Last chance to save Europe’s nature protection laws

wildflowers along the John Muir Walkway, Musselburgh

You may have noticed the Nature Alert campaign on social media. This is a vital campaign, run jointly by a large number of environmental organisations, to prevent the European Union (EU) from watering down the vital directives that protect our wildlife and countryside. We need these directives particularly these days when the UK government seems not to care for or understand anything about the environment (just yesterday for example, the UK government overturned the ban on neonicitinoids, the bee–killing pesticides).

The EU Birds Directive adopted in the 1970s, and the Habitats Directive adopted in the 1990s are currently subject to the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme (REFIT), which aims to simplify EU law and reduce costs.  European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising (read weakening) the Directives in the belief that weaker protection for wildlife would be good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife.

Before this campaign, many people in the UK are unaware of these directives or Natura 2000, which is a great shame, it is at one and the same time the most important legislation protecting sites important for wildlife conservation in the UK and, arguably, the best thing about the European Union (EU).

Nature isn’t only valuable for its own sake, it’s vital in helping the world function – providing us with drinking water, irrigation and pollination for our food crops. Spending time in nature is increasingly being shown to be good for our physical and mental health. So nature is vital and neccessary and we should be strengthening the laws that protect it, not dismantling them.

Conservation organisations in the UK and across Europe are asking the general public to demonstrate their support for these vital pieces of legislation. You can find out more and sign up on the Woodland Trust website.

But remember, today is your last chance to make your voice heard!

Water of Leith at Colinton Dell, Edinburgh

More about Natura 2000

Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. These areas include nature reserves and privately owned areas. The directives require member States to take measures designed to maintain or restore certain natural habitats and wild species at a favourable conservation status. The emphasis is on ensuring that the areas are managed in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Natura 2000 aims to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which they designate under the 1979 Birds Directive. SPAs requires Member States to take sufficient measures (legal minefield) to preserve sufficient diversity of habitats for all species of wild birds naturally occurring within the territories.

Natura 2000 also fulfils a European Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

early bumblebee on knapweed

This post is crpss posted from Crafty Green poet and earlier versions appeared here and here.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more. 

Save Cammo Fields

I’m no longer regularly posting to this blog, but this is important.

This green field is now likely to become housing…..

It is a sad day when Edinburgh City Council allows developers to put in a planning application for the fields at Cammo.

Cramond and Harthill Estate have applied to build 670 houses on an agricultural field at Cammo. A field that is home to yellowhammerstree sparrows, linnets, all of which are both red listed in the UK (ie of special conservation concern) and mentioned specifically in the seed eating birds section of the Edinburgh Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP)), reed buntings (which are amber listed in the UK, as being of moderate conservation concern and mentioned specifically in the seed eating birds section of the Edinburgh LBAP) skylarks (red listed in the UK, though not specifically mentioned in the Edinburgh LBAP and, in the winter fieldfares (which are red listed in the UK but not mentioned specifically in the Edinburgh LBAP).

Edinburgh City Council claims that it takes the LBAP into account when deciding which land to release for development. If that is the case, why are they even thinking of building on this field? Brownfield sites should be developed before greenbelt land is even considered for development. Also housing should be prioritised over for example new supermarkets and empty shops and commercial buildings could be redeveloped as housing in many instances.

In addition to the devastating impact on the local birdlife, any development of this field would:

lead to gridlock in the surrounding streets (where traffic is already at standstill for large parts of the day)
destroy the rural feel of the area
destroy the buffer zone between the built up area and Cammo Country Park, and
draw developers to thinking about developing the other fields in the area.

The application may be viewed at Planning and Building Standards, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh between 8.30am – 5pm Mondays – Thursdays, and 8.30 – 3.40 on Fridays. Or viewed electronically through the Planning online services .

Comments can be made on the application either:
a) in writing to the address above
b) online through the Planning online services using the application reference number 14/01776/PPP

Comments must be made by 29 May 2014. Please comment if you can, these fields should not be developed. If you already made comments at the pre-application stage, you will need to make comments to the council on this application if you wish them to take them into account.

Bougainvillea Dancing now available to download

I taught sciences in Malawi between 1990 – 1992 as a VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) volunteer. My first poetry pamphlet Bougainvillea Dancing, published 2002, raised money for charities working in Malawi. The original pamphlet is sold out now, but I was delighted that Chris Crittenden  reviewed it recently on Owl Who Laughs.

Most of the poems in Bougainvillea Dancing focussed on Africa, but many of them were unrelated to that continent. I’ve just put together an updated version of the pamphlet, removing all the poems unrelated to Africa and adding in more poems on African topics, plus a couple of prose pieces and some photos. This is now available as a pdf to download from Lulu or as a pdf to download from the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. The book costs £5.

(If you don’t want to shop via Lulu or Etsy, you can buy the book directly from me, and either pay:

a) via Paypal

b) by cheque if you’re in the UK.

Please email me juliet.m.wilsonATgmailDOTcom for more details.

10% of proceeds from this publication will go to VSO for their work in Africa.

VSO’s programme in Malawi concentrates on HIV and AIDS, health and social wellbeing, secure livelihoods (food security) and education in seven rural and remote districts. The districts were chosen due to their excessive poverty levels, high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, and low involvement of other international charities.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

This is my last post on this blog. I will continue to post regularly on Crafty Green Poet.

 

Green Books 3: Paper vs E-reader

It’s one of the hot topics for many people who love reading – to buy an e-reader or not.

I admit – I love books. Real books with paper pages. Plus I’m not a gadget person – I don’t even have a mobile phone. I can’t imagine using an e-reader but I do want to find out whether my old fashioned attitude is environmentally damaging or not!

Comparing the environmental impact of e-readers and books is tricky. Most companies aren’t exactly transparent about the environmental impact of their e-readers for a start!

Measuring the carbon footprint at the consumer end is relatively easy, though statistics I’ve read vary from 10 – 100 books being the number you need to read on an e-reader to reduce its carbon footprint to below that of new paperback books. So, if you read a lot it you can reduce your carbon footprint by buying an e-reader as long as you aren’t tempted to upgrade it too often.

But environmental impact is about much more than carbon footprint.

What about production methods? E-readers contain coltan – a controversial mineral that is linked to environmental and social injustices including fuelling conflict in the Congo.

What about e-waste? Tonnes of computers, mobile phones and (in the near future, e-readers) are discarded every year, filling large landfill sites often in the developing world where thousands of people are employed to extract the valuable minerals with great hazards to their health. Yes this is recycling, but with unacceptable side effects.

In most comparisons between e-readers and books, the paper books used for the comparison are new books made with paper from virgin pulp. Publishers are slowly moving towards using more recycled paper in their books, which reduces the environmental impact of new books. And if you read library books or buy second hand books then you are reusing books – a very environmentally friendly activity.

For more information:

Ecolibris has a good list of links on this topic and an article on how to green your e-book reading.

Centre for Alternative Technology’s analysis of the environmental impact of a new paperback book.

Wikipedia page on e-waste.

Information on the film Blood in the Mobile about the environmental and social impact of coltan mining.

(This series of posts is based on a similar series I wrote for Brighton Blogger in 2012).

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can read more.

Save Cammo Fields

A farmfield where skylarks sing 

or a load of houses?

If you care about Edinburgh’s Greenbelt, please take time to object to the plans (lower photo) that City of Edinburgh Council are thinking about considering for the field (top photo) that is currently home to several important bird species.

The City of Edinburgh Council claims to consider the Local Biological Diversity Action Plan (LBAP) when making planning decisions. If that is really true then why are they even thinking about building houses on this field which is home to 4 species of birds specifically mentioned in the LBAP (tree sparrow, yellowhammer, reed bunting and linnet) and to two other species (skylark and, in winter, fieldfare) that are red listed as being of being priority conservation need in the UK ? 

A pre-planning application exhibition is currently showing at Cramond Kirk Halls today and tomorrow. Please go along if you can and add your voice to the protest.This is still at the pre-planning application stage, we can still stop it, but everyone needs to add their voice.

Before we even think of building on biodiversity rich green spaces, we should build on brownfield sites and bring empty homes and other abandoned buildings back into use.  

If you can’t attend the exhibition, you can contact the developers directly. You can also write to your Edinburgh councillor (whichever area of the city you live in) and write to the Edinburgh Evening News and to other relevant publications. If you live in the Cammo area, you can join Cammo Residents Association in their fight against this inappropriate development (they’re on Facebook and Twitter too). .

I have written to the Edinburgh Evening News and to the members of City of Edinburgh’s Planning Committee. You can read the text of my letter and a list I compiled of the committee members email addresses.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Insights and Ideas: Commonwealth Connections

Yesterday’s Insights and Ideas Cafe co-hosted by Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland was on the theme of Commonwealth Connections to fit in with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Culture Programme.

The first speaker was the novelist Louise Welsh, who outlined the Empire Cafe project she’s set up with architect Jude Barbor. The Café  will open in the Briggait in Glasgow’s Merchant City from 24 July  to 1 August to coincide with Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games. The café will host debates, literary readings, films, art installations and discussions on the theme of Scotland and slavery. Refreshments will be based on products connected to the slave trade, such as Jamaican ginger cake. An anthology featuring contributions from leading Scottish and Caribbean poets has been compiled to be given to customers.

Next Svend Brown talked about the Big Big Sing project, which aims to get people taking part in group singing events across the UK. There is a lot of evidence about how singing is good for physical and mental health and this project aims to tie in with the fact that Glasgow does very poorly in a lot of health related statistics. To celebrate Commonwealth connections, the project is putting together an online Commonwealth songbook. You can find out what’s on in your area here.

After a break for tea, cookies and discussion, Jenny Crowe talked about the Generation Project (website coming soon) which will celebrate 25 years of Scottish Contemporary Art in through curated exhibitions, showcasing the work of over 130 artists, in 60 art galleries across Scotland. These shows are designed to make contemporary art more accessible, particularly to young people, and to stimulate thought about how contemporary art is changing with new technologies.

Finally, Drew Taylor spoke about 44 Stories, a piece of dance theatre based on the fact that of all the countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal, 44 of them are members of the Commonwealth and are competing in the Commonwealth Games. There was some discussion about how this fact is one of the legacies of the colonial rule imposed by Britain in the days of Empire. The show will be happening in the Arches in Glasgow, though I don’t have a note of the dates!

The event got me thinking about my own Commonwealth links and how I could celebrate them. I have three items from Commonwealth countries in the vintage section of the CraftyGreenPoet Etsy shop and I recently posted a poem inspired by Malawian art on one of my other blogs, and I’m thinking of producing an updated version of my Malawian inspired first poetry pamphlet in an ebook format.

Are you celebrating Commonwealth Connections at all?

The next Insights and Ideas Cafe will be 1 May and the theme will be the Festival of Museums.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Green Books 2: Greening the Publishing Industry

In my last post about Green Books, I looked at how individuals can share books and cut down on the carbon footprint of their reading habits. In this post, I’ll discuss what the publishing industry is doing.

More than 30 million trees are cut down every year to make books in the USA. Currently under 10% of the paper used in the US book publishing industry comes from recycled sources*.

Eco-Libris aims to reduce the carbon footprint of reading. You can read a lot about the publishing industry’s attempts to become greener on their website here. The Eco-Libris blog discusses taking a greener approach to printing and publishing.

Eco-Libris work on many different levels. They collaborate with book clubs, book shops, publishers and authors, encourage people and companies to plant trees and educate readers about the carbon footprint of their books.

Some individual publishers take a sustainable approach to the environment. Two Ravens Press for example, operating in the Scottish islands, focuses on publishing contemporary books about nature and the environment and has a robust environmental policy (though it is varely mentioned on their website).

If you review books, you can mention the environmental criteria of the books you review (This is something I always intend to do when I review books on my Crafty Green Poet blog, but as yet, don’t regularly do!).

If you have a publisher then discuss environmental issues with them! They may not be able to do much, but at least you’ve raised their awareness of the issues. If you’re self publishing, look for a local print company and ask them about their environmental policies. More and more printing companies have environmental policies these days, which should cover things such as using recycled paper and environmentally friendly inks.

In my next post, I’ll compare E-readers vs Paper Books in terms of environmental impact.

(This series of posts is based on a similar series i wrote for Brighton Blogger in 2012).

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can read more.

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