Wildlife trust:

A ral­ly­ing cry from Nor­folk Wildlife Trust evan­ge­list Nick Acheson

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - nor­folk­wildlifetr­ust.org.uk

An im­pas­sioned plea to fight on from Nick Acheson

Iam not good at au­tumn. The dizzy­ing splen­dour of May - when each blos­som-laden hawthorn pulses with the song of chaffinch and whitethroa­t – the end­less days of June, these are my habi­tat. For I be­long in the light. Au­tumn, moody and grey, when a mo­ment’s day­light is shaved from each pass­ing day, when the robin’s song tells of brief, cold, gloomy days ahead; au­tumn is a time of sad­ness to me.

The geese come, bring­ing the shrill gos­sip of the tun­dra, and the scot­ers gather on the frigid surf, and I love them – re­ally I do – but my heart longs for the hope­ful days of spring.

Even were it not au­tumn, my year’s nadir, there would be scant cause for hope. The Ama­zon is aflame, its mil­len­nial riches, its cli­mate-reg­u­lat­ing benef­i­cence, torched. Last sum­mer saw record ice melt in Green­land, the world’s sec­ond largest ice-sheet haem­or­rhag­ing into the ris­ing sea. But hope we must. For with­out hope there is no fight in us. And fight­ing is needed now more than at any time since hu­man­ity first stum­bled across the dust of this green, blue, boun­teous planet.

Last sum­mer it was my priv­i­lege to host an event at NWT Cley and Salt­house Marshes with Nor­folk’s won­der­ful au­thor Si­mon Barnes. Asked how he re­sponded to the eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal catas­tro­phe we have un­leashed, I was struck by the words with which he replied: “I pre­fer to think like Be­owulf. Be­owulf was the An­glo-Saxon hero who slew Gren­del and saved the world. He then did it all again when he took on Gren­del’s still more fear­some mother.

“But after that came the dragon. Be­owulf went into his fight against the dragon, know­ing he was go­ing to lose. But that didn’t stop him, not for one minute, be­cause he knew that win­ning and los­ing are not what mat­ters. What does mat­ter is fight­ing on the right side.”

The time has come for sides. And I will fight on the side of bio­di­ver­sity. I will fight on the side of our chil­dren and our chil­dren’s chil­dren, and their right to walk bare­foot among but­ter­flies and flow­ers, to chase

fall­ing au­tumn leaves and swim in bright streams among stick­le­backs and min­nows.

I am not, by any means, an afi­cionado of Tolkein. I see so much won­der, so much wild magic in the flesh-made world – in the shy flit of pur­ple hairstreak­s about the leath­ery leaves of oak, in the ocean-span­ning glide of gan­nets – that I do not need to dwell in other worlds.

But in my rite-of-pas­sage read­ing of The Lord of the Rings, many years ago, I was taken by the words of El­rond, who saw that it fell to a small, scared hob­bit to un­der­take the most per­ilous jour­ney of all: ‘Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them be­cause they must, while the eyes of the great are else­where.’

The jour­ney ahead of us is per­ilous. Hu­man­ity has never placed so great a strain on the chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal re­sources of the planet that is our only home. Nor have we ever pushed so many of our co-denizens so close to erad­i­ca­tion.

Yet in spite of the peril, we must fight, fight as never be­fore, for what is right. And, if we can­not de­pend on the great to fight for us (and heaven knows they have failed us in this re­gard), we small hob­bits must each take up the fight our­selves.

This is the time for per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. This is the time for self-ques­tion­ing. Are my ac­tions sus­tain­able? My food? My cloth­ing? My house? Is my money in­vested where it will do harm or do good?

Do I give as much as I can af­ford, in time, in money, in moral sup­port, to the fight? Am I tak­ing from the fu­ture, from my chil­dren, my chil­dren’s chil­dren, and the off­spring of the furtive dun­nock in the gar­den? Have I worn the fight on my sleeve and done ev­ery­thing I can to alert my col­leagues and friends to the dark­ness draw­ing in on all sides?

For we walk through the val­ley of the shadow of death and it is up to us – ev­ery oxy­gen-breath­ing one of us – to turn back to the light, to de­mand that our species’ fu­ture is wild, healthy and free, and blessed with the sor­row­ful bur­ble of curlews, and the breathy tum­ble of lap­wings over the spring marsh.

For one, I de­mand with all my be­ing that it be so.

Photo: David Ti­pling

ABOVE: Fallen leaves cov­ered in frost at Wood­wal­ton Fen

Photo: David Ti­pling

RIGHT: Oak wood­land at dawn

Photo: David Ti­pling

ABOVE: Dun­nock ju­ve­nile in gar­den

Pink-footed Geese in north Nor­folk win­ter

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