Symbolism in the air ….. the belated Green Man

 He is made one with Nature: ………

He is a presence to be felt and known.
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
Spreading itself where’er that Power may move
… Which wields the world with never-wearied love,
Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above.

from Adonais Percy Shelley

 

 

The words of Shelley back in 1821, encapsulate how the ‘Green Man’ as a symbol of nature’s processes, gives us loads (indeed underpins human and all other life on earth) ….. but what to we give in return?  We can see a parallel between the ‘Green Man’ and naturegain, in this context ….

The blues and the Green Man

Is that music I hear? or symbolism in the air?

Has anyone noticed how the ‘Green Man’ has been unusually cool this year?

green man1OK, so some people always see the ‘Green Man’ as ‘cool’,  but when he is physically cooler during his rebirth in spring than during his ‘death’ over winter, something weird is happening .……

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And weird for the ‘Green Man’ as a symbol has very real implications in other colours in the natural world. Have you noticed how late the bluebells have been? ….. they’re pretty much in full flow as I write this now, but the late ‘Green Man’ re-lates to late in blue and April was less blue than usual (– but perhaps more full of the blues for those who love the warmth that usually comes with spring??!).  Looking at why takes us back to my opening lines …….

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What has the Thames ever done for us?

Rivers provide us with many ecosystem services.  Chris Williams, the Marine Socio-Economics Coordinator at the new economics foundation, has produced a factsheet about the Thames.  Click the image to open the file; here is an extract…

  • Thames ecosystemsProvisioning services: we obtain products from ecosystems such as food, fibre and medicines; fish and shellfish in the case of the Thames.
  • Regulating services: we benefit from the results of ecosystem processes such as water purification, air quality maintenance and climate regulation, the Thames estuary plays a key part on those services.
  • Cultural services: we gain non- material benefits from our interaction with the natural environment such as education and wellbeing, the Thames provides a sense of history, a place to learn and to enjoy
  • Supporting services: functions that are necessary for the production of other ecosystem services from which we benefit, such as soil formation and nutrient cycling, which are also key features of rivers and estuaries such as the Thames.

Chris is a Lewes resident and a member of L&OVe.

Natural England publishes profile of South Downs

Here is something we have been waiting for:  a major study of the ecosystem services provided by the South Downs!

Natural England is currently preparing profiles for England’s 159 National Character Areas (NCAs). These are areas that share similar landscape characteristics.  The South Downs are NCA #125, and the report for this area has just been published.  The pdf file can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/15ChSFR

NCA125Especially valuable, the ‘Opportunities’ section of this report provides 52 examples of how ecosystem services can be improved in the South Downs area.  Some of these suggestions are very broad, while others are very specific. Here are five example…

  • Connecting historic ancient chalk grassland sites to improve their durability and permeability, benefiting the species plants and invertebrates
  • Exploring opportunities to restore natural marshland areas and to enhance the overall ecological quality of grazing marsh grasslands.
  • Broadening the South Downs Way National Trail as a semi-natural corridor and improving the natural qualities of the route.
  • Promoting a range of sustainable land management incentives, including creating areas of conservation headlands and winter stubbles supporting threatened arable wildflowers and farmland birds (such as the turtle dove) on the cereal-dominated dip slope, in support of the South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative.
  • Maintaining, conserving and enhancing the area’s distinctive historic architecture and traditional buildings which have details such as knapped flint, cobbles, brick quoins and timber framing, and which use locally produced bricks and have roofs of tile, slate or thatch.

Download the report to read the full list of suggestions for improving the benefits we get from the South Downs.

Photos from the April 11th L&OVe workshop

A group of 10 people gathered at the Linklater Pavilion last Friday, 11th April, to explore the connections between the local environment and the local economy.

Another workshop will be held on the 26th April.  The process for ‘going local’ is explained in this poster.

L&OVe featured in Ecosystem News

Ecosystem News No. 4The Ecosystem Knowledge Network, managed by DEFRA, is a key resource for anyone wanting to learn about the practical benefits of an ecosystems approach in the UK.  In addition to a great website, the network also has a quarterly newsletter.

Not only does Lewes feature on the front cover of the latest edition of Ecosystem News, but the newsletter includes a profile of ‘Chalking up the Benefits’, a project currently being managed be L&OVe in collaboration with the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Click on the cover image to download the newsletter, or pop over to ‘projects’ section of our website to read more about Chalking Up the Benefits.

The Budget 2013: Value of nature still invisible to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

Author: Tony Whitbread, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 20.58.08 PMWhile many in parliament, and in government departments, are trying to find ways of recognising and reflecting the value of nature in national accounting, the Chancellor still seems to view the environment as a cost to be beaten down.

In his 2013 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne has again put long-term prosperity at risk with a short-term bid for so-called growth.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its beleaguered environmental agencies face further big cuts after the Chancellor raided the Department’s budget to pay for more spending on major infrastructure projects.

Even before the anticipated £11.5bn extra cuts across Government, to be announced in June, £37m will be lost from Defra and its already cash-strapped agencies which have huge responsibilities for dealing with flooding, water pollution, plant and tree diseases and protecting and enhancing important places for wildlife.

The savings will contribute to increased spending on potentially damaging major infrastructure from 2015-16, and coincide with a drop in petrol duty. So the Chancellor is reducing investment in natural capital in order to throw money at damaging activities.

The Wildlife Trusts have been calling on the Chancellor to invest in the natural environment – our natural capital – as a way to secure our long-term prosperity.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Despite the fundamental importance of the natural environment to people’s lives, the Department in charge of looking after it has a tiny budget – that is hit incredibly hard with each spending review. The debate about the public forests has shown how important our natural assets are: people care passionately about their local woods and parks; and they are fundamental to the quality of our lives and our well-being. Nature is also of vast economic value – just £20m of Government money is invested in the public forest estate each year yielding economic benefits of over £400m per year.

“The case for a different approach is clear. For example, investment in job creation through environmental projects is an investment in our natural capital and in reducing our welfare bills. These are the kinds of new and innovative win-win ideas that the Government needs to grasp.

“Defra had to stomach unusually high budget cuts in 2011. Sadly these further cuts indicate a Government that does not understand the value of nature and its importance to our future prosperity.”

Failure to recognise the value of nature in our national accounting is not just bad for the environment, its bad maths! How can government know if it is creating prosperity if it does not, or will not, measure those things that make up prosperity.

(Originally posted at the website of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, 22 March 2013)

Sussex Spring Conference 2013: Futureproofing

The Sussex Spring Conference entitled Futureproofing played to a packed hall with a line of speakers and panellists headed by Nick Herbert MP.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 20.42.45 PMHis keynote speech was a passionate and persuasive plea for the public – and members of CPRE in particular – to see themselves as custodians of the countryside. While the value of our arts and cultural heritage – from the performing arts to  St Pauls Cathedral – command widespread support with  a sizeable and active section of the public seeing themselves as ‘custodians’, this role is less evident when it comes to our countryside.

Instead our countryside is often seen as an empty space, an untapped resource to be exploited rather than an asset to be valued on its own terms. In particular he attacked the simplistic assumptions that addressing the housing problem – and boosting the economy   at the same time – simply means liberalising the Planning System.

Nick Herbert also vigorously attacked the high handed and autocratic approach of Planning Inspectorate’s recent decisions to overturn local neighbourhood plans that are at the centre of the Localist agenda. Despite well thought out plans based on consultation, debate and a referendum, and despite the fact that these often include significant housing development – increasing numbers of neighbourhood plans are being overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.

His speech resonated strongly with the audience and it became clear that for most people, the single biggest concern was how to counter the significant threat to the countryside, not just from the predations of property developers, but from an unelected and unaccountable Planning Inspectorate that appeared intent on disregarding the localist agenda and pushing as hard as possible to promote housing development on protected and undesignated greenbelt sites. Continue reading