It’s all about the soil

The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman is to go to Rio+20 in the belief she can impress the world with a vision of enabling GDP+. A new ‘green economy’ based around ecosystem services.

In a speech at the Planet under Pressure conference we are given a scary but not unsurprising insight into the mind of the Secretary of State for Defra:

“We need to get the knowledge and understanding out beyond the world of think tanks, Ministries and green groups…”

It is no coincidence that the rapid decline in traditional & sustainable land management knowledge and techniques, (honed since the last Ice Age in the British Isles and then declining since the industrial revolution) correlates with the decline of biodiversity, rural heritage and strong community.

Despite a huge volunteer base, despite monumental flows of money into ‘think tanks and green groups’ the losses appear irreversible and worse we have serious flooding and drought in one of the most climatically stable countries in the world. To flout supposed knowledge of those who have failed, who will continue to fail, is a political car crash waiting to happen.

It is the knowledge of the practitioners in their place that we need to create a strong green economy. Land management is absolutely essential in a country or any place which has been changed irreversibly by human intervention. We are very good at identifying those areas which could possibly be reverted back into a semi natural wilderness and this if it can be, should be done.

But it is all about the soil, the essential life giving mud which the biodiversity of we know as much about as the depths of an ocean or another universe. But who knows how to work with soil, keep it full of biodiversity yet increase its ability to store carbon without introducing non researched supplements – the land management practitioner.

We need people who can manage land properly, who are capable of helping it store carbon and providing food, forests and life. No think tank, ministry or green group employee has this knowledge! But it exists – it can still be found amongst the ever depleting and badly disenfranchised bank of gardeners, foresters and craftsmen and women who have continued the traditional and sustainable techniques of our forbears who knew little else than how to work the land – and were far from stupid.


1 Comment

Filed under Trees and Woodlands

One response to “It’s all about the soil

  1. You hit the nail on the head here: the incessant march towards administration, paperwork and desk-driving as land management is destroying our natural heritage. Woodmen no longer man the woods.
    We’ve turned our back on rural craft; we despise peasantry; hoi polloi see nature through misty “Countryfile” glasses.
    Our children – desperate to find peace in nature – are: warned off tree-climbing; made to suffer nature as day-trip; as ignorant of the names of common trees as their teachers.
    The “practitioners in their place” just aren’t there in numbers, have no voice, no champions. This is a crisis. Allow a generation to pass where volunteers, well-meaning charities and administrators manage our landscape and the knowledge will be gone forever…

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