With great joy we can announce that you can now watch the Buzz Tour documentary! https://buzztour.org/documentary/ Please share this inspiring and uplifting film and support all the wonderful projects of people working to protect our environment.
Ashington used to be a coal mining town and the large sudden scale loss of work left a deep scar in the population, just as the coal mines left scars in the land. Where a mine used to be there is now a nature area, pond and several wind turbines. Rebuilding the community is taking longer, with many people feeling a lack of hope. I met the new cafe owners at The Bistro who’ve been making a success of their new venture for the last 6 months.
Part of the essential work being done for a better future is to conserve wildlife and species. That way when we are able to change the system of our society to one that is less destructive, there will still be species left to return. Norfolk Wildlife Trust is protecting many such precious habitat areas which are vital refuges in this country. In Foxley Wood I saw some of the semi-natural habitat they are maintaining to encourage different species.
A major consideration is this islands role as a support for migratory species and no where is that more obvious than with our wetland birds. Cley Marshes was the first Wildlife Trust reserve in England and the trust’s recent purchase of a further part of land is ensuring that the area will be a reliable haven for birds for many years to come.
The new visitors center means that many people who couldn’t get out on to the reserve can now view birds from the long windows, learn about the habitat, all whilst enjoying a coffee from the cafe.
Years ago at university I knew I wanted to volunteer to protect the environment in my spare time, and the first place I turned was The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) previously BTCV. The volunteers go out to do conservation work, meet friends and keep fit. I asked Debbie what it’s meant to work for them in Norwich and how she managed to make the change from her previous work in banking.
Healthland is a type of habitat with heather and low scrub plants. In Suffolk we walked through the gorgeous ‘Dead Mans Grave’ and heathland areas managed with light grazing by Natural England. A motorbike came across the heath and afterwards we could hear the distressed sheep bleating. We realised that two of the lambs had made a run for it from the motorbike and ended up on the wrong side of the fence, now unable to find their way back. Sama and I then had the very amusing and tricky job of herding them back. When the last one finally crossed the gate threshold back to it’s mum it did a little jump for joy. As someone once told me “lambs have more than their fair share of cute”.
In the Bedforshire town of Sandy we found a great bird habitat reserve, but we also found the headquarters of the RSPB (yes, we really are that lucky/disorganised that we didn’t plan it that way). Like perhaps many people I viewed the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) as focused only on birds, but what the reserve manager explained to me was that to protect the birds, you have to protect the habitat. Without the whole ecosystem, the birds don’t stand a chance. Sounds similar to the situation of my favourite upright primates…
The RSPB’s message has now changed to ‘Saving Nature’ to better reflect the work they’ve been doing for years. As someone who doesn’t know their bitterns from their sandpipers, but fervently wishes for the survival of them all, the broader systemic focus catches my interest. The RSPB is one of the biggest landowners in the UK and provides the habitat for over 80% of our threatened and endangered birds. They also have over a million members, so when they speak, people listen. Say it loud, say it proud RSPB, it’s time to save nature.
Did you know that the National Trust is the second biggest landowner after the Ministry of Defense? I didn’t. Why would an incomeless environmentalist like me decide to become a member of the National Trust?
I did not realise that the National Trust does a large amount of work to protect the environment, it turns out it’s not all about posh manor houses. When the National Trust staff kindly told us about the ambitious work happening at Wicken Fen, it was enough to stir me to part with the little money I have to support what they are doing.
Fens are wetlands that are fed by mineral rich waters. Wicken Fen is the oldest National Trust reserve in the country and one of the most important wetland habitats in Europe. Walking through the landscape of the fens the rivers are a lot higher than the surrounding land. Weird. You might think that perhaps they were built up that way? It turns out to be the other way around. When the fen ditches were dug and the land drained, the layers of organic matter that had been laid down over thousands of years were exposed to oxygen. With the oxygen the carbon started to break down and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Another surprise. It turns out that draining wetland is very bad for our climate as well as removing habitat. But what the National Trust have planned gave me a lift of excitement.
Most organisations and politicians seem to think a few years ahead, maybe a decade ahead, but the National Trust have a hundred year plan to restore fenland around Wicken Fen. By gradually buying up the land, they will restore this vital habitat, lock up carbon and protect it for the benefit of all.