miércoles, 1 de marzo de 2017

Adios SEO/Birdlife!

For several years I have been a member of SEO/Birdlife, regarded as the largest and oldest conservation organisation in Spain, and the country's nearest equivalent to the RSPB. The Spanish Rarities Committee, which deals with rare bird sightings throughout the country, is part of this veteran NGO.

Over the years, I have been dutifully paying my subscription fees, sending in my rare bird sightings and other records of interest, contributing photos for publication, and generally acting as "whistle-blower" on the island of La Palma, alerting the Canary Island Delegation on Tenerife of any significant environmental concerns on the island. Just doing the kind of stuff you would consider normal for an active member of any birding and conservation society. Others, like myself, have been gathering valuable census data, and doing various kinds of voluntary work for the organisation.

However, back in Madrid, the Board of Directors (Junta Directiva) has been up to some rather nasty tricks. To start with, in 2015 they allowed a self-confessed, passionate hunter to get himself elected vice--President of the organisation (Sr. Javier Hidalgo). It was only after the Board received letters of protest from outraged members that the person concerned agreed to resign his post. A short explanatory note was published on the SEO website, but was couched in such vague terms that no-one unfamiliar with the background details could possibly understand what the issue was. The whole matter was characterised by a total lack of transparency.

Another similar case involves a member of the SEO Committee who happens to be the owner of a large hunting estate in which hundreds of wild boar and thousands of partridges are systematically massacred every year. All within the cosy confines of a fenced-off, private estate. (Patricia Maldonado, Las Ensanchas).

Yet the organisation claims it sees no incompatibility between the practice of these deplorable economic activities and the right to be on the Committee of a conservation organisation. Just as, presumably, they saw no incompatibility in having their former king and keen elephant shooter, Juan Carlos, as president of the WWF; that is, until he too was forced to resign under public protest.

As SEO has explained in writing (but only after coming under pressure from many of its members), the organisation has never declared itself to be anti-hunting in principle. Fair enough. However, they are well aware of a substantial anti-hunting contingent among their present-day membership. So, why not use a bit of common sense, and avoid deliberately provoking a large percentage of your members by allowing the wrong people to represent the organisation? And what's wrong with restricting the eligible candidates for Committee posts to the kind of people best suited to the job...and then holding elections?

Unfortunately, this Old Boys' Club got my 2017 subscription before I had time to cancel my membership. They won't get next year's.

Adios SEO/Birdlife!

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