Peat extraction – far too little and far too late

The white-faced darter dragonfly

Ahhh, 2010! That was a classic year. Do you remember it? David Cameron and Nick Clegg formed the coalition Government. The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull blew and grounded flight across Europe with clouds of ash. Spoonbills bred in Britain for the first time in three centuries. And in December that year, the coalition Government finally introduced a scheme to end the use of peat in domestic gardens by 2020. It was a voluntary scheme, relying on the industry to get its

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Finally, increased penalties for hare coursers

Brown hare

Regular readers will know that I love hares. A lot of people do. They have a long, often mystical, association with our countryside, being said to conjure spirits, turn into witches, and dance at the moon. The UK has three species – the brown hare, the mountain hare, and in Northern Ireland, (and one tiny part of Scotland) the Irish hare. I’ll be writing about Britain’s hare species in a future blog. To me, hares are the archetypal wild animals,

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One for sorrow…

turtle dove

Five years ago I was moved to tears by one of the saddest things I have ever seen. My wife and I were celebrating our silver wedding anniversary (no, that’s not why I was crying!). We’d broken the piggybank open, burnt our savings, and gone on safari in Kenya. As part of our trip our guide took us, unexpectedly, to  rhino sanctuary. And there we saw Sudan. Sudan was as that time the world’s last male Northern white rhino. Since

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Not just a silent spring, but a colourless summer

all the butterflies

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote her classic book ‘Silent Spring’. In it, she described the impact of the pesticide DDT, which was killing wildlife throughout the food chain, but especially silencing the birds whose song she heard every spring. The book caused enough shock that DDT was eventually banned almost everywhere. But Rachel lived in more innocent times. Since the 1960’s, things that were once unthinkable are now routine, and every time we think nothing could get worse, we are proven

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Is it time to permanently stop visits to the Farne islands?

arctic tern

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Scotland. On my way back down to Wiltshire, I decided to fulfil a longstanding ambition and visit the Farne islands. If you’re interested in wildlife, the Farnes have always beenone of those places that you need to visit at least once in your life. Nestling a few miles south of the holy island of Lindisfarne, and a couple of miles offshore from the Northumberland coast,  “island” is perhaps too grandiose a word for

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Restoration to excess may be no help at all

“Biodiversity gain” is the latest buzzword in Government conservation policy. The new Environment Bill has the very laudable goal of trying to ensure that habitat loss is matched by habitat gain to excess elsewhere. It’s a clever idea, one that is aimed at helping to ensure the restoration of Britain’s deeply impoverished fauna and flora. But here’s the thing: it may not work. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the

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