For a decade this blog has brought you news, views and action daily. Tomorrow there will no new post, but I will post at weekends in a much reduced, shall we say streamlined, manner. On 21 October I’ll tell you what happens next…
News: news can be defined as ‘interesting stuff that happened recently’ – that’s my definition. I have brought you news on this blog – I’ve decided what is interesting and left it up to you to choose whether reading posts here was interesting enough for you. Most normal people would find news of nature conservation and the state of nature as being a bit dull, but that’s what I’m interested in (along with a few other things).
It’s up to you whether you think I have done a good job but before moving on I’ll just point out that it is a bit odd that this has become a fairly important source of news for quite a lot of people interested in wildlife and the environment. Surely you should not be relying on a voluntary (ie completely unpaid) newsfeed from an individual when there are massive corporations and organisations who bring you news?
The conventional media are very poor on environmental news – maybe better on climate change news than the natural environment? Maybe, but not much. BBC coverage of conservation is dire, and is far poorer than it used to be when this blog was born ten years ago. Farming Today has got a bit better recently, but that doesn’t mean it’s good, it has a very small audience, and some of its presenters seem to think that their job is to diminish the importance nature in the news whilst swallowing any old nonsense from the vested interests of farming and shooting. Today‘s coverage of wildlife conservation is now simply farcical, and is way below the journalistic standards of yesteryear. Countryfile is pretty much hopeless but occasionally appears to feel guilty about being so awful and produces a half-decent one third of a programme. Springwatch etc are not news programmes. And the general coverage of these issues on the BBC news is embarrassingly poor.
But what of the print media? Not much use really. The Telegraph‘s coverage is far too often a cut-and-paste job of a government press release or statement accompanied by an unreliable comment from a vested interest. Almost all journalistic questioning and investigation has disappeared to be replaced with lazy repetition of partial views as if they were the truth. The Times isn’t quite so bad, but its coverage of rural issues is terrible now. The Mail is like the Telegraph but worse, with shorter words. The Mirror has done some good things, but mixes up nature with pets and farm animals. The Guardian isn’t bad, with Patrick Barkham and Phoebe Weston leading the way, and with Damian Carrington as a safe pair of hands, but the Guardian really does seem to think that all the interesting nature issues are abroad.
Wildlife NGOs only tell you the news that they want you to hear – and that is the news about themselves and how great they are – even when they aren’t. Yesterday’s press release from the RSPB (this one) did plumb some new depths. The RSPB may not like it, but its membership looks very much like the readership of this blog – they can cope with reality.
There really might be a niche for a daily environmental newsletter concentrating on UK wildlife and nature issues, but it would take some setting up.
So, actually, conservation news is surprisingly hard to find.
Views: this blog, daily for a decade, has provided views too. They’ve been my views. My views on the latest singles (see here), or on the best way to cook, or many, many other subjects are pretty worthless, or at least no more valuable that anybody else’s views, but I think I can claim to have greater insight into what is happening in nature conservation and why it is happening, and where it will lead, than most people. I’m pretty sure about that, although it has always been up to you to decide for yourself.
Where else could you get that commentary? Either from vested interests or from the ignorant? There are precious few commentators on such issues that have a significant output of words. George Monbiot is a consistent star, and there are a few others, but not that many. The growing number of books on nature conservation help to fill the gaps in a useful way. But this blog has had the great advantage of being entirely independent of any group or organisation. This blog has stood up for nature, and has been prepared to criticise those who claim that they are doing the standing up whether they be government, agency or charity.
The views of so-called wildlife organisations from the GWCT to, I’m afraid, WWF-UK seem pretty much corporate nonsense. What do wildlife NGOs actually believe in? It’s terribly difficult to tell from what they say. Imagine a person about whom you said that – it would have to be a politician, and one of the least admirable of the crop.
Action: this has been a campaigning blog from the start. And if you are eager for change and know what change you want, and know how to get it, then life is quite straight forward; you say what’s happening (the news), you say why it’s bad (or good)(the views), and then you say what people can do to make it better (action). It’s as simple as that. It’s as simple as that if you know what’s happening, whether it’s good or bad, and how to get more or less of it.
This blog has been a campaigning blog and, please note, it has not just promoted its own campaigns, though it has done that too. This blog has spotted good causes and blown wind into their sails – sometimes to great effect and sometimes not – but that’s life. This blog has asked its readers to empty their pockets, sign petitions, go on marches, attend Hen Harrier Days and write to politicians. It has not sat still wringing its hands, it has stood up for nature and pointed in what it, I, thought was the right direction. And that has included supporting in 2013/14 the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust campaign to protect the Sanctuary LNR (see here for example), Catfield Fen (see here), Marine Protected Areas in UK Overseas Territories and closer to home (see here), Chrissie Harper’s and John Armitage’s e-petitions on vicarious liability and licensing of grouse shooting back in 2012-14 (see here), vultures and diclofenac (see here), protecting Fineshade and other woods from Forest Holidays (see here), banning whaling in Iceland (see here) and, actually, simply loads of others. My point is, this blog has helped others, not just ploughed its own furrow. When have you seen a major NGO ask you to help someone else to save nature? This blog has supported individuals and organisations in cases where I thought that such help would make a difference. That has been standing up for nature.
And I’ve started some campaigns of my own – most notably that to ban driven grouse shooting – more on that a bit later.
I am genuinely pleased with the difference that this blog has made. Through influencing its readers, including politicians, journalists, industry and wildlife NGOs, the world has changed. The readers of this blog have been a force for change through their financial, political and moral support for wildlife. You tell me that this blog has fired you up, made you better informed and given you the confidence to take action. I couldn’t want for anything more.
Thank you to everyone for making a difference.