Boom and bust in the natural world

The last few months have been ridiculously mild. Nature seems pretty confused by it all. Check on twitter or instagram and you’ll see loads of people sharing pictures of daffodils or primroses.

Bats are still in flight when they should be hibernating. Bees and ladybirds can still be spotted. Wild strawberries are starting to fruit. I’ve even seen some catkins.

We all need cold winters. It’s part of the pattern of the natural world. It allows the processes of nature to happen at the right time. If things get out of sync and then we do have a cold snap it won’t be good for the species that have gambled with the milder weather.

As our climate changes expecting the unexpected will become the norm. We’ve seen that clearly with the flooding in Cumbria – three times in just a decade. Sometime it feels as though the seasons are starting to merge into one mega season with some variations around hot days in June or the odd frost in January.

The nature of our weather at the moment is just one more challenge facing wildlife. These include habitat loss, the intensification of farming and a loss of that deep connection with the natural world that people have had for thousands of years. Just last week Butterfly Conservation published a report showing how the vast majority of butterfly species in the UK have declined in the last 40 years.

What nature needs more than ever is for us to have a plan, a sense of how we’re going to create the space for nature to flourish and move around; getting species a better chance of surviving. This is where the landscape approach comes into its own – both in terms of the scale (ie thinking big and about creating big open spaces for species to be able to move around) and the principle (looking at how we can join up green spaces in our towns and cities).

As we’re living in the age of extreme weather we need to think carefully about how we support and look after wildlife. To a certain extent they can adapt but we need to give them a helping hand. Plus we should never forget the urgency of the need to reduce our impact on nature through the decisions that we make in our lives.

How weather affects nature is symbolic of our wider relationship with nature. There are some booms in terms of good years for wildlife but there are alot more busts in terms of species struggling to adapt. If we don’t want the scales to tip to far to the negative then we need society and the conservation movement to do their bit before its too late.



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