“All my life I have found reassurance in the countryside; have found sorrows and anxieties benefiting from a walk through a meadow. Something to take my mind off its particular worry, as refreshing and restoring as a cool drink on a hot day.” ~C.R.Milne
Over the past few weeks I have been busy organising a boat trip down the Tidal Thames to showcase Estuary Edges sites to waterside developers. We boarded the boat at Westminster and disembarked at Greenwich.
“What are the Estuary Edges sites?” I hear you cry.. Well strap in. You’re about to find out.
Replacing the harsh concrete, brick and metal tidal walls with lush green reed beds and a variety of habitats is what the Estuary Edges project is all about. Estuary Edges is a ‘how to’ guide on ecological design for softening these ‘edges’ to encourage wildlife into urban estuaries (fish, plants, invertebrates, birds – the list goes on). Sadly, within the Thames, only around 2% of the edges are natural. Increasing the habitat along the edges will have a significant positive ecological impact on plants, invertebrates, fish and birds.
The boat trip, I’m happy to announce, was a complete success! We had 50 people attend and the boat itself was gurt lush. We were even lucky enough to see a Grey Seal! I have a few upcoming meetings with developers who now have an interest in implementing these awesome habitats – yaaaaay! Blimey I love my job…
Picture this; You’ve finished work at the office. You’re tired. You’re in London and you need fresh air and a jolly good ‘earthing’. By which I mean ground yourself back to nature…. Nothing cheeky…. Naughty.
Well I may have your solution here; Hyde Park I truly believe is not hyped about enough. This is an utterly gorgeous spot, splat bang in the centre of London and a space where wildlife flocks to!
Within half an hour I had spotted Canada geese, Shag (cheeky..), Moorhen and Coot in the bird department (otherwise known as the lake). But the real head turner for me was seeing hundreds (maybe thousands, but you know… Didn’t stop to count!) of honey bees (Apis) busy buzzing around the lambs ear plant (Stachys byzantina) IN CENTRAL LONDON! I was so excited I had to sit down with a cup of tea…
The Royal Parks certainly look after this space and the wildlife appears to be extremely well catered for – which I just love and is so important with a third of all species currently in critical decline.
The walled garden is particularly lovely too, if scented flowers float your boat.
So go and check it out for yourself, if you haven’t already. I’m now beginning to see why London is this month becoming the first ever National Park City.
There we go! A positive post. B.E.A.Utiful.
There is literally nothing nature related in this post at all. Bit weird.
Today is my birthday. How do I feel about it? Bit depressed to be honest. I’m not being ungrateful – I’ve got the best group of friends around me and my parents phoned me up and all, but…
This is my first birthday I’ve spent mostly on my own and in London (*violins play). Birthday’s just aren’t as exciting when you get older, are they. Does not getting excited about my birthday mean that I’m getting old? Have I officially got to start cooing at babies, wearing trousers that come up to my neck (with a belt) and drive with my car seat so far forward that my knees are driven into my chin? Furthermore; make jam and actually enjoy an episode of Gardeners World?…
It hasn’t been a brilliant build-up to my birthday either. Over the past month I’ve been in and out of hospital. Not fun at all. Turns out you cant just ignore symptoms of a UTI because if you do, they swiftly turn into a kidney infection and here I am… Yes it does hurt. Nothing some strong antibiotics and some (bloody great) pain killers won’t sort out though. Whilst sat waiting in A&E last night (after I keeled over whilst carrying out fish surveys in the river Thames – cue fish puns), I got asked to be in the new series of Channel 4’s 24 hours in A&E. So not only was I crippled over in pain, clutching my right kidney, I was also microphoned-up and filmed for peoples entertainment… Weeeell, someone may as well get some enjoyment out of my pain, aye?
So all in all… Life has truly gone off the scale at the moment. Privileged pain, oh I’m aware of that.. But fucking weird nonetheless.
Cheers to potpourri, Homes Under the Hammer and kidneys. I’m officially 23… (And we laaaaughed and laaaaughed)
Bloody well get on with it, Tooby.
Rewilding. A hot term currently being thrown about a lot. But what does it mean? Read on to get clued up on the ‘hot’ topic of the year. And yes, global warming is very much a part of it.
Rewilding means restoring and encouraging more of, our depleted natural spaces.
Carbon dixoide will have to be removed from the atmosphere for us to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. It is already causing problems on a vast scale; Animal populations have decreased by 60% since 1970 alone! And if that isn’t truly terrifying enough, this statistic suggests that a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is under way.
Not only do trees and plants provide vital habitat for animals, these clever clogs also suck carbon dioxide from the air as they grow – pretty amazing stuff, aye?
Can you guess where this is going?…
There are two increasingly big existential crises that threaten the world. First is the climate breakdown and second is ecological breakdown. Neither of these frightening occurrences are being dealt with with the urgency needed to prevent our life-support systems from collapsing.
“We are championing a thrilling but neglected approach to averting climate chaos while defending the living world: natural climate solutions. Defending the living world and defending the climate are, in many cases, one and the same.”
A decade of ecosystem restoration was announced at the start of March by the United Nations.
“The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment,” said Joyce Msuya, the head of the UN Environment Programme. “Nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”
Recently published research indicates that about a third of the greenhouse gas reductions needed by 2030 can be provided by the restoration of natural habitats (rewilding). Blooming marvelous if you ask me – BUT such positive solutions have only attracted just 2.5% of the funding for tackling emissions. Come on now….. Let nature help us. Let us help nature.
I consider myself to be a relatively positive person however, lately all I can think about is how our current actions are seriously detrimental to the worlds natural places. How awful that is. I am certain that if you were to do a poll on how much we value and enjoy our natural spaces, wherever you are in the world, that a majority of us would agree they need protection. Wild places are proven to be incredibly beneficial to both our mental and physical health! So why do we pretermit when it comes to joining hands and efforts and looking after these marvelous habitats? I say habitats because one MUST NOT forget the importance of these spaces to the rest of the worlds inhabitants such as the wildlife that thrives in them. I believe it is crucial at this point in the post to point out the incredible efforts of organisations and individuals who already work tirelessly to protect these habitats. Their work is invaluable. A joined up approach i.e. a collaboration of efforts is going to have to be the way forward in the future, in order to make change.
Air pollution, litter, oil, building, plastic. These are just a few examples of how we are causing harm to the environment. Building I am aware is a risky subject to bring up. Although I am currently living in London, my home is rural Devon, being born and raised there. Over the years I have suffered in seeing the natural spaces I hold so dear to me being unruly destroyed. Housing estates popping up next to the beautifully wild habitats that sit opposite rivers. I do not mean this in any elitist way, for I understand that many people are still suffering without homes and more AFFORDABLE homes are needed. But the homes I see being built everyday in the area I was so privileged to grow up in are by no normal citizen’s means, affordable. Most starting upwards of £350,000. I am also very much aware that Devon is considered a highly desirable place to live, but let me tell you that if all these areas are to be developed as quickly as they currently are being, Devon will not be a desirable place to live. I use Devon as an example, yet I am aware this is happening all over England.
We need/have to act now to make a difference. Species richness across all corners of the UK is in critical decline – 44 million birds have disappeared from the UK countryside since 1966!! Staggering. Frightening.
So what can we individually do to help?
- Build ponds, whether it be a washing up bowl on the patio with rocks in (so the wildlife doesn’t drown), or a big sunken pond in a space you have available. Ponds are possible with or without a garden and are hugely beneficial to numerous species.
- Encourage your local council to stop mowing the wild flower verges and cutting down trees in towns.
- Encourage children to get involved – we need the next generation to put the environment first. Gardening and bug hunts are a great way to get kids involved with nature.
- Build a hedgehog home or bird box!
- Get involved with, or organise your own beach cleans, woodland cleans and clear-ups.
- Campaign! The Wildlife Trusts currently have a #WIlderFuture campaign – link: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wilder-future
If we all work together, we have a chance. So let’s get on with it.
Video I recommend watching (have some tissues present…):
Cool morning out and about on the Thames Estuary doing some site visits for the Thames Monitoring Project. I likey like.
I also learned today that you can get married on The London Eye! You say your wedding vows whilst going up, kiss at the top and then it’s all down hill from there…..
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
Shout out to my 82 year old Grandma who has recently conquered the art of emojis… damn right…. she bought herself an IPad… Legend.
The Morrison government in Australia has formally recognised the extinction of a small island rodent, the Bramble Cay melomys. The first known demise of a mammal because of human-induced climate change. Disgusting news.
It’s not a big, iconic or ‘sexy’ species and therefore it won’t get much coverage in the media. But hold on to your hats, because guys this is seriously important.
Image credit: Queensland Government
The limited range of the animal, living on a five-hectare island less than three meters high, left it vulnerable to climate change. However, its 2008 so called “recovery plan”, drawn up when numbers were likely down to just dozens of individuals, downplayed the imminent and eventual risks.
“The likely consequences of climate change, including sea-level rise and increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, are unlikely to have any major impact on the survival of the Bramble Cay melomys in the life of this plan,” the five-year scheme stated.
And we laaaaughed and laughed (OR NOT!!!)…..
The federal policy director for the Wilderness Society, Tim Beshara, said preparation for the plan was limited, and it was never reviewed at its completion in 2013 – but why the hell not?!
“The Bramble Cay melomys was a little brown rat,” Mr Beshara said. “But it was our little brown rat and it was our responsibility to make sure it persisted. And we failed.”
Call me a pessimist, but my gut tells me this will be the first of many species to go extinct due to our undiscriminating behavior. We seriously need to buckle up and push our conservation efforts forward, with a more COLLABORATIVE approach. Easier said then done with little government backing, I’m aware…
I was reading a recent BBC news article earlier today about the desperate situation at Maya Beach in Thailand. A once idyllic and flourishing beach that became littered and ecologically damaged due to it being a popular tourist destination. A huge increase in tourists was subsequent to the filming at Maya Beach of the feature film ‘The Beach’ during the mid 90’s. A huge conservation effort, including a total shutdown of the beach itself and the surrounding bay, has lead to the local ecology starting to recover. Yay!
But this got me thinking… (always dangerous..)
Perhaps the Maya Beach recovery is a sign that Thailand is turning a page in its effort to preserve its precious natural resources. But for a nation so dependent on tourists and their cash, it could also just be proof of how grim a situation has to get before enforced action to help the local biodiversity. The total area experiencing coral reef damage in Thailand has increased from 30% to 77% in just one decade! Staggering.
Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine scientist from Kasetsart University (who studied Maya Bay and the area for 40 years and was hired by the ministry to survey the environmental damage and lead the rehabilitation) blames polluted water (most often released by beachfront hotels) and plastic waste dumped into the ocean as the main causes of damage to coral reefs in this area.
Figure.1. This satellite image shows the huge conservation efforts put in place to save Maya Beach and the wildlife that inhabits there.
Globally, coral reef health is declining at an unprecedented rate and tourism plays its part in this. So in the spirit of this article, I feel it necessary to highlight the need for better responsible tourism at vulnerable habitat spots and I cant help but feel this boils down to three key things. Education, research and of course, funding.
Information source and BBC news article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/the_beach_nobody_can_touch