I’m sorry I missed the launch of the State of Nature report by a large group of NGOs as I think it would have been a very enjoyable event. A bit like a gathering of old friends at the deathbed of UK wildlife – determined to have a good time, mention what a great person the old girl was and to praise her not to bury her?
But I have had a good look at the report and there is one thing I like about it but two things I don’t like about it.
The report chronicles, as best as can be done with the data available, the status of UK wildlife – more of it is declining than increasing. This deserves to be said over and over again as it is a sad indictment of UK wildlife NGOs (to a small extent because they aren’t ‘in charge’), governments (to a large extent because they are ‘in charge’ ) and all of us (to a varying extent depending on our lifestyles).
It’s all a bit heavy on species and light on habitats (not a point you will often find me making) and the species that get most mentions seem to be birds and butterflies – which is understandable because they are well monitored.
The thing I liked:
The best thing about the report is that it is a collaborative production by all the wildlife NGOs and non-NGOs who matter – at least in the realm of species monitoring, survey and audit (counting stuff). It’s really good to see the British Lichen Society (and what an attractive logo they have) and the Association of British Fungus Groups associated with the likes of the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts.
But it is disappointing that there are some notable absentees from the list of participating and involved organisations. Where are the National Trust for example – remember they described themselves as ‘one of Europe’s leading nature conservation organisations’ just 18 months ago but now they can’t even turn up at a wake for UK wildlife. It’s a pretty poor show NT. And WWF-UK weren’t there either – charity begins abroad, perhaps. Note added later: it appears that the NT, Woodland Trust and WWF-UK weren’t approached by the rest of the consortium to be full members of this initiative – that’s a bit surprising.
However, it is rare to see so many wildlife conservation organisations working so closely together and that is something definitely to be celebrated. Hooray!
Something I didn’t like:
I wasn’t keen on the design of the report. I’m not sure why, these days, people seem to think that no-one can read a paragraph of more than a few words without a box, a highlighted piece of text or a razorbill flying across the page. Why is that? I didn’t like the full-page diagrams of ‘why is xxx wildlife changing?’ because they looked like rather ugly circuit diagrams to me and used lots of space but carried rather few words. There were too many attractive photographs – many of them full-page, of lovely wildlife that you might want to cuddle – but they softened the impact of the dismal story contained within this report.
Pick up the report and it is difficult to feel unsettled or worried unless you get into it quite deeply -the design isn’t helping to get the message across. This report could have ditched the colour and gone for a sombre black-and-white. It ought to have lots of downward pointing arrows and stickers across the nicest images saying ‘down X%’ or ‘extinct’. Maybe even a few dead animals too. There ought to have been lots of red and black to signal danger and despondency. A few acerbic cartoons of gallows humour wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The main thing I didn’t like:
We aren’t making enough progress. Nature is bleeding from our lives.
PS David Gibbons had a new tie to wear at the launch by the look of it
PPS how clever of everyone to predict the arrival of a very rare bird on Islay by having its image on page 67.