Last night’s local wildlife group meeting was a disorientating affair. Time’s arrow is now running backwards for me and I’m watching the first half of my life playing itself out again in reverse. As our elected government rolls back the size of the state, and with it local democracy, so the environmental policies of the last 50 years go into reverse. Most of the concrete that was laid down 50 years ago in the Concrete Century will be ripped up in the next 50. This brook will be “rewilded” – the concrete revetments torn out, meanders and gravel riffles introduced. It’s already happened on another brook in the city, and there’s one more scheduled to be done before this one, as soon as the householders have been convinced these works are no more likely to flood their houses than before. The potential for wildlife is huge. A mile and a half downstream of this spot there is a thriving population of otters and kingfishers. I last saw a kingfisher from this bridge 20 years ago, but they’re only five minutes flight away. And the otters are already pushing up the concrete channels looking for new territories. Thanks to Bushnell, we watch them in the dark on our camera traps. Weirdly, it is conceivable that in my lifetime I could stand on this
bridge beaver dam and watch otters snacking on water voles below, pine martens chasing red squirrels through the trees, and huge herds of George Monbiot sweeping majestically across the plains.
You can call it spending cuts but we must use their weapons against them. If they insist on Austerity, we must insist on wildlife.
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