It’s not a tribal blog, it’s a dialogue

Every so often, I aim to produce a pithy (under 800 words) piece always with links to references.

Do apply to do a guest blog – note same word count and references if possible. Be prepared for ‘light touch edit’ to ensure positive, rather than divisive, engagement with the widest range of views.


Cuckoo barley

For Andy Roberts, the sound of skylarks singing is a sure sign that spring is on its way. A farmer fresh back onto the land, he outlines his thoughts on timeliness to provide barley, potatoes and birds.  When my brother and I plan to sow spring barley and plant potatoes, we have learnt over the … Continue reading Cuckoo barley

Thorny hedges

A pair of nest building long-tailed tits flags up the importance of hedgerows. And controversy over their management While I too often dive into gritty countryside issues, the joy I’ve had from the pair of long-tailed tits making their nest in a hedge on the edge of our garden, is still not without a gentle … Continue reading Thorny hedges

Fey living

An unpublished letter to the Times Literary Supplement in response to an opinion article on the ‘latest crop of nature-writing books’ Dear Sir While Nick Groom found ‘fey living’ on a retro-farmed wheat field preferable to a ‘teen fantasy’ of rewilding, both his oversimplification and polarised nature of the piece made it almost misleading. It didn’t start well. … Continue reading Fey living

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 sticks

We require better social science (conversations) to ensure ecological science (research) is shared to gain better traction at the grassroots. The collective skills or ‘public goods’ (to use the modern parlance) that farmers and land managers have in store when dealing with the environment is huge. The trouble is that current anxiety is causing some environmentalists … Continue reading Collective sticks