Thursday, 19 September 2013

Meddling, Coppicing and Management Compulsion

The conservation industry justifies itself by doing things. Often things would be no worse, even better, if they left them alone. That's the lesson from careful observation over many years. The act of justification becomes a job opportunity in itself: a subset of the PR industry is PR in relation to farm and land management. The grouse moor owners are the most entrenched users of PR in land management. They pour sackfuls of money into it.

Wildlife Trusts have a dubious relation with the moor owners, never fully admitting they are in the same game but by their actions showing little difference; it's good for their member-recruiting to point to the few areas of disagreement like raptor persecution so they can show some distance from the shooting branch of the land management industry.

In the case of coppicing they go to extraordinary lengths to 'prove' that woods managed by man are better than anything nature can do.  A quite balanced piece by Paul Evans in The Guardian's usually conservative Country Diary dealt with this yesterday. I quote:

To some, coppicing is essential to woodland management, and without it the woods fall into neglect, disrepute, the conservation equivalent of moral turpitude. To foresters and those intent on standing in for nature, a derelict coppice is a dereliction of duty, and the butterflies and wildflowers that flourish in the open woodland spaces created by coppicing are reason enough for that intrusive kind of management. However, in this neglected, disreputable little enclave of unmanaged hazel, there is a feeling of freedom from human management, a place worked only by the wild things that inhabit it.

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