Young naturalists learning with farmers, agro-chem reps sharing expertise on pollinators alongside enviro activists, gamekeepers providing data to ornithologists. New ways to disrupt old perceptions: some examples
A few years ago Defra funded a gathering of young farmers and naturalists, at the start of which the day was set with this introduction so we could all discuss issues close to their hearts, not say for whom we worked, avoid ‘position’ statements, not fear judgement from peers, but be open to seeing beyond perceptions and prejudices.
Walking with rangers
The same can be applied to conversations I’ve hosted with National Trust rangers, a govt funded upland partnership and gamekeepers and ecologists – all aimed at stimulating freethinking on land uses without ‘dissing’ or dismissing past practices but getting closer to today’s real issues at the grass roots.
A trip to the Hague was a lesson in environmental reconciliation without recrimination over past damage caused by post-war first generation ‘intensive’ farming practices.
When you get an MP, some beekeepers, a handful of agro-chemical reps and groups of enviro campaigners into a room, you ask them to remove their labels, to see what they can say without fear or favour of being judged.
Blend three rural leaders at the Hay Festival to talk about cover crops, organic pigs, indoor poultry or at another occasion, the now president of the NFU on farming and rewilding without grandstanding to an inquisitive audience, reaps benefits in hearing and discussing other points of view without rancour.
Finally, here’s my collaborative conservation winner from a few year’s ago. (revised April 20)