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A noble aim

Cabinet noble chafer smWhat an illuminating morning, wandering through ancient plum orchards and orchid-strewn meadows on the fringes of the Forest! This is a place in change, where unusually biodiversity is on the increase, encouraged by an group of local enthusiasts. The more I walked around the more I was struck by its particular-ness, its local-ness, and nothing illustrates this better than the Noble Chafer Beetle. OK, I would love to have got a shot of the metallic green beetle itself (but it is the wrong time of year for that) so you will have to settle for a picture of the droppings of the Noble Chafer larvae (those are the larger dark coloured pellets in amongst the brown rotting wood), taken from one of decaying fruit trees in the orchard. A few details will illustrate my point: this beetle is vulnerable to extinction but the Forest is one of the few places it still survives, living in decaying fruit trees, and not just any old decaying fruit tree but particularly ‘standing deadwood’ trees rather than those that have fallen over and lie decomposing on the ground. The larvae grow in holes in the trees for a couple of years before the adults emerge, just for a couple of months in the summer, to mate and reproduce. As fruit orchards have been on the decline for many years so have the beetles. But so what? Why does this beetle matter? A nostalgia (not shared by evolution) for the delight and particular-ness of this iridescent bug? Here we are entering the realm of biophilia, the argument for preserving biodiversity, and why nature is important to us (beyond feeding and sheltering us). I must include a copy of Biophilia in the cabinet. Many thanks Chris for such an engrossing morning showing me around your wonderful meadows and orchards.

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