Readers respond to Michael McCarthy’s article about the devastation caused by modern farming to insects and birds

Michael McCarthy is quite wrong when he says most people are unaware of the destruction of Britain’s wildlife (We’ve lost half our wildlife. But the damage can be reversed, 26 March). Even if you never visit the countryside, if you have any kind of garden you will be painfully aware of it. Twenty years ago my bird feeder nearly always had numerous birds on it (eight at a time was the record, I seem to remember). Now the peanuts wither and go black in the feeder. Then, we had many species; now, one pair of blackbirds, one pair of robins and a couple of greedy pigeons. Twenty years ago I saw a mother hedgehog parading through the garden trailing several babies. Now, I haven’t seen a hedgehog for at least a decade.

Up until a couple of years ago the frogs in my garden pond had their riotous mating ceremony around St Valentine’s Day, followed quickly by masses of spawn and then by innumerable tadpoles. Now the date has become variable but results in very little spawn, which after a couple of weeks collapses into featureless slime. The number of pond species has steeply declined and if you put (say) daphnia into a jar of pondwater, they all die instantly. The problem is, what do I do about it apart from writing letters to the Guardian? The government is quite obviously either totally uninterested or completely in the grip of the big chemical firms and the farming lobby. I am delighted to be told that the problem is reversible, and I’m sure it is, but not without a political revolution, of which I see absolutely no sign.
Jeremy Cushing
Exeter

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