Sunday, 11 June 2017

Your environment needs you!

Even in the most built up suburbs, we all have some connection with the environment. Whether this is a few street trees, a small park, window boxes or bird feeders on a balcony, it is still a connection, a chance for wildlife and fauna to exist and to flourish.

Much has been written about the benefits of having trees in built up areas, they absorb CO2 and pollution, they act as shade and mitigate the heat effect of the city environment, they will support some form of other life, even it is just a few sparrows and invertebrates. And yet, for some, they are inconvenient, too hard to maintain, to mow around. Sheffield City Council and Amey PLC are chopping down large numbers of trees against local wishes in Sheffield and campaigns such as @thesadsquirrel on Twitter among others are fighting to try and save them. Some of these trees even act as memorials to soldiers lost in the world wars, but this doesn't seem to be enough to spare them.

And now, we have as Environment Secretary here in the UK a man who regards wildlife and environmental laws as inconvenient, who is completely unprepared and unqualified to do this job. The Government itself is prepared to do deals with a political party who (among many other controversial policies) has climate change deniers and creationists among its MPs!

So, what to do? There are plenty of organisations who are prepared to stand up for nature, for the environment, to campaign against destructive policies, actions and developments. Everyone canm write to their MP about issues in the local area and online petitions can be promoted to garner widespread support. Any MP wishes to keep their seat, especially at the moment with such a fluid and evenly balanced situation in Parliament, and enough local opposition to a proposal will cause them to take notice, especially in marginal constituencies. Collective. focused action can work, and even direct protests, done in the right way, can have an effect on public opinion and those in power.

We can also get involved, with volunteering, donations to wildlife and environmentally friendly organisations, to enable them to do projects to protect species, habitats, to lobby and campaign and for collective action. Each of us can some something positive directly for nature, from a bird feeder, a patch of wildflowers in a garden, plants good for pollinators (though do be careful and have a look at the work of Dave Gouldson on supposedly bee-friendly flowers on sale in certain stores), leaving a pile of twigs in a corner for a hedgehog to make its home, or a patch of nettles or buddleia for butterflies.

On a wider scale, we can change travelling habits, not quite as easy as it sounds sometimes, local public transport can sometimes be expensive or infrequent or not convenient to get to work. Changing to a more fuel efficient car, or if affordable an electric one. In the house we can use energy efficiently, recycle as much as possible and choose products that minimize impact on the environment and wildlife. Again, not easy sometimes and making certain choices may be difficult for some. But most people are in reach of a store with local produce, or a market, or can choose produce as local as possible from the supermarket where possible. Or grow your own! Even in a flat, like my grandparents were 10 floors up, you can grow tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers!

The message is, don't give up, keep looking at ways to change habits and purchasing in favour of the environmental benefit, and do the best you can under whatever circumstances you find yourself financially and physically.