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The Nature of Harming ‘award’

Matthew Chatfield

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. When we hear through the media that a child has been mistreated or a person murdered then we sometimes wonder “How could ‘we’ have let this happen?” But we also wonder about the people who were more directly to blame and want to see them named and shamed. Nature conservationists don’t do much naming and shaming. We tend to treat everyone as the friend of the natural world and hope that by being nice the world will become a better place. We act as though if we encourage the good then the bad will follow – do we really believe that is true? Partly as a bit of mischievous fun, but also as a serious attempt to get some issues out in the open, I have launched the Nature of Harming ‘award’ and I’d ask you to vote for the group of people who you think has done most to further the loss of wildlife in the UK. Like many voting decisions it’s a difficult choice, but choosing the worst on offer isn’t really more difficult than choosing the best, is it? And as I say, I’m trying hard not to be too nice these days – do you think I am succeeding? The Nature of Harming ‘award’

Mark Avery

Dr Mark Avery is an independent writer about the natural world. He worked for the RSPB for 25 years until standing down as Conservation Director in 2011. He writes a daily blog, ‘Standing up for Nature‘ and a book of his RSPB blogs is available from at the knock-down price of

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

2 thoughts on “The Nature of Harming ‘award’

  • What gets me angry are the ignorant politicians and economists who are so out of touch with practical physical reality that they believe that the environment needs the economy more than the economy needs the environment, so they threaten to scarp the rules and let everybody trash the living world.

    So I’ve recently signed the RSPB’s email to George Osborne which includes the plea:
    ‘Please use the upcoming Budget to reconsider your portrayal of the environment as a barrier to growth, and to place the natural environment at the heart of your policies for the UK’s economic recovery.’

    See ‘At the heart of the matter’ on

  • I hope that you are and I agree with your sentiment. We are all to blame to a certain extent but I think conservationists are allowing those who are the worst offenders to point the finger elsewhere.
    Everyone can do something to help the environment but some have the ability to do more than others (landowners for example). If they care about the environment and cannot achieve that without changes to consumer behaviour then they should be shouting that message from the rooftops. That message is one we only hear when we bring it up, as a defence. Add to that the fact that there are plenty of landowners out there who can and do make a profit out of good practices. Landowners can do something real. Even if it just a little thing. Too often I feel that the response is simply to point the finger elsewhere. And this opinion comes from talking to a lot of landowners, many of which have told me the same. Unfortunately there are more who think nature is doing just fine thanks.


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