Forest grump

Seven years in the life of a tree is nothing. A few rings of growth, centimetre of leave litter,  length of conifer branch, but where, since the scuppered 2011 forest sell-off, has the ‘enterprise’ around trees gone? I must declare an interest in knotty matters. My father worked for the Forestry Commission (100 years old … Continue reading Forest grump

NFU blues

I hosted a wide-ranging conversation with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president, Minette Batters, at the Hay Literary Festival earlier this year. Gove re-occurring , ‘cheap’ food arguments, farming bogs, issues with subsidies, admirable poultry, over-hyped soil and culture changes – so much, so little space, so little time…Minette was delayed but had enough breathe … Continue reading NFU blues

Rewilding in the UK – hidden meanings, real emotions

The word rewilding has become common currency in nature conservation narratives, but it rarely features in wider discussions on land use. The very mention of the word – especially without context or meaning – stirs up reactions that can equally engage or enrage people. (First published in Ecos – lead editorial 2016) Where I live in … Continue reading Rewilding in the UK – hidden meanings, real emotions

Wielding evidence

A reflection on a British Ecological Society symposium ‘Making a Difference in Conservation’ from an interested ‘outsider’. I was delighted to allocate three days to attend the BES/CCI event in Cambridge a couple of years ago. But things are never that straight forward. My rural surveying work took me away for one day and the other … Continue reading Wielding evidence

Wild bees and wolves. Nature Notebook. The Times Aug 2015

Transylvanian trek Nature Notebook. As published in The Times August 22 2015 – Part 2 of 2 In Romania, on a family holiday travelling with donkeys through the countryside, nature is abundant. Riches abound for those who forage for mushrooms, raspberries and bilberries among the native norway spruce and silver fir. With goshawks and crested tits flitting across the … Continue reading Wild bees and wolves. Nature Notebook. The Times Aug 2015

Hay and more

Hay, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater as we collaboratively explore new ways to manage land. Bringing three industry leaders together at the Hay Festival on ‘how agri-tech can reduce farming’s footprint on the environment‘ was fun, but challenging in framing the narrative to avoid ‘staked-out’ principled positions being unconducive to free-thinking dialogue. Helen … Continue reading Hay and more

Smokin’ salmon

From the comfort of our sofas, we have been drawn to a oceanic feast of spectacles on Blue Planet II. Outside, closer to home, in cold roaring waters, another spectacular is under way. Atlantic salmon are moving at the moment. Migratory instincts demanding the fish drive forward, bashing against rocks, jostling at the foot of … Continue reading Smokin’ salmon

Together for wildlife

The first national conference on farmer cluster groups with Natural England and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust was a ‘swell’ event. The room was awash with the exchange of ideas, chests swelling with pride as farmers restored stone curlews to farmland, yellowhammers to hedgerows, brown trout to brooks, pollinators to headlands while getting together … Continue reading Together for wildlife