Friday 28 February 2014

A need for partnership - star letter by Rob Yorke

The following letter appears as our star letter in the latest edition of our members' magazine Gamewise.

Dear Editor

I wholeheartedly agree with Ian Lindsay that there is a need for a partnership between conservation agencies and sporting interests (read Ian's article from Gamewise Aut/Winter 2013).

However, few parties seem to be interested in finding common ground on which to build solutions that enhance sound shooting practices while also benefiting nature.

We cannot afford to placate members’ vested interests by maintaining a ‘carry on and keep your heads down’ stance when science is pointing towards a decline in biodiversity – which includes some quarry species.

Once shared ideas are discovered, it is then healthy to argue over the differences but without incessant finger-pointing from either side centred on ideals that require compromise.

The State of Nature report was based on a mere five per cent of species and it is down to all of us to provide data to build up a realistic picture of the remaining 95 per cent of wildlife around which policyholders can then propose practical solutions.

Rob Yorke, Abergavenny
Follow Rob on Twitter - @blackgull

1 comment:

  1. I would like to offer an opinion. Rob speaks a lot of sense. To my mind, the "finger-pointing" can be broken down as such:

    There are people who are implacably opposed to shooting and want to see it ended. They need to save their energy or at least redirect it to something more productive. This is a legal activity enjoyed by thousands. There are benefits to wildlife on ground which is shot over - game cover, beetle banks etc. I see it on the land around where I live.

    On the flip-side is the R-word. Raptors are protected by law and those that kill them need to be weeded out. Those that want to see their numbers controlled can also save their energy.

    The lobbies on both sides are very powerful and sometimes you just have to live with what other people enjoy. This can be easier said than done when social and even mainstream media often drowns out sensible discussion.

    Problems are solved through dialogue. There are knowledge gaps and rash assumptions made on both sides. Don't make an assumption, challenge what you hear and find out for yourself. If all you read is either the Shooting Times or Birdwatch magazine, please open your eyes a little more.

    So where can that energy I mentioned be redirected?

    How many birdwatchers knew about the Big Farmland Bird Count launched this year by the GWCT? A very valuable mission to check the effectiveness of conservation measures implemented on farms on declining farmland birds. Results for this year aren't in yet, but the pilot in 2013 covered 30 farms and 10,000 hectares. This should be as big and well established as the Big Garden Birdwatch.

    How many farmers/landowners knew about the Patchwork Challenge launched last year? An entirely voluntary exercise where birders/watchers across the country try and find as many species in their own area (up to 3 in size). This year over 300 people have signed up. How many of those I wonder have befriended a local farmer/gamekeeper for access to their land and shared their findings with them?

    I suspect the answer to both questions is "Not many". Here's a thought: let's talk to each other, so that next year, there are more farms taking part, more farmland birds being identified (please don't think I am casting aspersions on existing ID skills) and more knowledge being shared. As applicable, get to know your local farmer/birdwatcher/gamekeeper/local RSPB group/County Ornithological group and let us work together for that shared interest of saving the wildlife that depends on us.