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.

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.

IMGP7059

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.

GE2015 Day Three: Badgers and Witney March

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.

Today’s blog is slightly different to the last two as I would of done a blog today anyway about the march I went on in David Cameron’s constituency, Witney, yesterday. But as I don’t want to go out of sink with my General Election blogs I’ve decided to do this one about badger persecution and the cull, then include the march I went on in Witney yesterday.

In the UK badgers are one of the most protected species under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 however they are the most persecuted. Since the badger cull was rolled out this has brought all sorts of problems for badgers, for example an increased number of cruelty against them. Every month around 2000 badgers are illegally killed. This includes petrol being poured down setts, snares, dog fighting, glass being put down setts and many more disgusting acts. What makes it worse though is the cull which has been rolled out over the past two years, which has led to an increase in badger persecution, doesn’t even work. Even though badgers have always been a victim to wildlife crime, over the past few years, due to the cull, hundreds and thousands of badgers have been slaughtered and targeted by cruelty.

The badger cull is a very controversial subject. Some think it is humane and effective yet many others disagree with this and believe that it is barbaric, inhumane and inefficient. This is a mixture of a political and scientific debate. There are lots of reasons behind why the badger cull won’t work, I’m not going to go into detail on this post but you can read previous posts where I have spoken about why it won’t work or follow this link to the Badgergate website where Chris Cheeseman explains all – http://www.badgergate.org/guest-articles/why-a-badger-cull-wont-work/

As I just mentioned, a lot of people disagree with cull. So much so that over the past 18 months 30 marches have brought thousands of people from all round the country together to protest against it. Yesterday I went along to the last march before the General Election on Thursday. This wasn’t as such a badger march but it was a march to show how much we care about wildlife and how much it matters. The march took place in Witney, Oxfordshire. This is David Cameron’s constituency and is a Conservative strong hold. Unfortunately even though we’d invited Mr Cameron he didn’t come along but other parties also hoping to represent Witney did. This was the Green Party candidate, Stuart Macdonald, and the Labour candidate, Duncan Enright.

For 1pm everyone on the march met in the town centre. Photos were taken of the banners, placards and supporters, and it was good to catch up with some familiar faces and also meet some new people too. Once we were all ready we set off down the high street. Overall there was probably about 100 people. Even though there wasn’t as many as in Worcester the week before we all made some noise and held our banners and placards high. Whilst making our way through the town we definitely got plenty of attention as it was a busy Saturday afternoon so there were lots of people about. Again it was a great feeling to be surrounded by these people and it was a fantastic atmosphere. I went on my first march a few months back and since then I have tried not to miss any as they are so great to go on. Even though they are good to go on I hope yesterday’s was my last, depending on what happens on Thursday.

After we’d made our way through the town we ended up on Witney Green where we gathered round and listened to the speakers. First to talk was Lynn Sawyer. She spoke last week in Worcester and as I mentioned then she’s done some fantastic work. She spoke about the badger cull and how we should be looking out for setts, no matter what happens on Thursday, hunt monitors, the Heythrop Hunt and their disgusting ongoings, setts being badly affected by hunts, strengthening the hunting act and much more. After Lynn’s talk, the Green Party and Labour Party representatives spoke about their polices linking to animal welfare and the cull. It was quite funny as these were all great representatives and it shows that even in a Tory strong hold like Witney, Cameron has parties fighting against him.

Next to talk was Dominic Dyer. I’ve heard him speak many times over the past few months, including in Worcester last week. He is a brilliant wildlife campaigner and activist who always speaks very passionately and about a number of key issues facing our wildlife in the UK, and gave some examples from abroad too. Last to speak was Nigel Tolley who read out a letter which we were about to post through Cameron’s door. The letter had been written by the organiser, Emily Lawrence. In the letter she stated issues like the badger cull and hunting. This letter was to be poster to Cameron because over the past five years he rolled out a two year badger cull, hasn’t done anything for our wildlife and threatens to roll out the badger cull to more areas and repeal the hunting act if he gets into power again next Friday. This was a reason why the march took place in Witney.

So we all headed back down into the main town centre with the banners and placards held high again, and the shouting echoing down the high street to Mr Cameron’s office. As I mentioned before, unfortunately he wasn’t in but we gathered round outside, the letter was posted and photos were taken too.

Here are a few photos from the day

IMG_1432

Dominic Dyer speaking

unnamed

Myself, the organiser Emily (in the badger suit), and fellow young blogger, Alex.

IMG_1443

Gathering round David Cameron’s office door

IMG_1427

Lynn Sawyer speaking

IMG_1419

IMG_1405

badger march

Myself with the placard I made

unnamed (5)

unnamed (7)

unnamed (8)

Outside David Cameron’s office

unnamed (9)