Make Buglife part of Yourlife
Assumption – you think wildlife is worth conserving. If not, don’t carry on reading this blog. If you think that bumblebees, grasshoppers, beetles, snails or other little animals are amazing and fantastic, or if you understand that they are essential to ecosystems and us (e.g. pollination = £510 million worth of agricultural produce), or if you think it is morally wrong to drive other species to extinction please carry on reading.
What is wildlife worth to you?
Last year the UK governments spent £12.75 on your behalf to protect your environment, some of this was spent conserving wildlife and its habitats. To put this in perspective they spent on your (and each and every individual’s) behalf £420 on military defence and £1,616 on the National Health Service.
You may believe that the Government should pay for the protection of our natural wealth; you may believe that individuals and businesses should pay directly for the protection of natural wealth; but, in keeping with our mid-Atlantic attitudes towards Government, you probably believe that both society and government have a role in conserving wildlife. Where are you on the scale?
Government as environmental mother
If you are towards the ‘state as the environmental mother’ end of the scale then you should be pretty despondent. Defra budgets dropped by a quarter between 2009 and 2014, despite the fact that 94% of the British public believe that it is important that people respect and preserve the environment, and the response from Government to this year’s ‘State of Nature’ report showing that 60% of species are in decline has been almost non-existent (perhaps with the exception of the Welsh Assembly which seems genuinely concerned).
If you want government to invest more to ensure that other British species survive and thrive, or to support the ecosystem services that enable us to survive and thrive, you will be waiting a long time. We have a Chancellor who blames the environment for our economic problems and appears not to understand that the economy is rooted in a healthy environment. The Treasury proudly boasts about setting up the Natural Capital Committee to oversee work that will eventually put the environment on to the balance sheet, however the same Treasury then does not even bother to send a representative to attend the House of Commons debate on the Committee’s first report. You may have missed it but the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK Government gave a passionate speech on the importance of the environment last Thursday [http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/11/07/nick-clegg-environment-speech-in-full]. 95% of the public are probably unaware of the speech and none of the other political parties even bothered to respond – indications of ominous portent.
Just at the point when the environment most needs political leadership it has deserted her. However, while we may desire leadership from politicians, experience shows that they will follow when public attitudes change.
Those attitudes will change when enough people come together and show that they care. Your answer to the current political intransigence is to join and support NGOs that will take your concerns to the politicians and ensure that the needs of wildlife are more heard and respected. The proportion of individual giving going to environmental causes has dropped, from 3% in 2006/7 to 2% in 2011/12, despite this between 2005 and 2010 environmental NGOs saw strong income growth, an average of 21% in real terms. Before you get despondent remember as Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
‘Civic duty is the answer’
If you have no faith in government to deliver solutions and believe that society must take responsibility, there really is little need to discuss further, you know that to deliver a healthier environment rich in wildlife you have to take action with others to achieve this.
Buglife and other charities deliver outcomes for wildlife on the ground as well as campaign for politicians to take responsibility. You are probably already a member of several wildlife NGOs.
Why join Buglife?
Buglife started its world changing mission in 2002, the first European champion for the conservation of all invertebrates, from bees to earthworms and spiders to jellyfish – bugs as they are more colloquially called. Buglife has become the focus point for efforts to save bug species from extinction and to halt the general decline in bug populations.
Buglife is responsible for speaking out on behalf 40,000 species 64% of all UK species.
Buglife has a sound and proud track record of delivery and have been a dedicated and sometimes determined advocate on behalf of bugs we:-
- created and promoted advice on habitat management for bugs;
- tackled the conservation of neglected habitats such as soft rock cliffs, freshwater ditches and high quality brownfield sites – habitats essential for many bug species, but lacking more obviously glamorous flowery or bony flagship species;
- created new invertebrate habitats on a range of sites, including a number of roofs in London;
- led campaigns to restrict the use of deadly insecticides destroying aquatic life and bees – first cypermethrin sheep dip, now neonicotinoids,
- saved many sites from destruction and have taken high profile legal action in desperate circumstances to save the homes of highly endangered species from inappropriate development.
Buglife’s most significant impact to-date has been the increase achieved in public awareness of invertebrate conservation issues. Awareness of issues such as pollinator decline and environmentally damaging pesticides are now vastly higher than when Buglife was established. Buglife has also become a positive voice for some of the least loved invertebrates, such as wasps and spiders, and invertebrate habitats, helping to counterbalance myth, fear and vested interests and emphasising the important ecological roles bugs undertake.
Buglife developed concepts such as B-Lines and ‘Get Britain Buzzing’ promise, with adequate support from society, to put back large areas rich in wild flowers, reversing the decline of pollinators and other wildlife.
The problems facing invertebrates remain considerable, but Buglife has many solutions to contribute and even more to develop in the future.
Buglife makes a big noise on behalf of the little things that run the planet, we innovate and highlight emerging issues under the radar of other charities.
If you want to be part of our success and enable us to provide even more support for the species that are disappearing fastest from Britain please go to http://www.buglife.org.uk/joinus and become part of our life.