In Britain and across the world natural places and the wild animals who live there are being destroyed and impacted on at a devastating rate. Millions of animals are being killed, being displaced, many species are becoming extinct. Even when seemingly wild places exist – the animals are affected by noise and light pollution, chemical sprays and drift, drones and disturbance. Human activities affect wild animals in all kinds of ways, and impact how successful animals are at finding food, breeding, raising their young, and generally surviving.
Even in those places which have been put aside for wildlife, for example nature reserves, animals are affected by the negative impacts of human civilisation – as are we. We would probably all benefit from less light and noise pollution. Sadly though, many nature reserves are not safe havens for wildlife.
Many practices which are carried out and promoted by conservationists are about controlling nature, rather than conserving nature. Conventional approaches are based on favouring certain species and certain habitats at certain times, and then interfering, rarely to good effect, to try to achieve a certain favoured outcome.
At best this could be seen as well-meaning meddling, but it is actually much worse than this. For many of the conventional practices of the conservation industry merely mimic the activities of those rural industries based on the exploitation of our countryside and our wildlife.
One example is moor-burning, which has devastating affects on upland habitats and also on the animals caught up and burned to death or injured in the fires, as well as the stressful side-effects of escaping from a fire. This activity is one favoured by landowners managing uplands specifically for grouse shooting. Moor-burning leads to new growth of heather and other upland plants with young, soft shoots which are more palatable to grouse. The grouse are raised and managed so that people can kill them for sport.
We believe it is time to move away from these outdated and failing practices, and to forge a new way to care for nature and wildlife. We believe that we need to start putting nature first, and allow space and time for natural processes. Ultimately we need to step back more, and let nature be.