State of Nature report 2019

The launch on Channel 4 News was a good idea, but the ‘sitting in a barn’ bit was pretty poor really, just all over the place.

The whole thing was rescued by the young people! Well done Jess Nicholls, Mya-Rose Craig, Sophie Pavelle, Dan Rouse, Bella Lack and (token male) James Miller! Their messages were clear and uncompromising – and, largely, correct! Watch the video below from 19 minutes until the end for the best bits (by far).

Guardian: Populations of UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted since 1970

Telegraph: UK is in danger of losing a quarter of its mammal population, major wildlife report says

BBC (Wales): State of Nature 2019: Hundreds of species in Wales under threat

BBC Radio 4 Farming Today (just now): Tony Juniper said absolutely the right things (he could probably get a job with an NGO). But Rosie Hails was allowed to go down the ‘plug your own organisation’ route which allowed any overall messages to be well and truly lost.

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9 Replies to “State of Nature report 2019”

  1. We need to be careful about the use of the 'poisoning the land' terminology used several times by Jon Snow. This potentially implies that the problem is to do with residual contamination in the soil after the use of pesticides. That, of course can happen and is a real concern, but the phrase perhaps gives the impression that pesticide molecules that break down rapidly with little or no harmful residue after use are environmentally benign or 'ok'. To my mind a huge part of the problem has been the sterilisation of huge areas of the countryside by herbicides and insecticides just doing the job they were designed for. For the farmer a weed-free crop is what he is aiming to achieve but from the perspective of wildlife such a field is devoid of life with no wild flowers and consequently none of the invertebrates that depend on these flowers or vertebrates that depend on the invertebrates.
    For this reason I think it is a grave concern that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could well lead to the British government opening the door to 'round-up ready' crops which will allow the widespread use of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate on standing crops which will carry this sterilisation of the countryside to a new level. The widespread use of round-up ready crops in the US is implicated in the decline of the Monarch butterfly there I believe.

    1. "'round-up ready' crops"

      Ready or not most of the combinable crop area is already subject to an unremitting sequence of desiccation and or pre-drilling or pre-emergence use of glyphosate so I don't think we should get too fussed-up about the prospect of RR soybeans or cotton or maize

      1. I would argue that, while the use of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides is definitely a serious problem, it is extremely dangerous to ignore the potential for GM crops to cause irreperable harm.

        Perhaps this sounds like scaremongering but GM has all the marks of a real Pandora's Box. And that's before you consider the other issues. See

    2. When I lived and worked on a farm in Suffolk my prime responsibility was running between a trailer with trays of young hops on them to pass them on to the folk sitting on the planter pulled by the big tractor. That meant I spent literally hundreds of hours that summer looking at freshly ploughed soil. It was a notable event when a worm, any worm, was brought to the surface. No birds followed us, not even a robin or blackbird, ever. If they had been dependent on feeding upon ploughed up invertebrate life they'd have starved to death. The countryside looked nice from a car window, but up close you realized ponds and running water were virtually non existent and the river Gipping wasn't in good nick it clearly flowed through too much intensive farming. The hedgerows were very monotonous species wise and certainly hardly any bird life in them. This was way back in 1996. Before that I had treated stories of species of beetle, snail, caddis fly etc reduced to one or two sites nationally because of the intensification of agriculture as over egging the pudding, afterwards I certainly didn't. To add insult to injury we usually think that 'tidying' up is the problem in towns, intensive farming the problem in the countryside. Sadly the latter suffers from both. The farm was not particularly pretty even by working farm standards, piles of decaying polythene from the polytunnels, rusting hop trays, old defunct tractors still not hauled off to the scrappy's. I remember the day the farm manager came up and told us proudly how much better the remnant orchard was now that the long grass in it was now short and neat - piles of human made shite are OK, long grass isn't it seems. There could have been a lot more wildlife on that farm just by not sterilizing the non farming bits. The 'suburbanisation' of the countryside, especially by many farmers, is something that isn't getting the attention it deserves.

  2. How come Tony Juniper is allowed to discuss this report when he is presiding over HH brood meddling and the Badger cull
    Total hypocrisy

  3. The story didn't even make it onto the BBC news homepage though! Confined to the 'science' section. That's all it is, after all, just science, not survival or most of what makes life worth living.

  4. I love arable plants (weeds to you), the more we get the more cartwheels across the fields I do. Most people think herbicides and pesticides cause the most damage to farmland, but forget fertilizers, which arable plants hate.

    We have made an offer on two large extra fields which a join us, our choice is either to let the cows bash it up a bit as the other fields and woods and that’s great, or keep cutting them heavily in order to get the fertility down. If we keep cutting it then we think it will be four years plus to get them to the level of the other fields. We’ll get a grass crop(s) per year, so income, there is no spraying done at all on the land, but those fields will be devoid (as they are now) of wildlife.

    For those who read and believe the tripe written on rewilding farmland, letting acres of land back to nature doesn’t automatically mean nature takes up the offer. For those who believe the Higher Tier Stewardship Plan has the answers, again there are elements within that plan that we fundamentality oppose.

    The plain truth is – there are no experts on farmland nature management – we’ve got some good gardeners, some do care for wildlife, a lot don’t. Farming is a progressive factory-based industry, it has to be to cater for us – it is uneconomic for farmers to return to the style of the late 19th century. You wouldn't accept your salary or pension being slashed.

  5. The barn was fine - It s TV doing there agricultural thing! Give Tony a break - give home some space for awhile to settle in.

    1. Pete - he's not a sediment! And he's well past 100 days so he has set the tone already. The one thing I wrote about Tony here was that he said 'absolutely the right things' - that clearly is giving him a break.


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