Collecting and Habitat destruction

Andrew Wood AndrewGWood at
Thu Sep 24 15:24:05 EDT 1998

I have followed this debate in its various guises overr the past couple of
years and have not contributed because there is no simple answer to the
question and any debate will be impossible to conclude because there is no
absolute right or wrong answer.   I do not collect (i.e kill) unless I trap
something in my moth trap thar is absolutely not identifiable in the nand
or is so doubtful as to be difficlt to verify/identify without detailed
examination confirmation. "Stamp collecting" of leps to me is pointless and
a waste of time  but it is not likely to be the major conservation issue of
any species unless other factors have pushed it over the edge

However one of the major reasons for a concentration on the collecting
aspects of lep conservation against habitat destruction is that it is human
nature to react to events that are easily comprehensible. In the same way
that two people killed in a car crash in your locality is bigger news than
thousands killed in a far off war so it is easier to direct anger and
activity against a man/woman and a net than against the property developer
with its millions, heavy equipment and faceless directors.  This also
manifests itself in protests regularly reported in local papers when a
dense woodland is thinned or coppiced to benefit wildlife, people see their
trees being chopped down and killed, not an improved habitat for smaller
plants and animals.  

In the UK hunting is to most people a dirty word and so it is easier to
push through legislation affecting a few people than the building of a
"necessary " relief road or a factory that is going to provide local
employment.  I do not decry such legislation as it provides publicity for
the affected species and should lead or be used to focus attention on the
real reasons for rarity. 

In last Sunday's Observer there was a half page report about the ecological
gains created by the habitat restoartion undertaken in connection with the
carving of the giant cutting through Twyford Down in the Hampshire downs
and various statements pro and against the conclusions of this report. I do
not live near there and do not know who to believe, I know a fair bit about
butterflies and habitat so how much harder is it to convince the great
majority of  lay people that a course of action is right or wrong. Many of
the best habitats near me for butterflies and other wildlife are disused
gravel pits, while the "real countryside" is barren monocultures of cereals
or oil seed rape, yet most people will want the latter preserved and the
former eradicated as thety are the scar on the landscape. 

The point of the previous paragraph is that habitat conservation is a
difficult topic to understand, stopping someone killing something isn't. 
In many cases habitat alteration and collecting are wrong but not always.

I have no firm conclusions to draw on the "great debate" of this list but
am in no doubt that what is wanted is mutual understanding and a will to
act in the interests of the environment not self interest at any level.

Andrew Wood

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