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Government attitude to wildlife and forestry

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Government attitude to wildlife and forestry

Postby oldclaypaws » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:17 am

I previously expressed some exasperation that billions went to farmers to subsidise intensive wildlife damaging farming (£400 per UK household), yet others such as woodland owners were on there own when it came to managing for wildlife, with little or no net income and minimal subsidy or recognition.

It appears the government is confused. The urban population are perhaps more sympathetic to pro-wildlife politics as they have a romanticised view of what the countryside should be and as such are anti-hunting, pro badger, pro wildlife and anti intensive farming. The government tries to offer lip service to the wildlife / eco lobbies with 'ah yes, we must protect our wonderful fluffy wildlife and get the urban tree hugger vote'. Partly recognising the damage intensive farming causes, they proposed to switch some 15% of agricultural subsidy paid to farmers for intensive production to 'wildlife and rural regeneration'. Consequently the farmers are protesting, saying it will put them at a disadvantage compared to fully subsidised continental competitors. At the same time though, the government was happy to push through the badger cull, which appeased some farmers but had the wildlife lobby infuriated.

I wonder if the government has any understanding at all of wildlife and the workings of the countryside, or whether they throw odd crumbs to the various lobbies to try and keep as many sweet as possible, without a clue.

Would anyone care to suggest what a balanced approach would be, which keeps the farmers in a healthy profitable production, but also gives wildlife a chance, and what official government policy to forestry and small woods should be? If you recall, they were going to sell off a load of FC land, then backed off when pressure groups suggested it would lead to 'exploitation of our forests'- I wonder if private owners might have done a better job than the FC?

Forestry policy currently appears to be a hotch-potch, there are various disjointed initiatives with short term funding, tax breaks for large plantations, but as far as I'm aware no firm sustainable pro wildlife woodland vision with funding to back it up. There's also no coordinated market with advice and support for growing native hardwoods (other than tax relief on forestry income)- we have an underused potentially wonderful resource but 'the market' is allowed to be lazy, importing damaging fossil fuels and cheap foreign hardwoods with untold consequential damage caused to forests in countries with no environmental protection.

All a bit frustrating. We need a clear vision of sustainable beneficial woodland and farming land use, with the right long term structures and funding in place to see it through. Thoughts?
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Re: Government attitude to wildlife and forestry

Postby Meadowcopse » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:46 am

I think your post has covered all the muddled thinking and policies.
Fortunately I'm 100m inboard of the English / Welsh Border and not spanning it with my own little plot, but a plot I help out on 20 miles away is totally in Wales, which has seen the creation of Natural Resources Wales and a shuffle of people and resources (and more cross-discipline shuffling to come after staff reductions).
Near the English plot in South Cheshire, there was an Environment Agency chap walking about with maps, a camera and notebook - he was from Preston trying to get a feel for the area, which was a shame as there is a former Environment Agency depot half a mile away in Wales, but that is now Natural Resources Wales and they don't really speak...

Meanwhile I'm about to have a new neighbour less than a mile away - a CBM (Coal Bed Methane) drilling rig. My attention has been drawn to exploration sites being less than 1 hectare and therefore not requiring the environmental impact assessment.
By random chance, looking up the history of land use locally, I found from archives a Chester Crown Court order from around the year 1400 prohibiting change and damage specifically in the area of the land where the drilling is to take place. I might pass that on to someone in a professional legal capacity out of interest.

From your original post, I think elaborate long term changes are being instigated for a few to make a quick profit and a quick fix. By strangling resources and chopping staff we will end up with an uncoordinated and ill informed environmental framework to work within.
I personally see this as bringing difficulties for the small scale operator having to jump through hoops, but literally allowing a large scale concern to run a bulldozer through, waving a glossy pamphlet and a tick list...
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Re: Government attitude to wildlife and forestry

Postby oldclaypaws » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:19 am

Totally agree. Another 'resource grab' currently going on surreptitiously is by that traditional protector of the poor and ecclesiastical pension funds, The Church of England. They are apparently reapplying to claim historic ancient mineral extraction rights over a huge swath of the UK (a large percentage or most of it) , with a view to gaining fracking income. It could well include under several of our woods or homes and could turn them into multi billionaires. I wonder what Jesus would say about that one?

Environmentalists have long been an irritation to oligarchs and governments, and the current government is showing its real colours now with the proposed 'demolish ancient woodlands and replant elsewhere' policy. I seem to recall the Tories used to have an Oak as their symbol. Maybe now it should be a chainsaw, stump, and section of railway line.?
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