At this time of year South Suffolk really does explode into vibrant natural splendour. It’s the open gardens season, with flora and fauna to the fore, and a chance for all of us to enjoy Suffolk at its best. A personal favourite is heading off on my bike along narrow rural backroads, to have the immense pleasure of seeing a hare or two scampering ahead in the distance. Then there is the still open water of the Stour, where whole stretches lull along seemingly unchanged from when Constable painted there.
The constituency is spoilt for choice if you want to sample the best of the open gardens tradition. It would be remiss of me to pick a favourite, though I understand Chelsworth is one of the longest running in the whole country. But I do very much admire those who go to such trouble to throw open their home turf for people to marvel at from far and wide.
On the matter of fauna, I am delighted to be the RSPB Parliamentary Species Champion of the Turtle Dove. This migrant species, once a staple of Suffolk’s summer skyline, has declined by more than 95% across the UK since 1970, partly as the unavoidable result of changes in farming methods. I recently attended an RSPB visit in Boxford to see the work that a local farmer is doing to provide improved habitats to try to tempt these birds to land and nest in our area.
The reversal of species decline, as with the majority of the issues facing our country, depends on heightened awareness, particularly in terms of educating the next generation. Therefore, I was pleased to donate an owl box – kindly made for me by a talented RSPB volunteer - to Bentley Primary School on the launch day of their Beast, Birds and Bugs club. Beyond education, the protection of our wildlife relies on action at national and international levels. As such, I was delighted that the Government recently banned the sale of ivory products in the UK, a crucial step towards ensuring the future of one of the world’s most endangered animals.
Article by James Cartlidge MP. Published by Keith Avis.