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Spring is sprung but for how long ?

Posted: Wednesday 22nd May 2013 by TimBirch

Singing Robin by Tim BirchSinging Robin by Tim Birch

When you get out into Spring the wow factor just hits you in the face. The colours seem overwhelming. If, like me, you have not seen Spring for a few years in the UK through living overseas the riot of colour almost seems unreal – the new green growth, that shimmering blue of the bluebells, the white carpet of wild garlic stretching as far as you can see...

On top of all this is the sound track of Spring – blackbirds, robins, song thrushes, great tits with the added chorus of Africa thrown in from our migrants such as willow warblers, redstarts, pied flycatchers and blackcaps to name but a few.

Nothing quite compares to Spring in the UK and having travelled extensively and lived abroad for nearly 15 years I can tell you it is so great to be back to watch Spring unfold -even if it was later than usual. You just do not get the Spring experience in places like Australia although occasionally floods can lead to an explosion of colour in the outback when rains wake up the brown earth and you get extraordinary but short-lived blooms of flowers.

The awakening of the natural world after the long sleep of winter is an extraordinary and precious thing. But the question that troubles me is how long will this continue for. The release today of the national report on the State of Nature in the UK compiled by many organisations including the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts spells out the real and immediate threats to nature in the UK and reading it can be a bit overwhelming.

Birds, butterflies, wildflowers, moths and bees, for example, are all showing significant declines. There are a whole variety of reasons for this including climate change, habitat loss, intensive agriculture and ongoing development. On top of this is what is happening to the environment in those African countries where many of our much-loved migrant birds come from.

At times you think this is all too much. But I am an optimist and I look at the work of the Wildlife Trusts and the millions of people that support wildlife and nature organisations in the UK and you have to think that we can turn this around. The enthusiasm of people in the UK for their wildlife is truly astonishing and working overseas and coming back to see this at first hand is really encouraging. I can think of few countries around the world who love their wildlife as much as we do in the UK. The Wildlife Trusts are on a mission to bring nature back into our lives on a grand scale – this is the Living Landscapes approach.

Having just visited my local wildlife site near where I am living in Stockport at the moment – a wonderful ancient woodland right on the edge of large urban sprawl – I realise just how important these natural gems are and how we need to ensure these areas are protected for the long term as well as working to ensure we restore more areas as quickly as possible to their former natural glory. With the help of more and more people to do this I can not think of a more important job. Let’s hope the sights and soundtrack of Spring is a natural wonder that my kids and grandchildren will continue to enjoy – to not have this would be unthinkable.

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