Even hardened environmental campaigners could do with more critical friends to help find common ground.
Two landowners at opposite end of the country contacted me: one wanted to see hen harriers re-introduced on his farm and another to ‘rewild’ his upland grazed farmland. Problems is that both have been put off, disillusioned even, by dismissive polemic rhetoric towards landowners and farmers from some environmental campaigners.
The battle to save wildlife is ostracising the very people who can help save wildlife.
Any membership driven organisation – whether RSPB, Buglife, BASC or The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust – is guided by legacy-driven partisan influence rather than true altruistic aims of improving biodiversity. Clarion calls for a ‘Giving Nature a Home‘ campaign, alongside a television advert, all result in a surge in member recruitment (and shopping).
It would be naive of me to think that modern conservation could be any other way. As they say, ‘conservation without money is just conversation’. But when many conservation NGO are more bothered about staying in the game (or just staying financially afloat), than making a real difference in hard choices required for nature conservation today, it merely results in crowd-pleasing statements.
The danger of single issue campaigners further warps the frame. The RSPB does not agree with a campaigner’s aim to ban driven grouse shooting as much as it is wary about full-on rewilding proposals such as the reintroduction of beavers. The GWCT might find it equally challenging to weed out poor practices of high density pheasant release by some of their more greedy shooting members while pursuing high quality grey partridge research with others.
We all need to help buffer biodiversity that is being squeezed by our profligate consumption of food and pressure for more infrastructure.
Do we appease a media that seeks polarised views while being distracted from middle of the road solutions? Those that believe that I’m conflating the issues, or sitting on the fence, only reinforce the notion that these matters can be viewed in separate silos or within polarising arguments.
We must find that common ground. Every organisation, and indeed campaigner, should court the governing influence of critical friends to help find shared aims in dealing with the major decline in species highlighted within The State of Nature reports.
That then leaves us to argue over the really tough issues that we have to understand and face in the requirement to save nature and ultimately ourselves.