Every night the noise of wildlife outside is enough to drown out a passing car, from the crickets and frogs in the background through to numerous birds seemingly in mid distance to the mumbling of large hedgehogs and scratching from other smaller mammals almost at my feet. The dawn chorus is almost deafening and any attempt to try and pick out individual species is impossible.
Throughout the day the constant hum of insect life, interspersed with knocking and tapping which sound as though we live next door to a carpenter’s workshop, is actually soothing. Frequent large insects, a huge variety of huge bees and butterflies which necessitate in growing pile of identification guides on hand, which often do not contain the species we wish to identify.
I can walk where I want, so long as I do not walk across a crop. But I cannot go for a walk in the deep woods at the moment because the Boar are breeding and are dangerous at this time of year. But the hectares of true wildflower meadows, waist high in flowers, with a range of odours some of which can be too pungent to bear are a good compromise.
Walking along the roads we are wrapped in the threads from spiders and trying to cycle at a normal speed is difficult due to the countless kamikaze insects pelting against you. Take the car and your windscreen wiper water is soon exhausted having to clear the debris of massacred insects that could not get out of the way in time because they were in such crowds, but even trying to get the car out of the garage without running over a snake or lizard is tricky.
This year, as last year was such a success, the decision to leave hedge cutting, verge cutting and lawn mowing, (but then lawns in France are not comparable to the high standards of a UK lawn), have been left to allow for a good spread of flowers to ensure the depleted honeybees have as much as possible to aid their recovery without a formal governmental request, mainly because of the beauty from last year.
This is not a national park, there is no nature reserve nearby it is a busy village in an area of intensive agriculture and forestry. It is an area solely reliant on agriculture and forestry and good profits are made. There are no tourists here, asides those ‘passing through’.
This is what well over 75% of rural France is like.
I am not smug it makes me sad to hear about the continuing depletion of nature in the UK, which is still my country.
And there are problems here most noticeably a severe lack of traditional skills and craftsmanship, leading to a need to always build new, where a lust for soil sealing creates large bitumen lakes to park a single car on and the landscape is thus changing, although thankfully the many non woodland trees naturally regenerated, are widespread enough to hide this.
The rural French are often criticised as being harsh with animals and hunting is a huge pastime here. For well over 50% of the male population of the village it is their number one leisure pursuit. French farmers are often criticised for having far too strong a lobby voice, enough to take down a government at will. And there are hardly any conservation charities.
But such criticism falls flat as soon as you open the door and walk outside.
So what the hell is wrong in the UK? Where if you added together all the money paid by government or directly by donation towards protecting nature, I can safely guess that as a minimum it would be 10% more than here in France.
I have been asked several times why I have a problem with NGO’s? It is because of the above. Before I moved here I could not see a problem, but the role of some during the Forestry sell off woke me up. The NGOs are not solving anything in true accountable terms and as things get worse it seems to be used as an excuse for some NGOs to plead for even more money.
The NGOs have a future and indeed landowning NGOs a duty. And many, many smaller NGOs who simply get on with things should be applauded.
But corporate, one voice, media manipulating NGOs should be questioned, should be held to account – because they have been there during successive governments and built a powerful base for themselves as nature slipped away under their watch.
More and more people will be starting to think the same unless real results are seen very quickly.