‘It has come to my attention’, the heavy-set man in the green pullover paused for effect ‘that there have been intruders in the wood’. He glared at the group around the table.
‘Who?’ said the youth opposite. ‘Fly tippers? BMXers?’
‘Badger watchers, John.’
‘Oh not again! The bloody camera club, George?’
‘Scouts, I think, Harry’.
‘Oh God, little boys! That’s even worse’.
‘And girls, these days’. George grimaced. ‘Anyway, this is really a matter for the community liaison group and not us. So I suggest we just note the problem and leave it to them to deal with. You OK with that, Pamela?’
‘Well, yes, George. If you like. But I really don’t see the problem with a few badger watchers.’
‘As we have discussed before, Pamela, this is the conservation committee. We do wildlife, not people. It is all a matter of keeping things in their right places’. He paused.
‘But visitors are not a problem, George. It is our stated policy to welcome visitors’.
‘Well, lets not go into it here. It’s your department, Pamela, so over to you. Just see if you can stop them coming’. The woman’s round face looked pained. ‘Wouldn’t want to impose on your preserve, so to speak.’ George laughed.
‘Isn’t badger watching an ecosystem service?’ The question was reflective, and unwelcome.
‘Not now, John! You’ve got a one track mind these days’. George’s voice betrayed his irritation. ‘To answer your question, badgers are not providing a service to anybody. They’re just badgers. Being harassed by noisy kids with torches who don’t know a nature reserve when they see one’.
‘That’s not fair, George’. Pamela Strong now looked quite fierce. ‘We need to encourage young people. They’re visitors too, and we need visitors’.
‘Not sure what for’, said Harry. ‘Just get in the way’.
‘Because that’s what the nature reserve is for’, said Pamela, firmly.