Nagoya: Dreams to Reality - The Third Element

In Nagoya, Japan in October 2010, 192 Governments and the European Union met to set out goals and targets to ensure that our natural environment was "resilient" by 2020, so that it can continue to provide the ecosystem services that ARE ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE.

The strategic goals were basically aimed at:

1. Mainstreaming - making people and businesses aware of the values of biodiversity, and to make them aware of how they can conserve it.
2. Pressures - reducing direct pressures on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use.
3. Safeguarding - improving the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
4. Benefits - enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystems ( e.g. climate change mitigation and services from ecosystems like water and contribution to health)
5. Knowledge and Capacity - "By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequence of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied"

For these goals and their attached targets to me met, I feel that we have 3 key "elements" that together will create the formula for success:

The First Element: The Scientists, Defra, Wildlife Organisations and Biodiversity Managers and officers.

The Second Element: The amateur naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts and caring land managers.

The Third Element: The wider population.

So our formula is:

1st element + 2nd element + 3rd element = targets met under "Biodiversity 2020 Strategy"

The world failed to meet it's targets for 2010, we are now in 2013. The U.K has to, along with every other convention member, submit progress reports by 31st March 2014.

My review, research and feelings gathered whilst creating and launching the Moving Mountains Nature Network (MMNN) are that:

1. The First Element, in isolation is extremely potent in both it's knowledge base and it's enthusiasm to meet biodiversity requirements. In particular, I applaud and gain so much hope from the quality and character of our nation's Biodiversity, Conservation and Parks managers. These people, really are our "generals" in the fight to halt species and habitat decline. Together they are head guardians over our 1500 Local Nature Reserves and also our Country Parks and other green spaces. Around them we should be proud to have Natural England and Defra above and all of the "STATE OF NATURE" partner Wildlife organisations along side them.

2. The Second Element, our amateur naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts? Well we have only to read the latest STATE OF BIRDS report to establish the power of this group who work with the heart and the policeman's notebook. The datasets used in the STATE OF NATURE report covering Bird Species, Mammal road deaths and Butterfly and Moth counts, would have been impossible without the army of amateur enthusiasts.

3. Our Third Element: the wider business and social community in the U.K? Here lies my fear. The importance of the Third Element is easy to understand. On numbers, this element is overwhelming, but more importantly so many of the negative factors that have led to the decline in the U.K, arise from the Third Element. Bank Voles in Smestow Valley LNR are only just recovering from the polution that someone spilled into the Smestow Brook a few years ago, and that is just one tiny example.

For our formula to work we require two things:

1. Unity and co-ordination between The First Element and The Second Element, so that there is great strength from their combining and hence a forward reaction that in the short term may compensate for the weakness or even negative influence from the presence of The Third Element.

2. Regardless, to meet our 2020 and 2050 Biodiversity targets WE HAVE TO MAKE The Third Element a positive and not a negative agent in this reaction, or we shall all fail.

I have three small personal experiences that provide light:

The community spirit and support that came from my charity walk in memory of my son, illustrated that if people understand the cause, they will rise in a strong, positive manner.

As part of my work on the MMNN, I have learned exceptional schemes, where the First Element, combines potently with The Third Element. For example, the council, that works closely with 40 Parishes to encourage participation and understanding in biodiversity work. The officers that set up 24 hour species counts competitions in their community.

Thirdly, on my own patch, by talking to and sharing with the users of my Local Nature Reserve over the last three years, we now have a new group of dog-walkers and health enthusiasts that carry binoculars and display a genuine thirst for wildlife knowledge.

The STATE OF NATURE report CLEARLY tells us we have little time, and a mountain to climb to halt decline and loss.

The following is my own submission and attempt to provoke, thought, comment and reaction, and so, at best, it forms a discussion document, although my heart wants it to be the basis for a plan of action. They are single comments, aimed as spearheads, or if you like catalysts that we may like to add to The Three Elements to allow The Third Element to become a positive agent, and to accelerate the overall rate of reaction, so that the U.K proudly reports in 2019 that it has BEATEN, not met it's biodiversity targets as a nation:

1. There are gaping holes in our datasets. The First Element and the Second Element combined well to monitor fashionable and easy to identify Birds, Butterflies and Moths, but where is our status and distribution trend data for fungi or mini-beasts? I thought that these groups were critical to holding up our ecosystems.

2. I look at the species included on the datasets used in the STATE OF NATURE report and compare them with our JNCC BAP priority species lists. They are worlds apart!!!!!!

3. I got out all of the best selling field guides for wildlife and then laid them alongside the BAP priority species lists (species in heavy decline). With the exception of our ever popular birds, the vast majority of BAP species were absent from the field-guides and reference books. So while thousands of keen nature lovers walk around their patch, there is not one book that they could possibly put in his back-pack that covers all of the species under threat on their site. The RSPB have shown exceptional publishing skills, but it would be so exciting if the JNCC could team up with The STATE OF NATURE partners to create a guide, updated every five years, that concentrates on the accurate identification of say 1200 species that are most under threat in the U.K. A section at the back could include web-links to participate in status and distribution surveys, via the Partners's websites. How strong would our Second Element be if they were armed with this best-seller, created by the teamwork that brings our wildlife organisations together. How strong would our First Element be with the whole nation contributing to surveys that cover the whole food-web and also focus on areas of ecosystems that are breaking down fastest??

4. How can we change our Third Element so that the strange person in green jacket with binoculars is seen as the gallant guardian rather than the gormless geek!!!! Simple!!!

Nature documentaries have an amazing influence and it's no secret that David Attenborough is responsible for my writing this article today. But you need the heart to choose to watch the programme in the first place, and this is the filter that continually converts members of the Third Element into those that form the Second Element.

Repeated addresses to the nation  by Defra (or even the leaders of ALL our political parties in union!!), attached to news reports when the whole nation is watching, and even after stand-up comedy shows and late night 18 rated films to explain the alarming decline in our "Natural Capital", and it's impact on business, the economy and human life itself. Can you imagine the effect that this would have on the membership and funding for our nature organisations and local councils?? (GOAL E in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020)

5. Millions of children could come home to their parents and echo the broadcasts, through learning at school as part of the national curriculum. Science teachers can lead their children from an early age into their local green-spaces to explore the beauty and miracles of nature. Older students can conduct surveys as part of GCSE and A level studies that add to the pool of coordinated studies already being performed by the First and Second Elements.

6. A heavy penal system for those that break the law and damage nature, together with a naming and shaming campaign. Lets alienate those that disrespect our beautiful planet and add the funds derived from penalties to schemes to protect BAP habitats?

Our doubt over the impact of The Third Element has been brought on by ourselves, because The First Element and The Second Element have the power to awaken a force within our nation that will beat all targets and set a fine example to the world.

The Moving Mountains Nature Network initiative is designed to streamline the First Element and the Second Element, whilst influencing the First Element to embrace the Third Element by 31st March 2014.

As soon as the MMNN holds 500 members, it will form catalysts to bring The Third Element into action directly, through education, fund-raising and lobbying: A peoples network but linking all 3 Elements and where the nation becomes the foot-soldiers.

Act now and join the network. Over the coming months, (with their consent) I will be highlighting those that are having the greatest impact on driving this initiative forward.

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