Sunday, 14 June 2009

Rebuilding The Trust.

I've noticed since I came back to birding that there seems to have been a change in the way the Northumberland Wildlife Trust is viewed by some. Perceived failings in reserve management seem to have turned a number of birders away from Trust supporters and members to individuals who view them as 'liars' & 'thieves'.

This situation saddens me, I'm no longer a member myself and apart from posting news stories from them on Bird North East I have no contact, but the Wildlife Trusts are an important organisation in conservation here in the UK.

The combined Trusts manage over 2250 nature reserves covering 90,000 hectares. They are key advocates for our wildlife. They have lofty visions ' an environment rich in wildlife for everyone', something as birders, naturalists, wildlife watchers or photographers we can all appreciate, support and aspire to.

At a local level NWT has 12,000 members and manages 60 nature reserves. They take the lead role in many conservation projects across the region, inevitably they won't get everything right but does this warrant the kind of vitriol and criticism they seem to get from time to time?

I would argue not. They may well be slow to respond sometimes, even slower to take what some see as essential management action. Often their eyes may be elsewhere, focused on other projects, priorities dictated by national campaigns or 'bigger pictures' but should we stop supporting them? Are our goals not the same?

Surely it is better to work within the framework of the Trust to influence policy, change poor management practice, gain a voice through establishing 'Friends of...' groups than to stand outside and pass occasional criticism that may or may not even be seen by the people that are employed by the Trust.

Now maybe it's just the minority that are making their voices heard, maybe it's the tip of the iceberg. I do know that one thing that hasn't changed much is the tendency for birders to keep their own council, whisper in the shadows of the hide and not make their opinions public, go on prove me wrong.


Anonymous said...

You make some very valid points, just wish people thought about these things before they criticise!

Anonymous said...

Last autumn when floodwater cleared the channel at Cresswell the water levels dropped and it became attractive for passage waders which were enjoyed by visitors from close range.

Habitat attractive to birds and birders. Isnt that we all want?

Birding about Northumberland said...

90,000 hectares is a hell of a big area, people should think before they criticise others.

Stewart said...

Here here Alan, nice one.

But, I'll never forget being told by an employee of NWT, after I referred to Hauxley as an oversized golf bunker, that he didn't want too many birds there as it was overwhelming to the public! and that I was being elitist!!

Its time we cleared some of those sh** machines off the Farnes I say, far too many of them, I'm overwhelmed.

So, there are plusses and minuses on both sides.

As you say though, if it wasn't for the 'trust, what would be the alternative? You've convinced me, I'm going to rejoin...are you?

Alan Tilmouth said...

NWT acknowledge the need for short term management of the sand bar, they have recently stated that their plans are to clear it three times per annum, once in Spring and twice in Autumn. In relation to the habitat it should be managed for 'wildlife' whether that be birds, inveterbrates or plants as the situation requires. If viewing opportunities are created or can be incorporated all the better.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Yes, ill put my money where my mouth is and it wont stop me being critical in the right way if I think it's needed.

St said...

Bigger picture or securing grants.
Or been seen to do the right thing.

I'm not against the trust or it's work, but, would my money go on green work or an admin's wage.

And yes one big voice is better than a number of disjointed ones, seeking there own personal targets.

Alan Tilmouth said...

ST, securing grants is surely an important part of being able to acquire new reserves and continue to do the work they do.
As far as admin goes NWT employ 30 full time staff, it doesn't appear excessive in my opinion.