Country Corner – A call to nurture our natural environment

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A Lesser Water Boatman, just one of the great variety of freshwater invertebrates which inhabit our burns, ditches and ponds, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

In turn’ they support the vertebrates, the fish and fish eaters, including sticklebacks, minnows, trout, water shrews, herons and kingfishers. Or at least that is how it used to be.

Sadly, almost all the burns and ditches in the low lying arable areas of the Lothians have lost the majority of their freshwater species.

This is simply because the water is no longer fresh.

Chemicals and waste pollute them and turn them milky, often even frothy.

Even more sadly our wildlife watchdogs seem to accept this state of affairs.

As boys in the fifties and sixties, we would freely catch tiddlers in so many waters where they no longer live.

In fact, where nothing now lives.

Indeed in those days we would light our habitual campfires, guddle a trout or two, cook them up and eat them.

We would even drink from those wee burns.

Now I don't even let my dogs drink from them.

There is much talk at present about how we are going to replace our system of farming subsidies post Brexit.

The public wants a system which ensures we can provide sufficient food without killing our soil and waterways in the process.

We want healthy food and a healthy countryside.

It is time to apply our minds and our actions to providing both.

I’m sure there are scientists and officials out there who are currently responsible for our lowground waterways, who will want to take issue with the pessimistic tone of my words.

Please do so.

Please tell us what you are doing and what changes we can hope to see.