Could the conservation funding bubble ever burst? Are the practitioners so complacently cocooned, happily unscrutinised and soaking up public money that they're unaware of the risks of just one critical headline setting off a general media exposure? Then some very awkward questions would get asked. I think they believe that their misleading but fluffy reputation promoting animals and birds will sustain them for ever. After all subsidy dependent land management across the board gets treated very gently.
I can only make a guess at the total amount of public money that goes into the management/mis-management of the sheep enclosure area on Blacka. Local managers who might know would strain nerves to make it difficult to find out. If the total sum became generally known I'm pretty sure many would find it shocking. Unfortunately knowing the facts would also provide ammunition for those with quite a different agenda to that of this blog. At least it would enable those who walk through and nearby to decide whether we get value for money. The answer couldn’t be anything else but no. Not much doubt really. Conservation it can't be - by any standards.
The value for money calculation would have to add together the subsidy for the grazier to the HLS and other sums received by SWT as landowner ( see here and here), plus a proportion of larger landscape scale grants negotiated by SMP. There would also be the maintenance of boundaries including that received for the new stone wall and the barbed wire now installed above it.
That's presumably there to impede the giant leaping animals they intend to bring in at a later date? Or to keep out (or in?) - or possibly injure - wildlife such as foxes or deer. Longstanding experience of SWT suggests you can't expect that hazards and ugly workmanship from the recent contractor works will ever be put right.
I've suggested before that the SSSI designation like so many around here could be fraudulent, an unaccountable method of spending public money just because it’s there to be applied for, only accomplished by a deception on the public about the conservation value of the land as managed. The last I heard on this from an 'official' source was that the present management was undertaken to conserve the fungi. So what about these fungi?
After a very productive autumn across the whole country for fungi another flush of them in the last few days means my lawn has so many of several different species, that it’s tricky to walk on it without treading on them. Not so on this pasture land. For all its subsidies and phony conservation claims I had walked for 3 minutes over the sheep-cropped (and crapped) grass before I saw the first fungi today. After a bit I did find some which hardly justified the distance traveled from my back garden.** These ones are quite pretty, very similar to some at home.
Then on the east-facing side of the hill I came across these: the blueish stems reminded me I had seen similar ones years ago and been told they were Wood blewits.
There were more similar, though less blue, nearby, in fact it amounted to a very large ring. Interesting; but this is a good time for fungi and on a SSSI which picks out fungi we should expect more: this hardly amounts to a fungi spectacular. The real nonsense is the story put out that grazing is vital for fungi implying that the nutrients from sheep excrement benefit waxcaps. So how do they get in churchyards and back gardens where no sheep graze? But wildlife trusts are so fond of farming and crop&crap they are forever dreaming up new fairy stories to justify the practice and, as they hope, to mystify the public and their elected representatives. The lure of those subsidy ££s again.
** Here is a link to some photos taken of fungi in my back garden at about the same time as this visit. My garden is not a SSI, nor a Special Protection Area nor a Special Area of Conservation. I'm sure many people's gardens have similar shows of fungi. Also, and crucially, there's been no conservation money been spent on my lawn. The condition of this land at Blacka makes me very angry.