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Piers Sangan, Conservationist: Five things I would change about Jersey

Piers Sangan, Conservationist: Five things I would change about Jersey

Friday 24 May 2019

Piers Sangan, Conservationist: Five things I would change about Jersey


Whether birds, bees or bats… Piers is a guy who believes conservation is more important now than ever, and he’s ready to do his bit to help all creatures great and small.

Passionate about the environment, he studied Conservation Biology and became a Wildlife Ecologist and Conservation Land Manager.

In 2012, he set up Sangan Island Conservation to provide ecological services to individuals, companies and even the government with whom he has worked to design and implement management plans on local Sites of Special Interest (SSI).

For Express, Piers didn't just think about how he'd improve things for Jersey's habitats and species, but the whole island...

1. Power to the (green) people!

Ok, so I am not talking about political power, I am talking about our energy use in the island. In this rapidly changing climate, I am at a complete loss to understand why our island is not taking a step in to the spotlight to lead the way on renewable energy for the island and cut our reliance on imported nuclear energy.

Tide Beach

Pictured: "We have access to one of the most powerful forces on earth, the sea."

Not all forms of renewable are suitable, but, being an island, we have access to one of the most powerful forces on earth: the sea.

Tidal and wave power should only be natural as the way to generate our islands power, some smaller countries are already a lot further a head and it’s about time our island made a real commitment to generating its own renewable power.

2. Restore our wetlands

Keeping with the changing climate theme, Jersey has recently commissioned a report into preparing the island against climate change, as well as declaring a climate change emergency. One of the biggest risks to an island is the risk of rising sea levels and already across the world low-lying islands are being lost to the sea.

What does that mean for Jersey? Well, unfortunately our historic wetlands have mostly been developed on and the island’s historic coastal wetlands have all been lost and drained, increasing the risk of coastal flooding. Rue des Pres Marsh used to run all the way to St. Helier.

Historically, these marshlands would have flooded naturally and held the excess water, as well as reducing the power of storm surges, therefore reducing the damage caused.

Some places have taken the bold step of breaching modern sea walls and allowing the wetlands to re-establish, not only promoting biodiversity but also reducing costs in terms of maintaining flood defences and repairing damaged caused by flooding.

Would it be possible to restore some of our wetlands such as Goose Green Marsh to perform the job they were naturally designed for?

3. Fall in love with farming again

I get very tired of seeing the farming industry bashed for being ‘unfriendly’ to the environment and ‘destroying our countryside’. The reality is that without farming there would be no countryside and the loss of biodiversity would be even higher.

Landscape features we take as being natural, such as hedgerows, are only present because of farming. Without farmers undertaking the maintenance of these boundary features, they would otherwise grow into trees and would not be able to support the variety of flora and fauna they currently can.

farm agriculture crops vegetable

Pictured: "We need to keep supporting our local farms to help keep our countryside green and to protect our islands biodiversity."

It’s not just the fields - farm buildings are as important for wildlife, and the loss a working farm often leads to the development and re-purposing of the buildings. This can lead to the complete loss of habitat for swallows, bats and other wildlife that have evolved to co-exist on farms.

We need to keep supporting our local farms to help keep our countryside green and to protect our islands biodiversity.

4. Turn the lights off

When British astronaut Tim Peake took a photo of Europe from the ISS at night (2016), I found it very disturbing that the amount of light our tiny island is emitting can be seen ‘clearly’ from space.

Light pollution has a large negative impact on wildlife and also on our own wellbeing. Yet driving around the island I have to wonder why are there so many lights.

Do the historic buildings really need to be lit up, potentially disturbing wildlife living on them? Do office blocks really need to have the lights on at 02:00 when no one is there? Also, with the change in lighting technology to more powerful and brighter LED lighting, we should be reducing the number of lights.

I would suggest that to have unnecessary lights on past a certain time should require a paid for licence to hopefully help reduce the levels of light pollution.

5. Support the small biz

Being a small local business is a very expensive job - commercial rents are extremely high and the cost of employing people, tax, social, utilities... the list goes on.

This often leads to small businesses having to charge higher rates just to cover operational cost at a risk of having low turnover or accept significant losses.

startup-project teamwork

Pictured: As the founder and Director of his own business, Piers knows how expensive it can be.

It would be great to see a small business initiative set up where a specific development (industrial estate) could be built that would specifically be for businesses under a certain size (manpower and turnover) with lower start up rents and a variety of building facilities to accommodate a range of business from office and storage space to small shop fronts.

This would also help small business get established and develop a clientele by having a focal point for people to visit and explore new business. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Bailiwick Express.

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Posted by William Boyd on
Eminently sensible regarding lights and them being switched off. Every second street light could be. Offices should have movement detectors so if nothing moves the lights go off. Lit office buildings with no one in them is crazy.
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