/ INTERVIEW: George Monbiot Talks to UKH on Re-Wilding The Hills

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UKC/UKH Articles - on 11 Dec 2015
George Monbiot montage, 2 kbColumnist George Monbiot supports re-wilding, the idea of restoring our uplands from grassy deserts to rich natural ecosystems. This would mean far fewer sheep, and lots more trees. In light of recent flooding it's a hot topic. But is it achievable? And what would it mean for walkers and climbers? We asked him.

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toad on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

That' an interesting read. Need to go back and read it properly, but there's some well reasoned arguments there. I hope some of his critics here will read this beyond the "it's Monbiot and he doesn't understand...." position (which I've been guilty of in the past), particularly in the context of access.

Thank very much for this, UKC Towers
RyanOsborne - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Excellent work UKC. I particularly like the quote 'so that a banker waddling up the hillside in tweed pantaloons is almost guaranteed to make a kill'.

Doug on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to toad:

Likewise I thought it was a pretty clear and, although I'd quibble over some of the detail, fairly convincing in the general approach he's proposing. But in many ways its not very different from what my former boss Dick Balharry, & before him Frank Fraser Darling, were proposing many years ago as demonstrated on places like Abernethy & Creag Meagaidh.
RyanOsborne - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to Doug:

> Likewise I thought it was a pretty clear and, although I'd quibble over some of the detail, fairly convincing in the general approach he's proposing. But in many ways its not very different from what my former boss Dick Balharry, & before him Frank Fraser Darling, were proposing many years ago as demonstrated on places like Abernethy & Creag Meagaidh.

Why do you think it is that the examples you quote didn't really start a rewilding movement in the way that's emerging recently? Or did they, but I don't know about it?
Doug on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

In many ways they (& others) did start the process but it was usually referred to as ecological (or habitat) restoration. Other groups such as Reforesting Scotland, John Muir Trust & Trees for Life have also been very active for many years. I could ask why George Monbiot has only just started this movement, he was aware of the earlier work & ideas back in the mid 1990s when I met him briefly in Aviemore.
Mal Grey - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Very interesting read, plenty of food for thought.

RyanOsborne - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to Doug:

That's an interesting point about timing, I can imagine a book like feral, which is supported by a lot of research, could take quite a long time to produce. Very true about JMT and Trees for Life, although I'm not sure if either were talking about reintroduction of species before Feral came along? Might be wrong on that though - of course other people like the Vincent WT were.
Doug on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

I fairly sure I can remember Adam Watson-Featherstone talking in favour of wolf reintroduction many years ago at a meeting in Elgin, but not sure if he was speaking as Trees for Life or not. Similarly many individuals associated with JMT have discussed reintroductions but maybe its never been JMT policy.
toad on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to Doug:

People have been talking in vague terms about wolves for years, but I think mostly in terms of "look at the big doggy". Certainly as long as I've been knocking around with ecologists, sustainable large area management with native animals rather than livestock has been on and off the agenda, but I think everyone (including I think GM) recognises wolves as unrealistic for the foreseeable future, but they generate column inches in a way that lynx etc don't.

I have become much more anti sheep of late, partly due to evidence around invert species loss but mostly by having been responsible for their welfare for a while.
Chris the Tall - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Really interesting stuff - not least the stuff on benefit tourists ! Odd that George Osbourne has decided to attack him, you think he'd be on his side.....
pebbles - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

call me a cynic but "when farm subsidies are either scrapped or greatly reduced, as they inevitably will be. When essential public services are being cut," ...will they? or will the government shy away from cutting farm subsidies, in order to protect the rural tory vote?
summo on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

All looks promising, there are plenty folk that know what needs doing. On R4 farming today there were a few people talking about how they need to look at the whole catchment in the lakes to reduce flooding, with lots of talk of trees on hills and in valleys etc.. and not simply trying to solve the problem with concrete in towns and villages.

However, I can't see any changes due to the power and influence of the National Parks. Even with the farmers on side, they are powerless to change their land drastically, the national trust which owns a fair whack of land in the Lakes won't do anything controversial either and many of they tenanted farmers won't be in a position to rock the boat and risk their lease.
summo on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to pebbles:

> call me a cynic but "when farm subsidies are either scrapped or greatly reduced, as they inevitably will be. When essential public services are being cut," ...will they? or will the government shy away from cutting farm subsidies, in order to protect the rural tory vote?

the farm subsidies are EU driven, the UK government has very little flex on how it distributes them. When or if subsidies go, then shoppers will have to pay the real price of food, rather than pay tax that goes to Brussels, then gets recycled back to the UK farmers. For many smaller farms the subsidies are what clears their overdraft at the end of the year, it does not line their pockets with gold.

Even without subsidies, the land use rules within the National Parks are what prevent farmers diversifying more, not subsidies.
Sean Kelly - on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I have personal experience of re-wilding, albeit on a small scale.
I used to own 2 acres of land at the foot of the Llanberis Pass and rebuilt the walls around the property to keep out the sheep. This included placing barbed wire fixed to posts on top of the walls, and continually monitoring any damage which was promptly repaired. This was in 1995. The difference today is very marked. There are hundreds of trees that have regenerated, after an initial planting of native woodland species. The area around the house which always seemed to flood every winter has been fixed. Other plants have also colonised the field. I have observed Red Kite, Buzzard and Green Woodpeckers, and nesting Owls on the land. Bluebells thrive in spring. The bracken is gradually losing out to the trees. Some of the trees easily exceed 50 feet in height.
It is all wonderful to behold.
During the F&M outbreak in 2001, people and more especially dogs were banned from the countryside from January onwards, and this resulted in an explosion in the bird population and some regeneration on the uplands, where livestock were also banned. The only reason why it took so long to get under control was because some irresponsible farmers were secretly moving livestock (I wittnessed this myself one dark night!)
The national Parks and Planning bodies are dominated by the farming lobby so progress towards any form of re-wilding will never happen.
There is a small flicker of light in this very long dark tunnel. The Glenshieldaig Forest/Beinn Eighe re-wilding and selective re-forestation that has occurred in recent years. The deer numbers have been drastically curtailed, but much remains to be done.
I applaud George Monbiot for what he is trying to achieve but this is one hell of an uphill battle.
Lostsky on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Great stuff UKC. Thanks for bringing us that. Lots of food for thought and relevant to the recent flooding.
pec on 11 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> I particularly like the quote 'so that a banker waddling up the hillside in tweed pantaloons is almost guaranteed to make a kill'. >

I actually think he would do his cause (which incidentally I strongly support) a lot of good if he ditched the chip on the shoulder rhetoric and de-politicised his argument and focussed on the positives of what he wants to achieve without the sideswipes.
To achieve his aims he needs to build bridges with the groups he attacks in the article and since these are the people who hold the trump cards, alienating them (and a large slice of the electorate as well) isn't going to get him very far.
It all makes it too easy for people to dismiss him as a whinging lefty.

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AllanMac - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Many thanks for posting this. It is sufficiently powerful in the light of recent events, to change my own outlook on what 'wildness' can and should be in this country. A wake-up call too for the National Parks to change their rationale on what protection of landscape really means.

It is distressing that disasters, such as the dreadful flooding in Cumbria, are the most efficient instruments in changing entrenched views - rather than the rational arguments publicly made before disasters actually happen.
Lostsky on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to AllanMac:

Good point Allan, I was thinking too, that it was a little insensitive to make some of these comments so soon after the flooding especially some of these: http://www.monbiot.com/2015/12/08/a-storm-of-ignorance/ But who is going to listen to a call to change the status quo before these disasters happen- no one!
Left the forums on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Did your small re-wilding experience involve subsidies or having to allow access to the land?

1995 to present day and the bracken is gradually losing out to the trees - how much effort or cost did you put into 'helping' the trees or was the land just left fenced?

If there was a right of way through the area would you of needed to spend time or money ensuring the right of way was not blocked by bracken/nettles etc?

Genuine questions and sorry if they come across as anti re-wilding.

sheep - on 12 Dec 2015
BnB - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to pec:

> I actually think he would do his cause (which incidentally I strongly support) a lot of good if he ditched the chip on the shoulder rhetoric and de-politicised his argument and focussed on the positives of what he wants to achieve without the sideswipes.

> To achieve his aims he needs to build bridges with the groups he attacks in the article and since these are the people who hold the trump cards, alienating them (and a large slice of the electorate as well) isn't going to get him very far.

> It all makes it too easy for people to dismiss him as a whinging lefty.

You make a very interesting point here. I don't find George's swipes "chippy" however. He is by most definitions rather posh himself. But his intention may be to excite the same popular engagement that characterised the Kinder trespasses and invoking class struggle is a valid approach. It may be the lever that brings landowners to the table and I would not surprised if, at that stage, they found much in common with him.

toad on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to sheep:

but of course Kinder and some of the surrounding moors have exclusion fencing now, and it doesn't seem to have had any serious impact on access, and some real benefits in terms of revegetating the bare peat.
toad on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to BnB:

I didn't go because I was working away, but he spoke recently at a local wildlife trust event and apparently that didn't stop him having a go at wildlife trust micro management (it's in the book in more detail). It isn't just conservation vs evil landowners.. I'm finally reading the book and it's a lot more measured in tone.
Dave Garnett - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to BnB:

> You make a very interesting point here. I don't find George's swipes "chippy" however. He is by most definitions rather posh himself. But his intention may be to excite the same popular engagement that characterised the Kinder trespasses and invoking class struggle is a valid approach. It may be the lever that brings landowners to the table and I would not surprised if, at that stage, they found much in common with him.

I don't think invoking class struggle is smart way of getting consensus about anything and certainly it will only entrench wealthy landowners further by confirming their darkest suspicions about populist environmentalists. The fact that Monbiot is 'posh' himself only makes it all sound a bit fake.

Big landowners pride themselves (however mistakenly) on their knowledge of the countryside and their guardianship of it, even in the face of compelling evidence. Look at the way they wheeled out Ian Botham to suggest that the main reason hen harriers are in such decline is all the interference they get from the RSPB. They see conservationists as, at best, well-meaning urban idealists with no idea what it takes to look after a country estate or a national park; at worst, they are subversive iconoclasts whose ultimate aim is to deprive them of their almost feudal inheritance.

Persuading rural landowners and upland farmers to adopt as radical a change as rewilding isn't so different to persuading Maasai cattle farmers that conserving lions is ultimately more valuable to them than killing them. Somehow there has to be something in it for them. No-one gets rich running sheep on treeless fells, and it's a harder life than most of us can imagine, so it shouldn't be beyond us to come up with some way of presenting more environmentally sustainable land use as also more financially rewarding and secure for farmers.

Maybe we can do something via the CAP - oh, hang on, that would mean us being properly engaged with renegotiating it with the EU, so maybe not. If we can show that paying farmers to plant forests is ultimately cheaper than building increasingly complex and intrusive flood defences and paying to clear up repeated flood emergencies, then we'll start to get somewhere.

Anyway, Monbiot is going to need to find a way to reach beyond his current vaguely liberal and overwhelmingly urban support. I know he tries, but from what I've seen so far he's not exactly well-liked amongst the people he needs to persuade.
Left the forums on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to toad:
Not disputing that the fences don't have an impact on access or that the re-vegetation is happening. However;

It's very debatable whether Kinder and the surrounding moors should be considered for re-wilding, take a look at the arguments about the flow country in Scotland if you want to get a sort of comparison.

If any conservation body wants my vote they will not win it by using corrugated iron sheets and 'builders waste' in an environmentally sensitive area.
Post edited at 12:51
tom_in_edinburgh - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to pec:

> It all makes it too easy for people to dismiss him as a whinging lefty.

But actually, it's not left wing at all to argue that subsidies for landowners should be withdrawn. If sheep farming is not environmentally beneficial and it is cheaper to import sheep than subsidise landowners to farm them then you would think that a right wing small-state party like the Tories who keep telling us we are skint would be all for getting rid of the subsidies.

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RyanOsborne - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to pec:
> To achieve his aims he needs to build bridges with the groups he attacks in the article and since these are the people who hold the trump cards, alienating them (and a large slice of the electorate as well) isn't going to get him very far.

But what he needs to do most importantly (and is doing incredibly well) is build a movement, and gain public support. And to do that he doesn't need to pussyfoot around the issue of the hills being kept in a poorer state for the sake of an exclusive few hunting for sport.
Post edited at 18:46
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Left the forums on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> But what he needs to do most importantly (and is doing incredibly well) is build a movement, and gain public support.

Are you sure you mean what you say? Trump/Farage tried building a movement, you can debate whether they gained/will gain public support or not.

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Heggie - on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Serious question: what will be the likely effect on the midge population?
pec on 12 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> But actually, it's not left wing at all to argue that subsidies for landowners should be withdrawn. If sheep farming is not environmentally beneficial and it is cheaper to import sheep than subsidise landowners to farm them then you would think that a right wing small-state party like the Tories who keep telling us we are skint would be all for getting rid of the subsidies. >
I agree entirely which is precisely why he should stop beating some phoney class war drum and taking sideswipes at the Tories when he needs to win them over on this one since they are actually the party in power till 2020 (and probably 2025 with the state of the Labour party right now).
His ecological and environmental arguments are strong enough to stand on their own merits without making self defeating party political jibes.

toad on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

Not sure what you mean by corrugated iron sheets and builders waste. Is this something being used in the flow country? Neither are being used on kinder
Lusk - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to toad:

I think he's referring to what's used to dam up some of the groughs.
I've seen similar up on Kinder. It'll eventually be buried in the end after it's done its job.
summo on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Big landowners pride themselves (however mistakenly) on their knowledge of the countryside and their guardianship of it, even in the face of compelling evidence.

I think big landowners would easily be convinced if you told them that the forest would have enough money locked up in it, their kids could simply carry out some felling to pay the inheritance tax, rather than having to sell off some of the estate. The problem will come if the forest is some kind of reserve and proper forestry management and rotation was forbidden. Not all big landowners are demons, many are simply caught up in a historical loop, managing their land for shooting, but letting it out often in chunks of several thousands of hectares to farmers for grazing, many older tenancies are 3 generation tied tenancies, so change is slow.

> Persuading rural landowners and upland farmers to adopt as radical a change as rewilding isn't so different to persuading Maasai cattle farmers that conserving lions is ultimately more valuable to them than killing them. Somehow there has to be something in it for them. No-one gets rich running sheep on treeless fells,

I'm pretty sure there is far more money in forestry than farming animals, especially on the kind of terrain we are talking about. The question is would NPAs allow farmers to plant that much forest and the farmers would need some assistance initially as there won't be an income for a while, only costs. It will take a generation or so.

> Maybe we can do something via the CAP - oh, hang on, that would mean us being properly engaged with renegotiating it with the EU, so maybe not.

Closer to the problem here. But, also NPA's planning rules and changing that image of open hills with the wider public.

> Anyway, Monbiot is going to need to find a way to reach beyond his current vaguely liberal and overwhelmingly urban support. I know he tries, but from what I've seen so far he's not exactly well-liked amongst the people he needs to persuade.

That's because those city folk think those purple hills and green valley bottoms are natural.
Left the forums on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to Lusk:

You are correct. Only buried on one side though unless you can explain otherwise.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:
> I think big landowners would easily be convinced if you told them that the forest would have enough money locked up in it, their kids could simply carry out some felling to pay the inheritance tax, rather than having to sell off some of the estate.

Why should we even try to convince big landowners? All that is needed is to take away their subsidies and make them pay the same business and inheritance tax as everyone else. It should be a no-brainer if the Tories were actually an economically prudent, small-state party rather than a stooge for landowning and banking interests.

The very last thing we should be doing is handing landowners another way of keeping vast swathes of land in their families for generations while living off the income. If their business model doesn't work without subsidies and tax breaks and they need to sell off their estates that's just capitalism at work.
Post edited at 12:37
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AC1 - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

This is spot on, great to see him take the message to the heart of the 'heritage' land management industry. I spend lots of time in the hills here in Aberdeenshire - especially the Gorms and eastern highlands, and I have a sense of increasing enclosure and cultural co-option by the landed classes, which two recent expeditions illustrate well: my first at the end of August was to Ben Avon from Keiloch, via Glen Gairn. Ben Avon holds the largest area of land above 3000ft in the whole of the UK - a very precious arctic remnant in the heart of the Cairngorm national park. Whilst I was delighted to catch a glimpse of a male capercaillie in the woods I was all too soon out into the endless muir burn striped wet desert of the greater estate. At Keiloch(the main access point for the hill), there were no notices that shooting was taking place, but I spotted half a dozen shiny black range rovers parked under Carn Drochaid, so I assumed that there was shooting on the lower slopes to the east, but was surprised to find a large party wondering across the plateau past the munro summit. I watched for a while from Stuc Garbh Mhor until I was spotted, and reluctant to provoke a confrontation with armed men in the heat of the hunt, turned about and walked home over Carn Liath. The second encounter was on Morven last month, a Corbett close to Ballater. This time I encountered another shooting party at the summit of the mountain, so again turned and went down, but not before I was confronted by a brand new sign all about "The Moor" produced by the Cairgorm National Park Authority itself, promoting the "cultural landscape" of the moor - it seems I was no longer stood on a mountain in the eastern highlands but on someone's moor! It is this notion of a 'cultural landscape' (complete by the way with a photo of a kilted grouse beater) that really sticks in the craw - whose culture is that exactly? Evidently that of those who have the most sway with the National Park Authority. These are just two of many small encounters that cumulatively along with increased track-bulldozing and direct and indirect challenges when out walking that make me feel after 26 years wandering these hills that land-ownership reform and ecological resilience are going backwards not forwards here. Some respondents seem wary of 'class war' being invoked, but the people who own these lands and impose their will on the rest of us really are from a very different class, socially and economically, but as ever in the UK we taxpayers are providing a cosy socialist state for the rich where our presence on their land is tolerated only so far as the law and good PR requires it to be. We all need to keep trying to work through the parliaments to improve things, and the national parks authorities are the obvious next step, but for ordinary people to cultivate any influence in either is increasingly difficult in the face of highly organised and well-funded bodies like the Land owners' federation. Privilege of political access is of course the norm in the UK, and in Scotland too alas (remember Trump and Swinney?).
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summo on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Why should we even try to convince big landowners? All that is needed is to take away their subsidies and make them pay the same business and inheritance tax as everyone else.

I think your vision of who owns the land and what money they receive in subsidies is pretty far from the truth. It also varies massively depending on what the land is and where it is.

A small farm 25-50hectare or less, probably barely breaks even with subsidies and even with a the farmer doing 60-70hr weeks, they need a second income, from one person either working elsewhere, or add ons like cottage rental etc.. just to provide a modest living.

Bigger farms 50 up to a few hundred hectares, they can make a living depending on their sector, but only for 1 or 2 people, if they are niche enough to have some economy of scale. etc.. but even then the subsidies almost certainly represent less than 10% of their income.

Your super estate in the uplands or highlands, that is managed for shooting, typically makes a loss of a few hundred thousand pound every year. There is no money in them, they don't gain enough income from the land to clear the staff costs and building maintenance etc.. they are rich boys toys. They won't have much land that is farmed, what there is will almost certainly leased out, so the subsidies go to the farmer running the lease, not your rich toff, which bring us back to either example of 1 or 2 of the farmer struggling by.

Your Linc/Norfolk food producing farm, loads of subsidies, every inch of land is worked, with many of the biggest get a several hundreds of thousands a year in subsidies. But compared to the volume of food they produce and their turnover it's still small. Why do they need the subsidies? because the supermarkets hammer them on price. If you pay more for your food, they'll happily live without the subsidies and their lives would be much easier for it.

As someone who owns a modest amount of land and comes under the same CAP rules I would love to not to have to do any work filling in forms, I gain very little from it and the hourly rate for sitting online or hand writing forms would be appalling. I have roughly 100hectares, 20 of which are fields or grazed forest. Half is SSSI status (or equiv), I have massive environmental obligations, such as hand scything 2 hectares every year and removing this hay by hand etc.. many ancient stone boundaries/piles to maintain and in total I get around £1500 a year from the state for my conservation efforts over 100hectares (250ish acres). If you knew the price of any farm or forest machinery, you'd know 1.5k is pretty meaningless. Perhaps if farmers got more, they might do more for the environment.

> The very last thing we should be doing is handing landowners another way of keeping vast swathes of land in their families for generations while living off the income. If their business model doesn't work without subsidies and tax breaks and they need to sell off their estates that's just capitalism at work.

What do suggest the farmer does when he dies? Give it away?

If re-wilding is the key, then the land has to stay in families hands for generations as the pay back time is several generations in the first place. They don't get tax breaks and the business model doesn't currently work, that's why only the ultra rich can afford to run a Scottish estate for a modest loss, using their wealth earned elsewhere. Who would buy their estates if they sold them off?
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wobble - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Knepp Castle estate in Sussex has been undergoing Re-Wilding for 10 years + now, link below may interest some on this thread.

http://www.knepp.co.uk/
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> What do suggest the farmer does when he dies? Give it away?

The farmer doesn't do anything because he is dead. If there isn't enough cash then the land gets sold to pay the taxes - same thing as would happen to anyone holding company shares or a private house.

The whole concept that we need to organise taxes so families can hold onto land for ever is nonsense. Land needs to change ownership.

What Monbiot is saying is there is no environmental benefit to sheep, grouse and deer farming. If he is right that we are getting more flooding because of this land management then we should pull the subsidies and tax breaks immediately. The Tories didn't shed a tear when coal mining or steel industries fell apart so why should they care if the sporting estates and sheep farms fall apart.





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summo on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> The farmer doesn't do anything because he is dead. If there isn't enough cash then the land gets sold to pay the taxes - same thing as would happen to anyone holding company shares or a private house.

Exactly, their family inherit it. Which you seem to be suggesting that assets held in the family through generations is bad thing or problem? I'm suggesting any special treatment, but if you own forest, then you can use the income from the wood, to pay the inheritance tax, the family inherit land and no land loss through sales is required.

> The whole concept that we need to organise taxes so families can hold onto land for ever is nonsense. Land needs to change ownership.

You don't need to organise taxes, it already happens and when investing in re-wilding it's going to take at least 60-80 years before you see any reasonable return from the current fresh start position, the landowners need to feel that their kids/grand kids might see some reward in the future, for the sacrifices now.

> What Monbiot is saying is there is no environmental benefit to sheep, grouse and deer farming. If he is right that we are getting more flooding because of this land management then we should pull the subsidies and tax breaks immediately. The Tories didn't shed a tear when coal mining or steel industries fell apart so why should they care if the sporting estates and sheep farms fall apart.

you keep saying pull the subsidies, do advise just what subsidies big stalking estate or grouse shooting are getting? Or tax breaks, you keep mentioning this too, are their special tax breaks for shooting estates? As I've pointed out most subsidies just offset the very low price of food in supermarkets.

Coal, ship, steel was going regardless of the tories or any other government. It's hardly comparable.

You are bringing politics into something that isn't that political. The people I know who were for NPAs are chiefly very far left guardianistas, but are totally against any change in the national parks, because they hold some vision of britiain being great because of purple heather moors and rolling green fields. This is where your problem lies, many landowners would love to change, to diversify, but the NPAs won't allow them to.

You are trying to make this anti tory, anti toff, but from what I've seen and know it's entirely a planning problem within the NPAs.
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Deleted bagger - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Owners of heather moorland in England receive £56 a hecter from the taxpayer to maintain it as just that. It isn't politics it's a fact. The Tories have nearly double this amount. Therefore basic rate taxpayers are giving their money to some of the richest individuals in the country. Again not politics it's a fact. They use this money to burn, drain and generally trash the uplands so they only suitable for game birds and a few decorative sheep. What the situation is in Scotland I don't know but I'd wager it's not much different.

The facts are available in Hansard.
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summo on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to Deleted bagger:

> Owners of heather moorland in England receive £56 a hecter from the taxpayer to maintain it as just that. It isn't politics it's a fact. The Tories have nearly double this amount. Therefore basic rate taxpayers are giving their money to some of the richest individuals in the country. Again not politics it's a fact. They use this money to burn, drain and generally trash the uplands so they only suitable for game birds and a few decorative sheep. What the situation isScotlan I don't know but I'd wager it's not much different.


It's not specifically for heather moorland it is a subsidy to upland farmers from the CAP. In the last cap review, the subsidies were massively revised by the EU. It wouldn't matter what party was in power. There is still much debate, because upland in one area differs from another and even arbitrary height point doesn't cover regional variations either. You could be grazing with sheep and shooting grouse, or farming traditional breeds of organic haggis and the upland allowance would be the same.

So, unless you bring Eu politics in to the chat, this subsidy isn't political and it certainly isn't the tories favouring the gentry.

Many farms could do different things but the npa's won't allow it, they are trapped.

Deleted bagger - on 13 Dec 2015
summo on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to Deleted bagger:

Your point is?

Or, because farmers, game keepers etc.. on the breadline don't own shotguns, only city slicking bankers with pheasant estates. ;)

Or, is this you changing the argument because your claim that the tories subsidies of grouse shooting, was really the EU CAP?
Post edited at 21:23
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:
> Or, is this you changing the argument because your claim that the tories subsidies of grouse shooting, was really the EU CAP?

If the government can't persuade the EU to reform CAP and it considers that the CAP payments are motivating environmentally undesirable activities it should introduce a matching UK tax call it an 'environmental levy' designed to claw back the money received from CAP.

If you look at the biographies of Tory cabinet ministers an awful lot of them were either born into landowning families or married into them, it would be extremely surprising if they didn't have landowner's interests at heart. There's more than one factor involved - land value speculation, subsidy farming to create a risk free investment (not just CAP but wind farms as well), business rate exemptions and inheritance tax planning.
Post edited at 22:25
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daftdazza - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

I don't really buy the arguments that subsidies are required to maintain cheap food prices due to supermarkets squeezing farmers.

Total annual EU farm subsidies to the UK is around 3.6 billion a year, divided by a UK population of 64 million gives total farmer subsidies per person of 56 pounds, which is 15p per person per day. So does not sound like it will mater much to the price we pay in the shops, with oil prices having more of an effect on food prices than farm subsidies.

Take the subsidies away and the inefficient farmers on marginal land will go out of business and we can import more food from the rest of the EU.
1
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

I guess you aren't really bothered about rewilding and are really only interested in hoping to target certain groups of people politically.
1
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

> I don't really buy the arguments that subsidies are required to maintain cheap food prices due to supermarkets squeezing farmers.

Nope. It is the subsidies that are helping many farmers keep above the breadline after being forced down on price by the big chains.

> Total annual EU farm subsidies to the UK is around 3.6 billion a year, divided by a UK population of 64 million gives total farmer subsidies per person of 56 pounds, which is 15p per person per day. So does not sound like it will mater much to the price we pay in the shops, with oil prices having more of an effect on food prices than farm subsidies.

You figures are flawed, as the UK doesn't produce anywhere near enough food for it's use, it imports vast amounts. Per farm, or capita France receives double the CAP of the UK, so UK farmers are much more efficient than many neighbouring countries, but that still doesn't mean that after working 60,70, 80 hrs a week they have a large profit.

> Take the subsidies away and the inefficient farmers on marginal land will go out of business and we can import more food from the rest of the EU.

Many are going out of business, especially in dairy with the global milk price remaining low. Which is great, but that also means the UK isn't even supplying it's own needs. When you buy your cheddar in a big chain supermarket, much of it is made with imported milk now. It is of course a choice for the public, by cheap and be ever reliant on food imports, or plan a little better for the future. It fine everything stay happy in the world, but even in the EU there are problems, so relying on neighbours for your food supply long term is a little short sighted.

Anyway, back to rewilding. Farmers can do both(efficient and green), but food production needs to be more sustainable and the public will have to pay more for what they eat. Proportionally food has never been so cheap in terms of household income, perhaps that needs to change and the countryside can be cared for a little better.

tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> I guess you aren't really bothered about rewilding and are really only interested in hoping to target certain groups of people politically.

It's simpler than that: I don't think giving landowners money to do something which causes environmental harm is a good idea.

I also don't see why we should pay owners of sporting estates to do 'rewilding'. Let them go bust and nature can fix the rewilding for free. Predators large enough to eat tourists seem like a bad idea so maybe there will need to be a hunting licence scheme so locals can shoot a few deer every year but that's a pretty minor issue.


summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> It's simpler than that: I don't think giving landowners money to do something which causes environmental harm is a good idea.

I would agree, I am all for re-wilding and sustainable living, but a balance has to be sought between importing food from overseas which is cheap for a reason and producing as much as country can within it's own borders, without damaging anything and for a reasonably affordable price.

> I also don't see why we should pay owners of sporting estates to do 'rewilding'. Let them go bust and nature can fix the rewilding for free.

you keep missing the point, large shooting estates are bust, they make a loss every year. But they are owned by people with other incomes, so they will remain. Unless the planning regulations change and the National Parks completely shift their focus then the vast areas of uplands and lowlands within NPAs will remain exactly the same.

No one is saying pay landowners to re-wild anything.
daftdazza - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Driven grouse shooting estates have plenty of time to clean up their act, we should simply ban it out right due to the Environmental impacts and associated wildlife crime.

I still don't know why farmers need their subsidies, sheep farming in Cumbria is unlikely to be profitable without subsidies. As we plan long term how we are to adapt to climate change, do we continue to support a loss making industry with the associated environmental consequences of down stream flooding. Or do we stop the subsidies and aim to change the upland land use practices in aim to mitigate the impacts of climate change on local people. Surely we can live with eating less lamb or just import more at little or not extra cost from New Zeeland. Similar propaganda was used when New Zeeland took away farm subsidies, 1 % of farmers went bust, but total agricultural land and production increased, and the industry now thrives.
Deleted bagger - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

Spot on!

Farmers=subsidy junkies.
3
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Deleted bagger:

And here we go, destroying all the good work by insulting farmers.

If anything is going to change it needs consensus rather than divisiveness.

There are many conservation/re-wilding shemes throughout Britain. In my view the most successful of these have been bought about by consensus. Whether that is about a small scale local project involving the village community or by an individual landowner it all boils down to consensus.

Whilst I'd love to see the likes of the NT/RSPB/NP/CAP abolished even I recognize that this wouldn't build consensus and we could do more damage than good.

tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> I would agree, I am all for re-wilding and sustainable living, but a balance has to be sought between importing food from overseas which is cheap for a reason and producing as much as country can within it's own borders, without damaging anything and for a reasonably affordable price.

You could make similar arguments for pretty much every other industry. Look at electronics manufacturing for example: pretty much handed over to China and semiconductor manufacturing, largely handed over to Taiwan. The west would be pretty much screwed if they couldn't import chips from Taiwan or manufactured systems from China so the supply security argument for local production applies just as much as it does to food. But nobody cares - that's global capitalism, production goes to where it is most efficient. And for food that might mean outside the UK. Which, arguably, is not a bad thing because we are holding back the economic development of countries which could be supplying us with food by subsidising high-price production in Europe.


> you keep missing the point, large shooting estates are bust, they make a loss every year. But they are owned by people with other incomes, so they will remain.

Personally I think the writing is on the wall for the large shooting estates in Scotland. The SNP government is quite rightly out to get them and it has the tools to do it. It might take a generation.

> No one is saying pay landowners to re-wild anything.

Sorry, I thought you were suggesting subsidies to encourage landowners to rewild.


1
timjones - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> You could make similar arguments for pretty much every other industry. Look at electronics manufacturing for example: pretty much handed over to China and semiconductor manufacturing, largely handed over to Taiwan. The west would be pretty much screwed if they couldn't import chips from Taiwan or manufactured systems from China so the supply security argument for local production applies just as much as it does to food. But nobody cares - that's global capitalism, production goes to where it is most efficient. And for food that might mean outside the UK. Which, arguably, is not a bad thing because we are holding back the economic development of countries which could be supplying us with food by subsidising high-price production in Europe.

Are you talking about efficient production or cheap labour?

I don't know what you do for a living but I bet that there are plenty of countries that we could export your job to under the pretence that we are holding back their economic development?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to timjones:
> Are you talking about efficient production or cheap labour?

Almost the same thing.

> I don't know what you do for a living but I bet that there are plenty of countries that we could export your job to under the pretence that we are holding back their economic development?

Globalisation already happened to my industry - electronics. China and India are using it for their economic development and a lot of people in the UK did lose their jobs.

You could argue that all industries should get protection from low cost competition from less developed countries but I don't see why landowning and farming should be protected when other industries aren't.
Post edited at 13:13
Moley on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> Personally I think the writing is on the wall for the large shooting estates in Scotland. The SNP government is quite rightly out to get them and it has the tools to do it. It might take a generation.

If this does happen, then Scotland will get what it deserves.
If the large landowners cannot have their sport (stalking, shooting, fishing) they will either turn the land into making a good profit, turbines (and save the world) and commercial forestry. What else?
Alternatively they will sell up and move to Eastern Europe for their sport and leave the land to whomever..........see above. Maybe the Scottish government would borrow some cash, purchase all the land and manage it - obviously to give employment and make money - which would be how? See above.

Just my cynical view of the future, how many tourists will Scotland have if covered in forest with a few wolves and lynx running about that nobody sees?
2
timjones - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Almost the same thing.

I can't speak for electronics but in agriculture I'd argue that they are very different things. We have found huge efficiencies in our quest to survive only to find that we are still asked to either import cheaper and more willing manual labour or move production abroad. The danger with food production is that these growing economies will generate increased demand and we will soon find that we need to move our production back home.

> Globalisation already happened to my industry - electronics. China and India are using it for their economic development and a lot of people in the UK did lose their jobs.

How much was exported and how much was created out there in the first place?

That is intended as a genuine question.

> You could argue that all industries should get protection from low cost competition from less developed countries but I don't see why landowning and farming should be protected when other industries aren't.

That depends on the nature of the costs IMO, if it is genuinely more efficient to produce somewhere else that is a very different thing to expecting people in other countries to work for less so that our own population can
raise their own standard of living.
1
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

> If the large landowners cannot have their sport (stalking, shooting, fishing) they will either turn the land into making a good profit, turbines (and save the world) and commercial forestry. What else?

My guess is that the large landowners will gradually give up as they get squeezed by regulations and taxes. The estates will get split up into much smaller parcels of land and sold off. Probably environmental charities will end up owning the highest land. With smaller parcels of land available combined with improved internet connections and transport links more people will move to the highlands. Plenty of people would like a much bigger house than they could ever afford in the city with some land round it and can work anywhere they have a good internet connection.




Doug on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

plenty of tourists in well wooded parts of Europe, have you been to places like the Vosges, Black Forest or Jura ? even in the Alps, many tourists spent much of their time in the forested parts.
RyanOsborne - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:
> Just my cynical view of the future, how many tourists will Scotland have if covered in forest with a few wolves and lynx running about that nobody sees?

Just look at the amount of wildlife tourism the Rothiemurchus Forest generates, absolutely loads. The red squirrels, pine martens, wildcat, ospreys, crested tits, all draw in huge numbers of twitchers and walkers. Imagine how many Lynx would attract! Imagine finding one of its poos in the forest! Or making a cast of one of its tracks! Or even just going for a walk in the forest knowing that it's there.

Edit: I missed off capercaillie!
Post edited at 15:26
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

> Driven grouse shooting estates have plenty of time to clean up their act, we should simply ban it out right due to the Environmental impacts and associated wildlife crime.

another person misses the point. According the National Park planners and powers, these grazed and shot moor are doing exactly the right thing though. That's the problem, there is no legislative requirement for them to re-wild, if many of them planted forest the National Parks would take them to court.


> Surely we can live with eating less lamb or just import more at little or not extra cost from New Zeeland. Similar propaganda was used when New Zeeland took away farm subsidies, 1 % of farmers went bust, but total agricultural land and production increased, and the industry now thrives.

I would agree, but they centralised, farming in terms of production and cost thrived, but there is or was an environmental cost and NZ aren't wedded to the EU. The UK isn't allowed to do anything that might give it's farmers a competitive advantage over their EU neighbours.

The picture is a little more complex than simply ranting stop the subsidies to the toff tory farmers, who have friends who shoot grouse.
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> You could make similar arguments for pretty much every other industry. Look at electronics manufacturing for example: ...... is not a bad thing because we are holding back the economic development of countries which could be supplying us with food by subsidising high-price production in Europe.

That's fine for electronics, you will live without them. Not sure about food.

importing food from the other side of world, where welfare is dire, local work conditions are dire, not to mention biosecurity issues of importing certain products is clearly not very environmental friendly. You can rewild the UK, while you ruin someone elses land?


> Personally I think the writing is on the wall for the large shooting estates in Scotland. The SNP government is quite rightly out to get them and it has the tools to do it. It might take a generation.

I can't see it really, as it amounts to theft. They'd get fried in court.

> Sorry, I thought you were suggesting subsidies to encourage landowners to rewild.
no, you were suggesting they could not hold onto their land more than a generation, I said the pay back time was much longer.
Post edited at 15:40
tony on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> another person misses the point. According the National Park planners and powers, these grazed and shot moor are doing exactly the right thing though. That's the problem, there is no legislative requirement for them to re-wild, if many of them planted forest the National Parks would take them to court.

What proportion of Scottish grouse moors are inside either of the Scottish National parks?
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> Just look at the amount of wildlife tourism the Rothiemurchus Forest generates, absolutely loads. The red squirrels, pine martens, wildcat, ospreys, crested tits, all draw in huge numbers of twitchers and walkers. Imagine how many Lynx would attract! Imagine finding one of its poos in the forest! Or making a cast of one of its tracks! Or even just going for a walk in the forest knowing that it's there.
> Edit: I missed off capercaillie!

it's only going to attract UK people and if you cover Scotland in Rothiemuchus's then you spread your interested tourists out. I can see everything apart from beers and wolves from my house, I can assure there are an exceedingly small number of people who come to see the animals you talk of, as most are also elsewhere in Europe. So I am all for re-wilding, but I would not over estimate how many people will come for it or how much revenue it will bring.

Forestry though, that's where the money will lie in half a century if they got planting now. Although I shouldn't really encourage it, as Sweden sells a lot of sawn timber to the UK, as the UK isn't self sufficient.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> That's fine for electronics, you will live without them. Not sure about food.

Maybe if you live on a croft. If you live in a city you won't live for long without electronics these days, pretty much everything is dependent on electronic products. Including access to food.



summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Maybe if you live on a croft. If you live in a city you won't live for long without electronics these days, pretty much everything is dependent on electronic products. Including access to food.

If you think relying on overseas for food is wise, you will find that history has proved this notion wrong many times over we just don't learn. Except now the UK needs overseas power sources too etc.. it's all fine when the world is peace and love, but history has also shown us that this isn't likely to remain so.

With fickle climates entire cropping seasons can be lost in some regions of the world. Diseases and viruses can stop the import or export for products for many many years. If the UK is overly reliant on other nations it is setting itself up for a fall. Even political events can change livelihoods over night, Russian sanctions for example.

There are work around solutions for electronic failures, food can still be grown and transport, albeit by slower means. But, imagine a country with no food, after 3 days the place would be heading in a very primitive direction.

I guess as a city person you value your electronics and as long as you can walk into a supermarket and pick up your nicely packaged produce you don't care where it come from. Which is pretty much why the UK farming industry is in less than an ideal position, the consumer is completely detached from it's food source, doesn't really understand it or the people who produce it.
1
Turnipturned - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Summo, thank you for talking sense and painting a clearer picture of what really is happening in the context of farming in the UK.

1
daftdazza - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

We are only talking about a change of up land farming which is not going to do much to our food security, but it will free up the uplands for ecosystem service to mitigate the impacts of down stream flooding, which the gradual re wilding of some land for the benefit of wildlife and ecosystem function.

National parks don't tackle wildlife crime and environmental impacts of grouse shooting as the landowners have all the power not the National parks . But if we driven grouse shooting was banned in Scotland, the land owners could be encouraged to manage the land for environmental benefits, but if there was no money to me made on the land, then the land value would decrease and would be more affordable for community buy outs.

In the rest of Europe hills have forest cover and farming is on the more profitable lowlands, why should the UK be any different. Upland farming and sporting estates is a relic from the Victorian era and is no longer justifiable or sustainable in the 21 st century.

Hope over fear.
1
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tony:

> What proportion of Scottish grouse moors are inside either of the Scottish National parks?

none, but the originator of the article, talks about Dartmoor, Lake District, Yorkshire.... all of which come under NPAs. I never made it Scottish specific.
summo on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

> We are only talking about a change of up land farming which is not going to do much to our food security, but it will free up the uplands for ecosystem service to mitigate the impacts of down stream flooding, which the gradual re wilding of some land for the benefit of wildlife and ecosystem function.

I fully agree, I live the rewilded dream everyday, feeling and seeing the benefits. But, you still need to put food on the table and have fields somewhere. The valley bottoms of the dales, the lakes are just as lacking in diversity as the moorlands. If you want to stop or reduce the flooding the whole catchment needs dealing with, spot targeting won't reduce peak flow sufficiently.

> National parks don't tackle wildlife crime and environmental impacts of grouse shooting as the landowners have all the power not the National parks . But if we driven grouse shooting was banned in Scotland, the land owners could be encouraged to manage the land for environmental benefits, but if there was no money to me made on the land, then the land value would decrease and would be more affordable for community buy outs.

NPAs have all the powers and there aren't wildlife crimes, they are following the desires of the NPAs. Have you even listened to George Monbiot talk about this problem, and the root causes? Have you even spoken or worked with senior staff in NPAs?

> In the rest of Europe hills have forest cover and farming is on the more profitable lowlands, why should the UK be any different. Upland farming and sporting estates is a relic from the Victorian era and is no longer justifiable or sustainable in the 21 st century.

I agree, I live at 300m asl in Sweden, we farm land that is roughly 70% forest, 10% lake/marsh and 20% fields. I agree the moors they are relics (so are the monoculture rye grass fields), but without understanding CAP, farming in general and the environments that you want to get to or from, you aren't go to effect any meaningful change. Most of the people ranting about stopping subsidies, toffs shooting etc.. have no ideas about of these topics, they've spent their lives living and working in cities.

> Hope over fear.

I see what the hills could look like, but it won't happen by making it some political class war.
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

How much of Scotland's upland is suitable for forestry on a commercial scale? How much of that area would you be happy to see planted with fast growing non native pines? Would you be prepared to support subsidies for the less commercially suitable areas? Would you still consider these ideas even if the locals considered you 'barmy'?

The UK isn't that much different from the rest of Europe once you consider our climate/population density.

I don't want an answer (I don't have any answers) but I would like you to think about my reply.
daftdazza - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Lots of grouse moors in the cairngorm national park.
daftdazza - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

My Environmental Geoscience degree must have been given to me for my lack of understanding.

It's not a class war for me, just a desire for the land to used for greater good of the majority of the people who live in the country, and for the greater good of nature.

National parks know about all the wildlife crimes taking place within the National parks, but nothing seems to get done. How many birds of prey have been poisoned or illegal killed in national parks this year?

A move away from upland farming is not going to effect food security. Up to 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from meat production, so logical way to meet our Paris targets is for us to reduce our meat consumption, freeing up more land for ecosystem services, and more land to produce feed for humans and not animals.
1
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> If you think relying on overseas for food is wise, you will find that history has proved this notion wrong many times over we just don't learn. Except now the UK needs overseas power sources too etc.. it's all fine when the world is peace and love, but history has also shown us that this isn't likely to remain so.

I think this is a bit of a fallacy, we all need to learn from history but also need to understand that the world has moved on over the last 30/50/100 years. Even if the UK fell out with the EU and the USA it is very unlikely that we would see famine, and if we did I predict the government would collapse within weeks - thank the marshmallow in the sky for the internet.

> With fickle climates entire cropping seasons can be lost in some regions of the world. Diseases and viruses can stop the import or export for products for many many years. If the UK is overly reliant on other nations it is setting itself up for a fall. Even political events can change livelihoods over night, Russian sanctions for example.

It's very unlikely that climate or diseases will seriously affect our ability to feed ourselves over a short period of time - humans are able to adapt fairly quickly to real threats.


> I guess as a city person you value your electronics and as long as you can walk into a supermarket and pick up your nicely packaged produce you don't care where it come from. Which is pretty much why the UK farming industry is in less than an ideal position, the consumer is completely detached from it's food source, doesn't really understand it or the people who produce it.

I used to be a city person, I now buy my lamb (or hogget if you want me to be precise) from my neighbour. Living the dream... not a chance but I can still have a laugh with the neighbour as we add up just how many 'real' food miles it has taken for the sheep to go from being 'an idea in the rams head' to being a delicious meal on my plate.

1
tony on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> none, but the originator of the article, talks about Dartmoor, Lake District, Yorkshire.... all of which come under NPAs. I never made it Scottish specific.

Perhaps not, but you've been invoking the spectre of National Parks as an impediment to rewilding. In the case of Scotland, there's a lot of land which lies outside the two National Parks and wouldn't be affected by any NP legislation or guidance, and which has other land use opportunities.
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to daftdazza:

> It's not a class war for me, just a desire for the land to used for greater good of the majority of the people who live in the country, and for the greater good of nature.

So who decides what is best, you - the majority of people - nature?

> National parks know about all the wildlife crimes taking place within the National parks, but nothing seems to get done. How many birds of prey have been poisoned or illegal killed in national parks this year?

Surely as part of your degree you learnt about the economics of Environmental Geoscience, somewhere there it surely said leave the rich people to kill what they want - there is no money or progress to be made by attacking the rich people, concentrate on building support from those that naturally support you.


Moley on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> My guess is that the large landowners will gradually give up as they get squeezed by regulations and taxes. The estates will get split up into much smaller parcels of land and sold off. Probably environmental charities will end up owning the highest land. With smaller parcels of land available combined with improved internet connections and transport links more people will move to the highlands. Plenty of people would like a much bigger house than they could ever afford in the city with some land round it and can work anywhere they have a good internet connection.

I don't share your vision.
Environment charities will have to purchase the land, outbidding commercial forestry (alternative environmental disaster) or wind power, that will be big money for them to find.
Smaller parcels of land for what? No chance of farming it for a living and this " better internet" has me sceptical. There are only so many jobs from home that can support a major wage (for the big house) and most people moving in from cities still yearn a Waitrose and designer shops nearby, you mention "improved transport links" what exactly, across the highlands, bigger roads, new railways? Who pays?

My vision would be fenced in wildlife parks (like South Africa), commercially fighting for the same public, probably overstocked with photogenic top predators, possibly with additional feeding and inbreeding problems. Not nice, I would rather do without.

In the end, everyone who owns land either wants or needs to make money from it and in a tiny island with 60 million inhabitants the pressures are enormous. I think most of the population of Scotland and all tourists would vote for the current chocolate box views of heather clad countryside and mountains as opposed to forested hills and the excitement of a lump of lynx shit.
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

I think you are spot on with your vision. However I do think that we are better now than 30 years ago.
Moley on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

Thanks, I think land management will improve. I think grouse moors and sporting estates (owners) will follow better practice. I think natural forestry may increase (so long as it can be paid for on private estates). I think the future may not be all bad if parliament and landowners work together.

I don't think some kind of mass rewilding of all uplands is the answer. It doesn't add up for the country or what the people will want.
1
FactorXXX - on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

I don't share your vision.

Me neither.
I reckon, if the current land owners are forced to sell, then the upper parts will be stacked with wind farms and the lower parts will be luxury homes and holiday parks, etc.
You could always re-wild between the wind mills, as the animals won't care about the aesthetics of them.
Left the forums on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

I hope your view of the future comes true, I think it is far more realistic than Monbiots.

For me I have to reconcile that 30 yrs ago my pet villain was Fountain Forestry, this year my pet villain is the RSPB. As someone who loves nature and the British countryside I struggle to understand my views for this year.
1
Moley on 14 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

We (as a community) have been battling Tilhill forestry the last few months, they have withdrawn their plans. Environmental impact on their proposed site was too damaging, luckily many organisations agreed with us.

But there is a lot of ££££ to be made from commercial forestry and although we need some and I was a forester for 8 years, given some cheap land then Scotland would soon be covered in rows of sitka spruce.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> I guess as a city person you value your electronics and as long as you can walk into a supermarket and pick up your nicely packaged produce you don't care where it come from. Which is pretty much why the UK farming industry is in less than an ideal position, the consumer is completely detached from it's food source, doesn't really understand it or the people who produce it.

I'm not arguing that there are dangers in relying on imports for food. What I am saying is that the global economy is so interconnected and the technologies we depend on are so advanced that food is far from the only product which this applies to.

In the second world war Britain was able to convert large amounts of land for food production very quickly. Suppose China attacked Taiwan and we no longer had access to chips from the leading-edge foundries I doubt we could build an indigenous semiconductor manufacturing industry capable of building those chips in less than 5 years no matter how much money we spent.

summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to tony:

> Perhaps not, but you've been invoking the spectre of National Parks as an impediment to rewilding. In the case of Scotland, there's a lot of land which lies outside the two National Parks and wouldn't be affected by any NP legislation or guidance, and which has other land use opportunities.

true, but do you think the John Muir Trust would be happy to have all those iconic mountain views covered in forest?

summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I'm not arguing that there are dangers in relying on imports for food. What I am saying is that the global economy is so interconnected and the technologies we depend on are so advanced that food is far from the only product which this applies to.

I would agree, but most problems are solvable on a full stomach, or with brew in your hand. Perhaps society should not make itself overly reliant on tech either?

> In the second world war Britain was able to convert large amounts of land for food production very quickly.

Yes and the UK went on rationing because even then it could not feed itself and the food convoys from the USA. The UK land mass hasn't grown any bigger, so it's a reasonable assumption that it won't be able to feed itself now too.

You have this obsession with microchips. I think the UK should focus on the basics first, providing and controlling it's water, food and electricity supply, then you can worry about your processors.
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

> We (as a community) have been battling Tilhill forestry the last few months, they have withdrawn their plans. Environmental impact on their proposed site was too damaging, luckily many organisations agreed with us.
> But there is a lot of ££££ to be made from commercial forestry and although we need some and I was a forester for 8 years, given some cheap land then Scotland would soon be covered in rows of sitka spruce.

you'll probably know that the UK and certainly tillhills forestry model is pretty dire. Monoculture spruce, grow tight for a relatively short life then clear felled. Cheap naff food and a matching terrain.

I'm cutting now, mainly storm damage from the past few weeks, plus beetled stuff, then onto the proper harvest. No spruce I deliberately take will be under 80 years old, most nearer a 100. We have some giant old spruce 130 year old, metre plus at the base, but getting to old now, starting to rot out. I'll leave most pines standing and all oaks, ash, asp, juniper, beech, rowan etc.. will take birch where it's plentiful. I cut only by hand and extractor by tractor (not forwarder), only the when the ground is frozen or dry enough to prevent damage. I have to leave trees at all boundaries, road, path, stream, marsh... margins.

There is different forestry model and it's up to those how they implement the legislation. ie the forestry commission.
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

> I think this is a bit of a fallacy, we all need to learn from history but also need to understand that the world has moved on over the last 30/50/100 years. Even if the UK fell out with the EU and the USA it is very unlikely that we would see famine, and if we did I predict the government would collapse within weeks - thank the marshmallow in the sky for the internet.

Tell that to people who trade with Russia, many business especially those on border towns have been crippled since Russian sanctions. Given the amount of food and goods flowing through one or two very important canals, a small war there would massively change European imports.

> It's very unlikely that climate or diseases will seriously affect our ability to feed ourselves over a short period of time - humans are able to adapt fairly quickly to real threats.

I will ignore foot & mouth, BSE, bird flu... or the fact a disease in food crops that had the same impact as ash die back would cripple UK farming. I think rising global population, more land taken for living on, the emerging populations desire to live a western lifestyle, climate change and so on... I think the world will be challenged to feed itself at times in the future anyway.

Short period of time? I think the USA banned UK beef imports because of BSE for over a decade? Foot & mouth was hardly a quick cheap fix. Many of plant diseases aren't any better, or the pest control issue on seedlings versus the bee population with neonicitinoids.

There are no quick fixes, due to the testing required before food that is treated with anything can be declared fit for human consumption.

> I used to be a city person, I now buy my lamb (or hogget if you want me to be precise) from my neighbour.

I bet the supermarkets would not touch his hogget or mutton, even though there is nothing wrong with it. The farmers have very little control at times, there only hope are neighbours and independent butchers.
tony on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> true, but do you think the John Muir Trust would be happy to have all those iconic mountain views covered in forest?

The John Muir Trust is replacing non-native conifers with native deciduous trees at Glenlude and on Skye, and they've been planting trees and reducing deer numbers in Knoydart since 1987. I reckon they'd be quite happy.
Toerag - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

The problem with man-made reforestation is the trees that will be used - Boring pine/spruce is significantly more valuable (4 times?) to a landowner than indigenous things like Beech. It's a lot easier/cheaper to cut up a single straight spruce trunk than a beech with big limbs all over the place. The vast pine forests of the lower Alps aren't natural, they're the result of the indigenous deciduous forest being decimated for fuel and building in WW2.
Left the forums on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

> We (as a community) have been battling Tilhill forestry the last few months, they have withdrawn their plans. Environmental impact on their proposed site was too damaging, luckily many organisations agreed with us.

It's good to hear that damaging proposals are being withdrawn. It fits with my thoughts that we are better at dealing with these issues than we were 30 or 40 years ago.

> But there is a lot of ££££ to be made from commercial forestry and although we need some and I was a forester for 8 years, given some cheap land then Scotland would soon be covered in rows of sitka spruce.

Please NO... and when the land isn't cheap enough/viable maybe we should provide subsidies to those that want to invest in forestry or have we already tried out that idea...
Left the forums on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Much of what you say is more about money than avoiding famine/becoming self sufficient in food. Do you really think that we would be worrying about whether we eat lamb or beef if we were really hungry. I'm not disputing that there won't be hard times ahead on occasions (and some countries will suffer more than others) but I can't go with 'the world will be challenged to feed itself at times in the future anyway' type of thinking. Not saying a disease/plague can't wipe out all crops just saying that what we do in the UK about our uplands will not change this sort of outcome at all.

You also mention forestry in other replies. As you well know, in the UK the major 'player' in forestry is the Forestry Commission (if they are still called that nowadays). The FC remit has changed massively over the last 100 years from one of 'ensuring the nation has enough wood' to one of 'providing opportunities for conservation and recreation'. On the whole I think they have done a good job especially if I ignore the middle years of blanket pine forests.

Why do we need to work towards 'self sustainability' in food but not in wood?

Moley on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

Trees are typical of the area that I take issue with Monbiot and why I find many of his claims, facts, figures do not stand up to scrutiny. They are twisted to make his causes more plausible.

He states UK has 13% tree cover as opposed to Europes 37%.
Our lowlands are largely treeless and uplands even barer.
He makes this sound like a disgrace in the UK lagging far behind Europe (though he doesn't mention specific countries, EU is big).

My take on it is this:

UK has 13% tree cover and increasing towards set targets.
13% is the largest percentage of tree cover since 1750 - that's 250 years ago - and we have been as low as 5%.
Because we had an Industrial revolution, wars with Europe, 2 world wars and following WW2 (and rationing) the push for industrial farming. These have taken an enormous toll on our island recourses.
When I look at photos of our valley 80 - 100 years ago there were hardly any trees, now there are masses of native hardwoods (and the bloody commercial forestry), I see woodland all over the UK, Monbiot obviously doesn't.

I think we are doing quite well, not perfect but pretty good under the circumstances.
tony on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:

> When I look at photos of our valley 80 - 100 years ago there were hardly any trees, now there are masses of native hardwoods (and the bloody commercial forestry), I see woodland all over the UK, Monbiot obviously doesn't.

What proportion of UK woodlands are commercial non-natives or monocultures, compared with native broadleafs and conifers? There's woodland and woodland, and just because you can see trees, that's not necessarily the best thing for any particular location.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> You have this obsession with microchips. I think the UK should focus on the basics first, providing and controlling it's water, food and electricity supply, then you can worry about your processors.

You have it back to front. The processors are *how* we control our food and electricity supply and pretty much everything else these days. It is only going to go further in that direction because the price of energy efficiency and low cost mechanics is more complex control systems. More complex control systems means a far higher electronics content.

I think we have gone way beyond the point where advanced countries are able to be self sufficient, it is a price of relying on complex technology and the desire for cost reduction. We could spend a lot of money trying to achieve self sufficiency in food but it won't actually make us any more secure because there are so many other things we need to maintain our society which we can't be self sufficient in.



Moley on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to tony:

I'm not a fan of commercial conifers or their negative effect on some environments, but have to accept they are here and necessary. Every time I go to the builders merchants to buy wood (and moan about the price) I appreciate that it has to come from somewhere.
Either we import everything, so another country loses it's natural forestry or we grow some commercially - but we must try to manage it as best we can.

Regards native trees (mainly deciduous broadleaf) I see far more than there were 100 years ago, this is good.

I'm helping with a fishery conservation scheme, last weeks we have been planting 1200 native trees alongside a remote river valley (previously stock fenced). The valley is 5 miles long with sole access on foot from either end, every stake (wooden!), tree guard, tree, mulch mat has been carried in on our shoulders up to 21/2 miles. I don't need sodding beavers there in years to come
A small measure but steps are being made
RyanOsborne - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Toerag:

> Boring pine

Pine woodlands are incredible! How can you call pine trees boring? Or do you mean from a decorative finished wood perspective?

http://wild-scotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Glen-Affric-Scots-Pine-03.jpg

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/1_15/1_15_1l.JPG
JayPee630 - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

I think he means plantation pines if you read what he says, not pines per se.
Doug on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to JayPee630:

most of which are likely to spruces (at least in Scotland)
RyanOsborne - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to JayPee630:

Oh I see, cheers.

I've gotten a bit lost on the thread, but commercial forestry plantations don't really come under any definition of rewilding, whatever species of tree it is.
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

>> You also mention forestry in other replies. As you well know, in the UK the major 'player' in forestry is the Forestry Commission (if they are still called that nowadays). The FC remit has changed massively over the last 100 years from one of 'ensuring the nation has enough wood' to one of 'providing opportunities for conservation and recreation'. On the whole I think they have done a good job especially if I ignore the middle years of blanket pine forests.

I would agree, they have improved a little in their style of forest management, but monoculture spruce forest (yes spruce, not pine as you said), were the norm and are still.

> Why do we need to work towards 'self sustainability' in food but not in wood?

I agree, the UK imports masses of wood. I'm all for rewilding, I'm arguing against all the comments which clearly show a complete lack of understanding of that type of environment, CAP and how people think they can make it happen. I think it would be great for all the uplands to be re-forested, in 100 years they would look back and realise what a sensible move it was.
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Moley:
> Because we had an Industrial revolution, wars with Europe, 2 world wars and following WW2 (and rationing) the push for industrial farming. These have taken an enormous toll on our island recourses.
> When I look at photos of our valley 80 - 100 years ago there were hardly any trees, now there are masses of native hardwoods (and the bloody commercial forestry), I see woodland all over the UK, Monbiot obviously doesn't.

There is a good book called 'the forester' I think. Life story of Scot, who grew up as a forest apprentice before WW1, then fought, went back into forestry, then did the War effort again. Eventually he was in charge of replanting much of the forests cut down for various uses in both wars. He used to live just outside Betws y Coed (where he planted a huge amount of that now mature forest).
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to tony:
> What proportion of UK woodlands are commercial non-natives or monocultures, compared with native broadleafs and conifers? There's woodland and woodland, and just because you can see trees, that's not necessarily the best thing for any particular location.

Spruce, Norway, sikta, whatever, grows fast, it's pretty straight, not so heavy and generally small enough knots to be reasonable for building. 3x2 sizes and upwards.

Pine which is what many people seem to be calling spruce. Pines aren't the Xmas trees, that is Spruce. Pines brown through to orangey trunk, only branches at the top when mature. Much heavier than spruce, less knots, quality stuff is much stronger, so it's used for thinner longer lengths in the building, skirting board, window trim, door trim etc.. it's harder wearing so old floors were made from it too. It rots less slowly which makes it useful as well.

Larch, bit of a jack of all trade, but not as hard as Pine, fast growing though and because it drops it's needles/leaves, it's often planted as a wind break on Southern and Westerly sides of plantations.

I could go on, but every wood has it's place. The problem in the UK is most spruce is grown too tight and chopped too young before it gets to a good planking size. I convert around 30 or 40 spruce logs to planks and beams etc... every year. I can assure you it has it's place.

Forests should grow a variety, but also what society needs and uses. The UK import a lot of sawn spruce at the moment.
Post edited at 17:08
summo on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> Oh I see, cheers.
> I've gotten a bit lost on the thread, but commercial forestry plantations don't really come under any definition of rewilding, whatever species of tree it is.

I have forest that is cut for primarily pine and spruce, but it also has birch, oak, asp, alder, juniper, hazel... there is no shortage other species of plants, flora, fungi or wildlife. I might have to work around the trees I want to keep when felling, but that just means it's a more thoughtful process, no clear felling etc.. Granted it might not produce as much wood as it could, but it's sustainable and also an enjoyable environment in which to be.
RyanOsborne - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

Sounds nice, and not at all like the dark, tightly packed, lifeless plantations I think of when I think of commercial forestry... Would you describe it as commercial forestry? Would you describe it as wild?
Left the forums on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

We can talk about correct definitions of things, whether that is lamb, hogget or mutton or spruce/pine. None of this helps.

> I agree, the UK imports masses of wood. I'm all for rewilding, I'm arguing against all the comments which clearly show a complete lack of understanding of that type of environment, CAP and how people think they can make it happen. I think it would be great for all the uplands to be re-forested, in 100 years they would look back and realise what a sensible move it was.

I think you have a complete lack of understanding of things - if you and me fail to agree then there is a considerable risk that those who want to make some money will jump into the void. I think Monbiot's thoughts enhance mine and your differences and therefore his thoughts are at best divisive.

I'll not comment further as I don't see how I can further the debate rather than repeat what I've already said.
KennyWright - on 15 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

this is a wee bit off topic but I came across this consultation: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/land-use-and-biodiversity/land-use-strategy-for-scotland and I thought is was interesting and relevant although I have only had the briefest of looks at it so far. I think I was sent this by the government after I responded to the recent land reform bill consultation. I am not sure how this consultation links to the current land reform bill.

I thought one of the most interesting aspects of George Monbiot's discussion was his suggestion that the CAP was going to end at some point in the none too distant future. I don't know a great deal about CAP but I imagine it will have a massive impact upon land use and the rural economy. I am still not sure why it will end though - did I miss that bit?
summo on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> Sounds nice, and not at all like the dark, tightly packed, lifeless plantations I think of when I think of commercial forestry... Would you describe it as commercial forestry? Would you describe it as wild?

it is commercial, it makes money producing wood for a variety of uses, but doesn't hammer the land. Mono cropping spruce will cause problems for UK forests eventually, it's no different to farm planting the same crop annually in a field, pest and disease specific to spruces will progressively develop.
summo on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to Andy 976853:

> We can talk about correct definitions of things, whether that is lamb, hogget or mutton or spruce/pine. None of this helps.

Yes, but if people are ranting about how the everything needs to be forest and you don't know the difference between spruce and pine, then you kind of lose credibility.

> I think you have a complete lack of understanding of things -

I have farm and forest, that is certainly wild and sustainable, with all the things Monbiot dreams of. I also know the CAP system fairly well. I've walked and climbed most of the UK and lived in a few upland regions in wales, Yorkshire and Scotland in my time and I worked on UK farm as a youth. I'm also qualified in environmental / natural sciences, So whilst you might not agree or like what I say, I do have a fair understanding of the subject.
summo on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to KennyWright:

> I thought one of the most interesting aspects of George Monbiot's discussion was his suggestion that the CAP was going to end at some point in the none too distant future. I don't know a great deal about CAP but I imagine it will have a massive impact upon land use and the rural economy. I am still not sure why it will end though - did I miss that bit?

I can't see CAP ending, French farms live of it, twice the money per hectare compared to the UK. France is also a much bigger driver of the EU.
Left the forums on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to KennyWright:

Thanks Kenny. I enjoyed reading the document, especially this bit about upland land use;

We recognise that this is a challenging task given the complexity and wide range of interests represented. Indeed even the term ‘uplands’ is contested, so we recognise the need to tread carefully to ensure the support of all with an interest in these areas. For this reason we propose to scope the potential to develop a strategic vision. Only after we have taken this initial step will we determine whether it is feasible to proceed with the development of a shared vision for the uplands.
Left the forums on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

I never meant to infer that you didn't know about or understand, it was already clear to me that you knew far more than me on the details.

Maybe I should of changed 'complete lack of understanding of things' to 'I'm not sure your approach is helpful in achieving change'
RyanOsborne - on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to KennyWright:

> I thought one of the most interesting aspects of George Monbiot's discussion was his suggestion that the CAP was going to end at some point in the none too distant future. I don't know a great deal about CAP but I imagine it will have a massive impact upon land use and the rural economy. I am still not sure why it will end though - did I miss that bit?

I've always wondered this too. The main argument against it is that it is economically un-viable, but as un-viable as it may be, I've never seen any evidence that it will end in the near future. It does seem very damaging in its current form, and I think it should be reformed to encourage farmers to provide more space for wildlife and for people to enjoy being in the countryside.

In terms of the food security issues with providing less space for food production by providing more space for wildlife, I think there should be a recognition that we need wildlife, be it pollinators or natural insect predators to have a functioning agricultural industry. And current farming practices, encouraged in part by the CAP, and particularly the huge, intensively sprayed mono-culture fields are doing serious harm to the wildlife we need for food security.
summo on 16 Dec 2015
In reply to RyanOsborne:

> I think it should be reformed to encourage farmers to provide more space for wildlife and for people to enjoy being in the countryside.

So a farm would have set aside, paid to grow nothing? Now there is a new idea! ;)

If you want farmers to make a living growing on less land, won't subsidies increase, or food on the shelf have to cost proportionally more?

> In terms of the food security issues with providing less space for food production by providing more space for wildlife, I think there should be a recognition that we need wildlife, be it pollinators or natural insect predators to have a functioning agricultural industry. And current farming practices, encouraged in part by the CAP, and particularly the huge, intensively sprayed mono-culture fields are doing serious harm to the wildlife we need for food security.

Neo-nics have been pretty much banned for trial period, so there are already moves in that direction. Plus fields(or overall farm acreage) over a certain size, have to be dual crop now, not mono crop. So these things do exist already to some extend in CAP.

What you call current farming practices, vary quite a bit. I knew several who aren't organic, but still don't fertilise or spray anything, simply because they don't believe in it. Farmers have worked the land for a long time and most want to hand it on to their kids etc.., they aren't all evil.

Of course there could always be more measures, but the down side is yields will be lower and supply & demand dictates prices go up. But, I've already said I think food is too cheap, especially meat.
KennyWright - on 17 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:
in terms of food sovereignty and food prices does the re-wilding argument not apply to land which is currently not very productive agriculturally. Not producing food from this land (venison and lamb/mutton) might not make a great deal of difference to food production in general. Could it be said that CAP payments enable people to live and work on this land where they could not if the free market was given free reign? Also, does the suggestion (from George's presentation) that CAP is ultimately a means of transferring public money to very wealthy landowners hold water?

another thought... could CAP pay for re-wilding?

and a final thought... what do those who work in 'upland' areas make of all of this? 'Conservation by command' and all that.. I recognise some of the folks who have commented upon this thread do work on the land.
Post edited at 20:59
summo on 17 Dec 2015
In reply to KennyWright:

> in terms of food sovereignty and food prices does the re-wilding argument not apply to land which is currently not very productive agriculturally. Not producing food from this land (venison and lamb/mutton) might not make a great deal of difference to food production in general. Could it be said that CAP payments enable people to live and work on this land where they could not if the free market was given free reign? Also, does the suggestion (from George's presentation) that CAP is ultimately a means of transferring public money to very wealthy landowners hold water?

Not really most farmers don't actually get that much CAP, even the ultra wealthy landowners generally lease land to farmers, so again it's the small scale farmer getting the money.

> another thought... could CAP pay for re-wilding?

Only if it applied across the whole EU, not allowed to favour or specialise.

> and a final thought... what do those who work in 'upland' areas make of all of this? 'Conservation by command' and all that.. I recognise some of the folks who have commented upon this thread do work on the land.

I think many farmers would love life without CAP, if they could make a genuine profit from a normal weeks worth of hours. The problem for most is the gap or lead in period for a re-wilded area to make an revenue, is almost the working lifetime of a person.
KennyWright - on 17 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

> Not really most farmers don't actually get that much CAP, even the ultra wealthy landowners generally lease land to farmers, so again it's the small scale farmer getting the money.

I have heard it said that rents reflect the level of subsidy a tenant farmer receives rather than the economic value of the land therefore CAP payments ultimately end up in the pockets of the landowner - correct?

and what of 'subsidy farmers'? - acquiring agricultural land for the subsidy rather than to actually farm the land.

and finally... is it true that subsidy rights can be traded without the land changing hands either through a lease or purchase?

summo on 18 Dec 2015
In reply to KennyWright:
> I have heard it said that rents reflect the level of subsidy a tenant farmer receives rather than the economic value of the land therefore CAP payments ultimately end up in the pockets of the landowner - correct?

There will always be examples of that, even some landowners who don't pass any subsidies on to farmers, but also other farms on 3generation lease, with peppercorn rents.

> and what of 'subsidy farmers'? - acquiring agricultural land for the subsidy rather than to actually farm the land.

You can not get subsidies unless you do something, set aside ended years ago. Plus subsidies are insignificant in a farms overall cost and turn over, they only help because the actual annual profit is so small. I have roughly 100hectares on 20 are fields though. Perhaps only £100k worth of machinery as none of it is new, but parts and running costs are higher, this year about £4k on parts, repairs and servicing(not counting fuel)... My total subsidies for a massive amount of environmental work I do on the land is roughly £1500.


> and finally... is it true that subsidy rights can be traded without the land changing hands either through a lease or purchase?

Here it is all online and computerised with no paperwork, when you log in,
you can only amend the status of different fields etc. If you own them, or submit a lease or written proof you are renting lend elsewhere. But, the person who claims has to be working that land. Here (Sweden) they do random visits, you get a phonecall at 5pm to say they are coming tomorrow. Any major amendments and they just arrive for a spot check, regardless. There is no hiding, they do take money back off people too.
Post edited at 09:34
KennyWright - on 19 Dec 2015
In reply to summo:

interesting stuff - good to see these issues debated on UKC/UKH. Learning more about land management/ land reform certainly changes the way I look at and think about the mountains when I am playing there on my days off.
summo on 19 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:
Following a similar line to the thread topic, john Muir trust getting a bashing in the P&J for culling 80+ Deer and leaving them rot. I'm all for the cull, but what a waste of meat, could feed a few villages for winter that lot, or give it to charity.

If local estates did the same, wonder what the jmt would say.
Post edited at 20:57
Gael Force on 19 Dec 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

What a load of bollocks...
7
LeeWood - on 02 Jan 2016
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I have been following GM's journalism for several years, and sometimes wonder whether he really anticipates changes as radical as proposed - but good on him - it often needs a spokesperson like this to even lever small changes, and these would be better than nothing.

As small-scale lowland landowners in France the issues have recently attained special interest. Our 4ha property borders a small river and we are the unwitting 'owners' of a 2m dam. In fact at date of purchase we were unaware of this; ownership of the canal which feeds a waterwheel was clear however. It has only come to light in the last year after French national interpretation of the EC directive named Continuité Ecologique - has implied destruction of dams and weirs on a national scale.

We are part of a growing reaction to oppose this destruction. It involves substantial outlay of taxpayers money which could be better spent, and will shift current problems elsewhere. Of greatest concern however - that it is based on false premise, evident in reactionary renaming of the project Continuité Pisicole. EC concern for river ecosystems and water quality appears to have been hijacked by the Fishing Federation. Destruction of dams will favour upstream movement of fish, and downstream movement of mineral content. It will not favour biodiversity created by the dams and will destroy recreational and historic richness of the countryside, along with the potential for mini/micro hydro-power projects - which the French government has otherwise stated it supports.

The Fishing Federation alleges that decline in fish will be reversed if dams are destroyed. Critics will remark that decline in fish relates to other factors including agro-chemical contamination, acidifcation, global warming and ... over-fishing.

More topically destruction of dams appears, from UK experience to augment the possibility of flooding in built environments. So here a point of discussion for George Monbiot: removing dams appears at one level to be a valid component of re-wilding.

Does anyone know about river management in the UK, and how these issues relate ?
galpinos on 02 Jan 2016
In reply to LeeWood:

I don't know much about it but there is a groundswell of support for the demandsolition of dams in the US:

http://damnationfilm.com

I seem to remember quite a bit of resistance to new dams in when re watching 180 Degrees South after Doug Tompkins death.

I'll have to look into it more, there seems to be a trade between a good source of "clean" energy set against the damage to the Eco system.

LeeWood - on 02 Jan 2016
In reply to galpinos:

Yes, I see clearly the problems associated with BIG dams. The current french campaign wants to demolish the countless minor dams and weirs which served to power mills over the last two centuries. At what height/fall does a dam become a real threat to the environment ?

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