I noticed two stories on my Twitter feed today that epitomises the state of nature conservation in the UK. One relates to the very welcome news that Natural England have licenced the reintroduction of the White-tailed Eagle to the Isle of Wight. The other story is of an investigation into the introduction of non-native pheasants by Guy Shrubsole.

There are some obvious differences between White-tailed Eagles and Pheasants – I’m sure you can think of many! Perhaps the strangest is how they are treated by our statutory conservation agencies. In the White-tailed Eagle press release, Natural England highlighted that they had paid particular attention to the following:

  •  the impacts on other wildlife and socio-economic interests, including livestock
  • the risk of disease transmission
  • the feasibility of the proposal and likely success
  • any risk to the donor population
  • the contribution to the conservation of white-tailed eagles
  • the adequacy of the applicant’s consultation, the evidence of support and how issues raised will be addressed
  • the applicant’s experience
  • the applicant’s monitoring plan
  • evidence of sufficient finances to support the project
  • the applicant’s communications plan and exit strategy

I wonder how many pheasant introductions undergo such a rigorous assessment? – answers on a very small postcard.


Photo credit: White-tailed Eagle by R. Saunders taken from NE Press Release.