david hall


Somebody's been busy with laying hedges and thinning the copse at the bend in the river, along one of my usual daily walks.

It's good news that there is active management of such a small clump of trees (we are not heavily wooded here) and the favoured specimens should flourish. It's just a shame that so much timber has been left on the ground. I know the beetles and fungi like their fair share, but when there is reasonable timber (OK probably only firewood) left I feel it's a bit of a waste.

When I think of waste and wood, I think of carbon, and over the last couple of months I've looking at the Carbon Offsetting industry, or more specifically, methods locking-up carbon. There appear to have been some real horror stories with money disappearing into poorly implemented or even downright nefarious schemes, plus a lot which just don't seem to do much.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion, with the help of the guys at Newton Rigg (sorry now it has to be a University of Cumbria), that the only viable method is to plant trees (please don't misunderstand, this is quite distinct from technology efficiency and waste/energy management). Yes, the original and still the best! Defra launched a consultation on a Code of Best Practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to UK customers on 18 January 2007, Joan Ruddock said we would be getting it on 13 July, but despite promises for the Autumn of 2007, we still wait...

...in the mean-time, an international Voluntary Carbon Standard has arrived and I rather think defra have been left with their collective pants down, again.

With some of our Civil Servants publicly denying the need for food security, one can see the political attitude toward the farmer and land-use within the UK. In certain regions of our small islands, there is huge pressure on the use of land for non-agricultural use and in other areas, farmers struggle to eke a living. The importance of tourism to Britain plc and preserving the Thomas Hardy image of the countryside, certainly not as a modern workplace, must not be underestimated and I can see the offsetting business ousting agriculture in the more remote and upland areas. We could end-up with battery-egg on our faces.

Mind you, finding dry land at the moment can be tricky. With, at the last count, 15 severe flood warnings and 124 flood warnings in place across England and Wales, it's thought a month's rain landed today (sorry, yesterday). I've taken some photos of the beck when out with Rufus, will post later.


Farewell 2007

...and to the Yangzte river dolphin or Baiji. Not that I ever met one, but I feel sad about the high probability of it's passing - the first cetacean species (and the sole example of the Lipotidae family) to be driven extinct by humans.

This is a stern warning when considering the fate of the Gulf of Mexico porpoise, the Vaquita. Likely to be extinct in 2 years, the vaquita suffers in shrimping nets and positive action has to be taken to help this creature. If anything can come out of the baiji's extinction, then it will be knowledge gained from the failure of the efforts to save it, which can be applied to helping the vaquita.

Hello 2008…

…and welcome a frog disease, chytrid fungus, kit rid. Over breakfast this morning I listened to David Attenborough warning of the deadly frog disease which is spreading rapidly. It may not be new, but the rate of it's spread is worrying scientists because it's going much faster than the animals can evolve resistance to it. Why is it moving so quickly - is global warming speeding this up - or is it just an increase in international amphibian trade. The individual frog may not be as high profile as the Baiji, but collectively, they are a vital part of life on earth.