If I was pushed just to receive one journal out of the countless journals that I receive in a year then it would without a doubt be British Wildlife. So if you don't receive British Wildlife I would recommend that you take a look at this superb bi-monthly journal; well worth subscribing to.
A recent columnist in British Wildlife is Simon Barnes, but he is no stranger to wildlife journalism and I suspect is known to you all. In British Wildlife Volume
26, Number 5, June 2015 his column was about 'bioabundance', a word
that he had to make up and it was a thought provoking piece so I have
repeated it below. It's a bit lengthy but well worth reading.
We've made too much fuss about biodiversity and it;s been a tactical disaster. Not that I'm actually opposed to
biodiversity. The problem is that out natural - our naturalist -
fascination with the subject has blinded us. So, we've missed a trick.
And it might be the most important trick of all.
have established the notion that biodiversity is a wonderful thing. We
have also managed to spread the idea that biodiversity is a good thing. It's widely accepted, albeit grudgingly, that biodiversity plays some kind of role in keeping the planet functioning.
The idea of losing a species is almost universally seen as a bad thing.
Bad PR at the very least. Extinction is not something that anyone can
laugh off these days. And that's a good point well made, but is has come
at a price. That price is bioabundance.
There isn't even a word for it. I had to invent one. Take it on, use
it, I make no charge. Tell your spellchecker to accept it. Tell everyone
to accept it. Make it part of the debate, because its high time that
the concept of bioabundance played a central part in the way we think
harping on about diversity we have given the impression that
conservation is about tokenism. So long as we've still got a token
number of Pandas, a token number of Californian Condors, a token number
of White-tailed Eagles, everything is all right.
When it isn't.
year I visited a fish farm in Armenia (travelling with the World Land
Trust) and it was like 50 Minsmeres all thrown together. Above the water
was a swarm - flock is too puny a term - of Sand Martins: Sand Martins
in thousands and thousands and thousands. They were feeding on aerial
insects in invisible trillions.
is what we've lost. That is what we are continuing to lose. The
environmental crisis is not just about the extinction of species: it is
also about the crashing numbers of ordinary everyday creatures. We are
losing bioabundance and most people aren't worrying. Most people aren't
this is a matter of expectation. A young person has no memory of
childhood journeys when you stopped the car every hour or so to clean
the insects off the windscreen. No memories of seeing hundreds of
Lapwings in a field scarcely bothering to turn your head.
fall in numbers is not seen as a matter of urgent, desperate concern.
The plight of creatures on the edge of extinction grabs our attention
with much more vividness. It's a better story: and stories are the way
we understand the world.
not blaming twitchers; I'm blaming the twitching tendency within us
all. Birding information sites never tell us that there are 10,000
Black-headed Gulls at a landfill, and, if they did, most birders would
go there to pick out a Med Gull.
in us all. It's part of the way we think. We relate to individual
species. We love rarity. Above all, we take delight in the special. It's
part of being human, part of loving the wild world - and we need to get
that feeling under better control. We need to be less snobbish. We need
to speak up for the common bird, for the working insect, for rights of
horror-stories should be connected with the shocking declines in our
most visible groups, as recorded by the BTO and Butterfly Conservation.
Our most celebrated wildlife events shouldn't be a whale in the Thames
but a murmuration. We shouldn't be satisfied with a few token Corn
Buntings: we need the hedges of Britain rattling with them, the sky
singing with Skylarks, Lapwings back in the company of the dirt-common.
thought about writing a book celebrating bioabundance: Wildebeest on
the Serengeti, butterflies in the Chaco, Banded Demoiselles on the
Waveney, Spinner Dolphins off Sri Lanka, Straw-coloured Fruit Bats in
Zambia, Carmine Bee-eaters on the Luangwa River.
I didn't, because what do I say? God, I tell you there were millions of
the bloody things. Millions. Then I went somewhere else and there were
millions of something quite different... It doesn't stack up as a story
does it? It doesn't capture the imagination like a single Blue Whale or a
night-hunting Leopard. But that's our Failing. We need to work on it.
Now would be good.
start bringing the world bioabundance into our debates and our reports
and our stories and our pub conversations. Let's boast about vast clouds
of midges, endless skeins of geese, uncountable flocks of House
Sparrows (if you can still find them). Let's take up the cause of
ordinary species and turn it into something special. Let's make
And then try to get it back.
Food for thought indeed!
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