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Monday, October 16, 2006

Somerset Wildlife Trust AGM October 14 2006

Before I start on the AGM here is a photograph taken from home early in the morning a few days ago. Why would anyone want to live anywhere else than Somerset?

Now for the AGM.

There were some memorable points of interest at the AGM yesterday. The large audience of around 160 was impressive as was the buffet lunch provided by the hosts, the West Somerset Area Group, and offering local produce. Apart from the food I was struck by reports of new projects such as the enormously significant large scale landscape conservation work on the Mendip Hills. The project is aiming to link the many existing reserves with adjacent private land to rebuild biodiversity across the area. This concept of working outside the confines of reserves was touched on by different speakers and relates to concern for the state of the countryside everywhere. The Mendip scheme covers 29 nature reserves managed by SWT and other conservation groups, 17 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 93 County Wildlife Sites and the surrounding intensively farmed land.

It was good to hear about the merger of the Carymoor Environmental Trust with the Somerset Wildlife Trust. There was plenty of information about the facilities that are now part of SWT and there is no doubt that the centre near Castle Cary will provide an excellent education and training resource for anyone interested in doing something to help wildlife in Somerset. It would be well worth while organizing a visit from our committee and any other local members so that we can see for ourselves what is available.

Bringing new experience to the Council of the SWT was David Watson. Of interest to me was his work on the creation of species rich grassland at Carrymoor. He is a Principle Lecturer in Biology and Assistant Head of the School of Science and the Environment at Bath Spa University. He has worked as a volunteer with a number of Wildlife Trusts in different parts of the country.

Reports on campaigns showed that responses were generally good. News was awaited on the DEFRA intentions for a possible cull of Badgers; Raising funds for Fyne Court repairs is going well as had been the case for the Beer and Aller Woods purchase of additional land. The Big Switch Campaign had highlighted the need for individuals to save energy consumption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Trusts concern about proposals to raise water levels over parts of the levels to encourage tourism was reported with the warning that members of the Trust might be asked to support a formal objection if concerns were not meet.

The afternoon was given a very stimulating conclusion by the guest speaker Rosie Boycot who gave her own views on the current climate change state of play. In brief she made it clear that whilst individual actions were important only government action could make the major changes necessary. She was sympathetic to questions from members and agreed that only some major event which had a serious economic impact was likely to get politicians to ignore the displeasure of voters and force changes in lifestyles. The situation calls for urgent change to many elements of our social structure such as planning changes to make all new houses energy efficient.

I found it interesting to compare the three presentations on global warming I have heard in the last week or so. First Bill Butcher of SWT and SERC, then Al Gore, the man who once was the next president of the USA. And finally Rosie Boycot. Their views all overlap with some differences of emphasis but all committed to the seriousness of the situation.
Bill Butcher gave details at the AGM of coach parties to go to London on the 4th Nov for the Stop the Climate Chaos rally. Members should if at all possible make the trip.

Bill and Rosie both recommended a new book by George Monbiot called "Heat". Here is a link to The Guardian and an extract from the book.,,1875762,00.html

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