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

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Forgotten logos

My wife refers to it, rather dismissively, as 'paper shuffling' but a recent examination of my dusty archive of biological records turned up an item I feel is worthy of mention. Buried amongst the pages of annual ringing totals, nest box records punched out on an old style typewriter and a growing file of more contemporary orthoptera records shared through email, I found a letter head sporting a forgotten, unfamiliar logo.

This logo, to the best of my fading memory was one of the earliest for the then Gwent Trust for Nature Conservation (now Gwent Wildlife Trust). A rather statuesque Barn Owl was the main focal point which, I seem to remember, eventually gave way to an updated symbol in the 1990's of a  more action filled, in flight owl just about to alight on its prey. Today with the barn owl  logo ditched - in some cattle feeding trough - the local Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK generally use a variation of the black and white badger symbol as a sort of nationwide corporate identity.

An evolution or time series of logo's used by conservation organisations and naturalists' societies over the years can sometimes provide an interesting insight into the make up, direction and membership profile of these organisations working to protect our natural heritage.  The Gwent Trust for example in using the barn owl chose a species in decline, who's stronghold, once fortunes had changed, would be the landowning rural communities of  Monmouthshire. Who would have guessed that a drift towards using the badger logo could potentially alienate the same rural farming communities were once courted with the owl logo.

For me logos often act as a memory prompt, a focus for the reminiscing of times long gone when as a Young Ornithologists' Club (YOC) member I along with some mates would look forward to the annual local cine film viewing of the new RSPB movie, all of which seemed to involve the ubiquitous Bobby Tulloch and the Shetlands Islands. For a logo the YOC's design of the 1960's and 70's could easily, with some little adaptation, be that of the Hitler youth or Third Reich. A spread eagled kestrel that wouldn't have been out of place adorning the cap of the camp commandant of Colditz.

Other logos have evolved and come and gone. The BTO has buried at sea its Gannet in favour of some other thingamajig and the RSPBs iconic Avocet logo has changed but to their credit retained the same bird despite it now being a conservation success. Pen and ink calligraphist designs have given way to the whizz ding of computer generated artwork easily transferable to cap or polo shirt. But amongst all this modern organisational identity there's still the odd group that remain true to tradition. See the Monmouthshire Moth and Butterfly Group logo as an example!

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