By Sir Jim Paice, GWCT Chairman
You will have seen the headlines about our climate, about the need to store more carbon, about species in decline.
You and I live in a world that is always looking for simple answers. For over 80 years, GWCT research has helped to inform the way this land is managed, but more and more this alone is not enough to win the argument. One of the challenges we face right now is how to ensure the big decisions are made with science in mind.
We don’t look for simple answers, but for ones that make a positive difference.
It took almost twenty years for a national hen harrier strategy to be agreed. Since then, we have seen legal challenges and obstructions by those keen to stop people getting on with it, despite this year being the best breeding season for over half a century.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Misinformation in the press and on social media, decisions made on the back of petitions rather than the available science has resulted in bizarre last-minute amendments to policy.
Those working hard to help our countryside and its wildlife to thrive cannot, and should not, be straitjacketed like this. I am proud to represent an organisation, one supported by passionate members like you, that is committed to standing up for wildlife and those working hard to support it.
Last year I launched our Unleash the Science Fund.
Since then, your support has helped us to show how important our research is when challenging misinformation about our countryside and give working conservationists a voice. Last June we published our Peatland Report explaining the complexities of the issues facing the uplands.
Soon after, Defra reconsidered its position on burning and carbon storage. When Wild Justice made legal challenges to halt general licences farmers and gamekeepers rely on to control pest species, our research proved vital.
To keep doing this I need your help. I need you to make a donation to my Unleash the Science Fund today.
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This fund gives us the confidence to plan ahead for the challenges we continue to face. It supports over 60 scientific staff, just returning from a fieldwork season in which they’ve been busy collecting the data that will inform our work for years to come.
They’re doing work few others could – counting grouse, analysing the effects of burning and cutting heather, assessing the impact of squirrels on woodland birds, GPS tracking curlew, developing better game crops. As autumn arrives, the same people will be analysing their findings, furthering the national understanding of these important issues.
Your donations empower us to stand up for working conservation and challenge misinformation in the media. You allow us to reach more than 60,000 email subscribers every week and tens of thousands more on social media, giving them a robust, evidence-led account of what is really happening in our countryside.
We know that money is still tight, but we can’t afford to stand still. We are a small organisation with limited resources, but we have a real impact.
None of us can predict what challenges are around the corner. We don’t know what the countryside will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years, nor who’ll be managing it. The government is looking to encourage the next generation of farmers by helping older farmers retire – we must make sure they come with the right ideas in mind. You can help us to achieve this.
So today I am asking you to get behind our research staff, our advisors and our policy team and donate to the Unleash the Science Fund.
You will have seen others asking for funds to support their latest legal challenge, whether it’s about badgers, pheasants or general licences. We, on the other hand, will be using your vital donation in a more positive way - to undertake leading research and to put it directly in the hands of those making our laws.
With you and 20,000 others like you, we can stand up for the future of British conservation and deliver real change on the ground.
Please donate today and support the science that will inform the debate for years to come.
To ensure we make the most of the opportunities that come our way and give our countryside its best chance of a better future, I need your help. Every one of your donations – whether it’s £5, £50 or £2,500 – takes us closer to achieving our full potential and gives our research a bigger platform.
I hope I can count on you once more. Please donate to the Unleash the Science Fund below: