When Conservation just...isn't

Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Mordae on Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:01 am

For those that remember the Badger Cull in the UK last year, you may also remember the (fundimentally unscientific) excuse for it. Now it looks like it might be the Beavers turn...

Beaver Baiters

An opinion poll in Scotland found that 86 per cent of respondents were in favour of reintroducing the beaver. As most people seem to understand, it’s a magnificent animal which can enrich our lives and our countryside. It was once part of our native fauna, but was exterminated by hunting. It’s also a critically important species, essential to the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.

So when beavers were discovered, living and breeding on the River Otter in Devon, after they escaped from a collection somewhere, the public reaction was, overwhelmingly, delight. It’s the first population to live freely in England for hundreds of years...


...So how does the government respond to this enthusiasm? “We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon,” says the environment minister, George Eustice. Why?

Before exploring this question, let’s consider for a moment the beaver’s remarkable natural history...


...Beavers have been re-introduced in 161 places in 24 European countries. The results, of course, have been appalling. As the Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate of the European Commission notes, “By these was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.”

Oh, sorry, wrong report. No, beavers have been welcomed back all over Europe. They are so widely accepted and loved wherever they’ve been re-established that proposals to remove them would probably cause a minor riot.

Here too many people are furious about the government’s decision, and a petition against it is rapidly gathering signatures. Please sign it.

The government gives the following reasons for capturing England’s only free beavers:...
Mordae
Mordae

Posts : 583
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 47
Location : Waikato, NZ

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Rinoa on Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:55 am

Do you have a link to the petition Mordae?
Rinoa
Rinoa

Posts : 2810
Join date : 2014-06-10
Location : Smack bang in the middle of Ley Lines

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Mordae on Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:31 am

Mordae
Mordae

Posts : 583
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 47
Location : Waikato, NZ

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Rinoa on Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:56 am

Thank you Mordae  Very Happy sunny 
Rinoa
Rinoa

Posts : 2810
Join date : 2014-06-10
Location : Smack bang in the middle of Ley Lines

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Mordae on Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:11 am

No worries Very Happy

Another good article from George Monbiot ,One way street to Oblivion goes into the new difference between native and non-native species in the UK under the Infrastructure Bill. Everyone wants native species reintroduced, right?
At first wildlife groups believed it was just poor drafting, accidentally creating the impression that attempts to re-establish species which have become extinct here – such as short-haired bumblebees or red kites – would in future be stamped out. But the most recent Lords debate scotched that hope: it became clear that this a deliberate attempt to pre-empt democratic choice, in the face of rising public enthusiasm for the return of our lost and enchanting wildlife.

As Baroness Parminter, who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill, pointed out, it currently creates

… a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild, it ceases to be native.

She also made the point that it’s not just extinct species which from now on will be treated as non-native, but, as the bill now stands, any species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Among those in Schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.

After the usual orotund time-wasting by aristocratic layabouts (“my ancestor Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, who was known as the great Sir Ewen … killed the last wolf in Scotland” etc.), the minister promoting the bill, Baroness Kramer, made it clear that the drafting was no accident. All extinct species, it appears, are to be treated as non-native and potentially invasive. At no point did she mention any of the benefits their re-establishment might bring, such as restoring ecological function and bringing wonder and delight and enchantment back to this depleted land.

Here is a list, taken from Feral, of a few of the animals which have become extinct recently (in ecological terms) and which probably meet the bill’s new definition of non-native: “not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state”. Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it’s clear that a debate about which species we might welcome back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate. There’s a longer list, with fuller explanations and a consideration of their suitability for re-establishment, in the book.

European Beaver: became extinct in Britain in the mid-18th Century, at the latest. Officially re-established in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll. Unofficially in the catchment of the River Tay and on the River Otter, in Devon.
Wolf: The last clear record is 1621 (not 1743 as commonly supposed). It was killed in Sutherland. As far as I can determine, neither Sir Ewen Cameron nor any of the other blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits from whom Lord Cameron of Dillington is descended were involved.
Lynx: The last known fossil remains date from the 6th Century AD, but possible cultural records extend into the 9th Century.
Wild Boar: The last truly wild boar on record were killed on the orders of Henry III in the Forest of Dean, in 1260. Four small populations in southern England, established after escapes and releases from farms and collections.
Elk or Moose (Alces alces): The youngest bones found in Britain are 3,900 years old. Temporarily released in 2008 into a 450-acre enclosure on the Alladale Estate, Sutherland.
Reindeer: The most recent fossil evidence is 8,300 years old. A free-ranging herd grazes on and around Cairn Gorm in the Scottish Highlands.
Wild horse: The most recent clearly-established fossil is 9,300 years old. Animals belonging to the last surviving subspecies of wild horse, Przewalski’s (Equus ferus przewalskii), graze Eelmoor Marsh in Hampshire.
Forest bison, or wisent: Likely to have become extinct here soon before the peak of glaciation, between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. A herd was temporarily established at Alladale in 2011.
Brown bear: probably exterminated around 2000 years ago.
Wolverine: survived here until roughly 8,000 years ago.
Lion: the last record of a lion in the region is a bone from an animal that lived in the Netherlands – then still connected to Britain – 10,700 years ago.
Spotted hyaena: around 11,000 years ago.
Hippopotamus: it was driven out of Britain by the last glaciation, around 115,000 years ago, and hunted to extinction elsewhere in Europe about 30,000 years ago.
Grey whale: the most recent palaentological remains, from Devon, belonged to a whale that died around 1610 AD.
Walrus: late Bronze Age, in the Shetland Islands.
European Sturgeon: possibly as recently as the 19th Century.
Blue stag beetle: probably 19th Century.
Eagle owl: the last certain record is from the Mesolithic, 9,000-10,000 years old . But a possible Iron Age bone has been found at Meare in Somerset. Now breeding in some places, after escaping from collections.
Goshawk: wiped out in the 19th Century. Unofficially re-established in the 20th Century, through a combination of deliberate releases and escapes from falconers.
Common crane: last evidence of breeding in Britain was in 1542. Cranes re-established themselves through migration in the Norfolk Broads in 1979, and have bred there since then. Now breeding in two other places in eastern England. Re-introduced in 2010 to the Somerset Levels.
White Stork: last recorded nesting in Edinburgh in 1416. In 2004 a pair tried to breed on an electricity pole in Yorkshire. In 2012 a lone bird built a nest on top of a restaurant in Nottinghamshire.
Spoonbill: the last breeding records are 1602 in Pembrokeshire and 1650 in East Anglia. In 2010 a breeding colony established itself at Holkham in Norfolk.
Night Heron: last bred here in either the 16th or 17th Century, at Greenwich. Today it is a scarce visitor.
Dalmatian Pelican: remains have been found from the Bronze Age in the Cambridgeshire Fens and from the Iron Age in the Somerset levels, close to Glastonbury. A single mediaeval bone has been found in the same place.

These and many others are now to be classified as officially non-native, unless this nonsense can be stopped.

Incidentally, determining what is and isn’t a native species, let alone what “should” or “should not” be living here, is a much more complicated business than you might imagine, as Ken Thompson’s interesting book, Where Do Camels Belong?, makes clear. He also points out that some species which are initially greeted with horror and considered an ecological menace soon settle down as local wildlife learns to prey on them or to avoid them. Sometimes they perform a useful ecological role by filling the gaps created by extinction. He overstates his case, and glosses over some real horror stories, but his book is an important counterweight to attempts to create a rigid distinction between native and non-native wildlife.

Many species introduced to this country by human beings are now cherished as honorary members of our native wildlife. Here are just a few I’ve come across. How many of you knew that they were all brought here by people?:

Brown hare
Little owl
Field poppy
Corncockle
Crack willow
Greater burdock
Pheasant’s eye
Cornflower
Wormwood
Mayweed
White campion

Isn’t this an interesting subject?

It's probably worth noting that this has been going on for a while, in various forms. Heather, in it's natural state is a pioneer species that shelters young trees, however, even conservation organizations maintain that the moors must be maintained, rather than allowing it to follow it's natural path (and incidently sheltering more species in the bargin).
Mordae
Mordae

Posts : 583
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 47
Location : Waikato, NZ

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Mordae on Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:33 am

The Pricing of Everything

...Perhaps the most trivial argument against the Natural Capital Agenda is that, in the majority of cases, efforts to price the natural world are complete and utter gobbledygook. And the reason why they are complete and utter gobbledygook is that they are dealing with values which are non-commensurable.

They are trying to compare things which cannot be directly compared. The result is the kind of nonsense to be found in the Natural Capital Committee’s latest report, published a couple of weeks ago(4). The Natural Capital Committee was set up by this Government, supposedly in pursuit of better means of protecting the natural world.

It claimed, for example, that if fresh water ecosystems in this country were better protected, the additional aesthetic value arising from that protection would be £700 million. That’s the aesthetic value: in other words, what it looks like. We will value the increment in what it looks like at £700 million. It said that if grassland and sites of special scientific interest were better protected, their wildlife value would increase by £40 million. The value of their wildlife – like the chalk hill blues and the dog violets that live on protected grasslands – would be enhanced by £40 million.

These figures, ladies and gentlemen, are marmalade. They are finely shredded, boiled to a pulp, heavily sweetened … and still indigestible. In other words they are total gibberish.

But they are not the worst I’ve come across. Under the last Government, the Department for Transport claimed to have discovered “the real value of time.” Let me read you the surreal sentence in which this bombshell was dropped. “Forecast growth in the real value of time is shown in Table 3.”(5) There it was, the real value of time – rising on a graph.

The Department for Environment, when it launched the National Ecosystem Assessment in 2011, came out with something equally interesting. It said it had established “the true value of nature for the very first time”(6). Unfortunately it wasn’t yet able to give us a figure for “the true value of nature”, but it did manage to provide figures for particular components of that value of nature. Let me give you just one of these. It said that if we looked after our parks and greens well they would enhance our well-being to the tune of £290 per household per year in 2060.

What does it mean? It maintained that the increment in well-being is composed of “recreation, health and solace”; natural spaces in which “our culture finds its roots and sense of place”; “shared social value” arising from developing “a sense of purpose” and being “able to achieve important personal goals and participate in society” enhanced by “supportive personal relationships” and “strong and inclusive communities”(7). So you put solace and sense of place and social value and personal goals and supportive personal relationships and strong and inclusive communities all together into one figure and you come out with £290 per household per year.

All we require now is for the Cabinet Office to give us a price for love and a true value for society and we will have a single figure for the meaning of life.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s 42(Cool. But Deep Thought failed to anticipate the advent of Strictly Come Dancing, which has depreciated the will to live to the extent that it’s now been downgraded to 41.

It is complete rubbish, and surely anyone can see it’s complete rubbish. Not only is it complete rubbish, it is unimprovable rubbish. It’s just not possible to have meaningful figures for benefits which cannot in any sensible way be measured in financial terms.

Now there are some things that you can do. They are pretty limited, but there are some genuinely commensurable pay-offs that can be assessed. So, for instance, a friend of mine asked me the other day, “What’s the most lucrative investment a land owner can make?”. I didn’t know. “An osprey! Look at Bassenthwaite in the Lake District where there’s a pair of ospreys breeding and the owners of the land have 300,000 people visiting them every year. They charge them for car parking and they probably make a million pounds a year.”

You can look at that and compare it to what you were doing before, such as rearing sheep, which is only viable because of farm subsidies: you actually lose money by keeping sheep on the land. So you can make a direct comparison because you’ve got two land uses which are both generating revenue (or losing revenue) that is already directly costed in pounds. I’ve got no problem with that. You can come out and say there is a powerful economic argument for having ospreys rather than sheep.

There are a few others I can think of. You can, for instance, look at watersheds. There is an insurance company which costed Pumlumon, the highest mountain in the Cambrian mountains, and worked out that it would be cheaper to buy Pumlumon and reforest it in order to slow down the flow of water into the lowlands than to keep paying out every year for carpets in Gloucester.

There were quite a few assumptions in there, as we don’t yet have all the hydrological data we need, but in principle you can unearth some directly commensurable values – the cost of insurance pay-outs, in pounds, versus the cost of buying the land, in pounds – and produce a rough ballpark comparison. But in the majority of cases you are not looking at anything remotely resembling financial commensurability.

So that is Problem One, and that is the most trivial of the problems.

Problem Two is that you are effectively pushing the natural world even further into the system that is eating it alive. Dieter Helm, the Chairman of the Natural Capital Committee, said the following in the same report I quoted from just a moment ago. “The environment is part of the economy and needs to be properly integrated into it so that growth opportunities will not be missed.”(9)

There, ladies and gentlemen, you have what seems to me the Government’s real agenda. This is not to protect the natural world from the depredations of the economy. It is to harness the natural world to the economic growth that has been destroying it. All the things which have been so damaging to the living planet are now being sold to us as its salvation; commodification, economic growth, financialisation, abstraction. Now, we are told, these devastating processes will protect it.

(Sorry, did I say the living planet? I keep getting confused about this. I meant asset classes within an ecosystem market.)

It gets worse still when you look at the way in which this is being done. Look at the government’s Ecosystems Markets Task Force, which was another of these exotic vehicles for chopping up nature and turning it into money. From the beginning it was pushing nature towards financialisation. It talked of “harnessing City financial expertise to assess the ways that these blended revenue streams and securitisations enhance the return on investment of an environmental bond.”(10) That gives you an idea of what the agenda is – as well as the amount of gobbledygook it is already generating...
Mordae
Mordae

Posts : 583
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 47
Location : Waikato, NZ

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Mordae on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:20 am

Ripping Yarns

A few days ago, I visited the Flamborough Head “no take zone”, one of the UK’s three areas in which commercial fishing is prohibited. Here marine life is allowed to proliferate, without being menaced by trawlers, scallop dredgers, drift nets, pots and all the other devices for rounding it up, some of which also rip the seabed to shreds. A reef of soft corals, mussels, razorfish and other species has begun to form, in which plaice and cod, crabs and lobsters can shelter, unmolested by exploitation. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Well curb your enthusiasm. Here’s a map of the no take zone, from the display board above the beach. It’s the area in dark blue:


When I saw it, I thought of the scene from Blackadder Goes Forth, in which General Melchett explains to Lieutenant George how much ground the army has recaptured. Melchett shows him a three-dimensional representation of the land, on top of a table.

[General Melchett: “Em, what is the actual scale of this map, Darling?”

Captain Darling: “Er, one to one sir.”

General Melchett: “Come again?”

Captain Darling:  “The map is actually life-sized sir.”

General Melchett: “So the actual amount of land retaken is?”

Captain Darling (measures it): “Seventeen square feet sir.”

General Melchett: “Excellent. So you see young Blackadder didn’t die horribly in vain after all.”

This reserve, dear reader, is one-fifth of the total area of the United Kingdom’s no take zones. Yes, we have managed so far to protect five square kilometres from commercial extraction, out of the 48,000 square kilometres of our territorial waters.

In the US there’s a lively movement called Nature Needs Half. It campaigns for half the area of the land and sea to be set aside for the protection of wildlife: not very much to ask when you consider (as Alan Watson-Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life points out) that this means a single species gets 50%, while millions of others must make do with the rest. But how about Nature Needs 0.01%? How does that sound? Well that’s what our government believes the correct allocation should be.

And this, it seems, is how it’s going to stay. It’s not just that the government, which was supposed to have designated 127 marine conservation zones four years ago, has so far managed to leave 100 of them off the list, it’s also that the small number which have been approved are pretty well useless. They are little more than paper parks, lines on the map which make almost no difference to the life of the sea.

You might have imagined that a marine conservation zone would be a zone in which marine life was, well, conserved. That was certainly the expectation of the 500,000 people who signed the Marine Conservation Society’s petition calling for 30% of our seas to be designated strict marine reserves in 2009.

Doh! How naïve can you get? Conservation in a conservation zone? You must be out of your mind. Conservation zones, obviously, are places that fishing boats can continue to smash to pieces through beam trawling, scallop dredging and other weapons of mass destruction.

In fact even Special Areas of Conservation, which supposedly enjoy the strictest form of protection in the European Union, can still be treated as if the life they contain is worthless. Across most of these areas, trawling and dredging continue unhindered. But even where they have supposedly been stopped, the ban, it seems, can be overturned with a nod and a wink...
Mordae
Mordae

Posts : 583
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 47
Location : Waikato, NZ

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Stirky on Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:43 am

The badger cull is still ongoing sadly.

We have beavers on a river here in Devon, nobody knows where they have come from, and yes they want to trap them so they can test them for disease. But a lot of people want them removed altogether as they say 'they do not belong there'. Sadly I think that is what will happen Sad
Stirky
Stirky
Admin

Posts : 6879
Join date : 2014-06-11
Age : 41
Location : Somewhere beneath the Opera House

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Rockhopper on Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:50 am

It's always a problem when one has introduced animals that can and do damage the local flora and displace the local fauna.

The problem is just what do you do about it? We have a problem here with Aussie possums that are destroying our native bush. I shoot them and eat them for dinner -- delicious!

Tim.
Rockhopper
Rockhopper

Posts : 4282
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 75
Location : Island Paradise

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Stirky on Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:39 am

That is true if they are a species that has never been in the area and never should, but there did used to be beavers on our rivers, they were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. So yes the landscape has developed without them, but maybe they should be allowed to make a come back.
Stirky
Stirky
Admin

Posts : 6879
Join date : 2014-06-11
Age : 41
Location : Somewhere beneath the Opera House

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Rockhopper on Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:24 pm

I agree Stirkles. They should be allowed to return in those circumstances.

Tim.
Rockhopper
Rockhopper

Posts : 4282
Join date : 2014-06-13
Age : 75
Location : Island Paradise

Back to top Go down

When Conservation just...isn't Empty Re: When Conservation just...isn't

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum