Wednesday, 16 March 2016

What Europe Means For Our Wildlife












British wildlife relies on Europe for its protection. There has been no new or updated home-grown wildlife legislation since 2000, and that act didn't add much to what was already in place from twenty years earlier.
The 1981 wildlife and countryside act covers listed species of plants, birds and animals and their habitats, making it an offence to take, disturb, sell or harm them and the 2000 countryside and rights of way act adds on a few extras. The 1981 act is generally acknowledged to be the more significant of the two, yet it is thirty years old, and in those intervening years we have lost more wildlife than at any other time in the last 8000. It's also rare for there to be prosecutions under the act and without that kind of enforcement how can it hope to be effective in what it sets out to do? You might say it is out of date and requires amendment or better still fresh legislation. But that is so clearly not on the agenda that our wildlife has had to rely instead on European legislation to protect it.

The 2010 habitat regulations amalgamated the birds and habitat directives of the 1990s and now forms the basis of all European member states wildlife policy. Its not perfect by any means but it is certainly better than anything our own governments have offered since 1981 (which amounts to more or less nothing). Yet, only last year, George Osborne added his voice to those who were calling for a watering down of the habitat regulations on the grounds they were anti economic growth and development. Fortunately, Europeans returned a resounding NO to that call when asked for their feelings by public consultation.

I won't insult your intelligence by going into great detail of the many, many ways wildlife supports our own lives, but think soil, water and air provision, nutrient and waste recycling, flood management, pollination, food, weather, temperature regulation, medicine, and that's without the considerable health and relaxation benefits a walk in the woods or by a river brings, and the simple undiluted joy of watching the birds and bees and butterflies visit flowers you've planted in your garden, or seeing dragonflies and damselflies visit a pond you've created that newts and frogs also call home. There is also nothing to touch the feeling you get when a rare or endangered species begins to visit your garden because of the things you've put there to help it. I know this to be true because we now have Silver Washed fritillary butterflies here and very rare Longhorn beetles and they weren't in the garden until we created the habitat for them.
That kind of food for the soul can't have a price tag put on it. There is also, of course, the moral and ethical responsibilities we have to what my wise friend Mel calls our Wild Cousins.

Although I personally think it wrong to talk about nature in terms of what it gives us economically, if that is the language that politicians understand then even they must acknowledge the benefits inherent in protecting our wildlife. BUT, the truth as demonstrated by successive governments since 1981 is that Whitehall does not consider wildlife to be significant enough to deserve updating old legislation to ensure its survival, let alone creating new. If we want that, it will only come from Europe, as it has been doing for the last twenty years and if we end up leaving Europe I really, really fear for the future of our wild friends and places.

CT.

38 comments:

  1. The arguments from the locals here are all of the "We hate foreigners" variety

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  2. Interesting and thought provoking post. I'm amazed at your bee photos; so clever. xx

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    1. It was a queen tree bee and she returned to that window two days in a row trying to wedge herself inside a hole in the brick. Obviously it looked a desirable nesting place but she was just too podgy to fit :-) xx

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  3. For wildlife reasons I will be voting to stay in Europe - without their legislation I too dare not think what might happen to our wildlife and habitats.

    I won't go into rant mode but the present Government's attitude to wildlife leaves a lot to be desired to put it mildly!!

    I too am uncomfortable about the idea of "valuing" wildlife and habitats economy wise and dislike the thought of ecosystem services just for what they can give us :(

    A thought provoking post CT.

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    1. You and I share the same sentiments as we've said before. I am very worried about what will happen if we leave Europe. Wildlife is not getting mentioned in all the debates that are going on and I wonder how many people realise how dependant our wildlife is on Europe for continued protection.

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  4. Hey CT,
    Another thought provoking post. Our 'green and pleasant land' is one of our greatest assets in terms of tourism and therefore our economy. I'm appalled that successive governments have taken it all for granted and not given any serious thought to ensure home grown protection through legislation. And to keep it current and up to date. This weekend we saw ladybirds, honey bees and various hover flies and bumbles visiting the garden. There is frog spawn in the pond. Newts too. A butterfly passed through, and the birds are everywhere. You can't put a price on it, because it is priceless. But it should be valued and protected better than it is.
    What do I need to do to try and encourage Longhorn Beetles? Olly would fall over backwards if he saw one of those in the garden!
    Leanne xx

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    1. What bugs me is the govts don't represent majority thought when it comes to wildlife. People are very energised to help look after our wild things and places - just look at how many folks with blogs care for their gardens for wildlife.

      Longhorns need dead wood, standing dead wood if at all poss and nectar sources. Many of them are ancient woodland creatures so it helps if you've got one of those nearby. They live in the larval stage in wood for 7-8 years for some species so it's a long term project ;-). You may get stag beetles sooner though if you put some logs in a pile.

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    2. Aah no woodland nearby, so will have to rely on your wonderful pictorial recording of them in your garden. xx

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  5. Can you send this 'press release-style' to all the national newspapers and get them to print it? Read this people and vote for wildlife! If only... Great post, CT. x

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    1. I wish they would put wildlife centre stage as part of the debate. Haven't seen anything in the press about it from that angle yet, so praps I will send the post out :-). Xx

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  6. I so agree with your post today. I have two small ponds that are visited everyday by all sorts of birds and critters.
    I believe if we had not built out as far as I live that there would be more natural water spots for the wildlife, so my two very small ponds.
    I am so lucky to be able to enjoy the daily show.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Even a small pond carries tremendous benefit to wildlife. I get so much enjoyment watching what visits and lives in ours.

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  7. I read your post with interest CT and very thought provoking it has proved to be. There is too little publicaty upon the state of our wildlife but perhaps people are too focused upon what they consider affects them ...the price of beer, immigration, fuel costs and the ilk but without preserving our wildlife not just on a local but global scale we are inviting our own demise. whether or not europe is the best choice I am not convinced yet, but certainly it is not on our government's agenda as of yet.
    Oh bloody lovely pictures m'dear

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    1. I heard today that the benefit of remaining in Europe to our wildlife would be being promoted by the govt were it not for the fact that their own wildlife record is so abysmally poor by comparison that they can't afford to raise the subject.

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  8. But we can lobby govt. either directly by writing to our MP or by joining organisations such as the National Trust or our local wildlife trusts who do so much to protect our wildlife. 38 degrees is another lobbying group which has changed policy thanks to its members. Let's not be defeatist and let's make sure we all use our vote in June. In the meantime let's use our knowledge and power to educate the next generation and let's all say no to using slug pellets, pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers in our gardens and allotments. Great post CT.

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  9. I got an e-mail recently from the petition people about the petition you mentioned a little while ago, I wondered what had actually been the outcome. I am thankful for people like you who love our wildlife so much. I always think of you as the Bee Mummy! xx

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    1. I had the same. Great to hear it worked. People power in action! I remember that summer, when bee rescues seemed to occur every week. I felt like a bee mummy :-) xx

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  10. Very interesting post, CT. I don't know a lot about your situation in Europe/UK, but I think we share a lot of the same concerns. Coincidentally, I've been helping my daughter learn about conservation of natural resources lately, as it's something she's learning about in school. We were both very surprised to learn how many different kinds of things are derived from oil!

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    1. We attended a very interesting lecture on that subject last year and I was amazed too.

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  11. Oh now that was a great post! I have always been very pro-Europe especially since those who are anti-Europe always seem to be anti-migration, anti-human rights, against legislation to protect the vulnerable and that Eejit Boris Johnson. However after 8 years of financial austerity 'imposed' on Ireland by Europe following our economic collapse I found mysthe value of these trans-national institutions. But yay your timely post does illustrate the value - particularly for our irreplaceable wild life but yes it is also the e enforcement of the legislation is the real crux of the matter. xx

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    1. It's a simple choice for me this vote because the alternative for wildlife really doesn't bare thinking about xx

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  12. Wonderful images and as the others have mentioned a very thought provoking post. You would have thought that the wildlife trusts would be pointing this out at a national level! The joy of observing wildlife is priceless. Sarah x

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    1. I wish they would get their publicity machines into gear but often they seem to fall behind on these things. Our local paper has an ecologist who writes for them and he's written a similar piece to my post. Hopefully local papers will follow suit but it really could do with national promotion so wildlife lovers understand what's at stake. X

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  13. A thought provoking post as usual my dear xx

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    1. I'm so cross the subject is being ignored nationally when few people are aware of it xx

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  14. I wholeheartedly agree with your post and the comments. I dread to think what will become of our wonderful wildlife if we don't have European support.
    I wonder if Springwatch will do a feature... Seems just the thing they would be passionate about (the presenters at least).

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    1. Let's hope they do- someone needs to get it out there xx

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  15. Marvellous writing post and I fully agree with all you said. We MUST protect out wildlife at all costs.

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  16. A dismal lack of concern for wildlife by the government. I will definitely be voting for wildlife protection. We need more protective measures in place, not fewer. It scares me how much destruction there is and how it is all escalating. It's always wonderful to see it in your own garden isn't it. I've just checked my little pond and the first frogspawn has appeared. It makes me so happy. CJ xx

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    1. I live in hope for frogspawn but we don't get it here. Plenty of frogs and toads and their children but no spawn. Xx

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  17. Its sad to see country land, animal habitats, streams, etc spoiled by ATV's. I think they should be banned or banned to roads. These inconsiderate people drive through farmland and everything, because they're special? and they have rights?. I see much of our land spoiled with the garbage and gases they leave behind. I agree with you 100%. Great post

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  18. Interesting read and something I should know more about.
    Love the photos of the bumblebees.
    Hope you are feeling more settled.. Happy weekend.
    Amanda xx

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    1. It doesn't get enough publicity sadly :-( Feeling better thanks xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x