Thursday, 21 February 2019

Protecting the environment - can you please help?

Thursday 21 February



A Plea for help

For the past fifteen years or more the occasionally-used military training ground, Groot Schietveld, in the north of Belgium near the Dutch border has been a haven for wild life.  With very restricted access limited to those taking serious scientific work there has been very little disturbance to the wildlife and flora so enabling a fragile habitat to survive and prosper.  Studies on flowers, insects, butterflies and especially birdlife, etc have been undertaken on a regular basis and, in terms of the birdlife, much, if not all, has been centred on raptors, especially Goshawk and Honey Buzzard, by friend Marieke Berkvens (also a member of the Andalucia Bird Society) who lives in nearby Wuustwezel.  Other breeding birds to be found here include Nightjar, Woodcock and tree Pipits to name but three more.  These are very much endangered species and Marieke’s contribution to their study is invaluable.  Indeed, given that Honey Buzzards feed on wasp lava, she has now extended her research to take on the lives and development of the local wasp population.  The site itself is a mixture of small woodland and heather more with the occasional pond and steams so a very special and isolated site in the surrounding countryside.

In the past the local clay pigeon shooters had used the area and took much effort by the local population to have the group removed so not only bringing peace and quiet to the local residents but also preserving this valuable natural site as described above.  Think army training on Salisbury Plane then divide by ten or more and you will see that this is a site where nature can survive in almost pristine condition.  But now a local clay shooting club wants once more to return to this fragile site to recommence their shooting activities.  Not only will the residents be faced with continuous noise at the week-end as opposed to the very occasional disturbance during the working week but wildlife will be greatly damaged both the habitat and noise pollution which will surely pose a very severe threat to the raptors that are only just beginning to thrive and are having to face many other problems in their lives.

Discarded clay rubbish
In addition to the noise and presence of many people on site comes the added pollution of the discarded clays.  These clays do not break down and disappear but very quickly become a blot on the landscape and a potential problem for the creatures great and small.  When the shooters were finally evicted over fifteen years ago the photograph above gives an indication of the resulting mess left behind.  

The local inhabitants and those who support wildlife have raised a petition to keep the wildlife, as well as their peace, from being once more pollutes.  If you, too, would like to help in this matter then please do follow the link below and sign up, as I have done. 

The petition in short says:  “..... I wish to protest against a permit clay pigeon shooting on Groot Schietveld etc….  importance for local residents  etc… nature reserve protected animals and plants etc”
Once you complete the link you will need to visit the site, if does not automatically come up on your screen, and “tick” the appropriate box at the top to confirm that you have actually signed.  Every one of us needs to help each other or soon it could be you trying to protect your little bit of wildlife habitat that comes under threat.

Many thanks for reading this request and please do help if you can.  Any problems with the actual process than please do contact me and if I cannot help then I am sure that Marieke will.

Bob Wright
On behalf of Marieke Berkvens, the people of Wuustwezel and all those who seek to protect this valuable site


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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