Category Archives: Wildlife & countryside news

Tasty snails in peril… or maybe not any more.

The Times has the courage to highlight the plight of the the edible Burgundy snail (Helix pomatia), pointing out the concerns of Buglife, which campaigned to make it illegal to collect the snails from the wild for eating. It’s a pleasure to see the mainstream media for once taking a stance on invertebrate conservation. David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth is an honourable and outstanding exception.

Helix pomatia (c) Max Westby

 

The Ranger would have found the article more convincing, however, if it had not described Burgundy snails in the headline as “big, tasty snails“, and then gone on – apparently quoting Buglife – to say how to collect them, what parts of the country to look in, and then, just in case you didn’t get the idea, provide a tempting recipe showing how to cook them. Possibly if the same had been done for baby seals there may have been some sort of complaint.

(This story was first posted Nov 2005, and updated in 2008, 2013) Note that since 2008 H. pomatia now has legal protection so do not try collecting them – it’s illegal in England! See more about this interesting change in the law in our second post on this topic.

Government set to create massive new heritage charity to compete with National Trust, Wildlife Trusts

Today’s the day Chancellor George Osborne revealed the latest government spending cuts.

George Osborne (c) M. Holland

George Osborne

As usual, we were softened up by horror stories, and as it turned out, they were not far wrong. Others will have their say on whether, say, the loss of a further 144,000 public sector jobs is a good way to stimulate economic growth at this juncture. The news that made me sit up concerned English Heritage, the government body which manages the historic built environment of England.

The BBC reports today that “English Heritage has been given £80m in the government’s Spending Review”. Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The new £80 million investment for English Heritage is fantastic news and recognises the vital importance of the historic environment to our national life.” Who can argue with that? Well, watch me try. This windfall is in fact a part of a process to transfer English Heritage to the charitable sector, and I have some big problems with that.

There’s a bit more detail available, although it’s all pretty new stuff. English Heritage is to become a charity by 2015. The new charity will manage the National Heritage Collection, which includes Osborne House, Stonehenge, and many other monuments and artefacts: as English Heritage does now.  Statutory English Heritage responsibilities such as listing buildings will remain government funded – it’s hard to see how they couldn’t be. The new English Heritage charity will have, in the words of the official EH statement: “more freedom to generate greater commercial and philanthropic income”. And the ultimate purpose of all this? The government currently contributes £22m annually towards this work. Government funding for the new “National Heritage Protection Service” will be be reduced after 2015, eventually to nothing.

Continue reading

The rural economy? FRIG that!

The Ranger is an avid reader of the Country Land and Business Association magazine. It’s well worth a read for the good advice and news you find in it, and it’s probably not revealing too much to say that several of the pages on Naturenet’s law section were inspired – or even corrected – by it. So it was with some pleasure that The Ranger got to celebrate the existence of the Farming & Rural Interest Group with a splendid two-page spread from the South East regional CLA magazine:

Farming and Rural Interest Group article

 

The FRIG is a worthy organisation, initially sponsored by SEEDA, which seeks to promote new ways to boost the rural economy, such as driving tractors to schools! The Ranger salutes them, but wonders whether it’s only him who notices that ‘frig‘ has another, perhaps less savoury meaning?

This article was first published in 2007 and is republished with updated links: FRIG itself seems to have… frigged off since then.

Ranger ahoy!

It has come to our attention that a ranger from the Antipodes has landed on our shores, and we suspect he has an agenda. While claiming to be ‘on holiday’ we believe he will target current and former park staff in his quest to assemble the definitive collection of park / wildlife / conservation management uniform insignia.

Volunteers and a ranger, Tasmania

Volunteers and a ranger, Tasmania

So our advice to rangers in the UK is to guard your sleeves closely, and beware of alluring offers to exchange agency insignia for similar items featuring exotic-looking species from southern lands (eg: Tasmanian devil). If interested in supporting this project by having your park / agency represented in the spirit of international cooperation, please contact Barry Batchelor, a ranger with Tasmania’s Parks & Wildlife Service by email at: bazintas2@hotmail.com
Continue reading

Should we pay £375,000 to poke buzzards out of their nests?

Something’s gone badly wrong at the Greenest Government Ever. To say I’ve been profoundly disappointed at the environmental performance of the Coalition – in comparison to its glowing promises – is only the start of it. But at least, up until now, it has only been the traditional environmentalist’s bogeyman the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has been the boo-hiss villain happy to deride current protection of wildlife and landscapes as a “ridiculous cost” on business.

Buzzard (c) Lisa Lawley

Now the foes of our native biodiversity are expanding their reach. They are optimistic enough to be openly at work through DEFRA – traditionally the department that is responsible for nature reserves, protected landscapes, biodiversity, and protected species as well as farming, food and fishing. A modest DEFRA proposal for a research project on birds of prey has caused an extraordinary backlash of criticism from a wide range of respected voices throughout the conservation field. Having read it, I can understand why. The project is not large, but the implications are. And as far as I can see there are two possible explanations, neither of which give me any comfort. Either those who proposed this idea have an alarmingly poor understanding of the role and relative importance of native species versus introduced ones; or they don’t, but are confident enough to believe that any resistance to the proposal can be safely disregarded. Continue reading

The coalition programme: good news for wildlife and the countryside?

The UK’s new coalition government has published a massive shopping-list of promises, calling it the Coalition Programme. It’s a bit like a manifesto, with the added curiosity of being issued after an election rather than before. If you’re at all interested in government and what it does in the UK then you might want to take a look at it.

The coalition programme

There’s all sorts in this document, from immigration policy to the hunting ban, and everything in between. So come with the Ranger to take a first look at a few selected policies which might impact on his area of work over the next five years. Continue reading

Government pro-chips website batters National Parks

Earlier on this month we learnt that the government is to review official websites. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude promised a review which he says could see up to 75% of government websites shut down. Now, thanks to a question asked in parliament by Tom Watson MP, we can see exactly which websites will stay and which will go in DEFRA, the department most concerned with the environment. The results are interesting reading, and maybe shed some light on the new government’s priorities.

National Parks website

The full list of those that will stay and those that will go can be found on theyworkforyou.com, and is worth perusing. But here are some highlights. Continue reading

Is this the end for the Countryside Management Association… or a new beginning?

Way back in the 1980s a young ranger, still wet behind the ears, joined the Association of Countryside Rangers. The ACR was a national organisation that gave him an opportunity to go off to meet like-minded colleagues from his area, and beyond, learn about his trade, and swap stories and experiences. It was a good time, and many friends were made along the way. At some point, the ACR became the Countryside Management Association, and as the young chap worked his way up the management tree and the years went by, employers became less inclined to pay for rangers to go off to networking and training events, and – like others – he became less involved with the organisation. You’ve probably guessed who that young ranger was.

Countryside Management Association logo

Now the end of this venerable institution may be at hand – or possibly a new beginning. It seems as though my involvement in CMA has not been atypical. Despite a fairly lively magazine and website, the association hasn’t had many active members for a long time, although there have been a few regions (step forward, the south-west) where it’s been more active than others (yes, Wales, I mean you). Now the CMA is at a crossroads, and decisions are required. I realise this is a bit of a specialist article, so if you’ve no interest in the Countryside Management Association and its future, feel free to move along as you won’t really want to read the rest of this. Otherwise, and should you also want to know my personal stance in this debate, read on. Continue reading

Remember that story about 75% of government websites closing down?

New minister Francis Maude was anxious to start early with some tough action, so in June he announced a bonfire of the existing 820 government funded websites.

National Parks website

The review… will aim to shut down up to 75% of existing sites and then look at getting the remaining sites to cuts their costs by up to 50% and move onto common infrastructures.

I reported on 30th June that the full list of which websites the government department DEFRA intended to close had already been revealed. The priorities seemed a little odd: is http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/ really to be closed, whilst http://www.lovechips.co.uk remains? Apparently so. Now the Ranger has been researching this issue further, with some interesting results. Continue reading

The Nature of Harming ‘award’

Guest blog by Mark Avery I have a feeling that nature conservationists are too nice. Well, I’m trying hard not to be too nice. Some say I’m succeeding.

(c) Tamara van Molken

Wildlife is under great and increasing pressure in the fields and woods around us, and in the rainforests and oceans on this planet. We aren’t doing a great job in conserving nature. Should we beat ourselves up, all of us, in a mass bout of self-flagellation, for we are surely all to blame? We are all to blame just as we are all to blame for everything that happens on the planet. But some are more to blame than others. Continue reading