Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Things that should be banned in 2014

1. Owen Patterson from breathing. This uses oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide, which as we all know is the primary cause of global warming. This might be tolerable if he served any useful purpose but he doesn't. I used to think that there would never be an environment minister who was worse for the environment than Nicholas Ridley. I was wrong.

2. Mini-beasts. What does this actually mean? My dictionary gives three definitions of the word beast: a large four-footed animal; a cruel or disgusting person; a disliked person or thing. So a mini-beast would be a small version of one of those. Presumably, option one is discounted as it is contradictory. If 'conservationists' are taking children out to look for a small cruel or disgusting person, they should probably be locked up and if they think their quarry is a 'disliked thing', they are clearly in the wrong job. I guess they think that the word 'insect' or 'invertebrate' is too difficult for children to understand. It isn't. It may be too difficult for them.

3. Bug hunt. See above. Only acceptable if the aim is to search for Heteroptera. Stop being so bloody twee and use proper words for things. If people don't understand what you are talking about, try explaining it to them!

4. A haven for wildlife. A term applied by certain organisations to every bit of land that they want to talk about, from urban back-yards to National Nature Reserves - and utterly meaningless. It is basically used for one of two reasons; the site is actually crap, or we don't actually know anything about what's there.

5. Comparing British habitats to rainforests. Lowland heathland is not 'more endangered than the rainforest' - to compare such differing situations is ridiculous in the extreme. Ancient woodlands are not 'the equivalent of the rainforests' unless you mean that they both have trees. And worst of all (and I've seen this twice recently), chalk grasslands are not 'richer than the rainforest'. I've just looked up the number of species in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica - a site that I have visited. It supports 500 species of tree, almost 400 species of bird, 116 species of amphibians, 220 species of butterflies and 6000 other species of insect (with surely many more to be found). Are you starting to see how ridiculous the claim is? Are we really so lacking in imagination that the only way we can justify the importance of our habitats is to make some unjustifiable comparison with a habitat that most people will only ever see on television?

A good rant to start the new year. I may return the this subject in the future but back to some wildlife that I've actually seen in my next post.    


  1. Haha, yes, i'm one of those that regularly use the term Mini-beasts. Spent so much time on Forest schools and environmental education events, its become hard to drop.

    When i first started i would use Insects and Inverts, got better response from the children when Mini-beasts and Bug hunt were used. :)

    Regards Chris...

    1. Could be worse Chris, you could have told me you were Owen Paterson's best mate! I do worry about 'environmental education' these days, I'm sure most of the children have a good time but do they get inspired by wildlife? I can still remember some of the wildlife I was shown whilst at primary school, I wonder if the same will be said by todays youngsters in 40 years time.

      However, the most important question is which definition of mini-beast do you show the children you are teaching?!

  2. Ha! Great! Another blogger who can let off steam... more please!

  3. Can't see anything to disagree with at all ! Endless dumbing down is the scourge of modern society...