Policy and Debate

Local conservation workers are not fond of discussing their management decisions. Natural England, despite having its headquarters in Sheffield doesn't appear to listen to the views of the citizens. Consultation has become a dirty word in Sheffield among those who have tried to get discussions going with the decision makers among landscape managers. They hold what they call consultations in which every step is taken to avoid discussion or scrutiny, in which they carefully select 'stakeholders' they know will not rock the boat. After all this they then sit at their desks and put together elaborate reports which show that they have engaged with the public thoroughly and listened to what people say - i.e. nobody has ever consulted more exhaustively. These reports are then presented to key personnel in senior roles and local councillors who wave through their proposals because they haven't time to ask searching questions. Considerable public money is spent on this kind of bureaucratic confidence trick. Yet at the end of it all the most important questions have not been addressed. The fact that nobody believes any of it doesn't seem to matter to the managers or the politicians and, sad to say, increasingly to the public many of whom have become increasingly jaded, sceptical and defeatist.

Nevertheless a debate has begun to happen in spite of them and an increasing number of those who take the time to think about wildlife and landscape are questioning the national priorities from Natural England and the policies of the NGOs and landscape managers in councils and wildlife charities. Increasingly questions have been asked  about their addiction to farm subsidies and livestock grazing.

The links below give some indication of the independent thinking going on that rarely or never gets into the media largely dominated by the farming industry and landowning interests.

It's worthwhile reading down in the first two articles linked below to get a flavour of real debate in the comments from the public.

"Why Are Britain's Conservation Groups So Lacking In Ambition"

"Why Britain's Barren Uplands Have Farming Subsidies To Blame"

The two articles linked next are from a rigorous study of the way our landscape is being managed.

"The Moral Corruption of Higher Level Stewardship"

"What Is Re-wilding?"

An article that tries to give a different view (with comments below)

The view of a sheep farmer

The view of a local resident.



Recently a new debate has begun, started by a group calling themselves Ecomodernists. They have their critics. The article by Chris Smaje is particularly recommended. Links below:

Ecomodernist Manifesto

A criticism of Ecomodernism by Chris Smaje

Article in New Yorker

Lots more on this if you search for 'ecomodernism.' Not a nice word. And a warning is needed that among the proponents are some who will be an automatic turn-off for many people (Owen Paterson and his father-in-law Viscount Ridley).


More links on the way that grouse shooting has determined the look and quality of the U.K. landscape, its present character,  its limited range of wildlife, and impact on other aspects of our environment.



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