It is a pleasant change to report that Robin Page has written something in the Daily Telegraph with which I can whole-heartedly agree.
He writes in praise of Natural England's (and the Zoological Society's of London and Oxford University's) work on adders - our only venomous snake. Robin discloses a personal nervousness about snakes which is touchingly open of him.
Adders, or vipers, are apparently declining in numbers with only 100,000 estimated to be left. Habitat fragmentation and intensive agriculture are leading to the isolation of some populations and that may lead, in turn, to inbreeding. Their problems, though different in detail, exemplify the needs of many species which were summarised in the Lawton report published last year. That report called for more, bigger, better managed and more joined up protected areas and if we had more, bigger, better managed and more joined up heathland habitat pockets then the population level of the adder would add up to a bigger number. Let's see what the long-awaited, much-heralded and vitally important Natural Environment White Paper says on the subject of habitat re-creation and restoration at a landscape scale.
A former RSPB boss, the late Ian Prestt, studied adders in his youth. I remember talking to him about his work, which he spoke about with relish.
Robin Page points out that the presence of adders indicates a healthy countryside because this predator relies on the presence of a variety of prey such as young birds, voles, frogs and lizards to survive. If the adder is in trouble then it indicates that the rest of nature is too. How true. I look forward to further articles from Robin in praise of the sparrowhawk and the white-tailed eagle.
Hmmm, lets hope the Caroline Spelman uses the Natural Environment White Paper to takes a long and hard look at the Lawton Report and puts it into the perspective with the nations priorities.
It is quite clear now that we CAN NOT afford the reports recommendations and vision as well as the single interest aspirations of the RSBP, Wildlife and Woodland Trusts, lobbied hard for and distorting other responders to the consultation.
In the backdrop of the governments need to drastically reduce the national deficit by cutting our: nations defence assets, funding to local authority for vital support services, voluntary organisations delivering social care to local communities etc. to ask the government to sustain or increase funding for projects just so that habitats and species benefit to meet single interest needs seems crass in the extreme.
Its about time that the RSPB led the other environmental Non-Government Organisation back into reality and developed some Corporate Social Responsibility for their campaigning, especially to senior civil servants and ministers.
Shouldn't the RSPB be campaigning to save our Harriers (RAF and Royal Navy variety) rather than using adders as a smoke screen to keep podding Defra senior officials?
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