Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bournemouth Local Nature Network - due to launch soon!! Register your interest NOW and help "The State of Nature"

Now that the mapping of Bournemouth (defined as the 18 wards, falling under Bournemouth Borough Council), is well under way, MMNN is inviting members of the following "groups" to register their interest in becoming part of the MMNN- Bournemouth Local Nature Network:

Local wildlife clubs,
Regional/County wildlife recorders,
Local sections of the National Wildlife Organisations,
Wildlife "bloggers",
Garden Wildlife recorders (and "bloggers",)
"Patch" watchers who record wildlife in the Borough
"Friends of" and Parish wildlife groups,
Local wildlife/ecology experts,
Council Parks and Biodiversity teams,
Parks and their Rangers,
Wildlife Reserves and their Wardens,
Leisure Services providers,
Conservation volunteers and Volunteer Groups,
Wildlife-friendly nurseries, schools and Colleges together with students/ groups from Bournemouth University.
Places of Worship, with an active local wildlife policy,
Green Local Press and other media,
Museums and Zoos,
Pro wildlife and visitor-friendly farms,
Outdoor Activity Centres,
Youth Hostels,
Environmentally friendly local businesses or businesses that simply want to help protect their local wildlife and green spaces.
Arts and Culture - if you can "tap on" to the amazing energy of Biophilia, you are an important component our our local networks. Please get involved!!

This list is by no means exhaustive, so any other individual or organisation can register to get involved and help promote wildlife conservation, awareness and recording in the area.

We also need help from the children of Bournemouth!! Please ask your school, mum or dad to
e-mail your wildlife pictures to us, and we will include them all across our pages.

We will also be asking children to design a logo that MMNN will use as it's official emblem.

To register your interest in the MMNN- Bournemouth Local Nature Network or send pictures, simply e-mail us at

Join MMNN today!!..... Together, we really CAN make a difference to "The State of Nature" in the UK.

Thank you.

1st November 2013 - I just have to say a massive thank you to the wonderful people and caring organisations of Bournemouth!! As we are mapping the area, we are coming across a range of beautiful, gifted and committed people. It is an absolute pleasure working with you all, and thank you for your interest in this network. There is a lot of work still to be done, but we hope to have got round you all soon.

MMNN -  Ipswich, Cheshire, Leicester and York Local Nature Networks coming soon!!!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Good Recording and Bad Recording - Thank you "Living Record" and "Peter Orchard" for helping me to demonstrate the two Extremes!!

I stated in my Month 2 progress report, that MMNN was due to start mapping out the Local Wildlife Networks, around member sites.

Part of this work has taken me on a tour, albeit it on-line around the beautiful County of Dorset. I have been talking to some amazing groups of volunteers, who have worked tirelessly, to record wildlife and get involved in the hard work on the ground needed to help the Councils manage sites and their fragile habitats.

Whilst conducting this work, I received an e-mail from Peter Orchard, creator of a rather grandly named "The Nature of Dorset" website. Wow!! all the information I would need under one roof!!....or so it seemed!!

I'm not sure where he found out about MMNN but he stated in his initial e-mail that "I record in Dorset and put the data collected on here:"

He went on to say "It currently has data for 145 sites and over 1,450 species. In paragraph 2 of Peter's homepage he clearly states "Once at the species data you can see where I have seen it" - I being the key word here.

So, twice he has claimed they are his records already!! To all you bloggers and patch watchers out there, I think you will agree, it's hard enough to cover one site well with personal wildlife records. This Guy tells me he can do it across 145 sites!! He must have the legs of a Cheetah.

Anyway, I have been so busy on the MMNN initiative, so I just sent a brief reply praising his identification area, as it supported the young and learning naturalists.

To my surprise, the very next day, Peter sends me an e-mail offering a platform for my members to record wildlife in Dorset, via his site!!! Not only does this guy eat Wildebeest for breakfast, he is also an overnight "Einstein", creating a policy of recording for Bournemouth in a matter of hours.

Alarm bells started ringing. You will see from my article posted on 20/9/13, that I had become aware of the wonderful work of Adrian Bicker at "Living Record", through people who were serious about wildlife, and who were also passionate about the importance of accurate recording, verification and validation. I was also aware that the hard-working team at Dorset Environmental Records Centre were already working with Adrian. Why did Dorset need to start sending it's records into "Peter the Cheetah"??

My instincts got the better of me! I took a deeper look at his website and picked a few LNR's that were about the same size or bigger than my own patch. I was amazed at the number of records for each of the 140 odd sites listed. Not only that but how can you land species like Dartford Warbler, Water-Rail, Wood Cock, Red Kite and Black-tailed Skimmers, on sites where they are rare, whilst spreading yourself so thinly over so many sites.

I e-mailed Peter Orchard, asking how he had managed to visit so many sites and create so many of his own records.

MMNN cares about the need for engagement and participation, and I had noted that Peter had missed a lot of hard-working Dorset wildlife volunteer groups off his organisation and weblinks (I am in the Midlands, he should know them better than me!!). I asked why he had omitted this valuable connection that would add numbers to volunteer events across his home county. 

Incidentally, if any readers are connected to any of the following guardians of UK Wildlife, you may wish to advise them to consider removing their association, and emblems from this site:

Apologies to the RSPB - you have got two because Peter doesn't know the difference between a Podcast service and a stunning wildlife haven! 

Please note that Peter Orchard hadn't even linked the emblems to these organisations/initiatives/reserves, which means that, for example, the amount of Butterfly counts in Dorset, were less than they could have been if he had made his 18,000 annual website visitors aware of the plea for more records, to help protect them.

I received answers from Peter. He has managed to visit so many sites and make so many recordings because "I am retired. I have a car, it is my hobby (no passion!). there are 36 weeks from the beginning of March to the end of October. I started visiting reserves when we moved to Dorset 7 years ago. Two visits each week in that time period over 7 years is around 500 recording visits"

The reason he gave for not including local "Wildlife Warrior" groups of volunteers on his "County site" (that appears 2nd only on google to another volunteer organisation that makes a REAL difference to the state of nature: Dorset Wildlife Trust),  was that in 2009 (within 3 years of entering the county!!), he offered 20 groups a wildlife recording platform and they were not interested.

Peter, if you are reading this whilst rapidly editing your website (I have screen-shots), the reasons why you are in this article are two-fold. First you have placed personal feeling above acting in the best interests of wildlife. Secondly, every day, I hear about Council's on ever tighter budgets with ever-decreasing staff numbers, trying to enhance LNR's, the newly labelled LWS's and other sites. At the same time, I talk to teams of heroic volunteers, passionate about their patches who are trying desperately to help the Council's execute their management plans, whilst also organising events and making wonderful wildlife records.

So let us do some basic Maths. Peter actually states that he has conducted 788 recording sessions in 7 years, although he admits that some of those sessions are from his garden (I am amazed he has got time to maintain a garden!). 
788 visits across 145 sites in 7 years!!! that means that on average, he visited each site less than once a year!!!

When I put this to Peter, he said that "it is not an exact Science" ( I hope the "Nature of Bournemouth" recording platform that he is proposing for the area, is more of an exact science!! Though I don't think it's going to happen now somehow after MMNN's exposure!!).He then said that he is discovering new sites all the time.

Well I decided to put this to the test. After a little bit of surfing social groups that I need to do for my work anyway, I came across the following flicker link following Peter's visit to Kinson Common LNR:

You will see Peter pictured there, as he appears on his own site. Please note that the flicker feed is dated 2nd April 2013. He comments: "I had a very pleasant morning just getting to know the place"

Lets have a look at the page for Kinson Common on "The Nature of Dorset":

The page tells you to "Click the pic to see my complete species list for this site"

You will note:
1. Peter has Firecrest in his records, calling it a good spot on 31/3/13. Yes Pete,very good spot considering you were over 15 miles away on that day!: I asked Peter in my last email, before breaking communication with him, where he was on 31/3/13 and he told me he was at Stokeford Heath!!, as evidenced by his own site:

The Firecrest was actually found by a well-respected local "patch" watcher. It was his record. How could it be Peter's when he visited the site for the first time, two days later and never mentioned the Firecrest sighting in his Flicker update?

2. Peter's own "Kinson Common species list" states that Dartford Warbler, Water Rail, Woodcock, Red Kite and Black-tailed Skimmer are all "present" there. Anyone who visits this important site regularly will tell you that all of these species are extremely rare there at best!! How damaging is this information to wildlife conservation?

3. The species list for Kinson Common contains endless records from 2011, over a year BEFORE Peter first says that he visited the site.

The evidence is endless, but from it comes some key points that I wish to highlight. This overlaps with reports I have had, and acted upon from Cheshire bloggers; that wildlife recording platforms (thankfully not attached to the U.K's Local Records Centres, but most likely taking up valuable wildlife funding),are holding false and misleading information regarding species present on sites of extreme value to wildlife, in that area.

1. It concerns me that two instances of this nature have been exposed in the two months since MMNN was launched, and  I have only just started mapping local networks.

2. If you are an individual recording wildlife, send your records into your local wildlife clubs and recorders. MMNN is pushing for these groups to be more easily found at information points on green spaces and through Schools, Council Websites and local groups, to encourage participation.

3. If you are one of the thousands of local wildlife, Parish or "Friends of" groups, that exist across the country and you are looking for a recording platform for your valuable sightings, find your Local Records Centre (LRC)via the National Biodiversty Network (NBN) site:

Send a brief e-mail, asking for their advice on the best record entry systems. Please do not call them unless urgent, as they are doing an incredible job on ever-tighter funding, sending quality records onto the National Biodiversity Network, which is used to help create the STATE OF NATURE reports.

4. If you are approached by anyone claiming to have a wildlife recording platform for you to use, be very careful. Send an e-mail to your LRC, asking them to check the product. The Wildlife Trusts are truly wonderful. Contact your local Trusts, and they will provide assistance, as well telling you about other ways to get involved with wildlife locally.

For the people of Dorset, you are in safe hands. Any threat to the quality of wildlife records has been nipped in the bud, and in any case would never have got through the tight controls that exist at the NBN and at the LRC. To this end Living Record is already approved by the Dorset Environmental Records Centre, and I would strongly recommend them for any wildlife group, not only in Dorset, but across the UK, as they are well respected by local experts and recorders, and they share our passion for wildlife.

I have also looked closely at the work of the "Friends of" and other volunteer wildlife groups that exist in Dorset. From what I have reviewed, and mapped so far, I see them, together with the army of wildlife bloggers as being KEY to realising the dream of halting the decline of wildlife in the UK.

If you want to see original and accurate records of what you can see at Kinson Common, please visit: - brilliant slogan by the way!!....Protect, Preserve, Promote!!! Well done to you all on your fine efforts.

Peter Orchard - you obviously hold a love, of sorts for wildlife. It's just a great shame, that you didn't use the last 7 years to support all of the incredible groups that exist in Dorset, and who you stole records from, by claiming them as your own, after paying "token" visits. 

How many kids have looked at your site and got mum and dad to drive them over to see a Dartford Warbler and Red Kite, only to find out off a proper wildlife recorder, that they are not there, when they arrive. Disappointment in children is damaging. You could, by now have created so many local wildlife partnerships, which in turn would have created a new army of volunteers in the county, to help the Council's and Wildlife Organisations meet their Biodiversity objectives.

To our members in Dorset, rest assured, MMNN will help them.

Thank you for taking time out, whilst reading this article.

Thank you also to the Centre for Environmental Change & Human Resillience at Dundee University, for recently encouraging people to get involved in MMNN. I am extremely honoured to have had my aims and articles studied by such an Institution. It makes me even more determined to move mountains for nature.

I live in the Midlands, and so at a local level, thanks also to our local blogger "Chaz" at Clayhanger Marsh Log, who provided a testament as to what MMNN is setting out to achieve:

To those that have the power to help this important wildlife site in Walsall, West Midlands (which includes an SSSI) preserve it's biodiversity and safeguard it's future, please contact us at 

Chaz has watched over this site as a true "guardian" for years, so come on everyone, let's give him and the wildlife there a hand!!

Join MMNN today and together, we really can make a difference. Simply e-mail your request to and you will be sent a simple "welcome" form to register the sites where you watch and record wildlife.

If you are a blogger and you support our initiative, please add us to your site links.

Many thanks.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Month 2 - Members Update and Progress Report

It has been a busy month, as emphasis has moved from "spreading the word" to starting action towards our goals.

Only a small amount of networking has been conducted this month, but even so our membership has now crossed the 200 site mark; way beyond expectations, considering the original plan was to attract 500 sites over a 12 to 18 month period. Some truly wonderful sites have joined the network and I look forward to working with them all.

We are almost half way towards the 500 member site mark, where we will appoint a patron, trustees and become a nationally recognised body.

Our aims now are to:

1. Map and strengthen local wildlife networks around member sites, and prepare to engage their local communities. We shall be working closely with the Local Records Centres (LRC's).
2. Obtain species lists and identify "at risk" species for member sites.
3. Raise awareness of wildlife events taking place on member sites, in order to increase the level of participation and volunteering.
4. Raise the profile of MMNN, so that we can start sending our message to the media and central government, regarding the State of Nature and how we feel that our decline in wildlife can be halted.
5. Agree a surveying plan for 2014, to create more trend data on member sites with the national wildlife organisations.

The following developments are working towards these aims:

Local Wildlife Networks

Local networks of recorders, wildlife experts, nature clubs and societies, friendly societies, volunteer groups and other interest groups will be mapped to cover  the following areas of the UK, around member sites:

Bracknell Forest, Berkshire
Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Greater London: Croydon, Greenford and Tower Hamlets areas
Leicester City, including Blaby, Oadby and Wigston
Lichfield/Barton-under-Needwood area Staffs
Macclesfield, Cheshire
Redditch, Worcestershire
Solihull, West Midlands
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Walsall/Brownhills, West Midlands
Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Areas will be added, as new members join the network.

Once mapped, the local networks will be engaged, so as to provide greater support for member sites and their LRC's. A directory of local schools and places of worship will also be compiled for future engagement and fund-raising activities

Site Wildlife Records

Our policy is to minimise "red tape", and make information requests as easy as possible (our simple "Welcome" Forms for new members have been warmly received!!). Over the next few weeks I shall be contacting members, in order to obtain site species lists, and indications as to whether each species is stable, on the increase, decrease or has an unknown status.

I shall also be asking for details of species which are known to be subject to heaviest decline or are under threat of loss from the site. The Local Wildlife Network and national organisations can then be engaged, in order to consider action plans, where they have not already been implemented.

MMNN has the ambitious aim of PREVENTING the loss of any IDENTIFIED species from member sites. Site profiles can be highlighted to the local wildlife network to increase the level and areas of recording.

Member Events

Awareness and participation are key to switching on the public. To this end MMNN will "spread the word" regarding events on member sites. The new "Twitter feed" on this site has already proved to be an excellent way to help with this.

If members have any events planned, please e-mail full details to .We will then cover the event on this site and ask local wildlife "bloggers" to mention it.

Once the local networks have been mapped, we can add further strength to this awareness initiative.


Once I have received all species data from members, I shall be working with their Local Wildlife Networks and the National Wildlife Organisations, in order to design a programme of surveys for 2014.

There will be particular emphasis in obtaining more information on "at risk" species. By coordinating surveying across member Local Ecological Networks, we will gain more clues as to why a particular species is in decline.

Council's need more coordinated and repeated survey work from local experts and volunteers, so that they can monitor progress towards their biodiversity goals.

The Newly created Local Wildlife Sites (LWS's), also require more support from volunteers and the Local Wildlife Network in order to protect the site and build a bank of data for the newly designated green spaces, that are important to the Local Ecological Network.

There is much work to be done in this area.

Raising the Profile of the Moving Mountains Nature Network

I have started planning an event for Spring 2014, which will demonstrate the power of MMNN.

I shall be walking from Wolverhampton to an area of central Birmingham, via a member site, which is requiring support from it's local network and community, in order to protect the diverse range of species and habitats that occur there.

There will be "BioBlitz" events and fund-raising, involving local schools and groups, at the start, stop-off and finishing venues, and the local wildlife networks will also be involved.

The local and national media will be invited to cover and attend the event, and this will provide a voice for our cause.

Believe it or not, I have logged every comment and issue raised by members, biodiversity officers, rangers, bloggers, "patchers" and other interested individuals since MMNN was launched on 13th August 2013. These will be added to and converted into a draft document, available to members, before release, that will tackle EVERY issue that has been raised.


The event will demonstrate how together, communities, Councils, volunteers and the local wildlife network can deliver powerful messages and also demonstrate a unity in the battle to halt the decline of the UK's marvelous wildlife.

Finally a word to those non-members who are aware of the Moving Mountains Nature Network, and either manage or record the wildlife that live on their parks, LNR's, LWS's, "patches" or other sites of importance to nature -  join MMNN today. Become a "guardian" for your much-loved areas, give it greater protection and help us to halt the decline of wildlife in the UK.

Joining is free and easy!! Just register your interest by sending an e-mail to and include your name and details of the sites under your control, or where you watch and record wildlife.

You will be sent a simple "Welcome" form to complete that registers your sites with the network.

Together, we really can make a difference!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Twitter Feed - Moving Mountains to Connect People with Wildlife

As part of the push towards connecting more people with wildlife, I have now set up a Twitter feed on this blog, that will provide you with updates regarding wildlife events, issues and sightings. They are all my comments or retweets, and will not include personal or provocative opinion from others. Media releases will be shown, where I feel that they are relevant to the understanding and protection of wildlife.

No retweets will necessarily reflect the opinions of our members.

MMNN members who follow us on Twitter will benefit from having their events and causes highlighted on this blog.

I hope that this adds to your experience, whilst visiting this blog.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Environmental Audit Committee has launched a new inquiry into the Government consultation on Biodiversity offsetting in England, which proposes to introduce a system for allowing biodiversity loss associated with developments to be measured and offset against compensatory biodiversity gain elsewhere.

To submit your own written evidence to the inquiry please go to:

Please follow the guidance when making any such submission to the inquiry.

The deadline is Tuesday 15th October 2013.

I am considering making a personal submission to the inquiry myself. If you prefer, please email your views (or information which supplements my last blog) to:, and it will add to my thoughts.

I think that you will all agree that this policy would have a major impact on how well we can achieve our biodiversity goals.

Thank you.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Biodiversity Offsetting - Join the Debate

I have been following the issue of "biodiversity offsetting" with interest. The phrase "NET gain", I feel is always a cloak that can hide devastation and make it look like action is being taken, when it isn't. Figures are then used out of context, with the "gains" being branded as success while the LOSSES are conveniently swept under the carpet.

I have been keen to see the media reaction to this policy, and for ease of reading, and to get up to speed with how the policy has been received, please follow these sample links:

Just the thought of seeing wildlife as monetary "credits" for land deals feels appalling in itself. Then the idea that you can destroy long-established wildlife areas and replace them, just like that, sets a bad precedent. What example is this setting, whilst we are trying to engage the public and help them to understand the TRUE value of nature and the need to protect it.

How can developers simply "buy" other habitat? What are they doing? Knocking down houses to create it? NO!!! It's already precious habitat that SHOULD be protected anyway, under our commitments to biodiversity.

Who is going to manage the new "reserves" or "reserve extensions"? Proper management of wildlife areas takes up considerable human and financial resources. The wildlife organisations are already stretched, and then all of the sudden, they have to magically create a new army of thousands of volunteers and money pots to manage the new land? Are the builders going to pay for 25 years of management, necessary to create and protect  rich ecosystems?

I feel that what we should be doing is raising awareness of the crisis facing the UK's wildlife, encouraging people to engage today, and future generations to care.Conservation, surveys and trips to local green spaces SHOULD be part of the national curriculum. ALL LWS's, LGS's, LNR's and Country Parks should provide information on how to get involved in nature, and to guide those with a passive interest towards their local wildlife clubs and recorders.

The national wildlife organisations need more than 5% of the population "switched on" to wildlife, in order to meet the challenges ahead. If the government could help just another 5% of the population to love nature, DOUBLE the resources would be available from new volunteers, reserve entrance fees, subscriptions and donations. Imagine the impact that this would have in terms of halting the loss of wildlife!!

Back to the planning issue.

There are pilot biodiversity-offsetting schemes running across the country. Well the media and public have had a positive feeling about it, haven't they?? So all looks well?

This isn't rocket science!! When a developer submits a planning application, if the proposed site has ANY value to wildlife at all, then the developer should be aware, from the outset, that they would have to pay for a full site wildlife survey to be carried out, at full market rate, so that our dedicated experts are remunerated properly for their critical skills in assessing the location and it's links to the local ecological network.

If we are going to trade wildlife, then maybe it should be this way: If the wildlife survey finds that the site has a low value to wildlife, then contributions under S106 could be sought from the developer in the usual way, to contribute towards local amenities, including management of LWS's and LGS's. If however, the site has a value to wildlife, above a set level (based on habitat quality, variety of species, existence of BAP species...), then planning is refused outright.

This would automatically reduce the number of planning applications in areas of importance to wildlife.

To offer some sort of middle ground, if wildlife values were modest, but significant, THEN there could be provision in the planning rules to allow the developer to submit proposals which would contribute to local biodiversity. This policy would then be considered on a "case by case" basis, requiring approval from a respected organisation, such as The Wildlife Trusts (funded by Planning Application Fees).

I am aware that other countries have biodiversity-offsetting schemes. Does that make it right for the UK?

The Defra consultation process can be found at:

There is a Greenhouse think-tank paper at:

FoE, RSPB, Woodland Trust public positions are at:

The Wildlife Trusts position here:

Join the debate. Whilst I have expressed personal views, again in this article, MMNN is about pursuing the best approaches for wildlife, rather than personal subjective goals.

To all members and followers: please get involved by submitting your views to or provide your comments at the bottom of this article, which will be moderated.

Future MMNN action, will be based on common views, published here first, in order to allow a second period of sharing, before being acted upon.

Join MMNN today. Together, we really can make a difference.

Thank you