Act for Nature.

Today I came across a campaign which has recently been set up by The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB. It is also backed by a number of other organisations which include WWT (Wetlands for life), Butterfly Conservation and many more. The campaign is called Act for Nature and it is a proposed piece of legislation to bring about the recovery of nature in a generation for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The joint campaign is asking politicians to act for nature and call for a Nature and Wellbeing Act in their Party’s election manifesto. The new laws would ensure protection and enhancement of nature as an investment in our nation’s prosperity.

You may ask, why do we need to act for nature? Well, the answer to that is for many different reasons! The first one is that we are loosing it at an alarming rate and something needs to be done. There are four principal causes of damage: habitat degradation, over-exploitation, pollution (particularly global climate change) and the introduction of invasive non-native species. The State of Nature report found that 60% of our UK species we know about are in decline. Habitats are becoming more fragmented and their condition is worsening to the extent that only 37% of the best sites are in good condition. These are just two of the worrying statistics about the alarming drop in our UK nature. From here though, at the moment, things aren’t looking too good for the future as only 1 in 10 children regularly play in wild places, compared to almost half, a generation ago. Without more young people growing an interest in the natural world and fulfilling a career in years to come the state of conservation will be lower and these statistics could decrease more and more. From my experience, at school I don’t know anyone who has any real interest or knowledge about nature. Then when I listen to stories of my Grandparents they explain that when they were at school everyone had an interest and everyone would regularly play in wild places. Also throughout my education I have never had many lessons about nature except for a few biology ones explaining the basic food chains – in my opinion this really isn’t an encouraging way of getting more kids involved and interested.

Nature helps us in every way possible, without it we wouldn’t even be here. For example the bees that pollinate the crops which create the food that we eat and just generally being outside that helps our wellbeing. It really does have a profound effect on our day to day lives. Currently we are facing increasing numbers in obesity and physical inactivity, and one in four of us will experience a mental heath problem at some point in our lives. Physical inactivity affects 60-70% of the adult population. The physical fitness of children is declining by up to 9% per decade. Many heath issues are linked to environmental inequality. Considerable evidence show that contact with nature can help to prevent and reverse poor health and wellbeing.

My last point, but certainly not the least, is the how much pleasure myself, and many others, get from being outdoors and observing the natural world in many different ways. From appreciating our endangered Hen Harriers fulfilling their distinctive sky dance to nature lovers feeding and caring for their garden residents. Like many others I experience the beauty of the natural world everyday. Whether it be the simple things like the change in colour on my local patch as the Autumn arrives or filming timid badger cubs emerging from their sett for the very first time.

From a young persons prospective the plummeting decline in our British wildlife is very worrying, whether it be as a whole or just individual species. It’s very scary and I often think about. Will anything be done in time? Will our wildlife ever be able to thrive within our landscape or will we carry on fighting for it’s survival. I want to do my best to make sure the natural world around us goes onto teem and be appreciated and noticed by everyone.  This campaign could help a lot by putting nature at the heart of how our country is run, so everyone can enjoy the benefits it provides in our everyday lives.

Within the Nature and Wellbeing Act, some of the changes that would be created for wildlife and nature include:

  • Wildlife in Neighborhoods
  • Making caring for nature a key purpose of schooling
  • A call for everyone to live no longer than 10 minutes walk from a natural space
  • Make access to nature and wild places part of preventative and treatment-based healthcare
  • Set new targets for increased wildlife and raise the nature baseline
  • Make sure our existing wildlife protection laws remain strong and continue to defend threatened species and habitats from harm.
  •  Create an Office of Environmental Responsibility in government to ensure targets for recovery are met

To support this campaign for a Nature and Wellbeing Act, take action and find out more please click here.

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Mammals go exploring!

Once a month I go to a local Wildlife Watch meeting at the National Memorial Arboretum. As I’m quite a bit older then the other kids I act more as a leader within the group. Yesterdays session was about all about various mammals which are present at the Arboretum. A local mammal expert, Derek Crawley, set 39 traps out the night before then we went to collect them during the session and to see what mammals had been trapped over night.

Yesterday the trapping was to show the children a close up of different species but this method is often used to monitor the numbers of various mammals. The traps were set up at roughly ten feet apart beneath an unused grassy area. When we found a trap which was closed we opened it up to see what had been caught. We then examined the mammal, looked to see if it was male or female then let it go. It was brilliant to see the species close up. We managed to catch seven wood mice, a bank vole and a field vole. Here are some photos I took.

Something else I found out yesterday was the mammal tracking phone app. This is to record different mammals in the UK so more can be found out about whereabouts they are and numbers. You can follow this link to download the app for your apple or android phone – http://www.brc.ac.uk/mammal_tracker/

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IMGP7045A wood mice that escaped down a sleeve!

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IMGP7059The children having a real hands on experience with one of the voles that was caught.

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IMGP7034Another escapee!

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Three reasons for dummies why the badger cull won’t work.

There are many different reasons why culling the badgers by shooting them or gassing them won’t control or stop the spread of bTB (Bovine Tuberculosis) in cattle. As a young wildlife enthusiast I thought I’d do a blog post explaining three different reasons why, in my opninion, culling badgers won’t work. I want the cull to be taken no further and badgers to stop being killed for no reason. I know there is a problem with bTB in cattle but killing badgers is far from stopping this. In my opinion, shared by many others and supported by scientific evidence, vaccinating badgers will work much better and be much better for badgers as a species. Very often I hear people saying that we are against the cull because it’s killing animals; the culls the only answer; it will help other species and many other reasons which are not correct. The people making these points obviously have no knowledge of the cull, badgers or the natural world whatsoever. Here is a list of some of the main reasons into why the cull won’t work

  1. The first and main reason why the cull will not work is because of something called the ‘perturbation effect’. Badgers live in social groups of around four to seven animals and have defined territorial boundaries. Culling the badgers will interrupt these social groups which increases the risk of disease.

“Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, increasing the risks of disease transmission”

Here is a diagram illustration how the perturbation effect doesn’t work and only makes the spread of bTB worse.

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2. The contact between cattle and badgers is actually very rare and the problem of bTB spreading isn’t just from badger to cattle but an infected cow passing it on to another. Cattle are more likely to get the disease then pass it onto other cattle. According to computer modeling studies, herd-to-herd transmission of bovine TB in cattle accounts for 94% of cases. Also scientific evidence from the randomized badger culling trials found around 6% of infected cattle catch TB directly from badgers.

3. Badgers aren’t the only species that carry the disease, here is a list of others:

Deer = 36% positive (including farmed, wild and park deer)

Cat = 25% positive

Dog = 27% positive

Pig = 19% positive

Alpaca = 56% positive

Sheep = 44% positive

Therefore to control it by culling animals we wouldn’t just have to kill badgers, but other UK species. However, we don’t know what individuals within a species carry the disease and we could be culling any animal which doesn’t carry bovine TB.

To help our badgers in the UK there are many different ways, for example you can donate money into the vaccination programs, support the different charities opposing the cull, sign petitions against it and much more!

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