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Unchartered waters: how much longer can nature hold its breath?

Monday, 19th June 2017

Unchartered waters: how much longer can nature hold its breath?
The UK is already 'one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world,' according to the State of Nature 2016 report so let's hope the natural world is on the agenda of our EU exit negotiations as we need a more ambitious vision for British wildlife and the countryside, and we need it now.

Unchartered Waters

On September 27, 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson published a little book with a giant message, entitled Silent Spring, which was responsible for inspiring the modern environmental movement. Silent Spring was the result of Miss Carson's six years of scientific research into the misuse of chemical pesticides and it became an instant best-seller, and without a doubt one of the most talked about books in decades. Within two years of the book's publication, however, Miss Carson died, but not before she had been written about abusively and disparagingly by the chemical industry and its allies.
 
Silent Spring

We don't have to be scientists to understand the premise of Carson's book; it's simple, we expect the sun to rise each day and we expect to hear the birds sing; however, Rachel Carson believed DDT and the ‘indiscriminate use of other synthetic pesticides' posed significant risks to humans and wildlife, which would ultimately, given time, 'silence the birds' (The Washington Post 1959).

The reality of a 'silent spring' should be unfathomable to all. I certainly don't want my children to accept that nature is an acceptable casualty of progress as so-called 'progress' without preservation of the natural world is the reverse of evolution. We must include nature in our plans and take any opportunity we can to help reverse the decline of Britain's wildlife. However, if that's simple to digest, why is nature still holding its breath, and why are we still (since Rachel Carson's book) navigating these unchartered waters of wildlife declines? Currently, we're heading full steam ahead and on a collision course to lose a quarter of all UK wildlife populations by 2025 (from 1970 levels).

As the RSPB, WWF-UK, National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts said, the British countryside is 'key to the identity as a nation.' But we're about to lose this identity as the UK is 'one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world,' according to the State of Nature 2016 report, which was produced collaboratively with 50 organisations.

I sincerely hope the natural world is on the agenda of our EU exit negotiations as we need to select the best solutions to generate a more ambitious vision for British wildlife and the countryside. 

In the meantime, however, we can all do what we do best; we can make space for nature in our towns and cities.

We can give nature a home in our garden and do what Rachel Carson encouraged her readers to do in the 60s, we can 'set the seeds of social revolution' and make a stand for nature.
 
Robin

If we feel our efforts are going unnoticed, we should reach for the binoculars and take a moment to watch the wise Robin - the one who's probably posturing confidently on the bird table and watching you, watching him... Or the avuncular Blackbird who's going about his business amongst the border, busy hoovering up the live mealworms you were kind enough to provide.

Live Mealworms

Each one of those mealworms is delivering protein where it's most needed - directly into the beaks of juvenile Blackbirds. Now, close your eyes and consider the additional efforts of garden birders in the next street, the next village, town and city across the United Kingdom... we're all making space for nature and we're all part of something much, much bigger than our own back garden.
 
Blackbird

And as long as that continues to happen, nature can catch its breath again until the countryside is restored to the place we all hope and dream it can become.
 
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