Love and Hate
Oct 11, 2021 —
Monday morning - I hope you all had a good weekend. I spent hours of mine in Magdalen College Chapel - where I am their photographer - the calm of beautiful music is so good for the soul.
I have been struggling as to whether to begin this update with the good news, or the bad, or the sad. Have decided to go: Sad, Bad, Good, Bad ... I will try and find something light to conclude with!
I never met James Brokenshire - he was the Secretary of State who, in July 2019, pushed through the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to include guidance for all Local Authority Planning Departments to have Hedgehog Highways included in new developments. His death from cancer was announced last week and he seems to have been a really good person. I would like to extend my condolences to his family and remember him for what he has done to help hedgehogs. Now I must try and win Michael Gove over to the light - wish me luck.
Most attention about the big environmental stories has been focused on COP26 - the climate change meeting taking place in Glasgow in 3 weeks. But there is another existential challenge that gets considerably less attention - and the Convention on Biodiversity has its COP15 taking place next year in China. In the run up to this there are meetings and reports and statements ... yesterday the Natural History Museum published research that was utterly damning of the UK - we have lost nearly one half of all the wildlife from the country since the Industrial Revolution. We are the worst of the G7, and in the bottom 10% globally. We may think of ourselves has doing good - and us lot, we do good, we make an effort - but nationally, we have a long way to go. I argue that our work with hedgehogs is crucial - in that it gets the issue onto the agenda - locally and nationally - that nature should be something we nurture, not destroy.
One response to this has been a letter from businesses calling for governments to treat nature a little better - but this is where the massive disconnect from reality kicks in - those very businesses rely upon a fundamentally unsustainable business model - that of extractive, or linear, capitalism.
Okay - something positive. Jennifer Manning-Ohren has been in touch via the Hedgehog Highways Facebook Group - do join if you are interested - telling me about an interview she did for Nottingham BBC. She told me how far out of her comfort zone she felt being on camera was ... well ... I want you to have a look and see ... because I think she did a REALLY good job at getting our story across ... and it was so good that it became one of the top stories on the BBC website yesterday ... people love hedgehogs!
That was your light relief ... now to something very serious. Chris Packham is really kind, generous and lovely. He is a good person. He cares about nature - he works to protect nature. Some people find this annoying. When I was at his house in the New Forest in the Spring this year - filming with Megan (he was on tea duty) - they talked about the threats they receive - how they have escalated to threats against the wellbeing of Chris, his dogs, his family. Dead animals routinely dumped on his property.
On Friday night masked men drove a car up to the gates to his garden and set it alight. Police and fire services were swiftly on the scene, thousands of pounds of damage have been done - the story was widely covered in the news. This is a real escalation in the attacks on Chris. Why is he attacked? Because he stands up for nature and is willing to use his position to amplify the call to protect what we have left. Some people find his criticism of hunting an affront and this is where the hate springs from. Abuse, death threats and now arson - it shows that the fans of killing for pleasure are frightened. But it is also an escalation that has a clear trajectory. I would love to see unequivocal condemnation of this assault on Chris from the many organisations that promote and support hunting and shooting.
Is Chris going to stop doing what he does? Of course not. Is he aware of the risks? Of course he is. All over the world environmentalists are routinely brutalised and murdered.
We work to help hedgehogs because we care - for some it is a starting point - for others, our entire lives are based around doing our best to protect nature. We are a wonderfully diverse band of people who are willing to do something to help. James Brokenshire, Jennifer Manning-Ohren, Chris Packham - all doing their bit (and some!) - and they deserve love and respect for their actions. Not hate. So please - do your best to be kind, even when you disagree with what is said. I struggle ... I do ... but I will keep on trying. #KeepBritanKind - here is my attempt from the weekend!
And finally - blatant plug - Thursday this week sees launch of my latest book ... somewhat surprisingly not about hedgehogs ... Here is the invite to the free event - the Beaver Book Launch Lunch! Sign up and see you there!
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