In July I wrote an open letter to the new Environment Minister Mrs Truss which you can read here. I also kept emailing the letter to her hoping to be listened to. Well today I finally got a reply from the Customer Contact Unit at DEFRA. The response is below for you to see:
Thank you for your email of 16 July to the Secretary of State about wildlife conservation. I have been asked to reply and apologise for the delay in doing so.
We agree with you that birds are extremely important. Bird populations are a good way to estimate the health of wildlife in general, because birds live in a wide range of habitats, so they tend to be near or at the top of food chains. There are many reasons why birds are threatened, including disease, weather, loss of habitat and climate change.
One way in which we are helping birds is through Biodiversity 2020. The Government has plans to help farmland birds by increasing their habitats by at least 200,000 hectares by 2020.
There are also grant schemes run by the Government where farmers are given money to make sure their land provides good homes for birds, or to feed seed eating birds during the ‘hungry gap’, which is the time of year when there aren’t many berries or seeds.
You might wish to visit The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) website, as this provides a lot of information on birds and how you can help them. https://www.rspb.org.uk/youth/
I hope this reassures you we are committed to conserving the environment and helping birds. Thank you again for writing about this important issue.
Customer Contact Unit
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Now even though I am really grateful for the response, I am not confident or happy about what they have to say. I know I am only 12 and I know I don't understand all the politics but I do have common sense, some wildlife knowledge and a strong sense of right and wrong. So here are my first thoughts on there reply, but I will probably revisit this again.
- firstly, they have just concentrated on birds, when my email was about all our wildlife. I was at the A Focus on Nature Conference last week and listened to a debate called "should science have the final say in conservation". At the end of the debate it was agreed that properly researched science should definitely be listened to, and so should common sense. SO how is this the case with the badger cull. All the science bits I have read have said a cull wont work and it has been a cruel and badly thought through way of trying to control Bovine TB. Maybe that's why they just focused on birds.
- Now it is 2014 and 200,000 hectares of farmland are supposed to be used to create habitat for birds by 2020, now for me there's a few problems here:
- firstly I think 2020 is going to be a little late, as I'm sure you're all aware, many birds have declined by huge amounts, a good example would be the Turtle Dove, what has happened to that species. It may be gone by 2020.
- Secondly farmland covers about 18 million hectares across the UK, so over the next 6 years just 0.01% is being given back. And how much other habitat is being lost to projects like HS2.
- And not really a traditional lowland farmland bird, but Hen Harriers have undergone a huge decline and yet nothing has been done about it by the people in power, even though there have been serious crimes committed. People are breaking the law, but where was DEFRA on Hen Harrier Day?
- Another thing I'd like to pick up on is the part where it says
There are many reasons why birds are threatened, including disease, weather, loss of habitat and climate change.
What is the government (DEFRA) doing to resolve the problem of this and how are they working with all the people involved to make sure it is a focus for all the influential people in power.
- The final thing that really wound me up was "maybe you should visit the RSPB" now that is really, really annoying because I am trying my best to do so much for wildlife.
I would love to here your points of view on the reply.