Wednesday, 11 March 2015

How others see the GWCT - by Sir John Randall MP

Guest blog by Sir John Randall MP (@uxbridgewalrus)

Members of Parliament are expected by our constituents to be knowledgeable on every subject, or at least to have an opinion. On many issues we may be well informed already, but when trying to garner information that can be deemed reliable, it is not always as easy as it might seem.

Animal welfare, wildlife and conservation issues can be very emotive topics and there is no shortage of advice being proffered to MPs by constituents and lobby groups. We may well be bombarded by well-meaning members of our constituencies who only want to hear one side of an argument.

For as long as I can remember I have loved wildlife, and although a denizen of the suburbs by birth, I have spent a lot of time in different parts of the country enjoying the fauna and flora. However, it would be wrong to think that I could ever understand the countryside in all its facets.

My association with the GWCT started when I was looking into possible legislation to create a close season for the brown hare. Offered a briefing, I soon discovered that this was not only a much more complex issue than I had initially imagined, but perhaps more importantly, I was impressed by the depth of research and knowledge that was brought to my attention.

I also was acutely aware that the members of staff of the GWCT that I was talking to shared my love of wildlife, were very knowledgeable, but also passionate. I therefore needed no second invitation to see the Trust in action at its excellent Allerton Project demonstration farm at Loddington. Once again I was very impressed at what I saw and heard. My overarching impression is that the depth of knowledge and experience from the Allerton Project needs a wider audience. This is particularly true for parliamentarians, but is also true for mainstream media, as it is crucially important for information to be given to the public that is based on sound, science-based research.

Of course there will always be some controversial areas where value judgements will have to be made, and indeed other conservation bodies have to take difficult and sometimes controversial decisions. Politics is no different and there are no easy answers to many of the problems we face. I have found the GWCT to be an important source of information that politicians can rely on. Facts without emotion but produced by people who are committed and passionate.

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