Last year two individuals, both interested in ‘preserving wildlife’ and ‘birds, science & environment’ respectively, tweeted their own view of the same Scottish sky.
Two people, who may not share the same values, may have common purpose over working for the environment. This was evident with those I met on my field intel trip up north between lockdowns: conservation scientist, upland landowner, moorland buyout campaigner, govt raptor worker, forestry contractor, tenant farmer, rural writer.
All enable me to fine tune my thoughts, update opinion, find new ways to tease out commonality without rancour. And keep learning. Aldo Leopold was a master at this. I’m not sure we are. Perhaps Brexit, Covid, Trumpism put on hold our “ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function” (F Scott Fitzgerald).
Acting on land (Blog Nov 19)
I soon revised my aspirations for 2020 in its febrile atmosphere. Less room for reconciliation, more space for #countryside #critical thinking. Especially as primary industries – farming, forestry, aquaculture – move into new places. While land management practices, from shooting to soils, evolve towards more sustainable futures.
“This sport knows no bag limit, no closed season. It needs teachers, but not wardens. It calls for a new woodcraft of the highest cultural value. The sport I refer to is wildlife research”Aldo Leopold ‘Sand Country Almanac’
Trees for reasons
Forgetful at times of what has already been achieved, not recorded on social media or the internet, we reinvent the wheel. 40 years ago farmers came together in co-operatives to plant and harvest trees in the Dyfi valley. Or don’t learn from mistakes (“Locals turn down £2.7mill”). Today, timber is less important, as are vital non-native conifers. However carbon markets (Stump Up For Trees) and “strengthening native woodland” are also new drivers.
Public goods searchlight
Plenty of good stuff has missed the limelight due to searing distractions over the last year.
The Welsh Govt was delighted that Sustainable Management Schemes (Ireland Moor) delivered stuff they couldn’t. Natural England’s facilitated land managers groups have grown. Yorkshire gamekeepers built a hide for the public to watch hen harriers at their winter roost on a grouse moor (Swinton). Govt agricultural agencies (Rothamsted) ‘quietly’ research how arable farming can help sustainably feed salmon; while River Otter’s beavers (Clinton Estate) ‘noisily’ remain after a thumbs up.
Imagine if landowners, who also like duck hunting, welcomed beavers!
Social science soft
Science has had a robust public airing over Covid, while media has embraced reductionist headlining. Even if evidence-informed might in fact be more effective than evidence-based research in delivering results. Social media, unsurprisingly, often discovered new ‘skills’ in avoiding any nuanced dialogue. Whereas it was disappointing when a scientist ‘had to’ erase his informative personal blog when he joined SAGE (clue in para nine). Mind you, no one’s that keen to unpack a ‘wicked problem’.
What’s for supper?
That said, watch these spaces. How govt nudges us into better diets and less food waste, while seeking to reconcile public opinion ‘cute’ wildlife-friendly’ farming, with public benefit ‘grittier’ land sparing and sharing.
Those sunset pics? Here they are. Same sky, different view, common purpose. Go well in 2021!
ps this is an adaptive blog due for updates, revisions anytime. Do leave a comment. Just in – some find this too cryptic, so I may attempt to rectify this.
Meanwhile here’s a poll with plenty of comments over common ground.