Forest grump

Seven years in the life of a tree is nothing. A few rings of growth, some leave litter, 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 in 2019) as a District … 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 ‘outsider’. Matters are never straightforward in a single-subject symposium (‘Improving the links between ecological research, policy and practice’). There was certainly nothing ‘single issue’ about this BES/CCI  conference. There were so many issues, it was hard to absorb, yet alone … 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

Disruptor nature

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 … Continue reading Disruptor nature

Smokin’ salmon

Drawn to an oceanic feast of spectacles on Blue Planet II and other wildlife TV, closer to home, another spectacular is under way as we munch on cheap salmon sandwiches. Atlantic salmon are moving at the moment. Migratory instincts demanding the fish drive forward, bashing against rocks, jostling at the foot of waterfalls, ramming through … Continue reading Smokin’ salmon