Conservation groups in the UK are under fire for being little more than the government’s mouthpiece says naturalist Peter Marren.
Wildlife in the UK has been facing severe challenges for quite some time. Now, says leading conservationist Peter Marren, endangered animals have even lost their champions. Wildlife groups Marren suggests, have become so reliant on Government funding, they have been muted, and are unable to apply pressure where it is needed the most. Kargo pos
UK wildlife is facing significant problems
The UK’s wildlife is in trouble. Bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Cornwall for example, are showing up dead on beaches, their deaths being blamed on pollutant PCBs. In areas of Scotland, wildlife crime has risen 40 percent, with birds of prey proving most vulnerable to illegal and accidental poisoning.
The dire situation was further enhanced when the natural history channel Eden, recently released its comprehensive report on Britain’s most endangered species; the results were shocking. The turtle dove, claimed the report, suffered a 90% decline over the last 40 years. England’s delightful hedgehog, faces extinction in as little as 14 years, and the red squirrel, once so prolific across Great Britain and Ireland, has declined a staggering 95% over the last 50 years.
Considering the statistics given above, it was with dismay that I read Marren’s comments published in the editorial section of The Independent newspaper on Sep. 14, 2011. In, “Our Wildlife Needs a Voice,” Marren, author of the book Nature Conservation (HarperCollins UK; 2002), calls out wildlife watchdog, Natural England (NE), an organization he says, which was designed to be an independent and impartial voice, but has since fell to Government pressure.
Natural England no longer impartial says naturalist
NaturalEngland.org.uk, reports that its chief goal, is to “ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive.” Unfortunately writes Marren, the organization’s reliability on Government funding, along with the Government ruling that NE is no longer allowed to entertain independent views and policies, “has morphed [Natural England] into a pathetic delivery boy, charged with attending to customer focus.” As a result adds Marren, England has been left “without a wildlife watchdog worthy of the name for the first time since 1949.”
Marren then asks why other organizations and wildlife groups failed to step up and fill the void left by NE? In a particularly scathing review of Greenpeace, he accuses the radical group of focusing too much on climate change rather than “problems faced by birds or butterflies or bumblebees, or on damaging developments in the English countryside.”
FurthermoreMarren suggests, prominent entities, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have become international to the point that it ignores British wildlife. “There have been more Google hits for the exotic and endangered spoon-billed sandpiper from Asia,” writes Marren, “than for any threatened British creature.”
England predominantly developed
Mr. Marren makes an extremely valid point in a situation that is complicated and convoluted. The John Muir Trust, Jmt.org, is dedicated to the protection of wild land for both nature and people. In a map developed with the assistance of Leeds University, the group is able to illustrate how much premium wild land is left in the UK and where it is found. The visual properties of the map are astounding and shocking, showing the majority of England predominantly developed with few quality wild lands remaining.
Loss of habitat is the number one reason says the Eden Report for species extinction, as it forces wildlife to encroach further and further upon humanity. Britain’s wildlife is losing the battle and while it’s highly unlikely that UK wildlife groups are seeking to deliberately ignore the UK’s wild land loss or its effect on the animals, neither can one ignore Marren’s point – government funding to these institutions, appears to be providing the louder voice.
When combined with a lackluster economy, charities are hurting. With public donations down, wildlife groups are scrapping for funds more attainable through mass appeal. As Marren correctly writes, this avenue of action overlooks England’s countryside, deeming it of little significance when it comes to wildlife conservation.
Ironically, suggests Marren, England’s countryside is afforded greater significance when human pleasure and entertainment is at the heart of the cause, but “the problem with placing human enjoyment at the heart of wildlife policy making,” he says, “is that 90 percent of wild species could die out tomorrow and no one would notice.”
Marren is issuing calls for a new wildlife defender; an independent entity supported by a credible personality who can actually set out and achieve goals. Everyone likes to “see bumblebees in our gardens,” the naturalist says, but no one cares “that there are now three kinds where once there would have been 12.” Someone must speak up, adds Marren, “for the thousands of wild species which might not survive for much longer.”