On 26th March over 170 members gathered at Tarvin Community Centre for the PAL meeting ‘Our Planet, our Countryside, our Choices’.
The first speaker was Faye Sherlock from Chester Zoo whose topic was Sustainable Palm Oil.
Chester Zoo is a leader in the campaign to promote the use of Sustainable Palm Oil. Palm Oil is a necessary crop as it is used in many foods, cosmetics and cleaning products. There is no campaign to ban it just to grow it sustainably. It is efficient to grow as the yield of oil per hectare is much greater than that of other plant oils – eg rapeseed, olive, sunflower but the cost to the environment of growing this is immense as not only is the canopy of any plantation dense which makes life very difficult for other creatures but also the aggressive clearing of land with no care for the existing wildlife is detrimental to species numbers.
The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil – RSPO has been formed whose remit is to encourage the growing of Palm Oil which is ‘profitable for the business while not harming people or the environment’ ie sustainable.
Chester Zoo sees one of its major roles as ‘preventing extinction’ and connected with this is the Orang Utan Conservation project. The Zoo is a partner in ROSPA as the critically endangered OrangUtan’s natural habitat is in areas favourable for the growing of Palm Oil.
Chester has become the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City through the inspiration of Chester Zoo (see link below).
What can we do – make sure that the food and products we buy contain Sustainable Palm Oil (SPO) (see link to the shopping link below). Look for the RSPO logo.
The second speaker was Martin Varley the Director of Conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust who spoke about ‘What next for Nature’.
He explained the role of the CWT as one of enabling wildlife to survive and thrive across the region.
We were reminded that over 50 years ago more food was needed throughout the world so pesticides and nitrate fertilisers were developed to increase food production – which they did successfully. However, at that time the cost of these to the environment were not known. We are seeing the result today in, for example, the catastrophic reduction in the numbers of insects. Globally insects are declining 8 times faster than animals.
The Cheshire Wildlife Trust works to highlight the value of nature and to help nature to recover from past ravages. Some species in Cheshire are critically endangered especially the White Clawed Crayfish and the European Eel .
The Trust is involved in issues relating to the planning system, and works closely with local landowners. With over 1000 registered volunteers in Cheshire the community has a chance to become involved, helping people to get well through nature. The result of our predominantly urban existence means ‘we are getting just as sick as nature’.
So what next ? Brexit will have an influence on our environment. There are going to be new Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Bills to take us forward after Brexit .
What can we do …………… how can we change the future? We can campaign to make sure the environment is what we want it to be – join the Cheshire Wildlife Trust and save the White Clawed Crayfish.
Members left the meeting with plenty to think about.