2 days ago, my son and I travelled to some nearby woods to catch a glimpse of the wild boar there. En route we passed a field with many new born lambs, their mothers and a herd of deer also. Close to where we stopped there was an unusual bird of prey, easily identifiable later in the guidebook as a Booted Eagle. Another to add to our now extensive list of wildlife spotted.
One of the factors in moving to France was to allow my son the opportunity I had when growing up, to not only catch glimpses of special wildlife but to live in an area where water meadows, ancient woodland and clear life brimming rivers and streams were within walking distance.
It was clear, very quickly after moving here, that these now rare habitats in the UK are kept alive in perpetuity here in France by the same people many blame for their disappearance in the UK: Farmers.
The myths (downright lies in many cases) which now float around the ether in regards the problems facing landscapes have become one of the greatest problems by themselves. Having had the time to talk to a cross section of those with an interest in their rural landscape it was apparent that media; both social and general, had strayed so far from reality that it would have been good to hear that it was irrelevant – unfortunately its not! And it is what now feeds policy making, compounding the problems continually.
For example; on one quango website there is a statement that the economy of the South Hams is dependent on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism. This is simply not true. The agricultural industry of the area (and fishing) is almost negligible. Therefore the base economics are simply being brushed aside and any all national solutions offered up, championed on social media and paid for by charitable grants cannot work. The only real solutions are those born within a landscape itself specifically for that landscape, which by default will consider the real economics at play from the start – which requires strong involvement from the farming community.
The farming community have been shouting the need for good technical advice for years now. Their industry is changing so rapidly having been undressed in the arena of global economics and the need for a strong innovative push has been usurped, easily, by the large multinational pesticide and GM companies – who have grown so powerful that they are able to manipulate the chasms they used to gain power.
But as farmers are increasingly demonised, without any consideration of the real economics we see an increasingly belligerent stand by them, which results in real damage in the landscape. Monbiot et al, are forcing farmers into a corner where they are then forced to commit the malfeasant practice they stand accused of, and readily accept the spiel offered to them by multinationals pesticide corporations as a defence barrier.
This image of a flailed orchard acutely highlights this problem. This orchard should be profitable – a valuable local asset and a source of secondary funding. Rather than accusing the landowner of malpractice should we not be considering why it was sanctioned? I bet it is due to economic realities, with the fact that there was little choice when there isn’t the money to pay for the technical guidance and workforce to do the work properly. However there always seems to be plenty of money towards discussing this problems!
If we are to provide wildlife and access for all to it, then we need to provide the money to those who own and manage the land, rather than siphoning this away to continue paying for discussion that only further pushes the farmer into a corner. If this means paying more for their products then so be it. If you want to be a patriot then don’t vote UKIP – buy British and help restore its beautiful landscape.