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Animal lovers, ecologists and celebs support wild boars in Somerset

Animal lovers, ecologists and celebs support wild boars in Somerset

Rewilding skirmish in the fashionable heart of trendy Somerset could set the tone for a new kind of English countryside

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Heatwaves - why you should be taking them personally

Heatwaves - why you should be taking them personally

If the ice melts and the tropical forests burn our once dependable weather patterns will never be the same again

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Mantra - by Marv Radio

Mantra - by Marv Radio

An autobiographical, musical, theatrical, beat boxing, storytelling adventure - London - 16th – 18th August 2019

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Nature

Animal lovers, ecologists and celebs support wild boars in Somerset

Rewilding skirmish in the fashionable heart of trendy Somerset could set the tone for a new kind of English countryside

Are wild boar pests or an encouraging sign of English countryside returning to its former glory? As discussions around whether or not marksmen should be called in to eradicate a young population of wild boar outside the trendy celeb hot spot of Bruton in Somerset, local celebrities are wading in and calling for the animals to be left alone. It seems that in this once sleepy English backwater, a return to a wilder type of countryside is very much in vogue.

Bruton in Somerset is home to a long list of celebrities and is consistently voted the most desirable place in the UK to live. The quiet muddle of Saxon homes is rumoured to have something in the water and the local network of significant people suggests a new Chipping Norton Set - but the vibe is different. The people in Bruton aren’t interested in how big your car is; it is how many trees you plant that really turns heads.

Ben Goldsmith, brother of Conservative MP for Richmond, Zac, moved down to Bruton for a taste of the good life. He has created an ecological farm, raises pigs and chickens and enjoys galloping through the woods near Alfred’s Tower - a local landmark. He has planted 80,000 trees on his land. He said:

“The land around here is really coming alive. I'm particularly excited about the Somerset Wildlife Trust's Selwood Forest Living Landscape Project – which seeks to restore the health and abundance of nature across a huge area of South Somerset.”

On occasion, wild boar have been spotted around Stourhead and Longleat estates nearby the happening village. Some people like Ben are happy they are there. As the debate hots up, contrasting visions of what the English countryside could become are being articulated by charismatic and influential landowners. Ben has strong opinions on the wild boar situation -

“I am local, and very occasionally I’m lucky enough to find signs of boar activity on my farm. I am opposed to a ‘cull’ because I sense this really means ‘eradicate, now, by whatever means are necessary’. The people calling for a cull represents a dwindling minority in our countryside who refuse to share space with wildlife of any kind. It’s not just boar but beavers, foxes, badgers, jays, wood pigeons, white-tailed eagles, otters, you name it, for people like the farmer calling for a cull they are a problem to be removed.”

A wild boar family in the UK

Six months ago, Stourhead estate run by the National Trust controversially announced it will cull boar on its estate to howls of local protest from animal lovers. More recently, local farmer Michael Elcefarmer claimed that people in the local town of Warminster are at risk from boar marauding across fields from Longleat forest and safari park. This local dispute encapsulates broader discussions about the direction we should go with our countryside and how much wildlife we should share our world with.

Elcefarmer’s claims that the animals could threaten people in towns is challenged by Derek Gow an ecologist based in the South West. He says -

“Wild boar are a former native species and as such part of Britain’s natural ecology. They are widespread in continental Europe and commonly live alongside people even in urban environments. Although issues can arise as a result of their presence they do not pose a significant danger to people.”

Rewilding may be an idea whose time has come. Several books have been at the top of the bestseller lists detailing the transformation of industrial farms back to wild lands. Isabella Tree wrote Wilding - the return to nature on a British farm detailing rewilding on The Knepp Estate which has returned to wild nature to the delight of safari visitors. This recovery has taken place against a backdrop of catastrophic loss elsewhere. According to the “State of Nature” report, the UK is a desert compared to our gloriously wild past. Even today, 56% of species in the UK are in decline and 15% are threatened with extinction. Isabella said -

“It is a really important time now to shift people’s attitudes to nature and wildlife. Our lives can be greatly enriched by reintroducing wildlife. Our experience at Knepp shows just how many benefits can be achieved - economically, for local communities and also for the environment. But it is vital to have a management plan in place. Too many wild boar – like in the Forest of Dean, where the population has been allowed to expand into the thousands – defeats the object. In small numbers, wild boar are a huge positive for habitat creation. They’re a keystone species. But too many, and they can cause problems. If we are to get widespread support for wild boar back in our landscape, we need to reassure landowners, farmers and the public that any problems that arise will be addressed.”

Last month, a landmark report came out that demonstrated that by far the cheapest and most effective way of reversing dangerous climate change is to plant billions of trees. As multiple parts of the word scorch in heatwaves it is hugely encouraging that a pathway to unleashing coolness is so simple and low tech as putting trees in the ground. Surrounding ourselves with new forests offer other benefits too. The positive health impacts of trees are manifold from reducing air pollution to offering recreation opportunities for people. Crucially, forests also provide habitat to many species that are in decline - like wild boar.

Isabella Tree, Derek Gow, Ben Goldsmith and other forward looking conservationists want so see millions of trees planted across the UK and, more controversially, the reintroduction of long lost wild species including: wild boar, lynx, beavers and perhaps even the iconic wolf. In contrast, conventional industrial farmers want to stick to business as usual - using machines and fossil fuels to extract the maximum possible tonnage of crops from large, treeless, mono-culture fields. The two conflicting visions of the countryside are now coming head to head in the dispute about wild boar. What happens to these animals may set an important precedent in the UK and influential people are rallying around for wildlife. David Attenborough recently took to the stage at Glastonbury music festival in Somerset and said -

“There are seven great continents on which we human beings live. Each of them has its own marvellous creatures – birds and mammals, animals of all kinds. Each of them has its own glory, each of them has its own problems.”

The united kingdom’s biggest extant carnivore is currently the badger. For a new generation of forward looking environmentalists this simply is not good enough. They are looking forward to a future planet earth is which 50% of the land area has been rewilded and once again large animals share the surface of the planet with humanity. This debate about wild boar is fascinating because it is the tip of the iceberg. If we listen to scientists and start a seriously ambitious campaign of tree planting there will be space for much more wildlife. The questions is - will English people’s love of nature translate into a willingness to live alongside larger wild animals? This question is coming to a head in Somerset where many of the locals feel we can make room for wild pigs.

Nature

Heatwaves - why you should be taking them personally

If the ice melts and the tropical forests burn our once dependable weather patterns will never be the same again

We have a tendency to think that what's going on over there in the Arctic, the tropics or Africa is somehow irrelevant to what's going on here in the U.K. I am Clare Dubois, the founder and CEO of TreeSisters. I am not going to dump a large amount of statistics and data on you. I just want to get a particular point across - our weather patterns are 100% dependent on the circulatory system of the entire planet functioning as it has for many thousands of years. If the ice melts and the tropical forests burn our once dependable weather patterns will never be the same again.

How so?

Polar ice caps at the top and bottom of our planet provides profound cooling. Tropical forests grow around the center, the hottest area which again provides profound cooling, and then the subtropical and temperate regions in between exist in the circulation and flow created because of the differential and contrast of temperature and pressure between the poles and the tropics. It's this difference between the extremes of hot and cold that generates the circulatory system of our planet - powerful movements like the jet streams and the ocean currents.

So what generates this Gulfstream? Warm water flows up from the subtropics, hits the poles and forces the cold water to sink. That cold water drops down deep into the ocean floor and flows all the way back down to Antarctica. There is a push and pull due to heat and cold that pumps the flow of water.

Iceberg melting by Marjorie Teo

What happens when the poles warm and the ice melts? If the sinking fails at the poles, then the pump will collapse and the current will change and so to keep the UK in good health requires us not just to ensure the Gulfstream but also to ensure the stability of the poles which keep the Gulfstream alive in the form it is now.

As we know, the poles are already melting. Over 1 trillion tons of ice melt has already flowed into the north Atlantic, disrupting the Gulfstream which is now the weakest it has been in 1600 years. So now what?

How do we protect the ice?

The ice is melting because we are warming our world with CO2, so we have to cool our world down which requires us to remove the excess CO2 which is however many trillions of tonnes dumped in there since the industrial revolution, and we have to stop putting more in there.

But we're not going to wean ourselves off carbon immediately so whilst we do, we need to start removing the carbon already omitted and this is where tropical trees come in. Now let's be clear, am I dismissing temperate trees? No. We need trees everywhere that our planet originally had trees.

Tropical trees by Lauriane Cayet-Boisrobert (TreeSisters Reforestation Director at Mt. Kenya site)

But if we want the global weather system to keep going and to provide temperate regions with reliable weather then we need to cool the hottest band of our world. We need to reforest the tropics to help slow the warming of the poles. Trees are the best option to sequester the carbon already present, because trees absorb carbon as part of their natural life cycle. And because tropical trees do not go dormant in the winter, they are in a state of constant growth meaning more carbon is being absorbed year-round. They are 50% or more carbon structures.

And when we’re talking about rainforests, we’re not just talking about cooling - they also produce rain that affects weather patterns all over the world.

Trees at work

To create rain, forests need to be a certain scale and density. Due to the updraft created through transpiration, forested continents draw moisture from the sea to hydrate themselves. Raindrops produced by a rainforest is water that has been filtered through millions of trees, numerous times, but when you deforest a continent, it creates less and less of that upward draft that sucks in oceanic moisture. Then, ultimately there is a point where the ocean starts to suck moisture from the land back out to sea.

Children at Mt. Kenya planting site by ITF International Tree Foundation

Another thing to consider is this. I'm talking about the temperate regions and how we stabilise our weather as if somehow that's more important than other places, but it's not because of that. It's that most of us in the temperate regions are responsible for all the carbon that is driving climate change. The indigenous population is now suffering the collapse of the Arctic permafrost, the tropical forest dwellers are seeing their whole ecosystems change and the poorest communities that live in what we judged to be the less-developed regions of our world are not the creators and drivers of climate change, and yet they are suffering the worst extremes. So when we're talking about cleanup, it's us that need to pick up the sacred duty and do what's needed on behalf of our whole world.

The truth is this. ‘Our little patch’, is every little patch of habitable life on this planet that we've all been graced with. Every unique place requires the same circulatory system of ocean and wind that our world has depended upon for its weather patterns to function, and that means that we need to cool our whole world fast. We need our forests back and that is something that every single one of us can contribute to right now. There really is no ‘over there’.

Culture

Mantra - by Marv Radio

An autobiographical, musical, theatrical, beat boxing, storytelling adventure - London - 16th – 18th August 2019

When you discover the power of your voice, what will you use it for?

A suicide attempt, a 30 foot fall from a mountain, a 25 foot fall from a building: Marv Radio is a survivor. Mantra is his true story of falling and getting back up. After suffering from depression for many years, Marv found his purpose through hip-hop music, mindfulness and near death experiences.

From South London to the Amazon Rainforest, Mantra is coming to RADA Studio Theatre as part of Camden Fringe from 16th – 18th August 2019.

Marv has learned how sound and vibration have affected the mind, body and consciousness along with travels through the Amazon, Andes and more. These elements have guided him to his signature take on self-care and holistic therapies, focusing on the voice as a centre of wellbeing.

He is, amongst other things, a beatboxer - performing on stages from Glastonbury to The O2 Arena. He wanted to explore more than raving, money and heavy basslines, leading him on this journey of self-discovery to find the quintessential healing voice.

Mantra is that story, a story of nearly losing it all and starting again. As Nelson Mandela once said; “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Previewed at Camden People’s Theatre in 2018, Marv Radio’s Mantra is coming to RADA Studio Theatre as part of Camden Fringe from 16th – 18th August 2019.

Marv uses the voice as a therapeutic tool. In March and April 2017, he facilitated a project with laryngectomy patients in partnership with the charity Shout At Cancer. The patients, who had their voice boxes surgically removed were trained to beatbox, leading to a live performance as well as a feature on BBC Three’s Amazing Humans. Marv also works as a sound therapist and sees music as an agent of change.

Mantra’s press day with Q&A is at RADA Studio Theatre, 16th August 2019 at 4:15pm. Tickets £10, concs £5. Show days are 17th and 18th August 2019 at 4:30pm Tickets £10 concs £7.50 book tickets at www.marvradio.com/mantra