £24.6m to be invested over the course of this parliament in the development of effective TB vaccines for both cattle and badgers.

The NFU are reported to be ‘bitterley disappointed’.  Surely they can appreciate the predicament that they are placing farmers who have ‘closed herds’ in, as well as those who practice good biosecurity?   Perhaps it is the role of such Unions generally to represent the masses rather than promote effective best practice?  This continued persecution of a much loved icon of the British countryside will not help the public perception of farmers who prefer to work with rather than persecute nature.  The agricultural welfare scheme (aka CAP) is not just there to subsidise monoculture across the countryside but to fund good environmental practice, and surely it is not beyond the wit of man as a scientist to develop and achieve an effective compromise?

What is perhaps aseonishing is the fact that the Minister does not deem it appropriate or necessary that there is a need for monitoring of the culls.  Prof Rosie Woodroffe of the  Institute of Zoology commented on that aspect: “I’m disappointed that this year’s culls will lack the independent oversight needed to provide confidence”.  A case could be made that this is a Goverment lacking in evidence based policy from a Minister and Department where such scince ought to be at the forefront of decisions? 

Another potential negative spin off consequential of the continuing cull  in Somerset and Gloucestershire, might be a drop in tourism – might the public think twice about visiting an area where its farmers do not value its wildlife?  Somerset Brie is delicious, it is a quality product that deserves our support, but for me at the moment at any rate there is a principle based on sound science and at the moment the Minister appears rather muddled?

bTB can be devastating, no one doubts that and there is understanding and sympathy for farmers who have lost herds to the disease. Generations of breeding over years whiped out in an instant.

Together, a collaborative coalition can achieve compromise, but continued culling is only likely to cause more problems than it resolves?

 

 

Causes for celebration?

March 16, 2014

It’s always nice to receive good news or positive outcomes and to be able to congratulate people on achieving best conservation outcomes:

The Badger saga: there was a Backbench Business Committee debate on Thursday 13 March in the ‘House’, see here to watch the debate or to download the transcript.  It is interesting to observe the proceedings and ‘performaces’,  one might be minded to agree that the Independant Expert Panel (IEP) report should have been made available ahead of the debate (as oppossed to being leaked on the day) in order that all MPs could read and understand all the significant findings.  219 to one MPs voted to halt the cull, many justified abstention by indicating that the final IEP Report was required ahead of a debate.  In the interim of the awaited IEP Report, perhaps they should read a few statistics provided by ‘Team Badger’?   The outcome of the debate is not binding upon the Government and thus far the ConDems have carried on in just that manner,  ConDem’ing wildlife and the environment to an uncertain future by clearing away red tape they see as inhibiting development.  What is perhaps equally worrying is a Government who appears deaf to the masses?  Fifty Shades of Grayling a guest blog by Carol Day was another damming view on the Government’s ‘green credentials’ and featured on the well read Standing up for Nature site operated by Mark Avery.   Another recent critique he featured was subsequent to a magazine interview with Dave Webster, CEO of Natural England, entitled What would you have liked to have asked?  it too receives a number of interesting comments. 

It is unfortunate that the Defra website  does not contain up to date information which raises the issue of open and transparent reporting by a Government Department perhaps?  The Defra website then directs you to GOV.UK website for more information, but that only brings you to the end of last year in terms of the IEP.  GOV.UK also provides details of the membership of the IEP.  It is understood and reported in the media that the Minister, Owen Paterson has at long last received the IEP Report, so hopefully it will not be too long before its findings will be made public.  The BBC (television station not Parliamentary Committee) reports that Badger culls were ‘ineffective and failed humaneness test’.

Badger & mayweed

Badger by Tatterdemalion.   Image courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons license.

A number of email updates were received reporting upon the success of the collaborative coalition to save The Sanctuary a Derby CC Local Nature Reserve.  This was an excellent outcome not only for the wildlife of the site but also that it demonstrated what can be achieved by a collective collaboration of community conservationists.  It is understood that Derby CC press release concludes with this quite stinging comment ‘Derbyshire Wildlife Trust continues to have a service level agreement with the Council to provide expert advice on matters related to the natural environment.  Their compliance with this agreement will now be formally reviewed, and if found to be in breach, the appropriate legal action will be taken’.  It raises the issue of ‘paymasters’ requiring unchallenged compliance and co-operation otherwise potential loss of revenue to anyone with the audacity to challenge?  That was perhaps one of the benefits of forming a collaborative coalition, and was the rationale behind the Forum’s governance model.  There are an array of interesting comments posted, clearly and understandably local conservationists are not planning on complacency and will remain vigilent, long may the network deliver and where statute fails may they be held to account?

It was also pleasing to note that the Open Spaces Society have submitted a objection to the land swop at Beverley.  A timely reminder perhaps that one of the guest speakers at the Forum’s forthcoming Annual Meeting is Emeritus Professor Barbara English who will give a presentation on Beverley Pastures, the natural history and campaigning perspective will be provided by Kieran Sheehan. 

The IUCN have recently produced a glossy PR brochure on UK Peatland Restoration.   A number of geographically diverse case studies are offered but for the analysts of associated costs then there is disappointment and likewise perhaps the superficial reporting but nevertheless it delivers something we (conservation) often fail to celebrate, so well done!  Aimed for the layman rather than the scientist, one might see the benefit of having sufficient printed / CD to provide all 650 MPs in Westminster with a copy?

Conservation, collaboration and campaign(er)s

January 12, 2014

What a start to 2014, we had the Minister for the Environment Owen Paterson suggests that ancient woodlands can be felled if each tree lost were to be replaced with a 100 new ones!  That was on the back of a year which saw volumes of reports published evidencing losses of habitats and species.  The Ecologist, offers a contra perspective here.

Sadly now we find ourselves a little adrift of our usual ‘natural area’ territory and we look at the tradition of “Pasture Masters” across in Beverley Westwood.  A comment on the The Hull Dail Mail website describes the election process as it being “one of the country’s oldest and quirkiest elections”.  Long may such traditions not simply survive, but flourish.

But, sadly we learn that this ancient common, one well known to many of us if only because we can drive through it on the way to the East Coast is under threat.  But, thankfully such places have their champions and quite rightly so, another well qualified to fight nature’s corner and that of the community can be found through authorship of the 38 degree petion here.

WESTMOOR IMG_1261

A resident of Westwood Common whose wellbeing is at risk if developers are allowed to damage ancient rights of common?

 

It might be said that it is not disastrously significant in terms of nature conservation or environmental vandalism, BUT it sets a precedent and it continues that current trend of death by a thousand cuts.  When the haemorrhaging stops and the life blood is lost, we mourn the loss of things we had previously believed would always be.

Lest we forget the other Beverley Commons which might be considered as more diverse in their natural history interest.  Swinemoor for example.  But that too is under threat and have attracted controversy, see here.

The third is Figham Common and collectively these significant parcels of land offer wildlife and the commoners as well as the public an amazing resourse.  We can only wonder at what wildlife frequented these sites back in 1255, the date which Figham Common was first recorded.  A brief resume of the three Beverley Commons can be found here.

So, please readers consider adding your voice to the petition SAVE OUR WESTWOOD feel free to leave comments, please forward the details to your network.  Together community collaboration can make a difference. 

Black_Mill,_Beverley 2

Black Mill, Beverley Westwood by Paul Glazzard via Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Just in case we have any new readers who have not already signed the Forum’s petition to STOP & RETHINK NNRs as Open Access areas, please consider that one too, again PLEASE forward on to your networks.

I am reminded of some inspirational prose, the first verse of which was adopted and used on the calling card of the late Wm Bunting of Thorne.  In the 17 and 1800’s Commons were enclosed for private benefit and it would have been written as a ‘call to arms’ ….

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

Ancient woodlands to offer new project opportunities?

January 4, 2014

We asked the question, would 2014 bring challenges or opportunities, well it appears that another is already on the horizon?

It seems like the biodiversity offsetting much loved by developers and their advocates and supporters could, under new proposals outlined by Owen Patterson offer massive opportunities …. 100 new trees to be planted for the loss of each ancient one.

Just think of the jobs created by such projects, mouth-watering numbers of zero-hour contracts to be managed by some quasi quango or key stakeholder?  Or, perhaps they’re expecting ‘Big Society’ to step in and undertake the mitigation delivery?

File:Ancient woodland, Inchmahome.jpg

Ancient woodland on the island of Inchmahone, Lake of Menteith, Scotland.  Eileen Henderson.  Via Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times  articles published today, all allude to Mr Paterson admitting that this generation would lose out from loss, but the BBC rushed to the Minister’s rescue with PR spin “It is “highly unlikely” ancient woodland would be destroyed under new plans to speed up the planning process, the government has insisted.”   The Daily Mail hints at green rebellion, wow …. bring it on, long overdue!  Some comments on the media websites publishing the articles are well worth reading, some ask all the right questions so hopefully the debate will continue and perhaps it will now bring better focus on the real purpose behind biodiversity offsetting and ecosystem service audits etc.?

If some of the ancient woodland in this country dates back to the 1600s how can it be replaced in one generation?  We wonder how they propose to mitigate for the invertebrate fauna associated with ancient woodlands, can any readers direct us to that information?  If not then perhaps the champion of this scheme?  I wonder if the Minister or his civil servants in Defra have heard of the saprophytic index used to assess wooodland invertebrate fauna?  I wonder if such fauna registers on their radar or in the eco-system service evaluation manual?  It is all very well to offer that “People will say that’s no good for our generation but, over the long term, that is an enormous increase in the number of trees”, but where will newly planted tree saplings acquire their obligate micro-fauna from?  Around 13% of our native invertebrate animal and fungus species have life cycles making them dependent on the dead wood environment at some stage during their development*.  In total, almost 5,000 British species are known to be associated with deadwood, how will this be accommodated within the Minister’s plans?  A new mini industry, breeding and translocating species around the UK to order?

Fallen tree in Denny Wood, New Forest.  Jim Champion.  Via Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Already the Woodland Trust and FoE have spoken out about it, but where are the rest?

Is this latest proposal a result of Paterson’s predecessors failure to sell off the forests?  If the public won’t allow the sale of their land and assets then we’ll make them available to developers by relaxing red-tape?

Do you have a view?  Does the environment matter, do we in modern day Britain need a healthy and diverse natural environment?

*http://www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/urban/ecorecord/bap/html/deadwda.htm

 


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Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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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