This blog is where you can read about the places we work to protect and the people on the front line. The scope of this blog covers planning, the policies and legal framework that exists to protect the best places for wildlife and of, of course, the individual cases that are the daily work of staff across the UK. We help BirdLife International partners overseas – and you will be able to read contributions from Europe and further afield.
Of course – probably of the best way to save a site is to a acquire it as a nature reserve – this blog will sometimes feature our reserves and the role they play in future of our wildlife, but the full story of the RSPBs network of nature reserves is told elsewhere: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves
This blog features the contributions of many individuals – I will have the pleasure of holding the ring and acting as the narrator to this compelling story. So a little about me; I’m Andre Farrar and my first active involvement with the RSPB was in the late 1970s as a volunteer with our Leeds Local Group http://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/leeds.
I was one of many who wrote to their MPs as part of the campaign to get the best outcome for what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It wasn’t perfect but it was a good start. Thirty years on, I’m still in the thick of it campaigning for our protected areas and special places for wildlife. Are we winning? Read on and find out, and see how you can help.
I’ve just added my signature to a campaign to save the Šumava Forest - mounted by the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO/BirdLife Czechia) - our BirdLife partner in the Czech Republic. Here’s the link if you want to go there first (but do come back).
I haven’t been to the Šumava Forest itself, but I have seen it. On a trip to Bavaria with my father – we spent several days in the Bayerischer Wald National Park surrounded by the spruce forests and walking some of the mountains. From one of these, we looked across a landscape separated by a very substantial fence; a stark reminder we were in West Germany and over there was Czechoslovakia.
That was in 1976, and since then so much has changed. The history of nations is not usually the subject of this blog – but today all of the Bohemian Forest of which the Bayerischer Wald and the Šumava Forests are part is within the European Union. But there is another profound change that has swept the forest, caused not by the ebb and flow of European politics but by a tiny beetle. Large parts of the forest have been affected by spruce bark beetle – their attentions will kill the trees as they burrow and feed. Spruce bark beetles have changed the landscape and have done so only over a couple of decades.
The Šumava Mountains host a considerable area of virgin and secondary spruce forest which is home to some exciting wildlife including Tengmalm’s owls, three-toed woodpeckers and capercaillies. It’s designated as a national park, a Special Protection Area (SPA), and is one of the best wilderness areas in Central Europe.
A stream in the pristine forest - photo credit CSO
Outbreaks of these beetles are a natural part of the forest ecosystem, and over time, young trees will replace those killed by the beetles. Our colleagues at CSO have built a compelling case showing clearly that leaving core parts of the forest alone to regenerate naturally without intervention is beneficial to the target species (those three-toed woodpeckers and capercaillies for example).
However, instead of allowing natural regeneration to occur, the National Park Authority is using the infestation as an excuse to open up the affected areas to commercial logging. This activity will damage large areas of forest, but in addition, it risks opening up parts of the National Park to other commercial interests in the future.
Logging - photo credit CSO
Zdenek Vermouzek, CSO’s Director said ‘The National Park Authority and the national government have ignored their international obligations to ensure that no activities impact on the special birds that make Šumava their home. The authorities need to stop the logging immediately and do a proper assessment of what the best management action (if any) is required to ensure that the integrity of the forest is maintained’.
So – do please help by writing to the Czech Prime Minister and here’s the link again.
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