Today, I had to go home early from school as I was sick  (eek), after a while I started to feel better, got any school-work and homework completed and then I read some newspaper articles…about the launch of a report called ‘The State of Nature’. As I read, there was such a mixture of emotions. I was so angry, hurt and ashamed but I also felt hope, I know that there is a lot of good work being done by those, who like me, really care about our natural world. I see it like this, if my room was really, really, messy and my mum asked me to clean it up, I would, because it’s my responsibility. Mother Nature is telling us all, to ‘Take care of your room!!’ because let’s face it, our environment is one big, massive room and it belongs to us all. It’s our responsibility to care for it, help it become a space that can be enjoyed  by not just us as humans, but all the species and eco-systems that it has evolved to do. As I read the articles and some points of the report, it’s clear, we are not doing enough!

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It was reported that as many as one in six species are at risk of extinction, almost twice as many species are on the red/threatened list (1,199 in 2016 – 755 in 2013)  and more than half of Britain’s wildlife has seen a decline over the past three years. 165 species are critically endangered in the UK, these will probably go extinct. Your gorgeous garden hedgehog may not be seen by my own children or grandchildren!!!  This is serious! This is heartbreaking. Our wildlife, our plants and animals are now, according to Sir David Attenborough ‘under threat’. Out of 218 countries which were assessed for their ‘Bio-diversity Intactness Index’ the UK ranked low at 189! Ireland was considerably worse!  The Northern Ireland ‘State of Nature’ report is due to be released later this month and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for this.

Intensive farming, the decline of hay meadows, the production of silage and the governemntal pressures on our farmers to produce, produce, produce, is having a real detrimental effect on our pollinators (bees, beetles, butterflies etc) and many bee and butterfly species are in steep decline. Many farmers are custodians of wildlife, but how can they all be if so much production is expected from them and they are given grants to drain and manage their land in a way that hurts nature!! The drainage of land, the ripping out of our beautiful native hedgerows, the paving of our gardens, our (not ‘ours’) crazy need to have gardens which are manicured within an inch of their lives are destroying nature. Climate change also plays a huge part, many species who rely on temperature and certain habitats have nowhere to go. If they can’t thrive in their environment they will not survive.

Of course, lots of fabulous work is being done by wonderful organisations – 53 contributed to the report –  you can find a list here and for more information on the report.  There are beautiful RSPB and Wildlife Trusts reserves, special areas for conservation and scientific interest and the Forestry Commission do a great job keeping our forests in a way that repsect nature.

I also love this image from BTO

But so much more land is at risk, farmland, uplands and umanaged woodland are all at risk. There have been successful species re-introductions, yet still, we cull (sometimes necessary but not always – think badger culling), kill and harm our wildlife.
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I have another worry, I am worried about the lack of youth involvement in wildlife and conservation. I have received lots of support, comments and friendship from Engalnd, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and loads of support from grown-ups in N.I. but nothing from anyone my own age here in Northern Ireland. I’m sure it will come in time!  I would like to help get more local young people involved in the conservation, protection and care for our local environment, so I’ve a few ideas up my sleeve. I’ll let you know how they go!

There are lots of good things happening though and special mention to these young people who are really making a difference

Georgia Locock Alex White Findlay Wilde Mya Rose  Zach Haynes and Josie Hewitt, who  are doing such a great job campaigning for wildlife. There are lots more of us too, you can find us all on the A Focus on Nature web-site. AFON are a fabulous group for bringing young people together to make a difference and get their voice heard. I’m so glad to have found them, you can learn more here . I have engaged with some brilliant young people on Twitter and we all really care, but we need more young people to care too. Please check out ‘The Blogs I follow’ on my list – there are some great young bloggers -Tiffany, Megan, Elliot, Dawood, Paddy, Harry, Will, Jacob, George, Mya, and James (x2). If I’ve forgotten anyone, sorry!

I realise this blog might come across as a bit of  rant (it was written rather manically ;-), but believe me, I could have went on and on, so I spared you a lot 😉 If you took the time to read, thank you and please comment with your ideas and inspiration.

Thank you

Dara