Tuesday, 4 November 2008

UK countryside in poor health.

The degraded condition of land and the near extinction of some birds and wildlife is to a large extent due to the bullish attitudes of successive governments.
Hedgerows, woodland, and wildplants, insects and wild animals have been sacrificed to the intensive use of pesticides and industrialised farming methods, in the mistaken belief that this is a realistic or sustainable system of food production for the future post peak oil world.
Last week the House of Commons Environmental Committee published a report which concluded that…” the government needs to do more to halt the dramatic decline in our native landscape and wildlife”

Biodiversity loss and loss of our native landscape is considered by government to be necessary collateral damage in the drive for economic growth. Infact some individuals don’t consider it to be damage at all. They simply don’t recognize or care about their self condoned vandalism, (it is government which sets the policies for agricultural practice). Biodiversity isn’t an optional extra, It is fundamental to our survival on this planet. Culturally and aesthetically it provides more than just a pleasing panomara which is appealingl for the tourist industry.
In a metropolitan setting no government would be allowed to destroy historic buildings or parklands for economic reasons, yet they consider they have the right to allow farmers to destroy the fabric of our rural landscape.

Tim Yeo, who chairs the select committee, stated that the balance of nature is economically important.- that there is a compelling economic case for protecting the environment. …”Environmental gain is conducive to economic growth-prosperity and good environment go hand in hand- they are not conflicting objectives.”

One result of the destruction of the fabric of the countryside is that farmland birds, like the turtle dove, grey partridge and linnet have declined to their lowest level on record, with some species becoming extinct in some regions of the UK. The latest survey by DEFRA shows the number of breeding pairs of farmland birds has now more than halved since intensive farming with chemicals was introduced in the 1960’s.
Some species have declined more than 85% leading to local extinctions, including the corn bunting in Northern Ireland and yellow wagtail in Devon. Other affected species are lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and skylark.

Meanwhile, what exactly is the motivation of the UK government in threatening conservation schemes by cutting budgets to key organizations like Natural England?

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