Britain cannot feed itself, not even close. Without Scotland (The English are ignoring the Scots’ referendum result at their peril), this lack of land is made worse. To go into ‘trade negotiations’ on the back foot is bad enough, losing its largest trading partner means losing the cheap easy access to some of the best food in the world. Transportation costs will increase, congestion increased and there will be insufficient workers left to pick the food that can be grown or raised in England.
It is all too apparent post Brexit England is not prepared for the immense pressure to be placed on its rural landscape.
Whilst those involved in the management of the rural landscape consider their next move, far too many waiting to hear how where their finances will be coming from, the extremes have started shouting and will continue to, drowning out any and all moderate commentary and with it halting existing and potential good practice. Forestry, Arboriculture and a myriad of other land industry sectors cannot afford, nor should have to, fight for their own path in between a growing misanthropic nature conservation lobby against the more belligerent of the countryside lobby.
There is nonsense spouted on both sides, science twisted, truth substituted for the most spurious of spurious ‘facts’ – a strategy learned from the EU referendum campaigning, and championed by Trump.
And alongside the growth of a far right wing element in UK political commentary, ‘landscape fascism’ is gaining strength in policy discussion regarding all countryside issues. And as with the lengthy media reporting of the rise of the right wing, without hardly a nod towards the moderate, the same charge can be levied at the media reporting on countryside issues. When was the last time moderate countryside commentators were seen on countryfile? Let alone a forester!
And what else is ‘Re-Wilding’ but landscape fascism? As with so much of Monbiots’ commentary it makes for scary reading, particularly for those of us with knowledge of situations in neighbouring countries and whom might bother to read wider research on European landscapes. To merely pay lip service to those that live and work in rural communities by way of suggesting income through wildlife tourism is contrary to what happened in the Drome, Umbria or the Basque country. But as proven by ignoring the damage a healthy Pine Marten population does to pets and livestock in mainland Europe, the restricted access due to the real dangers posed by Boar or the complete lack of knowledge with regards tree planting in consolidated soils, Monbiot is simply trying to sell his writing – and could not care less about the consequences to the landscape by his disciples.
The blithe disregard that a landscape must be worked is a serious danger to all who work in landscapes, (both urban and rural).
I visited a working woodland last week, a fantastic project which is under threat for the simple reason that it is not considered necessary by National Park planners for forestry operations to have the facilities needed to carry out the work to a profitable conclusion. It is like putting a writer in a straight jacket. And my fear, which I know is shared by many, is that the ‘Re-Wilding’ idealism can be all too easily used as an excuse for a list of constraints that prevent any and all progress if it enters the mindset of those in charge of protected landscapes – many of whom have already proven themselves untrustworthy as they happily rehash for their own PR and lobbying the ELC for their own purpose.
British rural landscapes can pay, and can pay well. Terroir enables this and Britain is unique in the world in containing an extraordinary range of soils which can a truly unique range of specialist agricultural produce, which then makes serious money. Terroir is the value of soil and thus has to protect the landscape – most importantly all the natural elements within that landscape.
There are some massive problems ahead, but the UK as a whole has an army of farmers, foresters and others able to prepare the rural economy beyond subsidy without compromising the natural environment in anyway, indeed enhancing it. do not usurp them now.