Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Natural England for breakfast

Robin Tucker of Natural England must have known he would have a hard time at the NFU conference breakfast session on the uplands. I had a lot of sympathy for him. 7.30 am is too early for a fight. It was clear that members regard Natural England with suspicion and some resentment. Seeing them in charge of decisions about financial support for upland farmers makes them anxious. One accused them of acting like the SS and wanting to drive farmers from the hills so they could rewild large areas, which Tucker denied. What came over very loudly, is that farmers in the uplands want to produce food and hate the jargon of government organisations. Talk of 'ecosystem services' turns them off. That could be a lesson for us all.

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting given the interest of our RELU project in sustaining the provision of upland ecosystem services! Was there any talk of food as an ecosystem service? I'm interested in the idea that the ecosystem services framework can actually level the playing field between conservationists and farmers in these sorts of conflicts, as any talk of sustaining the full suite of ecosystem services has to balance food production against all the other services we get from the hills, and the ecosystem services framework puts food production on a level with protecting biodiversity, carbon, water etc...?