Thursday 13 March 2008

Name Change

Wed 5 March 2008:

Some visitors to this blog may have noticed a subtle name change.

When the project started on 1st January the provisional name I gave the project was: the St John's Methodist Church (Settle) Rainforest Fund Project. However this was a name that would have to be passed by the Church Council which normally meets twice a year. The 5th March was the date of the next church council meeting.

At the meeting they (a majority) said that they did not want it to be called The St John's Methodist Church (Settle) Rainforest Fund Project, but they said they would support the project. One lady said "You may be glad in the long run that we said this."

So now it is called The Rainforest Fund Project.

Thursday 6 March 2008

"E-peace", Biodiversity Conservation in the Dales and Leeds University Ecology Course

1st March 2008:

"E-peace believes that we should conserve and enhance the biodiversity and nature of the Yorkshire Dales for its own sake, and the government should support this. We should not have sustainable development."

This was the gist of part of the poster that a group of c. 10 Undergraduates had prepared about the hypothetical organisation E-peace as their contribution to the role play exercise in the 1st Year Field course run by Leeds University. We were meeting at Gargrave Village Hall. I am an active member of Craven Conservation Group Committee (our local natural history society/conservation group) and was there to be a "resource person".

Resource people for other groups included quarry person (executive?), A tourist, a farmer, a National Park worker etc.

Each group had about 45 minutes to pick the brains of their resource person.

So I told them a little about Craven Conservation Group and also eight other conservation organisations with which I or other members of the group have connections, and gave them some leaflets and photocopied articles. CCG has many activities including survey work, educational walks, conservation work such as scrub clearance on bogs, help with the local biodiversity action plan, and occasional protest/issue letters.

Helpful to me had been a visit to one of our members who does work for the Council for the Protection of Rural England. She and another member of CCG were featured in the local paper this week in a lively article about flowers on roadside verges.

I also gave them some Christian Ecology Link leaflets, and offered to get a Moslem leaflet should anyone want one.

They asked me "Why should we protect the nature of the Dales before anything else?, and not have sustainable development?"..

Their question was refreshing - We are getting so used in the Dales and other organisations to have to "sell" wildlife and show it is useful.

This put me on the spot. There are so many if, buts, provisos etc -

1. Which bits do you save? - there are some areas of high importance in the Dales, and some that have been so "improved" by agriculture that I would not have thought it was worth spending money on them... Was it their remit to save/improve everything? It would be better using the resources e.g. for tropical rainforest or countries with higher biodiversity.

2. Which rare plants and habitats of the Dales to mention? This group were just starting their degrees and mostly are not naturalists, several of them had not visited the Dales yet and this is the first day of their field course.. I told them about two rare plants (which I won't put on this blog,) and then told them about the Northern Marsh Orchid which is a beautiful plant which grows where water oozes out of limestone soil. I told them that half the limestone pavement (a habitat of international importance) in Britain occurs in North Yorkshire, and said we still had a few valuable lowland bogs and fens.

3. There are extremely few species and habitats which only occur in Britain. 15,000 or so years ago the North of England under ice. The species that grow here now have all spread back in.

"So" I thought, "Shouldn't we really be using our limited resources for protecting habitats with more biodiversity importance than the Dales - such as mangrove swamps, tropical forests, coral reefs, even our own sea bed floor."

4. We have to protect our "Nature" places for their own sake, and because if we don't look after our places of conservation importance, how can we expect people in other countries to look after theirs, which in many cases are so much more valuable than ours?