Something to think about

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:08

 This is not directly related to understanding habitat but it does follow on from thoughts on the protection and management of our ancient habitat types by the response to dramatic losses in the 1940s and 1950s by creating nature reserves. I believe everyone, not just wildlife enthusiasts, should think about the points that follow.Solution or Problem?Was the creation of nature reserves to protect remaining ancient habitat truly a solution to the problem or has it exacerbated it? There is no doubt that without them we would have lost even more valuable habitat and, along with that, even more of our wildlife. Nature reserves are vital and I, for one, love to visit them and my whole Nature of Dorset Reserves website is built to provide more information about them to the casual visitor. However, nature reserves alone are not the answer and, in some ways, make the situation worse. Consider this:Nature reserves give the impression that all is well with our countryside. You can visit any of the two hundred plus nature reserves in Dorset and be presented with natural ancient habitats that are well managed and with a fair degree of wildlife. To the casual observer this presents an image of our countryside being both beautiful, natural and thriving. Nature reserves foster the view that wildlife belongs on reserves and not in the world around us. Badgers, foxes, otters and deer, to mention just a few, are fine on nature reserves but can be seen as a pest elsewhere and talk of controlling them constantly makes the news. People do not want nature in their lives and we are becoming increasingly separated from it as we isolate nature into selected protected sites.Nature reserves may protect wildlife but they also create isolated communities where inbreeding is the only option resulting in the weakening of the gene pool in many species. Isolated colonies are susceptible to disease and climate changes which can threaten their very existence. Like human beings, our wildlife needs to be more mobile and mix with others of its kind.Our nature conservation professionals are, of course, well aware of this but politicians seem unable to grasp these difficulties.The Dilemma:We all want good quality, affordable food and this means our farming has to be highly organised, mechanised and efficient. To achieve this certain practices that are detrimental to our flora and fauna are necessary; this is not the farmers fault, this is a modern social and economic issue. These detrimental practices are causing serious declines in our insect populations and insects are the main pollinators of our crops. It is possible that the very processes designed to bring us cheap, quality food may end up with us having no food at all! That is perhaps a bit extreme but you hopefully will get my point!Somehow we have to find ways to maintain our food production but allow our wildlife to thrive alongside those processes rather than be destroyed by them.Biodiversity Networks:There are many approaches to resolving this dilemma being investigated but one that is currently being promoted, and achievable without requiring huge sums of money or significant technical research and development, is the concept of biodiversity networks. It is a simple concept and one that should be obvious to everyone once explained and one that we should all embrace. This is it in outline.Apart from lack of awareness and apparent total lack of interest, the main problem is the fragmentation and resulting isolation of colonies of species making them vulnerable to extinction. If these existing nature reserves could be joined up somehow with pathways and refuelling points then that might help species spread out and recolonise elsewhere and perhaps even join up with another colony. Think about what it would be like if you could not leave your home town! The human race would be in dire straits without the ability to  move freely from one population centre to another. We have built roads (pathways) between our towns and cities and service stations, petrol stations, pubs and so on have been placed along the way as rest and refuelling sites. In some instances new populations have built up around these refuelling points.This same principle can be applied to nature. The pathways could be roadside verges and hedgerows and the refuelling points village ponds and greens, churchyards, 'waste' places and, most significantly, gardens. Gardens cover a huge part of our country, just imagine what could be achieved if a large percentage of them could become mini nature reserves. It is not difficult to do this, it is not expensive to do this; it just takes a little thought and concern for the future of our natural world and the health of our planet and the people who live on it. We must do this for the sake of our children and their children.