We live in tough times with constant threats to our environment and health. As if this wasn't enough, we are also worrying about the well-being of our feathered friends. It's oil dumping in the Baltic Sea, merciless hunting (read: slaughter) in Malta, impoverishment of natural woods...Yes, the list is very long.
What can you and I do about it?
By membership in SOF/BirdLife International we support the protection of birds and their habitats. By calling the Bird Information pay phone of Club 300 we contributes to the financing of their Bird Protection Fund. These are important pieces of the puzzle, but merely drops in the ocean. Maybe you are a member of a regional bird club, Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy Society or maybe you put work into your local bird club. All this is excellent and of course you should continue doing this, but there is a new phenomenon - Proact.
Protest, Alert and Action Contact & Coordination for Eurobirders & their Allies was started by David Conlin in the autum of 2000 as a natural continuation of the campaign against a proposal from the hunting lobby in the EU parliament, led by the Italian member of the Eu parliament Michl Ebner, to prolong the hunting season in France. The campaign was succesful and an idea was born. As a coordinator David launched more campaigns, primarily via the mailing lists EuroBirder and EuroBirdNet and via his website http://proaction.tripod.com and he immediately met response.
Proact works the other way round
Many protests have been carried out as mail bombings, i.e. a great number of people are urged to send a lot of similar letters which by overflowing the mailboxes shows a great discontent. Proact works the other way round. A small but growing group around the coordinator creates carefully formulated letters, which are sent to key persons. Behind the letters lies loads of research. The letters are often written in a positive air and argues that changes in critical practices are often of economical benefit for the receiver of the letter. In the campaign against the bird slaughter in Malta, the economic values of eco-tourism are highlighted and it's poited out that it's not "the world against Malta" but rather "the hunters against the rest of Malta". The intensive hunt for birds scares the tourists away. The economy of Malta would gain conciderably from a total ban of shooting birds or at least a strictly regulated hunt. Hands on your heart - who wouldn't like to go birding, watching leadfree birds, in Malta during spring and autum migration. Read the different letters to the president and some well chosen ministers of Malta at http://proaction/tripod.com/malta/index.html and be impressed by the work behind the letters.
When the letters are written .....
..... they are sent by e-mail to the the Proact Team (i.e. to me and hopefully also to you) to be read. Any points of view can be sent to Proact. If not, the letters will be sent to the receivers signed by "David Conlin and Proact Team" followed by a row of countries and the names of all the members of the Proact Team. If I, for any reason, don't want to participate in a specific campaign (maybe I like shooting Hoopoes [Upupa epops] in Malta) I inform Proact and then I'm deleted from that campaign.
Is Proact the great saviour .....
..... that will change bird protection work? No, but Proact is yet another important cog in the machinery. Proact can, for the present, get engaged in only a limited number of campaigns whilst it takes time to get background material, evaluate the threat, control facts and form the campaign. We are however a growing team and with members from many different countries we have resources in terms of local knowledge, skills in languages for translations of letters or background materials etc. Proact is also perfect for the idler. You can make maximum good by lending your name for a good cause.
How do I become a member?
Proact is built on the fact that the members have computers and are connected to the Internet. The concept is fast and cheap communication. On the website http://proaction.tripod.com/team you can find the text to copy and paste to an e-mail to become a member of the team. If you're not so familiar with your computer or feel uncertainty with the English language but still want to participate you can send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a Swedish instruction together with the English text to be pasted into the letter to Proact.
Lars G R Nilsson
Article published in the Swedish birder magazine
< Var Faegelvaerld 5/2001 page 36 >