Saturday, 12 December 2009

Birding: A Lifestyle- Not a Hairstyle

Birding is a lifestyle for me and not just a hobby. All aspects of the world around us are connected to birds directly or indirectly. Even political decisions and changes have fundamental effects on bird populations. In my opinion there are fundamental political changes occuring at the moment as Britain is going through a restructuring- a redistribution of wealth and a redistribution of power. Part of that restructuring will involve local communities and local businesses stepping up to the plate in terms of solving both environmental and social issues which are affecting their immediate environment. As central government resources are depleted I think we will be left with no choice but to sort things out ourselves at the local level.

The environment is now top of this political agenda and this is my main area of interest for my local area. In the past local authority has failed Beddington Farmlands by not enforcing the terms of the planning conditions set out in our public enquiry, the RSPB and the WWT have not been in a position to get deeply involved, the corporations running the site have delayed restoration and the conservation management plan has been widely ignored, target species have been lost, there has been encroachment by industry in the disguise of recycling units across the east side of the farm and we lost a whole area of protected woodland which was illegally felled in the hope of utilising a planning loophole. In the last ten years there is evidence to suggest that nearly 50% of species at Beddington have been adversely affected.

Beddington farmlands is not an SPA, is not a Ramsar site, is not an SSSI- it is simply a great place to see birds near to where we live. It's a local patch. The national conservation bodies simply need to concentrate on preserving the most important national areas- they really do have bigger fish to fry first. The local areas need to be protected by local birders, who hopefully through inspiration and advise from conservation bodies like the RSPB and WWT can build up local interest in birds from a wider community, help to conserve the area through working teams, run birding workshops, tours and events to educate the local people about birds and help them to appreciate what it is we appreciate about birds.

If people in a local area value birds, they will want them to be part of their local environment and they will contribute and support efforts to build local nature reserves. Building local nature reserves (or other social and envioronmental projects) by local people also builds community and helps to address wider social problems. Helping out to bring about positive change in our own immediate environments, is the best thing that any one can do in addressing the social and environmental problems which plague our generation. In short, for me a love of birds and birding is the answer to everything!

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