Digging dialogue

We need better social science to work closer with farmers and land managers – many of whom are conservationists. The pressures on farmers today are immense. Working out how farmers think is a seriously ignored matter and requires us to come closer together to work on common ground issues. Alas, there is still too much fear around being seen to agree … Continue reading Digging dialogue

Elite nature

On ringing the head office to query the language in the ‘Bob for Nature’ campaign letter I received.  Could someone please explain the sentence to me “despite our efforts…..ancient woodlands destroyed, hedgerows flailed and uprooted, fields forsaken – and a staggering 60% of our species in decline”? They were most apologetic. It was not intended … Continue reading Elite nature

Pollen counts

When I chaired a discussion on the National Pollinator Strategy, things unfolded differently to what delegates expected. The Public Policy Exchange framed the conference around two words: exchange – as in knowledge sharing, and communities – as in farming, urban, scientific and political involving research councils, environmental groups, academia, farm conservation advisors and beekeepers. Alongside the politician – Huw … Continue reading Pollen counts

Trusting times

Farm tenancies for a pound, controversial views on farming subsidies, ‘pricing out’ upland farmers – the National Trust hasn’t held back from headlines this year.                    (Updating Aug 17, Sept 19, Jan 20 infinitum) A quarter of a century ago, I worked for the trust as an … Continue reading Trusting times

Collective skills

Smarter engagement and co-design with more land managers could deliver more wildlife. Even at little public cost. The collective skills or ‘public goods’ (to use the modern parlance) to which farmers and land managers hold the environmental key, are huge. Some context first. Policies under the past Common Agric Policy (CAP) have not served wildlife … Continue reading Collective skills

Bypassing fear

I’ve been coming up against a lot of fear recently. Fear of hearing about rewilding, fear of talk around predator control, fear within politics. We can outwit it. No one has said anything explicit, but I perceive there are some that dislike my providing the issue of rewilding with any airtime at all. The label, … Continue reading Bypassing fear

Harnessing tension

My article in The Field was one of the toughest pieces I’ve written to date. Does an unhealthy thirst for adversarial positions feed conflicts in conservation? Pitching the proposal was hard enough. Editors commission stuff that keeps their audience coming back for more. Whether to entertain, to reinforce views, to challenge (but not too close … Continue reading Harnessing tension

Upland enquiry

The more we explore different land uses, the more complexity we discover, the more we must accept elements of change – especially in the uplands. Much of the UK land area is upland, home to a sliver of our population. Of which a tiny slice actually work the land within industries from farming and forestry … Continue reading Upland enquiry

Rain birds

The recovery of farmland birds is long term work-in-progress. There’s hope ahead. Go count some birds and feed into positive research. Make no bones about it – it’s tough. After the Second World War farmers were encouraged to become more efficient (The Archers radio show launched in 1955 as a government information service for farmers), and … Continue reading Rain birds