A few days past I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the Response for Nature report in Westminster, London. A somewhat star-studded affair in aid of a report that has great potential to influence our governments perception of nature over the coming years.

The report itself combines the thoughts of 26 conservation organisations and aims to highlight the action that must be taken on behalf of the government in order to safeguard the natural world. Comprising a ten point plan put together by the the likes of the RSPB, BTO, Wildlife Trust’s and WWT (alongside many others), the response for nature report combines the voices of NGO’s both large and small and encourages the government to finally take a stand and protect the biodiversity many of us hold dear. The event itself highlighted perfectly the passion of those fighting for our environment, with inspirational and at times rather moving speeches, short targeted lectures and a chance for nature lovers both young and old to trade words and advice in regards to the issue at hand. It was nothing short of a privilege to stand alongside such passionate individuals and I am extremely grateful to A Focus on Nature for the opportunity. This blog post comprises a few of my personal highlights from the evening as well as the usual thoughts and musings.
First up, the introductory talks and three out of the four speakers delivered thoroughly enjoyable and above all else, motivational speeches regarding the report and why it is time to step up and fight for nature. TV’s Steve Backshall introduced the event in rousing fashion, whilst Martin Warren, CEO of Butterfly Conservation spoke with similar vigor keeping myself and the others in attendance enthralled for the duration. The highlight here however was of course AFON’s own Josie Hewitt who delivered an excellent talk regarding young people and the natural world. I cannot stress how much I admire Josie for doing what she does and not just for her conservation work. At 17 I would have been utterly unable to address a crowd such as this without pausing and stammering like an imbecile. Josie however speaks with confidence and knowledge beyond her years, her passion shining through with every word. Josie highlights perfectly the dedication of the new generation of young conservationists.
A Focus on Nature meeting Steve Backshall
As I mentioned above, one of the introductory speakers came off a little worse than the others, at least in my opinion. I am of course referring to Rory Stewart MP, the parliamentary candidate for Penrith and its surrounds. In truth, Mr Stewart said everything that any self respecting conservationist would like to here, ticking boxes and vowing to fight for nature while attempting to convince us that those at DEFRA share our concerns and worries. Usually I would applaud such words but on this occasion I find myself a little vexed and cannot help but feel that the good MP may just have been playing to the interests in the room, telling people what they want to hear without any serious intention to make a difference. I could be horribly wrong however and would welcome any positive notions Rory may push for as part of DEFRA’s revamp of its environmental policy. Maybe I just don’t trust politicians? Cynical old me. Anyways, Mr Stewart’s talk of appreciating nature whilst watching a Stoat predate chicks in his garden was certainly a little suspect. I would be very interested to know just what species the MP has nesting in his garden in mid-October.. Maybe Woodpigeons? I was also informed by numerous sources that the chances of a Stoat occurring in Rory’s garden was in fact highly unlikely due to the surrounding, heavily managed moorland that he himself favours. Attempting to conjure up picturesque images to woo we bunny huggers perhaps?
On a far brighter and much less suspicious note, it was delightful to once again catch up with various members of A Focus On Nature. From familiar faces such as the wonderful Tiffany Francis, Peter Cooper and Megan Shersby to new faces such as Jonny Cooper and David Hunter, it was lovely spend time with a group of such talented, dedicated young naturalists. All of whom slotted seamlessly into the crowd and many of whom I suspect will have made some incredibly useful contacts for the future. Matt Adam Williamson once again delivered an excellent talk regarding the youth conservation movement and AFON itself and it is safe to say that I am rather envious of his public speaking abilities. Perhaps I should request lessons? Anyways, all in all it was lovely to see AFON getting the attention it deserves, showcased among the best of them and recognized as the force that it is. The group has certainly done a lot for me and I would love to get more involved in the future.

 

Just a few of us..
So yes, as you can probably tell I had a wonderful time in London. Of course it was nice to get stuck in among people I greatly admire, many of whom offered some wonderful career advice. For me however the real highlight was being there at the launch of such an extremely important scheme. Response for Nature has the potential to make monumental changes to the way our government treats the natural world and I sincerely hope DEFRA, Liz Truss and anyone else in the know take heed of the voices calling for increased protection, awareness and education relating to nature and biodiversity. Voices that have joined together it seems, forming a single, passionate shout for change sure to grab the attention of the decision makers in Edinburgh, London, Belfast and Cardiff.

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