Tag Archives: forests

Looking after the forests and the fishes

No pictures in this post but I want to show you a couple of websites which you may be interested in showing some support for.

Two of the ongoing issues which I’m passionate about are conservation of the oceans and the forests. Down in Tasmania is a very courageous and dedicated lady called Miranda Gibson whose blog I found a couple of months ago, it’s called ‘TheObservertree‘, and in it she describes her last year living at the top of a tree in a forest in Tasmania as a peaceful protest at the destruction of the native ancient forests there. I was really pleased to see this week that Miranda’s stand was highlighted on the front page of the BBC News website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20723455

Please check out the video and visit her blog to register your support.

And the second issue which is coming up this week is a vote in the European Parliament to reform the Common Fisheries Policy which if passed will ban discard and help to rebuild dwindling fish stocks. For any non-Europeans who may be unaware of what’s happening, the EU has stipulated how much of which fish species can be caught and landed. On the face of it a good thing you may think, but in practice what this means is that all the over catches are simply dumped back into the sea, referred to as ‘discard‘. Which means that many tons of perfectly good fish are killed and then thrown overboard, which is great for short term hunger management of gulls and other fish eating creatures, but completely insane from the point of view of maintaining viable fish stocks for all species!

I’ve been getting regular updates from Chris Davies, a UK Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who sits on the Fisheries Committee, and you can follow this link to the latest communication. If you feel strongly about the destruction of the oceans please send an email to one or more of the swinging MEP’s listed who sit on the Committee and ask them to vote for the reforms.

This is the email I sent to all of them and all the other UK MEP’s who sit on the Fisheries Committee:

As an MEP sitting on the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament I am writing to urge you to vote for the reform to the Common Fisheries Policy this Tuesday.

I believe that it is essential that the reform is passed in order to guarantee the longer term survival of viable fish stocks in order to maintain the health of not only the fish but that of the ocean as a whole. This is particularly the case as, going forward, the seas are likely to become more and more important as a food source. I believe this issue should be beyond party politics and the lobbying power of vested interests as it is much too important, and the fish stocks should not be squandered in the pursuit of short term commercial interests.

I thank you for taking the time to read my email and urge you again to please vote for the reform.

If you enjoy your fish and chips, and want to continue to do so, please send an email or two to let the MEP’s know how you wish them to vote.

Our forests – update

Since my post of last week about the proposed sell off of our nationally owned forests I’ve been doing  some reading to try and find out the background to the sell off. It is apparently in line with a policy document published by the government in May 2010 entitled ‘The Coalition: our programme for government‘ which sets out the stall of the current coalition (but fails to mention they plan to sell off one of our last remaining crown jewels in the form of our forests).

This is from the consultation document published by DEFRA, and in the parlance of current political imbecility:

What are the policy objectives and the intended effects? The Government is committed to shifting the balance of power from „Big Government‟ to „big society‟ and ensuring that it is intervening in forestry in England only where appropriate and necessary. Part of the policy objective is to increase profitability of commercial woodlands and reduce net costs for running local and heritage woodlands whilst at the same time increasing public benefits through greater involvement of local communities and civil society bodies. The government will seek to protect and enhance biodiversity to contribute to a network of wildlife corridors, maintain public access for recreation and leisure, ensure the continuing role of the woodlands in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and protect nationally important landscapes.

I think it significant that most of what I have read in government and Forestry Commision documents seems to stress the maximisation of profitability first and foremost before listing preservation of biodiversity and maintaining the forests for public recreation as secondary objectives. This may be my jaundiced interpretation but I can’t see how, once the forests are sold, that protecting biodiversity can be guaranteed in the long term when the primary motivation is stated to be income generation and cessation of public funding for maintenance of our forests.

As with the previous sell off of publicly owned utilities in the early 1990’s, which resulted in significant chunks of the privatised companies passing into foreign ownership, it is difficult to imagine how the same situation would not recur with our forests. A foreign logging company is unlikely to be overly concerned with maintaining biodiversity in British forests when shareholders in their own country are demanding bigger year on year dividends.

According to DEFRA’s consultation document the plan is to sell off 40,000 hectares (approximately 100,000 acres – an area equal to a third of Bedfordshire) during the period of the current spending review. In answer to a parliamentary question from Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale, Jim Paice, Con MP for SE Cambridgeshire and Minister for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, replied that total income generated by the sale of 40,000 hectares of forest would be £74.5 million. It seems to me that in the economic fiasco we currently find ourselves in that is a very small amount of money indeed. The value of what we stand to lose is orders of magnitude greater.

I think it is abject folly to go down this route and once the forest is gone it is gone forever, so I hope common sense will prevail at some level of government and this piece of legislation will not be passed. If you agree and you want to add your voice to those of us who don’t want the forests to disappear into private ownership you can sign the petition to oppose this by clicking here.