10 environmental wishes for 2018 (Part 1)

An end to raptor persecution in the uplands

In 2018 I want to see an end to the illegal persecution of protected raptors in upland Britain, by any means necessary. However this happens, whether through a ban on the practices responsible for the decimation of England’s Hen Harrier’s and the suppression of Peregrine and kite populations, through licensing of said practices or through dialogue and compromise, it needs to happen now. Over the course of 2018, I want to see the shooting industry make real, concrete steps towards cleaning up their act or see them forced to by public outcry and the rule of law. While I wish no ill on law-abiding sportsmen or keepers, the continued killing of raptors cannot go on and the time has come to banish the notion that profit takes precedence over nature. I want to see an upward trend in raptor populations, the increased exposure and isolation of those responsible for these crimes and, ultimately, a conclusion reached that restores all of our birds of prey to a favourable status.

Decisive action on marine plastics

I want to see the recent hype generated by shows such as Blue Planet II and campaigns such as #BackTheBlueBelt sustained and the government – those responsible for the well being of our seas – forced to tackle the issue of plastic pollution head-on. I want to see laws brought to pass which restrict the distribution and sale of plastic products and the rise of new campaigns designed to inform the general public as to the impact of their personal decisions. Above all else, however, I want to see the flow of plastics into our oceans halted,  so to that scenes such as that shown below are not repeated over the days, weeks and months to come. Plastic pollution in our oceans is fast becoming one of the greatest environmental issues of our time and, as with many such problems, it may be overcome if we choose to act.

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The resurgence of Curlew and Willow Tit populations

Britain’s Curlew population is crashing, with numbers down 46% since 1996. Our globally important population of this iconic, endearing and really rather brilliant wader slipping away, breeding site by breeding site, bird by bird, as a result of habitat loss, predation and other attributing factors. Similarly, the Willow Tit, perhaps Britain’s most underappreciated species, is now our most endangered resident bird. Britain’s fractured population of this woodland denizen decreasing year on year. To combat this, I would like to see an increased number of people rallying to support projects designed to combat these declines: The BTO’s Curlew Appeal and Back from the Brink spring to mind instantly. I would like to see conservation NGOs, landowners and average joes such as you or I, clamouring for the widespread change these birds desperately need, and in doing so, bringing their plight to the doors of Westminister. In 2018, I want to see an increase in focused conservation action and an overwhelming change in public awareness so to save these wonderful birds before it is too late. And yes, I know that many other species, avian or otherwise, need our help; though these are two that I feel particularly passionate about.

Further opportunities for young conservationists

I want to see positive change in the conservation sector: a shift from the volunteer culture of today which, while important to the work of our NGOs, biases the scales in favour of more affluent youths. Subsequently decreasing diversity in the sector and denying perfectly capable, dedicated young conservationists opportunities to develop and prosper. Similarly, I want to see a renewed focus on environmental education – in schools in particular – to encourage further young people to take up arms in defence of the natural world and would love to see increased support given to start-up initiatives and existing groups making a real difference for young naturalists. Forest schools, scouts and bodies such as A Focus on Nature.

A Brexit that works for wildlife

Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, remain or leave, what’s done is done. And going forward, I want to see the whole tedious ordeal made to work for wildlife. I believe that Brexit offers an unparalleled opportunity to deliver what our glorious island truly deserves: clean air, clean water, thriving seas, biodiversity and a livable climate. I want to see the decision-makers in Westminster not just transcribing existing EU law into our own, but building on it. To introduce new laws that protect the environment and punish those – the companies, developers and individuals – who degrade it. I want to see tax-payers money directed to where it matters most, encouraging land-management that places the needs of wildlife on parr with our own and, ultimately, wish to see a sustainable, workable future for man and wildlife set in stone, so to provide a framework for future work in the years to come.

Okay, so maybe this post was a little optimistic, naive even, but it doesn’t hurt to have high hopes. Heck, in the often depressing field of environmentalism, a little optimism can be rather refreshing…