Thrashed Hedgerow : Hugh Venables
Dear Farmers Weekly,
The tragedy of losing wildlife is that up-and-coming generations don't get to see what we once took for granted. Not only do we lose the critical benefit of sharing the natural world, but the whole ecosystem of the planet is adversely affected by our inability to look after it properly.
With hedgehogs on the Endangered list it's hardly surprising people are angry. We saw them everywhere not so many years ago. I've not seen a hoverfly for 5 years and the last lacewing to pass by was beyond memory. The reasons aren't rocket science. Pesticides and herbicides are poured onto the landscape at dosages recommended by the manufacturer, who only wants to sell more of the product - he really doesn't care about the consequences beyond his legal obligation. Hedgerows are now manicured to death, literally. A healthy hedgerow (one of those rounded ones stuffed with thick, berry-laden foliage - you remember those) is a rarity these days. Instead we see rows of neatly thrashed coffin-shaped spindly plants, many too weakened to grow again. The sparse cover of those that do grow is hardly safe nesting territory and wouldn't shelter much in a rainstorm. Cut to maximum tidiness by a man earning a few quid, a feature of English landscape that is supposed to be of major importance is all but destroyed. Does the man earning a few quid care? Do you, given what this means to your kids? Maybe you've brought them up to believe that wildlife isn't that important, just to be on the safe side. I've even seen a tractor spraying a fallow field recently, and no end of spaces that were left to the wild world have suddenly been ploughed up. I don't know why. I'm not a farmer.
If this letter gets just one farmer to change minds about what really matters, and why, then hundreds if not thousands of wild things will be grateful for the consideration. Not to mention the kids growing up right now. It doesn't take long for a species to return, if it has something of itself left to replenish from. If the insects are gone, the skylark will falter, and if the hedges are bare of berries, the redwings and fieldfares won't survive. They have only so much reserve when they fly in from Scandinavia, so failing to find food makes them vulnerable. Please think, just for a moment, about how much goes on the ground and how much is destroyed that money can't ever replace. The planet needs your consideration - you're the last man standing in its defence, if you husband the land, and you can do so much for so little.
Thank you for the thought - that's what counts. And actions speak loudest of all.