Netted, nurtured and noxious

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Our world remains full of mixed green fortunes, says Mike Stentiford of the Jersey National Park

WHILE the world order and its global economy fight for some kind of rational stabilisation, environmental issues refuse to move too far away from our collective consciences.

Although most might seem a galaxy away from those in our own tiny dot in the English Channel, others have a bit more ‘home-base’ relevance about them.

The latest unfortunate rejection of a Jersey Marine Park could be a point in question.

The rise and rise of industrial fishing, say marine scientists, is resulting in the harvesting of certain marine species at a speed of knots unheard of since the 1980s.

Despite global efforts to mitigate such damaging declines, industrial-scale netting and trawling continues to make sizeable impacts on the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

The large international and commercially aggressive fishing fleets hoovering the oceans with the aid of sophisticated technology, thankfully, have no direct truck here in local waters.

Nevertheless, the broad consensus is that the current rate of global overfishing equates to around 90% of fish stocks being either fully or over-exploited.

What a pity it is that Jersey chose not to opt for what could so easily have been even a most modest contribution towards marine protection.

SOMETHING else that has a hint of local environmental ‘togetherness’ about it is happening, of all places, in the wilds of Wigan and Salford.

It is here, where a once poorly maintained area of scrub next to the M61 Motorway in Greater Manchester, is morphing into a highly des-res for wildlife.

Previously described as ‘scruffy and unloved’, the area has received a £32,000 grant from the National Lottery and Wigan Council.

With vision and determination, the local wildlife trust, along with teams of volunteers and a herd of heavy-duty beef cattle, are establishing the site as a nature reserve.

By adopting a collective ‘thrash, bash and grazing’ regime, birds, bugs and wildflowers are likely to be in for a bit of an imminent treat.

Expressing any similarity between this project and the current sheep grazing and voluntary conservation initiatives now under way in St Ouen’s Bay is, of course, purely intentional.

ACCORDING to a recently released report, there is a fair bit of mandatory nose-pinching going on in the beautiful hills and valleys of Wales.

The unsavoury word is that Wales has recorded 105,000 incidents of sewage dumping since 2020.

Because many of these spillages were either illegal, or not even recorded, the Senedd’s climate-change committee fears that the figure could be a whole lot higher.

Much of the untreated sewage diverted into rivers is to prevent ‘sewer overload’, a regular occurrence due to an unprecedented increase in heavy rainfall. Solving this environmentally odorous issue would, I imagine, deliver a ‘sweet smell of success’ for the Welsh government.

THANKS to countless numbers of top-quality television documentaries, the world and its wife have no illusions about to the dual wonders and fragility of the Amazon rainforest.

So vast an area does it cover that carrying out a wildlife census must be one of the most painstakingly arduous occupations on the planet.

The figures collated so far are awesome: 2.5 million insects, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 varieties of fish, 427 mammals and enough species of birds to keep an ornithologist happy for ten full lifetimes.

What is even more essential to biodiversity and to the human race is that the Amazon contains between 90 and 140 billion metric tons of carbon. It’s all good news on the face of it, although it is now scientifically recognised that the Amazon rainforest is moving rapidly towards a ‘tipping point’.

In other words, due to a combination of droughts, fires and deforestation, the rainforest is losing its ability to ‘bounce back’. These latest findings are based on three decades of satellite data showing that large parts of the Amazon are now emitting far more carbon dioxide than can be absorbed.

The future implications for climate change, biodiversity and for the local community are truly frightening.

AND, finally… a shaggy sheep story.

A heavyweight sheep has been found wandering around the environmentally harsh landscape of Mount Alexander in the Australian outback.

It appears, so we’re told, to have led a solitary life in this wild terrain for six years, having found initial freedom as an adventurous lamb.

Found in a miserably unkempt state of semi immobility by hikers, the overburdened woolly animal was transported to the Edgar Mission Animal Sanctuary where the first requirement was to engage the services of a professional shearer.

The six years of freedom had evidently led to a serious woolly weight gain, 40 kilos in fact, or, to put it another way, 88lbs of environmentally-friendly loft insulation.

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