Happy New Year and welcome to our first blog at the launch of 'NatureFramed'.
Photographs mean different things to different people, an experience to capture and share, a record of a memorable event, past holidays, a reminder of a loved-one or simply an eye-catching moment to brighten your living space. At 'NatureFramed' the importance of images are to remind us of our wondrous nature and wildness and a means of communicating experiences with you.
I remember early-on in my education being taking out into the countryside on 'nature walks', and being inspired by the sight and sounds of nature, an experience I still treasure today. Sadly, over the last 6 decades we have lost much of our connectivity with the countryside, it has been stealthily eroded, fragmented and habitats lost. Wildlife has certainly become less abundant in the 21st century compared to that of my school days.
Should we be doing more to expand, enhance and restore naturalness to our countryside? Yes, of course we should. Recreating landscapes as 'natural' ecosystems and reconnecting vulnerable wildlife-rich spaces, where species can thrive and interact, is very important to regaining a healthier countryside and for our own well-being. But rewilding should not only be confined to the 'countryside', our towns and cities can also benefit from a less intensive management regime. Making wild spaces in the centre of our towns and cities does not have to be a 'big deal' costing the tax payer huge amounts of money, on the contrary it could even save tax payers money.There is an alternate to manicured amenity grasslands, small wildflower meadows. In stead of the council having to cut amenity grasslands every 3 - 4 weeks, why not recreate areas of species-rich grassland or heaths and only cut the once after the flowering period; this would benefit nature. Creating more wildlife friendly areas in our public gardens by choosing the most appropriate species of trees and shrubs, and not being afraid to leave some areas unmanaged. Recreating and reconnecting people with nature is not 'rocket science' all it takes is goodwill, a little knowledge and some small tweaks here and there that can make a big difference to wildlife in our towns and cities.
With no land-bridge link to Continental Europe there is no connectivity with mammal populations that were man-made extinctions here in the UK. Improving ecological coherence to the benefit of wildlife and people is highly desirable if we are to maintain a 'natural' balance in our landscapes. We are, therefore reliant on controversial reintroduction schemes to re-energize the current impoverish state of our wildlife.
Well-thought out and funded reintroduction programmes do work and can bring socio-economic benefits to communities. Take the white-tailed sea-eagle project as an example: This has been a great success story, enlivening our landscapes as well as providing the nucleus from which 120 pairs of this magnificent bird have recolonised the wider countryside, it brings new employment and incomes into communities. The red kite reintroduction project has seen similar benefits while other reintroductions, whether by accident or design, such as the beaver back to our rivers, the wild-boar back to our forests and the great bustard's return to Salisbury Plain, perhaps need future evaluation. However, they are present once more in their environments and play a critical role in maintaining a 'natural' ecological balance.
Many like-minded people support rewinding projects as the way forward and welcome a time in the future when it may be possible to consider the arrival of top-carnivores back into our ecosystems to play similar roles. They are also realistic individuals and recognise that bears and wolves may be problematic until we have sufficiently large and connected landscapes. The same argument is no excuse for not reintroducing a species like the lynx to our upland forests, since this small carnivore is an important missing link.
Combating global climate change, a growing human population and an increasing level of biodiversity loss, as well as the abhorrent states of the worlds oceans are all important issues that should concern each and every one of us. Pause for just a moment and imagine a landscape where nature and wildness can flourish and interact, provide new opportunities and fresh economic benefits in our countryside, where our children can grow up have fun and be inspired by nature, where people live happier, healthier lives in a truly 'living landscape'. If you dare dream of such a concept and do not belong to your county Wildlife Trust, why not make a New Year's resolution and commit to supporting the work of your local trust today. Sometimes even our wildest dreams can become reality.
In future bulletins we promise to make Nature's Notes shorter, less political and more nature focused. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit our website, and until next time enjoy a healthy and wildlife filled 2018.