Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

(photo credit: UK Biodiversity Action Plan)

In 1992, the UK government signed the 'Rio Convention' and committed this country to halting biodiversity loss through the 'UK Biodiversity Action Plan': London is one of nine regions which form part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan which is trying to increase the numbers of stag beetle.

The stag beetle is a globally threatened species, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), and listed as a priority species for the UK and London Biodiversity Action Plans. The London Bioversity Partnership advises

Managing for stag beetles is easy; it's more a case of 'leave alone', than doing something special (although in some cases this may be required). It is all to do with providing dead wood.

Moreover, the Royal Parks Foundation's "exciting plans for 2009" include the opportunity to adopt a stag beetle for £15
"The stag beetle is the gentle giant of the insect world. Despite an ancient reputation for summoning thunder and lightning, the stag beetle is entirely harmless. With greatly reduced numbers across the UK, the presence of stag beetles in Richmond Park was instrumental in its designation as a National Nature Reserve. Stag beetles can be encouraged in every garden (just leave some dead wood lying around - they'll live there for years), but adopting this lovely Lucanidae will help us protect the nationally important colonies living in the Parks"

Unless the 2012 equestrian events proposed for Greenwich Park wipe out the stag beetle colony.

Greenwich Park as a whole is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and it supports a large population of stag beetle as well as a diverse range of woodland birds including, among others, nuthatch, tree creeper, goldfinches and greenfinch, tawny owl, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker and lesser-spotted woodpecker.

LOCOG has so far said nothing at all about protecting the stag beetle's habitat from being destroyed. Perhaps they are unaware that people can be prosecuted for destroying habitat of protected species. The penalties range from fines up to £5,000 to six months imprisonment. Ignorance is no longer a defence, for, under legislation enacted 21 August 2007, "No longer will it prove an adequate defence to suggest that damage to any European protected species or their habitat was accidental, or due to lack of knowledge of the existence of a species on a specific site" Jon Abbatt, ADAS development sector manager.

A bitterly hypocritical "legacy" that would be, teaching our children that biodiversity and conservation are important to the survival of the planet - unless, of course, it gets in the way of a month-long exhibition of elite sports. RM

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