Nature Notes: Pessimistic outlook or realistic view of the future?
DURING the past few decades, the farming sector has had to put up with a lot of flack regarding the loss of wildlife in our countryside.
I wish to counter this criticism.
Population, not only in the UK but worldwide, has increased, requiring more land not only to grow more crops to feed them, but for housing, industry etc. Unfortunately, wildlife has suffered, in many cases drastically.
In my opinion, until homo sapiens stop breeding, I don’t know how the loss of wildlife can be halted.
In Britain, many species of migrant birds show frightening decreases in population and many observers put it down to farming practices.
Most summer migrants winter in areas of Africa where human populations are rising at an alarming rate.
Millions upon millions of acres of land are being used to grow crops and house them. Sadly their flora and fauna is suffering huge losses.
You may wonder why many species of birds migrate north in spring. In the northern hemisphere, during the summer months, there can be 20-plus hours of daylight, enabling them to rear their young.
Before migrating north they have to fatten up to give them strength for their long flights.
Areas where many have wintered, feeding on insects, have totally disappeared, leading to a lack of food and that means birds are not in the best condition when they migrate and many thousands will not survive crossing the Sahara to start with.
Also, during their flights, many will endure inclement weather crossing from southern to northern Europe.
The depletion of winter grounds contributes, in my opinion, to the reduced numbers of insectivorous birds.
Many landowners and farmers make a great effort to support wildlife. Not long ago, a farmer friend of mine invited me to observe his land’s wildlife, especially with reference to birdlife.
This visit took place during winter and I was astonished to see the number of species and populations of birds and also the number of hares present.
Every effort had been made to plant areas of set-aside land; new hedgerows had been planted and ponds dug, benefiting wildlife. These areas totalled many acres.
Both species of partridge were observed in good numbers, flocks of redpoll and siskin were feeding on alder and birch, while mallard, teal and shelduck inhabited the ponds. There was also a grey heron present.
No doubt frogs and toads would use these wet areas to breed.
I was hoping to visit the area in late spring to see which species of birds are present and breeding there.
To explain how large the areas visited were, it took the best part of two hours, motorised, to get round, covering acres and acres of farmland that attracted wildlife.
Areas such as a this are, in my opinion, more valuable than having small pockets. If only each and every landowner used, for want of an expression “unfarmable” land to the benefit of wildlife it would help many species in the UK.
The advent of coronavirus will benefit wildlife in the short term, with fewer traffic casualties and less disturbance from humans.
Regular readers will know of my opinions on the cycle of the world's wildlife and how their numbers are controlled by natural selections through predation, disease and inclement weather. If not interfered with by man it would be a perfect balance.
Humans are breathing mammals and are top of the predators, but do not have a predator as such.
I may have lost my marbles, but I believe pandemics are there to control the world’s population.
However, medical science reduces the effect, leading to numbers rising out of control.
That leads me to think that at the rate the world’s population is growing, it can only lead to the demise of wildlife throughout the world.
We are poisoning not only the air we breathe, but the seas and oceans and the disappearing tracts of forestry that are vital to all creatures great and small.
If the current situation is not resolved, God only knows what will happen. This is just my opinion. In the meantime, enjoy our wildlife if you can get out there because there is no guarantee that future generations will have the chance to do the same.
Am I being pessimistic? Well, as things are now and if they don’t chance, I believe I have a realistic opinion.
Dave Moore is a wildlife enthusiast from Hutton Magna