The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) supports the “Working for Wildlife” campaign because, since its beginning in 1930, it has pioneered the idea of ‘Working Conservation’. The Trust’s scientific research was inspired by wanting to find practical solutions to reversing the decline of farmland biodiversity. It recognised early on that success depended on developing measures that fitted into farming regimes. In 1968 the legendary GWCT ecologist Dr Dick Potts established the Sussex Study with the aim of discovering why grey partridges were disappearing on the South Downs. It remains the world’s longest-running study of the impact of farming on the ecology of arable farmland, and its findings form the basis of many government agri-environment schemes.
As the State of Nature Report makes clear, 52 years on we have failed to reverse the national decline of wildlife in Britain. However, there are many examples of conservation success at a local level where land managers have been inspired to go the critical extra mile.
Their stories show that conservation is 50% ecology and 50% psychology. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations, designations, stipulations and scientific theories are applied; without the inspiration and drive of individual land managers and their communities, history has shown that conservation efforts will not succeed. That’s why it’s time to put people, not red tape, at the centre of wildlife conservation.
In keeping with this and to give a platform to those Working Conservationists who have blazed a trail, we wanted to provide a website that wasn’t about the conservation charities but about the people on the ground. We believe these unsung heroes deserve their own space and a place to share their stories and inspire others. We hope you will sign the pledge to put their experience, understanding and insight at the heart of future conservation policy.