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Environmental conservation is one of the Club's main aims and activities. The Club has a Conservation Subcommittee for this purpose, which works with the Club's Recorders. Environmental conservation is interpreted broadly, and so includes not only protection of wildlife and their ecosystems, but also of the area's archaeological wealth, its unique geology, and its history and historic architecture. The Club maintains a list of localities in its area which it considers are important for nature, and works with organizations and societies with similar aims and activities. The following list provides examples of the range of conservation interests of the Club.
● Adders - the moors around Whitby are possibly the richest area in the country for this interesting and beautiful but poisonous snake.
● Bats - members of the Club contribute to national surveys and the area is home to several rare species.
● Butterflies - The North York Moors hold important populations of rare British butterflies.
● Freshwater pearl mussel - the Esk is the only river in northern England to hold this remarkable and long-lived mollusc, but populations are declining.
● Fungi - Whitby was the cradle of the fungal conservation movement - the message that fungi need protection as much as animals and plants is promoted by the Club.
● Orchids - members of the Club monitor populations of these and other rare plants.
● Changes in species distribution - members of the Club help in monitoring the geographical distribution of species and the times of year when their various stages are seen.
● Coastal erosion - landslides and rockfalls are quickly followed by wildlife colonization of the disturbed ground, and in recent months landslides have had a catastrophic impact on the townscape of Whitby itself.
● Peat conservation - the huge deposits of peat on the North York Moors represent an important carbon sink, and they need protection and management to keep them that way.
Ecosystem and Habitat Conservation
● Bracken - its uncontrolled spread means competition for heather, the emblematic species of the North York Moors.
● Green ways - irresponsible use of these ancient tracks with 4-wheel-drive vehicles is resulting in the damage and even destruction of an important part of this area's heritage.
● Illegal fires - uncontrolled fires on the moors can result in very serious long-term damage to this fragile ecosystem.
● Improvement of the human environment - Calla Beck in Whitby is currently in a very sorry state, and the Club is liaising with other local groups to bring about an improvement of this once accessible and attractive part of the town; we are also promoting more active management of the tiny patch of saltmarsh there - the only example of this ecosystem between Middlesbrough and Spurn Head.
● Invasives - non-native species introduced by human activities are causing havoc to the area's ecosystems.
● Protection of roadside verges - these are an important habitat for many wild flowers, some very rare, and mowing, for example, should be timed to minimize damage to these species.
● Upgang Ravine - this small area of land on the edge of Whitby is home to several rare flowers, including some unknown elsewhere in North Yorkshire; at present is it threatened by scrub encroachment and the Club is liaising with other local groups to introduce sympathetic management of the site.
Industrial and other developments
● Proposed gas drilling in Westerdale - at present the Club is monitoring developments.
● Proposed new holiday complex at Raithwaite - the Club liaised with other local groups interested in environmental conservation to assess the possible impacts of this development and communicated concerns in a detailed submission to the planning authorities [view submission].
● Proposed new potash mine - the Club liaised with other local groups interested in environmental conservation to assess the possible impacts of this development and communicated concerns in a detailed submission to the planning authorities [view submission]. The proposal received planning permission in 2016, and the Club is now monitoring developments.
● Badgers - illegal killing of these animals remains a problem in North Yorkshire.
● Illegal killing of birds of prey - North Yorkshire is the worst part of Britain for illegal poisoning and shooting of birds of prey.
● Disposal of waste - from the small-scale problem of badly-run private waste reprocessing sites, to possible major and long-term issues, some connected with proposed industrial development, this is a topic potentially of major concern.
● Litter - plastics and other discarded materials on the beach and elsewhere are a perennial and unsightly problem.
● Quality of beaches - two beaches within the Club's area were listed in 2012 as among Britain's worst for pollution problems. Members of the Club participate periodically in beach cleaning events.