The State of Nature Report in 2016 gave two main reasons for the decline in UK wildlife – climate change and agricultural practices. One of the best things to do to reduce climate change is to stop flying. Simple. It has more impact than going vegetarian as far as climate change is concerned – halving meat intake for a year would only have the same impact as not going on one return flight to New York. But, of course, there are other environmental impacts related to farming beyond climate change such as pesticide use, monocultures and pollution.
So, in order to help wildlife we should stop flying, reduce our travel in general, eat less meat and be more aware of where our food comes from (and associated food miles) and how it is produced.
Why then, do wildlife NGOs not try and positively influence the behaviour of their members. The BTO has a long standing partnership with Syngenta which manufactures the neonics that have recently been banned for flowering crops in the UK due to their harmful impact on pollinators. As many farmland birds rely on insects for food one can only assume that the use of the neonics is not a positive thing for them either. I cancelled my membership of the BTO when I discovered this. The RSPB magazine (when I was a member) was littered with adverts for foreign holidays round the world. Indeed they even have a section on their website about Eco Tourism which admittedly does push the benefits of staying in the UK or travelling by train. But, it states on the page that 45% of members surveyed had been on three holidays in the last 12 months. I cancelled my RSPB membership because of their constant push of foreign holidays and foreign birding articles. Even my beloved Butterfly Conservation is not immune – they had 5 adverts for foreign holidays in the latest edition of Butterfly, two less than last time I suppose. At least two out of three of the Woodland Trust’s holiday adverts are for train journeys into Europe.
So, I implore those at the conservation charities, and anyone who is worried about the decline in UK wildlife to think about their travel and their food choices, otherwise you are directly contributing to the decline of the wildlife that you purport to conserve.