Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Do unto others what you would have them do to you

Yesterday, I posted an analysis of the possible opportunities (or drawbacks) of photographic recording as a way of monitoring nature reserves. This generated some sharp criticisms of the Wildlife Trusts from a small minority of members of the UK Hoverflies FB page. I was not impressed!

These criticisms led me to reflect that there are plenty of people who are willing to criticise employees of conservation organisations who would be up in arms if the same rules were applied to their jobs. Over the years, I have frequently encountered the view that if you are an employee of an NGO or a Government body involved in conservation then you should be giving your time at all hours of the day and night because you have the privilege of working in conservation. How dare you want to have a life outside the job when those who don't work in the field have to make their contribution at weekends and on their days off! In that respect I still run my life on the basis that I should be doing 'that little bit more'.

In some ways, I am also equally guilty of the same views. I think that there is a strong case for staff of the agencies to get involved in the activities of volunteer organisations. For example, in NCC days, the ISR team attended BENHS exhibition days en-mass and everybody knew them. At least in theory those staff members could take a day off in lieu, but I'll bet very few, if any, did. These days it is highly unlikely to see the staff of a government agency at a meeting outside core hours and it is volunteers that are expected to attend meetings in core hours. So, there is definitely a problem. We must therefore concentrate on the critical issues.

I think that many of us forget that if somebody is employed in conservation they still have a right to a life outside the job. Why should they work 24/7 when the salary is often below £20,000 pa? Heaven forbid they might get a job that pays between £25 & £30k! Still not enough to get a mortgage but sufficiently high to start to pay back their student loan! Yet, in the views of some, they should really be working double the hours to justify their wage because they are employed by the public purse or worse still by an organisation that is composed primarily of volunteers.

For those intent upon such a career, it would be wise to reflect now and avoid such employment. Far better to work in a well-paid job where your employer wants you to get some rest and return on Monday refreshed. Volunteering is fine, but actually working in conservation is the lowest of the low!

It therefore seems to me that there is a crying need for those who are critical of people who work in conservation to reflect. Would you:

  • Work for an employer who thought you were failing in your job if you only worked 40 hours a week (i.e. a 'jobsworth')
  • Work in a role that took flack from the commercial world - stopping industry from development as a 'jobsworth'?
  • Work for an employer that thought it was OK for the owners to take a holiday but it was outrageous that the employees left their post to have a life outside the job?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, then you are well fitted to work in a Wildlife Trust or a Government body. If not, welcome to the real world  and please reflect that if you expect public employees to perform miracles and give their lives to the job then you are applying a different set of rules to those that you would expect to have to work under yourself!

I was decidedly unimpressed with the posts on the UK Hoverflies FB page. They serve to emphasise all of the bad points about wildlife conservation.  Yes, we do need the professionals to engage and to do that 'little bit more' but we must recognise that they have a right to have a life and to participate in activities that interest them even if they are not our choice of activity.

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