Sunday, 10 October 2021

Biodiversity

The trouble with so many of the world's problems is my immediate question - well I can be made aware of it but what can I as an individual actually do about it?   I was even more aware of it with regard to bio=diversity when the farmer was alive (he died four years ago) and I saw first hand how things were disappearing from our land.   The cuckoo flower was once thick over all our meadows - mauve flowers often called ladies' smock - now maybe a couple in one of the fields but that's all.   The common orchid, once thick in the hedge bottoms now almost non existent.    The curlew, once perhaps the most common ground nesting bird in our pasture - now a rarity.

You may be surprised to learn, as I certainly was, that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the World.   It is in the bottom 10% globally and last in the G7 nations.   The global average is around  75% and here in the UK we have only about 53% of our biodiversity left.

The safe limit to ensure that the world doesn't tip into ecological nightmare is thought to be 90%. 

Most of it in the case of the UK has disappeared since the industrial revolution.   The following shows the species at risk of extiction throughout the world:

40% amphinians

34% conifers

33% reef corals

31% sharks and rays

27% crustaceans

25% mammals

14% birds

 

In the UK I understand that most of the loss can be put down to two things:

a) intensive agriculture.   This has certainly happened here in the Yorkshire Dales on a large scale.   This was an area of small, family farms, small fields bordered by stone walls, flocks of sheep and small milking herds.   As farmers have died their sons, reluctant to take on farms which no longer pay, have often sold off the small farms to neighbouring farmers thus making much larger dairy farms often with up to eight hundred milking cows.   This has meant bigger agricultural machinery, much more intensive use of the land and with it the disappearance of those small fields.   (when I first married the farmer in 1993 my father in law, then in his early nineties, would follow the hay making machinery round the field with a huge wooden rake with which he would gently rake the odd bits of hay out of the hedge bottom, pulling out the last bits with his hands - the whole  lot probably equalling only one extra bale).

b)  Intensive building on what was agricultural land

before.

There must be an answer.   I don't know what it is and I have no idea how we as individuals can do our bit to help things along.


 

24 comments:

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I was not at all surprised to read those figures this morning; it's something which I see every day on my travels. When I moved to this village, nearly thirty years ago, you couldn't take an evening stroll during summer without hearing a Turtle Dove, even ten years ago I saw a couple of them from my porch window. Now I have to travel to the other side of the county to see one. In this case though you can do something about it, which is to grow flowers which are rich in nectar. If everyone did that, instead of converting their gardens to parking spaces, lawns and decking, it would make a significant difference.

Mary said...

Yes, it's very sad and upsetting to those of us who love nature so much and strive to keep our little plots full of food and lodging for the local wildlife.

This afternoon we hope to head out for a country drive - to buy some pumpkins along the way - and see how the land is looking after such a dry summer. Heavy rains came yesterday so the grasslands should be green and refreshed, leaves should be changing, falling, and gathering in crisp piles - but do today's children even care? Do they long to jump in the leaves, discover the wild flowers, identify the birds? Blame must go on many parents who no longer take time to teach them about nature, or take them into the countryside to enjoy fresh air and learn about the natural world.

Nature lover forever - Mary x

Susan said...

Natural landscape and biodiversity is constantly threatened. More protected open space would be beneficial for all.

Melinda from Ontario said...

It is disheartening to see the decline in biodiversity recorded in easy to understand percentages. I have comforted myself over the last 22 years by turning my yard into a bit of an oasis for the birds, animals and insects in the area. Living in suburbia, as I do, there's far too many manicured lawns for my liking. So I did something about it shortly after moving in. I planted a collection of native plants shrubs and trees, rid myself of almost all grass and recently added a small pond. I even planted a mixture of gooseberry bushes, a service berry, native perennials and even a few vegetables on my boulevard. Although the boulevard is city owned, I've never received a complaint. When I walk up my street, my yard seems to hum with life. Birds and butterflies are flitting among the shrubs and I know the bunnies, and other small mammals are hidden safely under the foliage as well. Maybe I should be living in the country but I must say, I've enjoyed bringing the country to suburbia.

Derek Faulkner said...

John's first comment made a valid point in that gardeners could do a lot more.
Large lawns for instance do very little, if anything, to help wildlife, they're just a green,sterile area. Much better to turn one into a wild flower meadow. Ideal for the lazy gardener, it only requires one cut a year in the late summer but helps wildlife for many months on end.

Rambler said...

Your post today brought back memories of my childhood in my birthplace. a village in Leicestershire: in those days it was safe for children to play out in the fresh air and I used to regularly wander down to the meadows, by the stream, where I saw - and loved - those pretty Ladies' Smock flowers carpeting the ground; common orchids and violets under the hedges and yes - curlews. How sad to see that we are the worst nation for looking after our environment and thus causing the demise of so much flora and fauna. :(

CharlotteP said...

Plant flowers where you can, provide nest boxes, donate to Greenpeace and local nature conservation charities...may not sound much, but if everyone did, it would make a massive difference.

RunNRose said...

The same thing is going on here in TX. Everywhere we look, trees are being destroyed, fields being turned into parking lots. Within 15 minutes of our home (that was surrounded by woods when we bought it) are major trucking centers for UPS, FED-EX, AMAZON. The economy is "booming". We are between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Local governments are continually lauding the tremendous "achievements" of attracting so many restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. The game seems to be "let's see how much green we can replace with pavement.". Of course all the businesses result in the need for more, ever wider, highways. Alas. The fields of bluebonnets of my chikdhood memories are long gone in this area, And, it's a mixed bag to see the huge flocks of grackles descending on grocery store parking lots. Those same places where trees used to provide roosting places.
Mankind is destroying the planet. The UK is by no means alone in propagating this disaster.

Bonnie said...

What you say is certainly sad but true. It takes education and effort on the part of many. There also needs to be more areas preserved for nature. We each can do something even if it is just planting a tree and growing flowers the bees will love. Good post Pat.

gz said...

It has to be done at every level, but each and every one of us has the responsibility.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such interesting and positive letters so far here - thank you. I hope when I next look tomorrow aometime more of you will have answered positively. Thank you.

The Feminine Energy said...

I think all we can do individually, my friend, is make sure out little plot of land is earth-nurturing... because, in the end, that's all we can control. If we don't own it, we can't control it. Also, buying groceries that are grown organically and patronizing organic farmers and those who nurture Mother Earth is another thing we can do. Perhaps making contributions to worthy organizations who are trying to make a difference is another thing, altho sometimes it's hard to know which organizations are trust-worthy. This blog post has raised some good points and I always enjoy reading about how much you & I are alike, even tho there are miles between us. ~Andrea xoxo

Heather said...

We, as individuals, can only make a tiny difference. The main differences must surely come from governments and large businesses, and they will not be keen to lose revenue from making changes. However, many tiny differences will add up to larger ones, so let us be hopeful.

Unknown said...

I have converted a large area of my garden to native wildflowers. The bees, butterflies and birds love it. I hope turn it all into wildflowers and native trees for wildlife. I leave the plants to decay all winter, as they provide needed shelter and seed. Best, Celie. P.S, I do enjoy your blog, although I've only commented once before.

Cro Magnon said...

I also rake the scraps of hay that the machine has missed. I was caught doing it this year by another farmer friend, and he CLAPPED! I don't think he'd seen anyone doing it for years, and it wasn't even my own hay.

Janie Junebug said...

I did not know that about the UK. Thank you for all of the pertinent and important information.

Love,
Janie

thelma said...

There always seems half hearted attempts to bring back biodiversity Pat, the farmers planting long banks of wild flowers in their fields, the 'corridors' for birds and the seeding of wildflowers on the grass verges on some of our main roads. They were talking of woods in Scotland this morning and how the trees they planted did not develop the understorey of plants old woodland once did. Gardens will serve some of the biodiversity but until we stop thinking green mown grass is a must, even there the land is wasted to vanity. And for all those who keep signing against the poisonous use of herbicides and pesticides on the land, keep on fighting!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you everyone - seems we must remain aware and each do our bit in whatever way we can.

The Weaver of Grass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Stephenson said...

I am coming to the conclusion that the only remedy would be an asteroid impact of the sort which killed off the dinosaurs. Then we can start again with a clean slate. The meek shall inherit the earth, etc.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Tom - you are probably right but it is a bit drastic if we can do something about it before that stage is reached - presumably we have more brains than dinosaurs - although sometimes I question that.

Ursula said...

Well, Weaver, you have done YOUR bit by drawing attention to the problem, articulating it, reminding your readers; and providing facts and figures. Made me quite emotional. Not least because this year I haven't encountered so much as one lady bird, haven't been held to ransom by a bee or a wasp (not even during a picnic). Moths are not longer attracted by light and an open window at night. It's all a bit quiet, eery (apart from the occasional flock of seagulls, early morning, here at the coast, screeching; pigeons still abound inner city). Still, on the upside: I found a chestnut (conker?) the other day. Big, brown, polished. A beauty. Pride of place on my desk.

Yesterday, I also managed to procure one more big bunch of sunflowers (courtesy of Marks and Spencer). Not, of course, that cut flowers attract any wildlife.

All the best, Weaver. I really really really do like your spirit,
U

Carruthers said...

As with most things, the one thing we can do is vote for the politicians who are most likely to do the right thing about it. It not only goes for biodiversity but for poverty, healthcare, homelessness, etc.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you all for at least being aware of the problems. And also for doing your own little individual bit.