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.


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

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

Fabulous farming

A sense that two farming conferences are getting closer together; although it’s fun to ‘spot the difference’, we can harvest more common ground. I caught two people hung between the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC). One had been ‘suggested’ by his boss to go to the OFC but his … Continue reading Fabulous farming

Knotty water

This post is not about flooding.  Well, not entirely. Perched on my ‘fence’, I see knotty problems that require us to swallow our partisan positions to work together while being more realistic about our needs. Perhaps I try and cram too much into blogs that conflate a number of issues but I’m going to take the liberty … Continue reading Knotty water