Brendan Joyce, CEO Norfolk Wildlife Trust
As we all emerge from the Christmas break like hibernating animals, shaking off the all too common common cold - which I swear seems to be lasting longer than it used to - and considering the reality of our well intended New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would do a bit of crystal ball gazing into the year ahead.
The first thing I see is not so good I am afraid. It is the annual risk we face of more sea flooding at Cley and possibly elsewhere and I always think of the next two or three months as the danger zone. This time last year we were in complete lock down at Cley, partly due to the December flooding but also the tragic US air force helicopter accident which claimed the lives of Staff Sgt Afton Ponce, Capt. Christopher Stover, Technical Sgt Dale Matthews and Capt. Sean Ruane. But we recovered from the floods and have achieved great strides there since. I have no doubt that if we do have further storm surges this year, and I hope we don’t, we will once again recover.
|Bittern, photo by Liz Dack|
Now I see the general election results… I can’t quite make out which victorious face it is standing outside Number 10, but I do sense that there will be a renewed effort towards the conservation and protection of our fragile wildlife and the environment. Why? Because it has to happen and nature itself will force our hand.
Perhaps it is understandable, predictable even, that concern for the environment would slip down the political agenda, as it most certainly has, due to the economic problems that have affected every nation and most individuals. We tend to put our own short term economic welfare and wellbeing on a higher priority than other concerns, such as welfare, poverty and health, and especially environmental health and sustainability. But we must also realise, and history informs us, that this is folly, even more so in the light of the overwhelming proof of climate change, however caused, which threatens not our planet, but our own existence on it. You just have to look at the mounting and irrefutable evidence of our impact on the atmosphere, natural resources, ecosystems and individual species. It is compelling and deeply unpalatable. But I sense that this is the year when we will see a major re-emergence of individual and political concern for the environment and a growing acceptance that our own health and wellbeing and that of future generations is best served by placing the environment at the centre of policy and sustainable development, not as an afterthought. And this does not mean a return to the stone age or a blockage to progress, but investment in new technologies and new economic possibilities.
|Stonechat watching people at Cley, photo by Pauline Greenwood|
|Natterjack toad, photo by Karl Charters|