Right of Reply: The Friends of the Earth director replies to our description of their claim that Britain is bottom of the world league for wildlife protection as `cheerful nonsense'
Wednesday 25 August 1999
But we refuse to apologise for it. Xenophobes and leader writers might find it hard to believe we give our top wildlife sites less priority than do France, Italy or Japan, but it is the sad truth. What Italians do with their shotguns, or the Japanese with their harpoons, is a separate question and not the subject of our report.
Wildlife in Britain is declining at a frightening rate. Dozens of species have become extinct, from the mouse-eared bat to the dense-flowered orchid. Bird populations have been devastated; the corn bunting down by three- quarters, and the tree sparrow by almost nine-tenths in the last 25 years. This destruction has been caused principally by the loss of the habitats on which wildlife depends.
About half our ancient woodlands have been lost.
Lowland heathland has declined by 70 per cent, and lowland wildflower meadows by 97 per cent. As things stand, our children will inherit a countryside stripped of wildlife by intensive farming and development; they will know only the "silent spring" the famous US environmentalist Rachel Carson forecast 40 years ago.
New Labour took office promising to be "the first truly green Government ever". Yet, two years later, there has not been a single significant piece of legislation. Environment Minister Michael Meacher has made the right noises. But Mr Blair sits firmly astride the path of progress.
Britain's Sites of Special Scientific Interest continue to suffer. Our children are likely to remember with contempt the government that allowed the destruction of our countryside and wildlife to continue.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Katie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge: ‘I hate fat people for making me do this’
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
North Korea threatens Britain over 'mud-slinging' Channel 4 thriller focusing on Kim Jong-un's nuclear weapons programme
Olivia Colman and Mary Berry top Radio Times' female power list
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain