The now entirely virtual ranger

Back in 1989 I discovered that people would actually pay me to work in the countryside. I could hardly believe my luck – and still can’t.  It’s been a great ride, but now, 28 years later I’m going to try something else. Yes, the ‘Virtual Ranger’, my online tag since about 1995, will finally apply.

I’m leaving the Gift to Nature charity after almost exactly two years, to join the Isle of Wight Council, not as a countryside worker or manager this time, but as Communications and Engagement Officer. Continue reading The now entirely virtual ranger

The Ranger re-booted

I’m hoping to spend a lot more time out patrolling the countryside this year, and so I have been on the lookout for a new pair of boots. And given the wet winter we have had, I’ve been looking quite hard at the Hi-Tec waterproof range. So these last few weeks I’ve been testing out a nice new pair of Hi-Tec Altitude Pro walking boots. Are they just stylish weekend hiker-clogs; or reliable workhorses? My old plates have been finding out. Continue reading The Ranger re-booted

Back to rangering for me: joining Gift to Nature

I’m being outsourced. The Isle of Wight Council can’t pay for a full countryside service any more, so some time early in 2016, I’m taking a load of the council’s countryside sites, one of my colleagues, and a lot of optimism off to work for a small Island charity called Gift to Nature. Yes, it’s finally happening, I’m going back to countryside management.

During my time at the Isle of Wight Council I’ve always been countryside manager, but I’ve also variously managed (as well as countryside) parks, beaches, allotments, rights of way, estuaries, AONB, protected trees, ecology, village greens and more. All of these have taught me a lot and – on the whole –  been great to do. But actually, I started as a ranger and that’s what I like best. So I’m very pleased to be going back to it.

Rangers and volunteer working on Brading Down LNR, Isle of Wight
Ranger and volunteer working on Brading Down LNR, Isle of Wight

Continue reading Back to rangering for me: joining Gift to Nature

Save living wildlife from the Natural History Museum

by Rowan Adams, the Climate-friendly Gardener

Yes, you read that right. Please help to save living wildlife not just at the Natural History Museum, but from the Natural History Museum

Well, to be more precise, living wildlife at the museum needs saving from some plans proposed by people at the top of the museum. I took this photo on Midsummer Day, 24 June, when I was there for the Wildlife Gardening Forum’s conference on soil biodiversity in the garden. How sad that on the autumn equinox I would be signing a petition to save the garden. Continue reading Save living wildlife from the Natural History Museum

The human being and the fish: can they coexist?

Guest blog post from Rowan Adams

Naturenet visitors are almost like George W. Bush. We know that the human being and the fish can co-exist peacefully.

The human being and the fish can co-exist But we also know that the way we live now – the way we manage our land, especially the way we grow our food, and the way we generate our energy – is more like a civil war. We humans are destroying the homes and the food of our fellow-lifeforms. And that means we are destroying our own homes and our own food supply.

Sadly these basics of biology appear to be unknown to the people who control most of the money.

All across the country there are people with expert knowledge of how people and wildlife can get along together. But just when we most need that knowledge, government cuts mean that these people are losing their livelihoods.

Continue reading The human being and the fish: can they coexist?

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

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:
Continue reading Ranger ahoy!

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