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Government can't ignore threat to our plant life.

Byline: KEN UNWIN Kings Heath

Sir, - Britain's wild flowers are getting more and more scarce, a wholesale impoverishment of the United Kingdom's national flora is taking place and is suffering an erosion of its botanical diversity.

It is because of habitat destruction, drainage, the development of wet places and the decline in woodland management, together with the fact of the increase in soil fertility in Britain as a result of nitrogen enrichment from years of chemical fertilisers being used in farming.

However some plants, such as stinging nettles and cow parsley, are growing to a prodigious extent and we even have nettles that are ten feet tall. In the meantime, Plantlife tells us that the increased fertility has amounted to a substantial decline in the diversity of plant species across lowland Britain.

However, we hear from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which is part of the National Environment Research Council, that a steady improvement has been brought about by the steady application of green policies since the 1980s, particularly in agricultural support. In the circumstances, it seems rather

ironic that Plantlife reports that the steady attrition of the local flora can be compared to a slowly sinking ship, the cargo hold and lower decks are already under water and the sea is now rushing through the portholes and that Britain's increased soil fertility is the most insidious of the causes of our wildlife decline. It also gives a list of counties with a list of wild flowers lost from the countryside.

Accordingly, if one is a regularly visitor to the countryside and from observations it is clear that NERC report is totally misleading, which is as we know, typical of most Government departments.

However, the Environment Minister Mr Michael Meacher informs us that the figures show that things are beginning to get better, he quite clearly not referring to the figures supplied by Plantlife, and one wonders if his so-called experts have ever moved from their desks?
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Title Annotation:Letter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 9, 2001
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