Thursday, 28 March 2013

Large scale conservation conference

Yesterday I went to a packed conference held at the London wetland centre to discuss “large-scale conservation”. Perhaps the first thing that struck me on arriving is the whole set up at the London wetland centre, having never been there before, I can start to see why they have won a load of prizes, as it is certainly an impressive place to visit. The buildings were notable, with huge viewing windows over the wetland area, perhaps made all the more unique as the whole backdrop was filled with skyscrapers and cranes!!
The second thing that was striking about the day was to glance at the attendees list!  I reckon there were around 40 different organisations represented, which made the discussions on “how to work more closely together by forming partnerships” – very relevant!
Following Professor Sir John Lawton’s report “making space for nature” all the current conservation thinking is to concentrate on landscape scale projects, rather than nature reserves and  small isolated pockets of habitat, which although important, have been described as “precious living relics”.  
Thinking more, bigger, better and joined as Lawton suggested, is of course sensible on many levels, however, I still feel that we are too keen to place red lines around “special areas” and concentrate all our efforts there and ignore the rest of the landscape. Why not a red line put around the whole country and also around large parts of our seas? No wildlife is aware of the lines we draw on a maps. It was wholesale, across the board CAP policies that sent so much of our wildlife into decline, so why are we still so happy to pick and choose these so called important areas, albeit on a larger scale than before, and highlight them for special attention? Maybe a new report will come out in a few years time saying “CCC – countrywide co-operation for conservation – that’s what we need now”.       

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