It’s all change on a hillside in the corner of a National Park. A steep hillside is sprouting with young trees.
On the far hill from my office window, fighting to get away from native invasive bracken, duck the odd deer, an experiment starts. Public grant, govt aid, carbon paid, charity funded, ‘feel-good‘ rights (from 40min), volunteer help, expert input, local graft – all coming together in an innovative project.
Way up in north east Scotland, beyond a tumbling Victorian salmon ladder, nearly 1000ha of woodland is given consent. It took years to come to fruition. Ambitious proposals, stakeholder wrangles and protective designations resulted in a drawn out process. Including a complex Environmental Impact Assessment, with some rather expensive conditions. Namely, to maintain upland open spaces and control foxes to ensure they don’t eat hen harriers (p24). Meanwhile Forestry Scotland seeks to re-frame narratives around sitka spruce and others promote multi-benefit forestry.
Lowland farmers are digging deeper into agro-forestry. Some upland farmers are looking at silvopastoral systems – also known as wood pasture. The social aspect as to why some farmers resist trees is unexplored. As is being more explicit around trade-offs with ground-nesting birds: curlews and lapwings both dislike trees and tall hedgerows.
Doddington in Northumberland is a fine blueprint project for well-designed, multi-output landscape-scale forestry (350ha). Are we brave enough to try this elsewhere on curlew-free, bracken-infested hillsides? Or are we petrified of not being (or perceived to be) on the ‘right side of history’, even if orchestrated by a campaigner’s arguably unrealistic target.
We do seem rather keen on picking apart tree planting proposals. I visited this site (below) on the southern edge of Kielder forest on one of my ‘field intel‘ trips, to then note this somewhat scathing piece published in mainstream media. I wonder if personality clashes, entrenchment of views, groupthinking, gatekeeping or partisan solidarity skew the ability to work through the issues. On which, we neglect the social science at our peril.
“It is not comforting continuity in landscape that connects us most deeply to the rural past, it is distressing change”A Strange Country Almanac, Dec 2020
The posting of context-free smartphone pics from roadside or post-felling sites are questioning land management practices. Of course planting on ‘deep’ peat is a no-no. Ground truth surveys of the nature on the land before planting, are vital, as are tough decisions around preempting reactions to shifting landscapes. Listen to local communities, as much as to tree predator management experts. Anticipate that natural regeneration/wilding (insert own word) may offend someone, somewhere.
‘One person’s scrub clearance for butterflies is another’s affront over warbler habitat ecocide’Probably via twitter
Spot the publication* below which a shadow Defra Minister (p.4) handed me 10 years ago? Perhaps if politicians didn’t shelve stuff not on their watch, we could all have start combating climate change issues earlier rather than later.
This new project (Carbon Community) is looking at the field-scale science of carbon sequestration in trees and soil. Expect more of this.Keep an eye on communities who may not be ‘in the room’, but watch with interest.
My small woodland is nine years on and it’s turning pretty wild. It was from the start. An un-grant-aid-able mix of twenty five species home to humans, fungi, badger preying on bumblebee, chainsaw harvested, ant hill heaven, redstart ready, children’s future woodland.
Here’s what it looks like in June 21.
I know we can all do a better job at navigating these knotty issues.
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