As a child I went to Burbage School. This was then a real village school. We used to go on nature walks and gather frogspawn to take back to the classroom. Every year, the school used to take part in the “Bird and tree” festival where we observed one species of bird and tree over the year. We even won a national competition! From those days I also remember hearing the curlew and pewit in the fields at Bishops Lane. But you cannot now. An acquaintance says there are no longer yellow hammers around Chapel-en-le-frith. The common house sparrow is no longer common. The call of the cuckoo can no longer be heard in Grinlow Woods in spring. Wild flowers, small mammals and butterflies are seen less often now.
I joined Buxton Field Club at the age of 7. This natural history society holds nature walks in the summer and indoor talks in the winter and I learned to love the nature on my doorstep. The records the club keeps show a decline in species. Moreover, nationally 56% of species of wildlife have declined and 15% are at risk of disappearing altogether. Climate change is affecting our weather and the distribution of plants and flowers, and urgent conservation is needed.
What can be done about the diminution of our countryside?
We can farm less intensively and preserve the margins of fields for wildlife. We can keep green belts undisturbed and mainly build on brownfield sites. We can end burning moors for grouse shooting and preserve hedgerows as corridors for wildlife. Our gardens can be oases for wildlife. The national curriculum in schools can include more nature study. Recently moves are being made nationally to bring nature back from the brink. Our countryside is being managed more for wildlife than food production. More Special Sites of Scientific Interest and marine nature reserves are being created. There are schemes to bring back the otter, water vole, polecat and wildcat. Locally I know of a farm that is given grants from Natural England to manage uplands for curlew and birds of prey. Buxton Civic Association is creating open glades in its woods to attract flowers and insects for birds. Buxton Field Club educates people about local wildlife.
But the policies of government are all important and this is where the Green Party comes in.
It is the only party that has concrete plans for wildlife conservation and is against the degradation of the planet by economic growth. It lays emphasis on slowing climate change. It campaigns for a countryside rich in nature by supporting farmers and landowners to deliver environmental benefits. Locally, the party can protest against industrial and housing developments that threaten open countryside, encourage effective recycling of our waste products and promote small-scale water, wind and solar energy generation in our economy.
What economic price can be put on seeing a delicate wild flower or hearing a familiar bird song? We need a national transformation of our political system and the Green Party only leads the way!