IT is an iconic image…six nude women at a swimming pool with some of the most famous LP covers in rock history painted on their backs… and the Royal Society for the Protection of the Birds (RSPB) Northern Ireland restaged it today (20th April ) to launch their election manifesto, ‘Delivering for Nature’.
But instead of a prism, cow and wall, the dedicated conservationists were painted with a red kite, basking shark, wind turbine, globe, bee orchid and lapwing to symbolise the wildlife charity’s key priorities for the next Assembly term. The photograph was taken at the seawall of Belfast Lough, in an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).
“The RSPB is asking election candidates to show some leadership and ensure that Northern Ireland’s environment is protected,” said Dr James Robinson, Director RSPB NI. “We do this not just for wildlife, but for our children, and economy, as well as our health and well-being. Policies that compromise the integrity of the environment are short term and cost more in the long run.”
The RSPB is asking for the five following points:
* Protect our important wildlife sites (painted bee orchid)
* Save our seas (painted basking shark)
* Reverse declines in farmland birds (painted lapwing)
* Act on climate change (painted wind turbine)
* Protect environmental education (painted globe)
“Some of the declines which our most cherished wildlife have undergone over the last fifty years has been truly shocking,” continued Dr Robinson. “For instance, numbers of breeding lapwings have plummeted and some of our fragile sealife, like fan mussels, has all but disappeared. It is recognised that thriving wildlife populations are a sign of a healthy environment that is good for people as well.
“If we have a degraded environment it means that we will have to spend more money and time cleaning up the mess we have made – money that could be spent more fruitfully elsewhere. We are asking the government to do nothing less than what the people expect them to do – govern responsibly both now and into the future.”
The six conservationists who took part saw this as a good cause.
“I usually deal with land policy,” said John Martin, the ‘basking shark’, “and know how important it is that we are getting this message through during these elections. If this puts the environment on the agenda, then as they say, happy days.”
The RSPB is also asking candidates to sign its ‘Letter to the Future’, a pledge which states candidates’ commitment to these demands. To see how you can get your candidates to sign up, or check if they have already done so, go to www.rspb.org.uk/elections2011.