Tag Archives: general election

What now?

Unless you’ve been hiding away since 10pm last night (I wish I had) you’ll know that the party that took the majority in the 2015 election are the Conservatives. They needed 326 seats and they just managed to scratch that with 331, hardly an “impressive election victory” but they got the majority they needed and a hundred more seats then Labour.

Last night I was happily getting on with my revision when I decided to have a quick look at what was going on so turned the news on. It read that the Exit polls were predicting Conservative to be the biggest party. I was very very surprised and thought no chance, Labour will get it! Therefore got back to my revision. Just before I decided to stop with my revision, about 11.30, I had another look at what was going on and watched the news for a while. To be honest, I was very puzzled. Over the last few weeks and months I have really taken an interest to the election and done my part in hoping the Tories don’t win as if they do they will continue with the badger cull, repeal the hunting act and god knows what else! The recent polls had shown neck and neck between Tory and Labour and they had done for weeks.

However when watching the General Election coverage this was a different story. I eventually went to bed when there had been a few seats announced. This morning I woke up at about 5.30 eager to find out but unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice surprise. I felt like going back to bed, the exit poll was obviously right after all! One thing I was most amazed with was the amount of seats SNP had, clearly indicating Labour had no chance at all. I watched patiently and kept checking my phone, the Tory seats were gradually rising. I felt sick to the stomach. All I could think about was the poor wildlife, never mind the British people!

I was so hopeful in thinking Labour could pull it off but obviously not. I was amazed with the amount of votes the Tories had, I thought there could be a chance of them getting a few more votes but not that many! I then had a look at some of my local seats, all Tory. I wasn’t surprised at all when it said Tory for Lichfield though as it’s been Conservative since 1997. The other parties had campaigned hard but unfortunately Fabricant had won with a 55% vote.

Even though I would of liked to have seen it unfold more it was good to get out of the house and go to school, perhaps forget about it a bit for a few hours. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case though, even though I was expecting fellow students to be talking about it, I did hear some distressing comments. Obviously everybody has their own opinion and I respect that, I believe the voting age should of been lowered to 16 for the election but unfortunately it wasn’t. But after hearing some of these comments, not necessary about party policy but to do with the election, it’s obvious that if they ever do lower the voting age it’s vital that they educate the 16-18 year olds about the General Election and so they know where each party stands. With this they could have an even better view on how they think the country should be run and why they actually think that. Rather then some repeating what their parents may have said to them or things they read at a glimpse on the TV or on the front of papers.

Anyway enough about the actual election, what exciting surprises have the Tories got in-store for us over the next five years? Well I wouldn’t get too excited as for wildlife, and most other things, it’s doom and gloom. Britain is supposed to be a country of animal lovers. A country which values its animals and takes good care and pride in them. Whoever voted Tory obviously doesn’t though! Unless they believe tearing a vulnerable, helpless, beautiful creature to pieces by its limbs is that.

Over the next 5 years the Tories have said that they will protect hunting, shooting and fishing. That’s even more bad news after this weeks awful news about another THREE Hen Harriers going missing.  They’ve also said they’ll give Parliament the option to repeal the hunting act. This basically means they will try to scrap the ban on hunting with hounds so majestic animals like the much loved fox which will torn apart in the most gruesome way you can possibly imagine by men on their horses who see this as ‘fun’ or ‘entertainment’. Along with this they still believe that HS2 is a fantastic idea and will go ahead with it. This will cut through our countryside like a ‘white elephant’ and affect many habitats and species. Once again no thought or consideration for animal welfare or wildlife. As well as all of this they will be going ahead with the barbaric, inhumane and inefficient badger cull which has and will again result in thousands of badgers lives lost. Not just due to the cull but for those who see the cull as a green light to persecute them in the most horrific way they possibly can.

I worry so much for the next five years (and after), what will it bring and how bad will it be? But I must remember that even though they’ve won the election that doesn’t mean they’ve won. We must carry on as we were but with a lot more strength. We will win and our wildlife will be safe but we have to push and fight harder then ever, and before they get their murdering hands all over it! I care deeply and passionately about all wildlife and therefore I will never stop fighting for it. It has no voice so if we stop then they win but we can’t let that happen.

So get up and get involved. If you care, show it. Go on a street march or protest, bombard your local MP with letters, write to your local paper, spread the word, get involved with social media, and most of all show you care and don’t give up.

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GE2015 Day Six: Inspiring The Next Generation

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

This is the last blog of my General Election posts. Although it’s taken up a lot of my time writing them and my revisions been slightly pushed I have enjoyed doing them very much. The response has been great!

This is a topic that I’ve blogged about quite a lot in the past but that’s because I think it’s a really important issue. What first provoked me to get interested in this issue is the fact that everyday I go to school and I’m surrounded by kids that have no idea of the natural world around them. I’m not expecting them to become experts but when they have no idea about how it benefits us in a number of ways it’s quite distressing. Instead they abuse it, take it for granted, don’t appreciate or understand it. As I’ve explained in previous blogs nature is very important, it does a number of things for us humans. For example it provides clean water, stops erosion, pollinates crops and much more. It’s also a fantastic and very enjoyable wonder.

It’s very important that we inspire and educate the next generation, here are a few examples why…

  • Over the last 40 years Earth has lost half of its wild animals
  • 1 in 3 species have halved in the last century
  • In the UK alone 60% of species have declined over the last 50 years
  • Turtle doves have declined by 93% since 1970
  • Hedgehogs have declined by around a third since the last millennium
  • The small tortoiseshell butterfly has declined in abundance by 77% in the last ten years
  • Of the 3,148 species analysed for the State of Nature report, one in ten face extinction
  • 97% of lowland meadow vanished between the 1930s and the 1980s

Why is this happening?

Some of the causes to why our wildlife is declining include the intensification of farming, this includes no areas left for nature and the use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals. Also the loss of meadows, hedgerows, and ponds. As well as the building development, cutting down trees faster then they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb. These are just a few reason why our wildlife is declining here in the UK and on a world wide scale. There are many other reasons too, some on a much smaller scale. For example the idea of people tarmacking their garden or not having holes in the fence where hedgehogs can come in.

As you can see the problem is getting worse, our wildlife has declined dramatically over the past few decades and you can read more about this on the State of Nature report. On some articles I’ve recently read they have said things like decline and extinction of species can lead to ’empty landscapes’, just imagine how awful that would be! Even though lots of charities and organisations are doing fantastic jobs with the public’s backing, there is still work to be done. For example educating people.

Why education?

Well obviously there are lots of other things that we can do to reverse this decline but one that I think is a major factor is through educating people, especially younger people and children. Therefore I decided to choose it as a topic as part of my General Election posts.

Where to start, why is education important? Well that’s a difficult question to break down as all in all, it’s vital! Whilst at school some of the more interesting and important things that we learn tend to stick with us, or the idea behind it. Also when educated it opens us up, we want to learn more about that subject and it makes us more interested. Therefore education is a way forward. If a child was to grow up with gadgets and have no real experiences of the natural world around them then when they went to school and they are introduced to the wonders of the natural world just imagine how fascinated they’d be! Not only would it be a first but as a young child budding to find out what the world is about their curiosity could go on and on. I’m 16 and every time I go out whether it be on a walk on my local patch after school, setting my trail camera up or going out with my camera at the weekend there is never a time I’d either be willing to come home or come home regretting I ever went out.

Not only would this get the child interested but it would bring their imagination to life and the enjoyment of it all could make them very happy too. Then as the child grows up they’re introduced to different aspects, without a doubt when they’re older they’ll remember these experiences and be willing to share them with their own children or pass the memories and experiences on.

Overall, we all know nowadays that there’s more gadgets about and lots more opportunities etc so children don’t get the joy of going outdoors and enjoying nature for what it is but with this extra push whilst they’re at school that could trigger the enthusiasm off.

The link between decline and education

First of all, as I mentioned before, it is teaching and showing the child to go and explore. With this they’ll learn to appreciate what it’s all about and respect it. If they do this then they’ll pass it on to their friends and their own children in the future. Respecting and enjoying the outdoors could become ‘cool’ and they’ll begin to learn if they respect nature then they need to do other things too. For example basic things like using less energy, water and not dropping litter along with recognising a wildlife crime and sticking up for what they belief in for the environment.

Local candiates replies

A few weeks back I did a blog for the group A Focus On Nature where I spoke again about why we need to inspire the next generation. You can read it here. After writing my post I emailed it round to all of my local candidates for their reply and take on inspiring the next generation. I was very pleased to have a reply from all of them, but unfortunately not from the UKIP candidate.

Labour (Chris Worsey) – he replied by saying that my blog was on a much needed subject and agreed with the fact that children need to be out and about more enjoying the natural world. He said how some of his childhood memories include exploring the outdoors – much better then being sat in front of a computer screen!

Conservative (Michael Fabricant) – I didn’t get as much as a reply from this candidate but he did say that if he is re-elected that he’d be willing and happy to take the issue further, especially on educating people about local wildlife.

Liberal Democrats (Paul Ray) – He agreed with my idea of that natural habitats need to protected. He also sent me some information about the parties record of delivery on this subject and what they promise to do more of in the future. This included ‘putting nature at the heart of the Government’, access to nature and, safeguarding forests and planting more trees.

Greens (Robert Pass) – He agreed with the post and made the point of “We need many more young people to engage with the natural world and with the fight to save it.” He also made the point about more and more people are waking up and realising that a lot of this technology ‘progress’ wasn’t progress at all and are busy rediscovering the wisdom of stewardship and respect for the living earth. As well as this he attached an article called ‘Rewild the Child’ which was a great read.

It was great to be able to get a reply from some of my local party candidates, of which I am very thankful for.

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GE2015 Day Five: Wildlife Crime

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

Wildlife crime is a big subject to cover. First of all, the species of which the crime has been committed against, then what type of crime it is, e.g. shooting, poisoning. Then onto the law about this crime, how the criminal is caught, how it’s policed and much more. In an urban area say someone breaks into a shop it has most likely been caught on CCTV so it’s easy to catch the criminal, it’s most likely obvious that this crime has been committed and people know full well this is a crime too. For wildlife though, say in rural areas, the story is completely different. For a starters there is no CCTV so it has to be done by people themselves. But if there are people around they may not notice as they don’t realise this is a crime and therefore don’t report it. So how is this criminal supposed to be caught or punished? If there’s no evidence of what they’re doing and there’s no idea that they’re committing a crime anyway then there’s no hope! Also there is the worry of the issues not being policed properly, wildlife crime is rising yet there are still only a few wildlife crime officers for an area. In most cases the wildlife crime officers are just normal officers and deal with wildlife crime as a part time job. Fortunately in some cases people do realise what they’ve seen, for example wildlife enthusiasts which are aware of the on goings, and saboteurs.

In this blog I’m going to go through some examples of crimes against wildlife, the party manifestos, and how we need to stop wildlife crime through things like the general public which will bring me nicely on to tomorrows topic about inspiring and educating the next generation.

There are lots of different types of wildlife crime which are all awful and towards different species, whether it be here in the UK or on a global scale. On this blog I’m only going to look at birds and mammals, then more specifically within those topics.

Birds

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the primary legislation which protects animals, plants, and certain habitats in the UK. This obviously includes wild birds. However this gets quite complicated as this Act only covers species which are resident or are a visitor to the European Territory of any member in a wild state. Birds including wood pigeons, carrion crow, rooks, magpies, jackdaws and gamebirds (within the open season) are legal to shoot under a General License.

Other protection for birds (under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Part 1) include

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird
  • Take or destroy the egg of any wild bird
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built
  • Use traps or similar items to kill, injure or take wild birds
  • Disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

All these types of crimes against birds takes place. It’s horrible to know this as it shows people don’t appreciate, understand or enjoy such things which give many of us so much pleasure and happiness. From amateur bird watchers which watch the birds visit the garden fielders to those who are avid and experienced birders who will spend a life time enjoying them. Not to mention the whole ecosystem and diversity they are part of within our landscape and countryside.

Punishment

The maximum penalty that can be imposed for an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (single bird, nest or egg) is a fine of up to £5000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Mammals

Unlike birds the law for mammals varies, mainly from species to species. Even though all of our British mammals are very important and equal I have decided to go through three different species to give a taster.

Badgers

Even though Sundays blog was partly to do with the welfare of badgers I have decided to include them again here. As mentioned before badgers are highly protected however experience disgusting crimes against them. Badgers actually have their own Act to protect them which you can see here – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/51/contents

As stated above, badgers are protected under the Badgers Act 1992 and any incident involving a badger is most likely to be a crime. A sum up of laws on this Act include

  • Kills, injures or takes a badger or attempts to
  • Treat a badger in a cruel way
  • Dig for a badger
  • Disturb or damage the sett
  • Uses any badger tongs in the course of killing or taking, or attempting to kill or take, a badger
  • Causing a dog to enter a sett
  • Disturbing a badger when it is occupying a badger sett

Recently I’m regularly seeing horrific stories in the news about cruel acts against badgers which is truly disgusting. This is most likely linked to the recent badger cull.

Bats

When you think of wildlife crime and mammals I doubt bats come to mind. However in Britain bats and their roosts are protected by both domestic and international legislation. Bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the National Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. This is the legislation for England and Wales.

To sum the up, crimes against bats include

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
  •  Damage or destroy a bat roosting place
  • Posses or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive)

Again it’s really important that these laws aren’t broken as in recent decades bats have declined and therefore need urgent protection.

 Deer

I have decided to choose deer as they are again different to the two subjects above. The laws around deer are similar to those of the badger as they are mainly protected under a particular act which is the Deer Act 1991. In the UK we have six species of deer, of these two are truly native (Roe and Red deer) whilst the other four (Muntjac, Fallow, Chinese Water and the Sika deer).

Like I mentioned about grouse before they can only be shot at certain times of the year, these vary for the different species. Landowners are also allowed to shoot deer if they are shown to be causing damage.

From the Deer Act 1991 here are a few points I have summarised

  • Shoot from a moving vehicle
  • Shoot at night
  • Shoot out of season
  • Use anything except legal firearms to kill deer

Again deer poaching is another problem across the country. When I go along to my local police forces wildlife crime meetings it’s obvious that this issue is popular in the country.

Working together

As there can’t be security cameras dotted around the countryside or paid workers waiting patiently behind a tree for someone to commit a crime we have to think of a different solution. One solution is everyone being aware of the crimes which take place within the countryside and understand how they’re just as bad as urban crimes. To do this we obviously need to educate people so they know what to look out for and know why it’s against the law. This can be done by educating the next generation which is vital to end these hideous ongoings in our countryside. In tomorrows blog I will be going into more detail about this and other reasons into why we need to inspire and educate the next generation.

Manifestos

When looking through the manifestos for subjects relating to wildlife crime this is what I found:

Labour – in the Labour manifesto there was the mention of strengthening the hunting act (the idea of hunting with a dog/dogs) and dealing with wildlife crimes associated with shooting.

UKIP – Nothing

Conservative – They say that they will protect hunting, shooting and fishing, by this they mean protect the ableness to do it. They will also repeal the hunting act.

SNP – Nothing

Plaid- Nothing

Greens – In the Greens manifesto it says that they will ban the practise of grouse shooting and other ‘sport’ shooting.

GE2015 Day Four: Why We Need To Help Our Bees

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

After yesterday’s very exciting blog about the wildlife march in Witney, Oxfordshire, today’s is on the topic of bees. There’s no doubt you know that bees are very important. At this time of the year these charming little things are making their mark, they really are a pleasure to see. Who would of thought that something not even the size of a penny is so important and vital for our survival.

Why are bees important?

If you look at your plate of food on the dinner table, bees have played a key part. Whether it be pollinating the many vegetables and fruits we eat directly, or pollinating the food for animals that we then consume. That’s not all bees do for us though. Honey and wax are two other important products that come courtesy of bees. Other things include pollinating flowers in our gardens, parks etc and the flowers and fruits they pollinate are a food source for other species too.

Bees and the economy

Through the pollination of commercial crops, like strawberries, peas, apples and tomatoes, insects are estimated to contribute over £400 million a year in the UK and €14.2 billion in the EU.

Even if a crop is not directly pollinated by a bee, the crop still benefits indirectly from being in an environment in which honey bees are working, due to the increased biodiversity in the area which stimulates the crop.

Why bees need our help

Bumblebees are mainly under threat due to changes to the British countryside. Changes in agriculture techniques have meant that there are far fewer wild flowers in the landscape than there used to be, meaning that many of our bumblebee species struggle to survive. The dramatic decline in bee populations, and the recent extinction of two species in the UK, means that something needs to be done.

Causes of bee decline

The British countryside used to be something that was a lot more colourful. Before it was invaded by rolling green fields with crops and livestock the fields had much more wild flowers which supported a much greater diversity of wildlife.

As the population has grown and there has been greater demand for food production the traditional agriculture practises have been abandoned in favour of techniques which have increased productivity but reduced the amount of wild flowers and areas left for nature in the countryside. It has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grasslands since the 1930s. As bees rely upon these flowers for food, it’s not surprising that their numbers have declined so much!

The result of this has led to the extinction of two bee species in the UK since the start of the 21st century, these are the Cullem’s bumblebee and the Short-haired bumblebee. Both of these species are still found in Europe. Several other UK species are in trouble too, and they could become extinct within a short time. Two examples are the Great yellow bumblebee and the Shrill carder bee.

Impact of their decline

As I mentioned before, bumblebees are great pollinators and play a key role in producing much of the food that we eat. They also play a major role in our food economy, therefore if their decline increases then the cost of fruit and vegetables will increase significantly. Bees also help pollinate wild flowers, allowing them to reproduce. Without this pollination many of these flowers wouldn’t seed which would result in their decline. As well as this, as flowers are at the bottom of the food chain all the species above would suffer too.

Manifestos

As you can see bees are extremely important but are suffering too. This is very worrying for anyone and therefore something needs to be done. Fortunately there are fantastic charities which work hard to do this but what are the Government offering to do?

Well it was VERY worrying as the only manifesto which mentions bees is the Green Party one. They say how they’d help bees by reducing pesticides, ‘greening’ farming, improving planning guidance to preserve/create bee habitats, and make bees a priority species in biodiversity strategies.