Top ten failures of 2021 from Wild Justice and friends - Day Nine
As if Wild Justice needed any more evidence of what would happen to some of our rarest red listed birds without proper land management, they need look no further than to what happened to the Arctic Terns on the National Trust's Farne Island reserve in Northumberland.
It has not been a good year for the National Trust.
First, their chairman Tim Parker announced he was stepping down from the role in May amidst a controversial slavery report.
Then the charity’s prize moorland in the Peak District, Marsden Moor, burnt to a crisp – despite the Trust having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on a rewetting policy. The fire destroyed the habitat of countless endangered ground nesting birds and caused air pollution as far as Huddersfield.
But to top it all off, in June, National Trust’s land management practices severely damaged the UK’s biodiversity once more, with the loss of the famous Arctic Tern colony at Inner Farne, in Northumberland’s Farne Islands.
The tragic loss of these birds was blamed on a lack of vegetation management. David Steel, former head ranger on the island, described his “utter shock” at the state of the land.
“The Artic Tern colony has been managed for 50 years and that management has come to a complete standstill,” the ranger added.
In order for the Terns to breed, the land managers need to remove vegetation throughout the year in order to ensure there are sufficient cleared areas. But it appears this crucial management was neglected this year, and BirdGuides website described Inner Farne as “eerily empty, with no Arctic Terns to be seen.”
This is not only a failure, but a damning indictment of the National Trust’s credentials to manage the land it is entrusted with. Indeed, one source told BirdGuides that volunteers had left their roles at the NT, citing the charity was more concerned with “selling memberships and promoting NT” than protecting wildlife.
We can only hope they are getting their priorities in order ahead of 2022 and the need to manage land properly is recognised if we are to protect the UK's red listed birds.