From the fens to Friends of the Earth with bells on

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

My week began in Cambridge at EESD-13 about which I've probably said enough – except that the positive memory of it lingers.  And it ended at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust [WWT] AGM which turned out (well, almost) to be a rumbustious affair after a member decided she wanted to make a couple of points under AOB about the plight of the hare, and about the focus of the Trust's work.

She was a fan of the hare – indeed I don't know anyone who lives in the countryside who isn't – and was concerned that they were vanishing – as indeed they are.  She blamed the red kite, taking a swipe at badgers along the way, and I'm told that both are likely to be keen to take leverets.  The Trust's Director thought that agricultural practice and changing climate would likely be implicated somewhere along the line.  Her point seemed a legitimate one to make to the Trust, though whether AGM AOB was the best place is debatable.

Her second point was that the Trust had lost its way, focusing far too much on what she termed "human lifestyle propaganda".  We are, it seems, in a ringing phrase: "Friends of the Earth with bells on – where the bells were the nature reserves".  This is, she thinks, because one of the Trust's strategic objectives is to "Lead and support the transition of society towards more sustainable living".

I did wonder, as I listened to her assertions, and the cogent rebuttal from the Trust's Director, whether she had linked her two points in her mind, or whether they were quite separate, and whether this was an example of one of those nature not people false dichotomies that bedevil wildlife charities, from WWF across to more modest outfits.  WWT, as a Trust, understands the importance of people to conservation, and the need to educate them about it, and about sustainability.

Not all its members completely agree on this, of course, which is a common feature across all such member organisations.  In this case, whether it's the re-introduction, and subsequent spread, of the red kite, or agricultural practice, that's to blame here, the point is that the human hand is implicated, and only society (that is, more humans) can offer redress.  From this viewpoint, a strategic objective to lead and support the transition of society towards more sustainable living seems essential – especially as it may well result in more hares.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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