Only within the last week running up to the EU referendum have I taken much notice of what both sides have had to say as right from the start I’ve been firm in my ways to remain. Not that matters much as I can’t vote but I believe it’s still important to have an opinion on what way the country I live in should go. Clearly within the last week both sides have pulled out their strongest bullets and have shot them in all directions to grab those last undecided people but one thing they haven’t mentioned has been the environment. I haven’t watched every TV debate or studied everything from both sides so I can’t say it hasn’t been mentioned at all (as I’m sure it has somewhere) but my point is that it hasn’t been used by campaigns as a tool to gather extra votes from the general public.
Unfortunately this doesn’t surprise me. Just like during the General Election last year it was something briefly mentioned on the party manifestos but it didn’t make it into the mainstream media. However as I think back, some environmental issues did cause controversy which became popular. Such as the badger cull and the Hunting Act as the Conservative party made pledges related to both. Maybe if the campaigns were to mention how nature would be affected it would catch some extra votes and not just from those who are interested but those who are attracted by the change in the order that seems to be running the campaigns: the economy and migration. On the other hand, for the sides to gather votes they target the public through things which are personal to them and they know they’ll be influenced by. For example their job, their house, their savings, their livelihood and perhaps their children. In connection to our busy day to day lives, the importance of our natural surroundings is taken for granted and not considered as something voters will be affected by.
My previous sentence stated the possessive determiner ‘their’ five times and I could of gone on. Nature isn’t considered something that effects our day to day lives but of course it does in many ways. I wonder if you asked 100 people, how many would know how we would; loose the protection of environmental laws that have helped protect endangered species, scrap lowering pollution levels, no longer work with a wider community to speak out and act against climate change, vital habitats will become vulnerable, and so on. Everyday risks mount up and fighting these alone is impossible, to do something we must work together.
I went along to the Birmingham Wildlife Festival last Saturday and it was a wonderful day. There was a great atmosphere, inspiring talks, and the weather was kind to us as the sun beamed all day. The speakers spoke about a whole matter of subjects. From fox hunting and the badger cull to local wildlife issues and ones from all around the world. There was large amounts of discussion about the EU referendum and what it could mean for nature. I enjoyed all the talks equally but one that I agreed with and included content that makes me frustrated as we have not yet taken action in this way was by Peter Martin who is the recently elected (as of last year) chairman of The Badger Trust. He called the idea the murmuration technique. There are many conservationists, wildlife campaigners, NGOs, charities and groups out there that are passionate about protecting some aspect of our natural world. Whether that’s Birders Against Wildlife Crime and their mission to make anyone and everyone aware about the on goings of wildlife crime, the Badger Trust and their dedicated protection and fight for the badger against the cull, persecution and much more, the League Against Cruel Sports who oppose and work with politicians to strengthen laws and bring activities which bring injustice to animals to an end, or larger NGOs such as the RSPB or the Wildlife Trust who are both well known and work up and down the country, or even individuals who put their everything into wildlife protection. The list goes on and many of the work done by these different groups cross link. On local scales and sometimes on national scales, these examples and others do work together but not as much as we could. The shear number of people who support each of these is massive and if they were to fly together, could create a massive movement…as of that in a murmuration!
Peter’s discussion made a lot of sense and the points he made are very important. Fortunately we are currently blessed by social media for bringing more individuals and groups together through this vast network which has already changed campaigning and the future, mainly being due to awareness, but it could still be much more. Anyway, I’ve gone a bit off track but I wanted to include that point as to me that is why we should remain a member of the EU.
On my morning patch walk today I observed swifts, a few buzzards, watched some blackcap fledglings and overall like every time I visit, it was very pleasant. On my mind though I wondered about these species and what leaving the EU could mean for them and of course all wildlife. Tomorrow’s walk on my patch could be very different. Obviously things aren’t going to change overnight but what could happen over time? It concerns me the protection we’d loose and I am pretty certain once that’s gone, our current government will not have the environment at the top of its list (if at all). Swifts and blackcaps are both migratory birds which travel over parts of Europe each year. A place where they’re also enjoyed and in a strange perception of place and distance, bring us together as we share these wonderful living things. On my way back I passed a polling station and I was pleased to see it had a good queue of people waiting outside to get in. Everyone must use this opportunity they have to shape the direction Britain goes. I know I will be publishing this post late so if you read it before 10pm and haven’t voted – go and do it now! It influences all of our lives, generations to come and the wildlife around us.