#30DaysWild No. 26. Today was #TheTimeIsNo mass lobby of MPs in Westminster. Organised by a coalition of major charities, including WWF, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, several faith-based development charities etc etc, it called for strong action on the twin issues of climate change and nature recovery. We felt we had to be part of it.
We’re not really tub thumpers, we’re more get on and doers. But when several of the charities you support all ask you to get involved in the same event, and you know you have experience to share, then it’s time to add your voice.
The call is for more ambitious climate emissions targets (yes, even more ambitious!) and for really strong action on wildlife that builds a nature recovery network – one much stronger and more effective than we have at present. Because, in truth, what we have is failing.
Yes, there are great little pockets of wildlife, like Wheatland Farm and all the other nature reserves, whether in Devon or elsewhere. But when these are small, isolated and fragmented they’re vulnerable. We might work day and night to get the habitat right, but if a population of butterflies winks out here because of a wet summer, there’s no-where near enough for them to recolonise from.
Swallow numbers, to take just one example, have dropped through the floor at Wheatland Farm. It’s not loss of nesting sites. It’s not even loss of insect food sources – not here at least. But that’s probably having an impact on how many reach Devon each spring, and that’s not something we can fix on our own. You can’t maintain a healthy ecosystem by only protecting pocket hankerchief-sized ‘special places’.
Rather, we need strong government action that re-directs policy and public funds away from subsidising agricultural productivity at any cost, and instead puts a proper value on a healthy environment that provides public goods.
Cuckoos, barn owls, hedgehogs, marsh fritillary butterflies, frogs and toads, lapwings, bats, orchids on verges, kestrels, bees and other pollinators… the list of once-common wildlife that’s really feeling the pressure goes on and on.
Brexit could take this either way. It could, in theory, give the UK the flexibility to really change things for the better.
But it could more easily lead to an economic shock that pushes environmental issues to the bottom of the policy pile yet again. The British countryside has already lost so much. It’s crucial we don’t let things slide any further.
Maggie stopped working in overseas conservation because she felt hypocritical ignoring what was going on at home. At Wheatland Farm we’ve consistently done what we can on these two interlinked issues, running a genuinely low carbon and sustainable business that protects wildlife. But we feel like the little boy with his finger plugging the hole in the dam. We all need to work together on this. #TheTimeIsNow, and this need is urgent.
This time in 2017: Wildish hedge trimming – getting Popehouse Moor ready for summer grazing.