There are some great comments on yesterday’s blog – do have another look at them if you first read the blog yesterday morning.
One aspect of the work of wildlife conservation NGOs which needs considering is that of devolution. These days, and it’s been true for quite a while, decisions on most (not quite all) matters of importance for nature are made at a national (ie English, Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh level) not at a UK level. This is very clear to those who live and vote in the Celtic fringes but is still overlooked by the English (who do make up c80% of the UK human population though not necessarily 80% of the conservation interest or need).
For those NGOs engaged primarily in practical conservation work – managing land, talking to land owners, carrying out reintroduction projects – this makes a difference to their work but only to the extent that staff in different parts of the UK are working to different rules in different systems. When it comes to lobbying, however, there are now four targets for political advocacy where once there was one.
Nature conservation policy, agriculture policy and the details of all policies are different, and becoming increasingly different, in the four UK countries. You can’t so often influence land use across the UK by the stroke of a Whitehall pen – those pens need to be influenced in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh too.
Some wildlife NGOs are still UK organisations and are struggling with finding the resources to do four jobs where once there was one to do. Surprisingly there are few countryside organisations, CPRE is an exception, which have the word ‘England’ in their title and yet, as far as I can recall, all UK wildlife conservation organisations have their headquarters in England. Most UK wildlife NGOs are seen as too English outside England and not English enough in England.
Of course, we also need to look to Europe and the EU – the source of many a good thing as far as environmental thinking and legislation is concerned. Does that make life any simpler?