The Lost of England



There is considerable buzz and well deserved around Natural England‘s ambitious audit of the current state of biodiversity in England. Lost life: England’s lost and threatened species is published as part of the observance of the International Year of Biodiversity.

(Note Lost life covers only England, the little country bordered by Scotland and Wales.)

It’s worth a look at how this report is constructed. Of course there is the obligatory keening for the lost in the now familiar lists: 492 documented species lost, almost all of them since the industrial revolution; 24% of butterfly species gone; 22% of amphibian species gone. These are documented in the first section of the text and in an In Memoriam list running across the bottom of 51 pages. For just a few, like the Ivell’s sea anemone, England was the last stand and their disappearance there was also their global exit. Others like the burbot and the great bustard may still exist elsewhere, some in great numbers, some in serious decline. But localized loss is still loss.

From the forward:

These species provide us with food and livelihoods; they help form the distinctive English landscapes and seascapes that we love; they have inspired and delighted through generations. They are England’s life.

That both echoes the motto of the IYB

Biodiversity is Life — Biodiversity is Our Life

and particularizes it. This is essential to any hope of getting the message across. In the biodiversity crisis there is no global measurement comparable to, say, mean air or water temperature that anyone can point to. All biodversity is local, so to speak.

So it’s both appropriate and smart to discuss the decline by region within England, as the report does. It also means that local papers and other media can instantly relate, and a quick scan pulls up dozens of articles about the West Country, East Anglia, etc. all pulled directly from NE’s account.

For the same reasons it works to spotlight a few species that if not exactly iconic at least say England, like the corncrake, once so common that its all night calling drove people insane, and familiar through poetry – from John Clare to the Pogues – to millions of people who will never see or hear one.

Most importantly, Lost life quickly moves on to what can and is being done to slow the damage, including some ambitious and fairly successful reintroduction work. The corncrake is a good example.

In an act of willful misrepresentation, there are headlines out saying that Natural England blames agriculture for the disappearance of the corncrake and others, and suggesting rather unsubtly that the country would starve if NE had its way (think Glenn Beck). That’s far from the case. Take the extremely simple, budget neutral idea of harvesting a grain field from the inside out, leaving the birds always with safe cover to scramble to. (The corncrake’s plight is largely due to its extreme reluctance to bolt into the open under any circumstances, a winning strategy until large scale mechanized harvesters came along.)

Club scenes aside, the term Wild London seems oxymoronic. But in the capital you’re never more than a few tube stops from a nature reserve.

My favorite, Camley Street Natural Park is one of the nicest spots in London, and the volunteers there among the nicest Londoners. It is especially rejuvenating when you find yourself stranded at nearby King’s Cross/St. Pancras thanks to the incompetence of the privatised rail system and you’re pulling your hair out because now you’ve missed your train and . . . . .

Much better.


Natural England: species of the weekarchives

IUCN: species of the dayarchives

iWILD: Endangered All-Star trading cards


11 Responses to “The Lost of England”

  1. artemis54 Says:

    Hey mamz.

    Dennis Kucinich may be a “little prick” as you so prickishly proclaim, but he’s a little prick on Air Force One, and you’re an even littler prick on a little blog.

    When is the turdlet prince going to run for office himself, since he alone understands American politics?

  2. artemis54 Says:

    This one goes out to Nancy Pelosi

  3. artemis54 Says:

    The Annals of Skank: Videographer Rielle Hunter poses for bottomless photographs, then complains that they are “repulsive.”

    It could have been such an entertaining White House.

  4. artemis54 Says:

    Is it just me?

    I realize that a lot people live in the Boston-Wahington corridor, and that a lot of them are rich and important, at least in their own eyes and those of the media.

    But is it really necessary for every network to report every five minutes on the state of the weather there? There is weather elsewhere, even elsewhere in this country. There is rain, snow, wind, trees falling over, the seasons changing. You might even say it’s a regular occurrence.

    The other thing is this: in the “greatest country on earth” etc etc, why does every storm shut off the power, stop the trains, and threaten the economy? Infrastructure anyone? Maybe put some of the power lines underground where they belong?

    Maybe it’s just me.

  5. artemis54 Says:

    A rare voice of sanity on the subject of California’s water: Deceptive arguments are being made in California’s water wars

    What about the claim that state and federal officials are diverting into the ocean billions of gallons of water the farmers desperately need, just to save a 2-inch fish?

    This is perhaps the most deceptive argument made in the water wars. The truth is that the devastation that dams and wasteful agricultural policies have wreaked in the Sacramento delta ecosystem has produced an economic holocaust all its own, just conveniently out of sight of the valley farmers and their mouthpieces.

    For one thing, it has destroyed a salmon fishery once worth billions of dollars and cost as many as 23,000 jobs.

    Too bad Hannity and his looney tunes followers will never read this or any other article.

    • sisdevore Says:

      ah, you beat me to that one.

      oh and I think Clara got up to 4 eggs. She & Esteban have been constantly warming them.

      It has been a tad cold here. Next week it is suppose to hit 72. have to get the pool heat turned on–I have about 10 days off at the end of March, beginning of April.

  6. artemis54 Says:

    Should I join the Cocoa Liberation Front or the Maté Underground?

  7. artemis54 Says:

    Our ceph visitors and others might be interested in Ewan MacColl, who wrote Dirty Old Town about his home town of Salford. He was marked as a communist – which he was for a while – by British intelligence, which did its damnedest to keep him off the radio and even extended hostilities to his wife, successfully blackballing her from working for the BBC.

    Also rather funny that while Salford’s city dads were highy incensed at the song, everyone from Glasgow to Dublin to Manchester lays claim to it now.

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