The more we explore different land uses, the more complexity we discover, the more we must accept elements of change.
Much of the UK land area is upland, home to a sliver of our population. Of which a tiny slice actually work the land within industries from farming to forestry to conservation and tourism – all relevant topics to an enquiry on rewilding.
I like the word enquiry. It’s not talking at a compliant audience, it’s not a bear-pit debate of polarised views, it’s not a vague discussion. An enquiry is for those with curious enquiring minds seeking to make up their own views rather than follow partisan crowds, sign up to blind ‘discipleship’ or form opinions based on loosely referenced media.
Framing an enquiry is key. Looking back can be as important as forward – especially when talking about a comparatively new land use in competition with other cultural land uses formed over centuries. Introducing a subject to an audience, whether inquisitive walkers on a guided walk or those at a Brecon Beacons talk*, requires you paint the whole canvas, not just the area you want them to see.
My framing of ‘Elements around Rewilding’* took 25 mins, whereas the enquiry (including excellent robust exchanges between members of the audience) covered 45 mins. A case of gleaning as much information from insightful comments posted under a provocative article, as the piece itself.
It’s not easy to frame environmental matters in the media. Distracted audiences, short time frames, word count restrictions and debates promoted to raise ‘heat’ (therefore ratings). Informed opinion skewered by info deficit.
I found it as tricky to cover environmental impacts of sheep farming in a minute (2.35) on BBC Farming Today, as it was to set out my Thunderer on wildlife conservation (under 400 words) in The Times.
Can we engineer frames to enable astuter communication of ideas to those that can deliver public benefit, rather than just paint ourselves into idealistic corners merely to garner public opinion?