Gloomy news in the UK Times

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  • #14225

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7107309.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084

    ;

    I have reprinted the text (sans le photographs) here:

    AFTER Silent Spring, Britain now faces the silent summer. Fifty years after Rachel Carson?s seminal book about humanity?s impact on nature, Sir David Attenborough has warned that Britain?s wildlife could be on the edge of the next great environmental disaster.

    He has written the foreword to a new book, Silent Summer, in which 40 leading British ecologists detail how factors such as pesticides, population growth and intensive farming are destroying the plants, insects and animals on which the rest of the country?s wildlife depends.

    The book describes the decline of 75% of butterfly species, the near disappearance of many moths and similar reverses for bees, flies and snails.

    Attenborough warns that such organisms make up the foundations of Britain?s ecosystems. ?We tend to focus on the bigger animals and ignore the smaller ones ? but small creatures like these are the basis of our entire ecosystems and they are disappearing faster than ever. That loss is transforming our wildlife and countryside,? he said.

    The 600-page book was edited by Norman Maclean, emeritus professor of genetics at Southampton University, who chose its title to invoke Carson?s study of the impact of pollutants on wildlife.

    Published in 1962, Silent Spring helped launch the global environmental movement and, in Britain, prompted an eventual ban on pesticides such as DDT.

    Maclean believes, however, that such triumphs have done little to slow the destruction. ?The evidence is that we could be in the middle of the next great extinction of wildlife, both globally and in Britain,? he said.

    Butterflies are among the hardest hit of insect groups. Five species are extinct and, of the 59 that regularly breed in Britain, most have seen sharp declines in population.

    Jeremy Thomas, professor of ecology at Oxford University, who wrote Silent Summer?s chapter on butterflies, said populations were falling faster than almost any other group.

    The reason, he suggests, is that the caterpillars of many species need particular plant species to feed on ? but these are often targeted by farmers as weeds. ?Nearly every butterfly decline can be attributed to habitat loss or the degradation and increased isolation of surviving patches of habitat,? he said.

    The story is similar for moths, whose overall population declined by more than a third from 1968 to 2002, when the last survey was carried out. At least 20 of the larger species, such as the dusky thorn and the hedge rustic, have suffered population declines of more than 90%.

    Britain?s rivers have been hit, too ? with scientists charting a general collapse in populations of caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies.

    Such species were once renowned for forming vast, shimmering swarms as their aquatic larvae hatched and took to the air in summer. They also provided an important source of food for birds, fish, bats and predatory insects.

    Cyril Bennett, a researcher with the Riverfly Partnership, whose research is featured in Silent Summer, said such sights were now rare.

    In the book he links the decline with the growing use of pesticides on sheep and cattle. ?If sheep or cattle are allowed to enter a river after treatment the entire invertebrate population can be wiped out for miles downstream,? he said.

    What does such destruction mean for species higher up the food chain? Robert Robinson, of the British Trust for Ornithology, said the intensification of farming, and the consequent loss of habitat and food sources, had been ?catastrophic? for farmland birds.

    Starlings and swallows, both insect eaters, are among the worst affected with populations down by two-thirds since the mid-1970s. Hedgehog numbers are declining so fast that they could vanish by 2025. Silent Summer points out that the destruction of ecosystems also extends far out to sea, with many commercially exploited fish stocks at risk of collapse. Much of that is the result of overfishing but the destruction of seabed habitats by trawl nets is also to blame. Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at York University, said: ?Repeated trawling has simply destroyed the seabed habitat and all the small plants and animals that grew on it ? many of which were food for larger creatures.?

    Maclean believes that one of the greatest problems is making younger people aware of such changes.

    ?Anyone over 50 can remember when common insects were abundant. Every field and garden teemed with butterflies and bumblebees and the hatches of mayflies on rivers were incredibly dense,? he said.

    ?Younger generations of people who never saw them have no real idea of just how much we have lost or how quickly it has changed."

Viewing 17 replies - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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  • #24078

    Anonymous

    Good to hear, Norm.
    I am not anti-mining per se – but the approach is pretty scary without much study having been done on more than the mineral potential.
    You have the basis for a great submission.
    Best
    Trisha

    #24067

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi All,

    The MBNZT is preparing a submission against the mining proposals on Conservation land and National Park areas based on the threat of habitat loss to already threatened Lepidoptera species.

    #24059

    Anonymous

    Darren – no surprise your employers didn’t want to buy into the evidence. Sigh…
    Glad you found a way out doing something you enjoy so much now.

    Norm – has MBNZT made a submission about the mining? The issue seems to fall well within its rules/brief.
    The deadline has been extended now.
    I used the Forest and Bird base information to make a submission(not about butterfly habitats).
    More robust organisations with expertise at hand, like Forest and Bird, generously make their information available for others to use, so not a lot of rescource required at all to put together a meaningful submission.

    Best
    Trisha

    #24058

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Darren

    Nice to hear you have found your calling after what happened to you. I am not surprised at the treatemnt you received from your previous employers, But at least some good came out of it.

    #24054

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    And it’s been a blessing for us, Darren, as you may never have looked closely at a butterfly!

    #24053

    Darren
    Participant

    My diagnosis was Non-Alcoholic Steroidal Hepatitis. Or in English Hepatitis means I have an inflamed liver, Steroidal means the cause is chemical not viral, and the non-alcoholic means its not the usual chemical! 😉

    My employers denied all responsibility despite my symptoms being a perfect match for poisoning by a chemical we used 20 Litres of a day. I left with nothing. I’ll never work in a lab again and retrained as a preschool teacher which I absolutely love so I’m not complaining.

    #24037

    Terry
    Participant

    Good point Norm!
    I don’t mean to labour the point but this is why I always say to be careful in the trusts dealings with Government. Conservation is really bottom of the list in the order of political priorities, It’s just good for a photo opportunity for them to make a connection with Wildlife conservation trusts and create a nice false green image. Keep pressuring government to get things changed but don’t get chummy with them, and educate the people of NZ yourselves through the Monarch Trust. Pile the pressure on and embarrass the Government and chemical companies, by showing them and the public the damage they are doing by their policies. Encouraging members to breed native species and if possible purchasing even small small plots of land and making them Butterfly friendly all helps.
    The work the Monarch trust has already done has made a big difference, just look at how many of your members are now interested in other butterflies rather than just Monarchs. All these things take time and start on a small basis, but the potential is there for success, just stick at it!

    #24036

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    And if all the chemical pollution is not enough, two of the proposed mining areas, the Paparoa ranges and the Coromandel
    area, are both habitats of the Forest ringlet butterfly, which is already listed under the ‘serious decline’ category
    and sanctioned by the Minister of Conservation.

    #24035

    Anonymous

    Yep Terry – NZ should be very, very ashamed.
    Protests fall pretty much on deaf ears because some of the greatest users of presticides are government agencies – both at central and local level…sigh. They control the reserve lands and spray the heck out them.
    Now, add more mining to the mix which is this government’s latest venture.

    Darren – what a rotten experience for you. Hope the liver repairs.

    Best
    Trisha

    #24024

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Certainly as far as our lepidoptera are affected the MBNZT could do more, but we are limited by the amount of people who can devote time to this, Gilly. Did you see the submission we put in on the Endosulfan issue? Hopefully we helped to get that removed. It would be great to do more…

    Our rules don’t say anything about us being pro or con pesticides, but the devastating effect of pesticides on our lepidoptera and its habitat is within our brief – if that makes sense.

    I would love to see us doing more in this area… What’s the first step?

    #24023

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Certainly as far as our lepidoptera are affected the MBNZT could do more, but we are limited by the amount of people who can devote time to this, Gilly. Did you see the submission we put in on the Endosulfan issue? Hopefully we helped to get that removed. It would be great to do more…

    Our rules don’t say anything about us being pro or con pesticides, but the devastating effect of pesticides on our lepidoptera and its habitat is within our brief – if that makes sense.

    I would love to see us doing more in this area…

    #24021

    Gilly
    Participant

    Clean green NZ is absolutely a myth, I agree. Along with what you say, Darren, there is the liberal use of 1080 poison, AND brodifacoum scattered all over….. I’d like to see the Monarch Trust do more awareness in this area or is too politically incorrect?

    #24020

    Terry
    Participant

    That is truly shocking Darren! I hope the damage to your liver was not permanent. I know the liver is very good at repairing itself. I work in mental health and many people who have damaged their liver with overdoses of paracetamol have recovered.
    Back to Butterflies! At least there are more and more of you growing Nettles for your native Admirals so at least they will find refuge in the gardens of those who care about their survival in to the future.
    Keep up the good work, all of you!!!!

    #24010

    Darren
    Participant

    Sad but true Terry. Our “clean green New Zealand” image promoted by our export and tourism industries is a myth made possible only by our low population density. NZ was the last country in the world to be producing 2,4,5,T, and the so-called “agent orange” used in Vietnam was also used here as a “scrub desiccant”. I used to work in a lab that regularly tested NZ exports to check they met EU import requirements for dioxin levels. I left when my liver started packing up.

    The New Zealand intakes can be compared against the TDI target value established by the WHO and the MRL set by the ATSDR of 1 pg TEQ/kg bw/day. The average current dietary intake may be somewhat lower than this value (perhaps two times lower). However, the more reliable estimate of intake based on serum concentrations suggests that during approximately the last 25 years the average intake was probably close to 1.4 pg TEQ/kg bw/day. This being the case, about half the population would have exceeded this intake. (my emphasis DG) It should also be noted again that these health criteria set by WHO and ATSDR involve very small margins of safety. Therefore, there would appear to be only a small margin of safety, if any, between New Zealand intakes and some non-cancer effects in animal studies; in particular, effects on the offspring of exposed mothers.
    http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/hazardous/dioxin-evaluation-exec-sum-feb01.html#es1

    #24008

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Norm
    A friend of my Brother has just come back from a year in NZ studying arboriculture and informed him that in his opinion the NZ environment is under a worse onlslought from Pesticides and herbicides than the UK currently is. He thinks it’s only the fact that your human population is tiny compared to ours that has prevented the total destruction of your countryside. He said he was truly shocked to see pesticides sprayed from helicopters near residential areas with no concern about wind drift,and the dropping of poison baits for pest species with little concern about other non target species getting poisoned, something that would be illegal in the UK.
    UK human Population = approx 60 million. NZ I think about 4.5 million? UK and NZ similar size in land mass?

    #24007

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    A timely warning for New Zealand? With spraying and eradication of nettles and the introduction of parasitic wasps I would not be surprised in the least if our Red admiral was one of the first to become scarce.

    #24005

    Terry
    Participant

    To tell the truth, it’s worse than even this article states.
    And what is the UKs answer to these problems? Legislate against those of us who breed Butterflies and or other species like birds in captivity by giving the rarest species “protection”!!!!!! Not from habitat destruction but from us the very people who can keep stocks going until the human race comes to its senses or perishes along with the rest of the animal kingdom. As I have stated many times the rarest species are usually the easiest to breed in captivity. They are only rare because of habitat destruction.
    If this stupidity isn’t enough our Government pays people to have more children, levy?s green taxes on us that don’t get spent on saving the environment, only to use them to fund other damaging projects or general expenditure and allows unrestricted immigration.

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