People ask why I record wild soundscapes. So here are a couple of reasons.
I try hard to avoid being negative or confrontational, but a comment on this morning's radio news obliges me to risk breaking my general rule. The subject under discussion was rare species and extinctions, and the emphasis was as usual on the need to protect individual threatened species. So far so good, but a scientist who shall out of courtesy remain nameless suggested on air that if we were to extend protection to all living species, we would be obliged to extend it to all extinct species as well, which is clearly impractical.
'Don't it always seem to go / That you don't know what you've got till it's gone...'Joni Mitchell, 'Big Yellow Taxi' 1970
The short haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus, absent from Britain since 1988, was recently re-introduced to the RSPB reserve at Dungeness in Kent.1 An enormous amount of effort went into regenerating the site to create a suitable habitat, so I sincerely hope the re-introduction succeeds, particularly as it's the second attempt to be made in recent years. But even if it does, returning a single species to one site may not be as effective in the long run as not having driven it to extinction by wrecking its wider habitat in the first place.
'The future of mankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives
and take up their responsibilities to all living things'Vine Deloria Jr.
I have encountered vast numbers of people who described themselves as "nature lovers", but observation of their behaviour has often forced me to question the nature of that love. I do indeed know some wonderful people whose genuine connection with the living world is unmistakeable, but in far too many instances the professed love of nature has manifested itself rather differently.
Edicts against urban noise date back to at least the Roman Empire, when chariots were banned from driving through the town centre at night. But rural noise has only been really significant for just over a hundred years, and in the last fifty or so years its nature has changed drastically.