"Nature needs our help - and never more than now"

I'm doing this ride to highlight the biodiversity and climate emergency - and to raise money for Butterfly Conservation

Cycling has always been an interest of mine, and I have long had a fascination with the Land's End to John o'Groats long distance ride.

 

When I retired, I wanted to take on a challenge - something that I wasn't sure that I could accomplish. The Land's End to John o'Groats ride was just the ideal opportunity. As I'm 62, it feels like now or never.

The ride is dedicated to my good friend Kevin from university days, who died in 2018 from cancer. He introduced me to cycle touring and we had a wonderful first cycling holiday on Orkney in the summer of 1978.

I am doing this because there is a climate and biodiversity crisis and nature needs our help

 

My aims are:

  • To raise awareness of the biodiversity and climate crisis

  • To get people to engage with nature, especially the green spaces near where they live

  • To promote Butterfly Conservation and the fantastic work it does with its many volunteers

  • To raise money to help nature

Biodiversity declines in the UK are largely caused by intensive agriculture and development (buildings and roads), which result in:

  • habitat loss and fragmentation 

  • habitat degradation, often due to changing management practices, and

  • chemicals - pesticides, fertilisers, air pollution ... 

 ... to which we can now add global heating

The underlying cause is simple: we have lost our connection with the natural world 

But habitat loss, habitat degradation and the climate crisis are not inevitable.

 

They are the result of choices that we have all made - about development (how much? where?), about agriculture (intensive or organic?), about energy production (fossil fuel or renewable?) and our own CO2 footprint (cars vs. public transport, meat/dairy consumption, flying, etc).

Things can change: if we are re-connected with nature, we will care about it - and we will protect it.

So, I’m encouraging people to connect with nature ...

… in whatever way makes sense for them, knowing that we can still turn things around.

Butterflies are excellent indicator species, and the effects of climate heating are already apparent:

  • We are seeing rapid changes in the distribution of butterflies and moths

  • Migrants are becoming residents (including pests and diseases)

  • Some species are trying to fit in an extra brood in the year, which can be a bad survival strategy

  • We are seeing more heatwaves - leading to desiccated food plants, lack of honeydew and nectar - and collapses in populations in subsequent years

  • Warmer, wetter winters seem to be better for parasites

  • Changes in phenology: species risk getting out of sync with larval food plants or nectar sources. You can pick blackberries in London as early as 1st July - before the Gatekeepers emerge

Follow me on Twitter: @sbsaville.

The ethos of the ride is an ordinary bloke on a bike trying to do something extraordinary*

* Well, not that extraordinary, really ... Cycling UK say that LEJOG is "a challenge that many thousands take on each year". Many people do it in half the time (2 weeks rather than 4), but also take the shorter "traditional" route of around 874 miles. And the record is under 2 days!