Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Three cheers for Charlie

Whatever your view of the Royal family Prince Charles is more than passionate about conserving our natural heritage. The most recent example of this is articulated in the foreward of Plantlife's 'The Ghost Orchid Declaration'. I therefore make no apologies for reproducing the foreward in this blog.

'It is not often I find myself writing a foreward to a publication with such a heavy heart. Once again, we have allowed another native species to disappear - appallingly, it is nearly certain that the Ghost Orchid is no more. While this loss is in itself a tragedy, it also demonstrates the extent of the threat to our native flora.

As Patron of Plantlife, it is almost inconceivable to me that neither we, nor our children, will see the pale face of the Ghost Orchid glimmering on the forest floor of our beech woodlands. Yet if we mourn its passing simply as a sad, but inevitable fact of life on this crowded island, we will have missed the dreadful significance this has for future generations...

The link between biodiversity and human health, for instance, was made very clear to me recently by Dr. Eric Chivian, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner from Harvard Medical School and one of the leading scientists looking at biodiversity. He has demonstrated conclusively that there is a direct relationship between the health of humans and levels of biodiversity in the world - whether it is the destruction of the world's rainforests, which provide the vital rainfall on which global agriculture depends, or the loss of natural organisms that has a direct effect on the sprea of infectious diseases.

We must rediscover an understanding of the essential role of wild plants in sustaining the wellbeing of life on this planet, both phyiscal and spiritual. Every now and then we need to look up from our computer terminals and laptops and recognize that we cannot survive in a virtual world alone, but that we are utterly dependent on the natural world and the vast complex ecosystems that sustain us on Earth. Without the infinite richness and diversity of Nature, of which we are an integral part and not just a dispassionate, objective observer, the point of life itself becomes spiritually meaningless. It is perhaps worth remembering this when the list of extinctions grows even longer and we find ourselves dangerously isolated as a species...

So, we cannot allow our exquisite wild plants aand flowers to become invisible to us. All too frequently, we can feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges facing the natural environment. This is why I particularly welcome the practical approach taken by Plantlife in this publication; seeking to engage all of us, collectively and as individuals, the battle to protect and conserve our wild flowers and plants. There is no time to lose and I hope and pray that the loss of the Ghost Orchid will be the wake-up call that we so urgently need.'  Enough said!

Finally, a phenology update: hawthorn in leaf in Cwmbran.

1 comment:

  1. I might want HRH Prince Charles up against a wall at earliest opportunity, from a general point of view, I am 100% with him here too. What is better still, the ghost orchid apparently reappeared this year within weeks of the Plantlife publication. Perhaps I ought to publish something mourning the departure of the Great Auk from Orkney.


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