Modern farming has wiped out billions of insects and birds. Plans to restore them will only work with public pressure
Ever been on a protest march for the environment? If you’re young and you care about things – if you’re old, for that matter – you may well have been, and I bet I can guess the theme of the demo. It was probably about climate change, and quite right too, global warming being an unparalleled threat to our very existence. It might have been about nuclear power and its expansion; it might perhaps have been aimed at major pollution, or the loss of some local well-loved amenity. But I’ll bet you a pound to a pinch of snuff that it wasn’t about farmland birds, or the disappearance of insects.
No one, young or old, marches in the street to protest about the impoverishment of our countryside; no one hoists banners crying out against the turning of our green fields into sterile wildlife wastelands. Yet in the past 50 years in Britain, through the intensification of agriculture, we have destroyed well over half of our biodiversity, and the populations of birds, butterflies and wild flowers that once gave the landscape such animation and thrilling life have been utterly devastated – the figures are there.