Here are some suggestions for how the Bird Fair could help nature conservation even more than it does at the moment. Some are my ideas and others are good ideas from other people. They come in two lists – the less contentious list and the more contentious list and, I’ll keep stressing this, they are all designed to add to the existing Bird Fair not significantly to replace what we have at the moment. The aim is for an even more effective Bird Fair:
The ‘so obvious that we should just do it’ list:
- invite the local MP, Alan Duncan, as a visitor to the Bird Fair 2018 – send the letter today! How can the local MP never have been seen at an event in his constituency which brings 25000 visitors to it every year? When I suggested this to someone they asked ‘Is he interested in birds then?’ which misses the point by a rather large margin. No, he’s interested in votes for himself and for his party and he will talk of the Bird Fair to his colleagues.
- invite Any Questions to air from the Bird Fair on the Friday evening – send the letter today! Imagine the impact of that – and imagine Mike Clarke, Steph Hilborne or Chris Packham on the panel and there being a question about wildlife. By the way, Alan Duncan is on AQ this week, as Europe Minister – why wasn’t he on the Brexit debate panel on Friday?
- invite Today to broadcast from the Bird Fair for Friday and Saturday – send the letter today! Show John Humphreys around the site and get him to chair a debate later in the day – a proper debate.
- have some real debates – rather than agreeable panels. Where are the grouse shooters, the NFU leaders, the Chair of Natural England, a Defra minister or even a leader of a wildlife conservation organisation being asked pertinent questions? The future of our wildlife depends just as much on the winners in clashes of ideologies as it does on money raised. Let’s see the arguments tested in public. Who looks like they care and knows what they are talking about?
- get the WT and RSPB to agree some cause for which they raise signatures on a petition from those attending the Bird Fair – don’t just treat us like walking wallets, we are walking wallets with votes too!
- have a group photo with Chris Packham – only those wearing Hen Harrier T-shirts are allowed to participate.
The ‘rather contentious’ list:
- make the theme of next year’s Bird Fair ‘Illegal raptor killing in the UK’ and raise money for satellite tags. Yes, this is contentious because the event is a jointly endorsed Wildlife Trusts/RSPB event, at a Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which raises money for BirdLife International projects on the other side of the world. The Wildlife Trusts would see this suggestion as benefitting RSPB more than themselves, BirdLife would miss out on what has become a routine money earner and the RSPB would be slightly sheepish about where they stand on driven grouse shooting compared with an awful lot of Bird Fair attendees, and Chris Packham, and me, and Raptor Persecution UK, and Birders Against Wildlife Crime – but I reckon we could sort that out.
- do what Waitrose does – give me a token (maybe every time I spend some money anywhere at Bird Fair) and let me use it to vote for how the Bird Fair money is divided up by popping it in the relevant bin on exiting the Bird Fair each day.