In the hurly-burly of national politics, it is easy to forget that a lot of MPs’ time is spent dealing with constituents’ problems, and promoting many different causes, including nature conservation. Nature Watch is happy, therefore, to applaud the seven West Midlands MPs who are part of the Species Champions Project, run by a consortium of wildlife organisations, including Buglife, Plantlife, the RSPB and Butterfly Conservation. The project ‘partners Members of Parliament from England with wildlife organisations to bring political support to the protection and promotion of threatened wildlife.
Thus Harriet Baldwin, Conservative member for West Worcestershire, champions the violet click beetle. She says: ‘There are only three sites in the UK, one of which is Bredon Hill in my constituency, where the Violet Click Beetle lives, so I was keen to sign up and do what I can to help this species.’ Philip Dunne, on the other hand, conservative MP for Ludlow, works with Butterfly Conservation to champion the wood white butterfly. The West Midlands’ woodlands are a stronghold for this uncommon species.
Closer to Birmingham, the Wyre Forest conservative MP Mark Garnier champions the lesser-spotted woodpecker. He commented: ‘Representing a constituency with one of the ancient English woodlands, a natural habitat for the lesser-spotted woodpecker, I look forward to learning about this bird and championing its plight.’ In Birmingham itself the Labour member for Yardley, Jess Phillips, has taken on the dunnock. She says: ‘Wildlife needs our help more now than ever.’
Dame Caroline Spellman, conservative MP for Meriden, and an ex environment minister, champions the willow tit, saying: ‘The chirpy little willow tit sadly has ‘red status’ meaning it is sharply declining, so I am proud to be able to do what I can to preserve this characterful species.’
Then there is Bill Wiggin, conservative MP for North Herefordshire, and the Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire. Bill champions a plant – the spreading bellflower. Gavin, who is the Government Chief Whip, finds time to champion the barn owl, one of our most iconic birds. He says: ‘I’m delighted to work with the RSPB to find really practical ways we can protect our diverse UK wildlife for the future.’
It is to be hoped that some of our other MPs join this band of champions to highlight the plight of the nation’s wildlife in the corridors of power.
Full details of the walks and rides can be found at www.bbcwildlife.org.uk