Whatever your political stance, it's something of a relief that the election is (finally) over.
Whilst working towards a complete review of Natural England's licensing system, I have been determined to keep the campaign apolitical, for me politics should play no part in the appreciation and conservation of wildlife. I use the term conservation carefully, I don't refer to the organised management of our wildlife and countryside but the personal responsibility each and every one of us has to protect whatever life we are fortunate enough to encounter in our own small piece of the planet.
I am lucky enough to live in a place where wildlife is abundant. It wasn't always the case. Until recently I was firmly stuck in suburbia, like many of us this was out of practical necessity, it was where the work was. But even there in the concrete jungle I did my best to conserve what little wildlife managed to survive. In the hostile urban environment, there were few birds and little hope for the long term survival of the last remaining hedgehogs and foxes that once co-existed with the human population. A huge increase in motor vehicles, and fads such as plastic grass and concrete gardens, has resulted in the demise of a vast number of species. A recent frenzied obsession with clean lines and sterile environments has led to contempt for trees that once provided food and shelter for urban wildlife and there has developed a disturbing intolerance of wildlife.
In the hostile places that our towns and cities have become, still there exist many wonderful people who help struggling wildlife. Good people who feel obligated to offer help to a wounded pigeon, a hedgehog wandering too close to a road, even a snail on the pavement. It's a life, every bit as fragile as the life each of us leads in this perilous world, and to offer kindness when the opportunity is there is simply 'the right thing' to do.
Now, I am blessed to live in the countryside. Wildlife abounds and it is wonderful. But I'm still very aware that the future survival of birds and animals in this once green and pleasant land is threatened. Mostly by human activity but also a shocking disregard for nature that really is irrational given that we are a part of the natural web of life - and rely on it for our own survival.
So, anyway, my point I suppose is that this concern for the environment - and most of all our obligation to be kind to other creatures (and each other) - transcends political bias. It has to be entirely detached from politics.
Keeping politics out of conservation
Which is why I have not allowed the campaign to be influenced by political opinion, though many (very many) have tried to use the aims of the campaign for political ends. While I appreciate the support of people across all political beliefs, this campaign is not about the politics of one party or another. It is about the individual responsibility each and every one of us has to each and every creature with which we share the world.
Of course changing the law does often require political intervention, and I am very aware of the need to engage with politicians - as I have been doing - regardless of their politics. I have sometimes had to negotiate with those whose ideologies I find difficult to comprehend - but it is necessary to do this in order to bring about change in the law. I have been somewhat disheartened and frustrated that there are many people who have sought to hijack my concerns about wildlife persecution to justify their political agendas. Caring about nature and wildlife is not political, it is an individual responsibility that we should all have, to be kind and compassionate, regardless - and in spite of - politics.
A better deal for wildlife - whoever is running the country
Whichever political party had won this very strange election, I would have been required to work with them for the benefit of the country's wildlife. And now that we finally have a result, the campaign goes on.
I know that there will be those vociferous in their disappointment at the result of this election, just as there will be many others who are rejoicing.
I have my own political opinions but I don't share them, they are not a part of the campaign and never have been - and I won't rant on about the conservatives or labour because really it doesn't matter one jot to the birds does it?
In the wider, natural world it is irrelevant. My job is to negotiate a better deal for wildlife, whoever is running the country.
I hope we can leave politics behind us now and get on with the job of overhauling the licensing system so that it is transparent, accountable and ultimately more compassionate.
Individual responsibility in challenging unkindness
It is about individual responsibility.
It is the job of each of us to be kind and compassionate. If we see injustice or unkindness then we should challenge it. Take a stance.
Of course we might disagree with political opinion, but instead of complaining we should campaign for change, be willing to sit down and talk with those who have a different opinion, find common ground and try to work towards a goal.
Be civil. Be human. And most of all be kind.
Because your actions reflect what is in your heart.
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