Went to an interesting talk hosted by the Friends of Bowland last night, the speaker was John Alpe who farms behind the Inn at Whitewell. Most of the talk was about the educational work he has done, on and off the farm. I got the impression that most if not all the land was or is farmed organically and farmed for conservation. However, and I apologise if I have got this completely wrong, but the impression I got was that the motivation for this was financial and that if it had been more profitable to go in the opposite direction he would.
This got me thinking about how things may change in the future and how fragile the natural beauty of Bowland is. The first thing that came to mind is realisation that The Forest of Bowland is not an area of “Outstanding Natural Beauty”, it is an area containing outstanding natural beauty. That natural beauty is there because past and present land management by accident or design has not destroyed that natural beauty. I say not destroyed because I doubt there is any aspect of the natural beauty of Bowland that would not be profitable to destroy if the current protection and financial support was removed.
The political and economic pressures of Brexit, I worry will severely test that protection and support. However I also believe Brexit could lead to innovative ways to satisfy both wildlife conservation needs and farming profitability if the political will was there.
Following the online petition to ban driven Grouse Shooting passing the 100,000 mark which now means there will be a parliamentary debate on the subject on 31st October. In preparation for this the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and Petitions Committee questioned Dr Mark Avery, petition creator, Jeff Knott, Head of Nature Policy, RSPB, Amanda Anderson, Director, The Moorland Association, and Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting, The Countryside Alliance. You can watch this interesting presentation of ideas in full here parliamentlive.tv/event/index/cf85fa5a-c53d-40d7-9b6a-abe86c35ee4e my personal view is that ecologically well managed Grouse Moors can play a positive role in the mix of upland land uses and the loss of active management could have serious negative environmental consequences. However I do believe if Grouse Shooting and shooting as whole is to have a long term future it must tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey issue.
An interesting perspective on shooting can be found in the following information on the Fieldsports Magazine website https://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Gamekeeping/the-view-from-the-coalface-part-1.html and https://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Gamekeeping/the-view-from-the-coalface-part-2.html here they interviewed some of the top gamekeepers. A common concern was the intensification of shoots and the constant pressure to supply larger and larger numbers of birds for the shooters.
We have been meaning to track this group down and have a look at what they do for a while, finally did it and paid them a visit. In the winter they meet every fortnight at the St. Mary’s Centre, Church Street in Clitheroe at 7.30pm. They also have fortnightly local country walks on Saturdays. This years programme is below.