Letter: Insects need our help
SIR – Some months ago there was a running correspondence on the possible effects of some 40 pairs of goshawks on the songbird population in the Forest. I shortened my draft letter omitting several paragraphs on the insect population in the New Forest.
After 20 years of walking in one part of the Forest I have noticed, in particular, two things. The boggy areas, where I could not walk, have dried out and I have not been conscious of insects. In my childhood, a long time ago, I recall being bitten by numerous insects in late summer.
Car windscreens use to become obscured by dead insects; today it is uncommon to have the odd insect or two.
Recently, Dave Goulson, a well proven entomologist, has published a book about insects called Silent Earth in the vein of Rachel Carson’s pioneering book Silent Spring. Goulson includes the observation that the insect population has fallen by 75% in 50 years with unpredictable consequences.
Arguments against the current widespread use of pesticides mirrors the work of Rachel Carson who condemned DDT. Apparently some 3,000,000 tons of chemicals are entering the global environment each year.
Locally, physical steps need to be taken to stop the Forest becoming more arid and more susceptible to fire. Small bogs, ponds and even one or two lakes need to be created to encourage insects to breed and for volume sources of water.
Farmers and villages should be encouraged to restore former ponds and make new ones. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds needs to support these moves.
I repeat a request made in your correspondence page further back that there needs to be a specially funded local university group to look into the current and future development of the New Forest, especially with the increasing demands of climate change. The group should be scientifically based and be independent of the various local vested interests.
Goulson’s book should be compulsory reading for all Forest officials and members of the national park authority. There is room for more action and fewer committee meetings.
Please, as a start, give our many species of insect-eating birds a sustainable diet.