National Trust – well done! Now hold your nerve, please.

I say again – well done National Trust!

The long-awaited NT response to the responses to their consultation document on management of the High Peak is out (click here).

Despite being under lots of pressure from men in tweed the NT have, so far, held their nerve and make a robust response to people’s views.  And they did receive views – over 430 responses (a good few from readers of this blog, I know).

Over 80% of the responses were supportive of the vision as laid out in the NT consultation document – that’s a very high level of support and certainly agrees with the views of this blog.

Here are some highlights from what NT are saying:

  • 3, for the Trust, conservation quality – its maintenance and where possible enhancement – is a fundamental ‘given’.
  • 24, There is plenty of “unoccupied” suitable habitat for birds of prey on the moor. Surveys over the last 2 decades indicate a decline in some raptor numbers and breeding success in and around the High Peak Moors, particularly raven, goshawk and peregrine. Neither food sources nor available nesting habitat have declined. A key outcome of the HPMV&P is to turn this situation around.
  • 27, We expect increases in the numbers of birds of prey breeding on the High Peak Moors.
  • 28, The plan says “At present we believe that birds of prey are under represented on the NT HP estate. NT is clear that bird of prey persecution on its land is illegal and completely unacceptable. We will be working with future tenants who share this view and are working with us to ensure that birds of prey are successful. Sustainable populations of birds of prey will be a management objective of future tenancies”
  • 70, We will be working with tenants who share our aspiration for healthy bird of prey populations and this will be a key factor in determining whether we wish to have a partnership relationship going forward. We will then be judging the success and future of the tenancy relationship in part on the breeding success of birds of prey.
  • 115, future tenancies will ban release of non-native gamebirds on NT land.
  • 118, use of lead shot will be banned in future leases
  • 121, We would like to phase out burning on deep peat (defined as more than 0.5m in depth) as evidence suggests that this practice is damaging to the peat and we do not want damaging practices to continue on habitat of such high conservation quality
  • 129, we are being very open about the fact that the work to rewet the dry,heather dominated bog, and make it more diverse, is long term and experimental in nature. Even if the bog does not become active again, rewetting it serves as a conservation measure preventing further oxidation of the peat and providing habitat for moorland plants and invertebrates.
  • 138, Re-wilding and wilderness are relative concepts and for many people the High Peak moors are wild. We are certainly looking to de-intensify the management of the moors and restore habitats.

Proofs of puddings are always in eatings, but I’d give NT 8/10 for this. A bit more speed, a bit more emphasis on cattle, a bit tougher line on overwintering of sheep would all be good.  Please don’t compromise any further and please don’t cave in to pressure.  You have a good vision, one which is clearly support by most (80% you say) people and so why not get on with it secure in the knowledge that most of the world is with you?

If I were sure you would really implement this vision with enthusiasm i would send you some money as a donation today – but I am still a little worried that you might spend too much time listening to men in tweed suits, so my money stays in my pocket for a while longer. But…

 

…well done National Trust!

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33 Replies to “National Trust – well done! Now hold your nerve, please.”

  1. Well done indeed, now they just need to hold their nerve. The NT vision is what many of us, accepting that sheep are a problem outside growing seasons, would wish for on most if not all moorland.

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  2. Great effort from NT - looks fantastic and timely on the day that BBC/RSPB report total hen harrier breeding failure on English moorland this year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23627737).

    I seem to recall you were agitating about stepping up your protests against persecution on grouse moors this year Mark, in the event that the problems continued. Any thoughts on this as the inglorious 12th approaches?

    Personally I believe the parlous state of raptor populations on grouse moors is sufficient evidence (a smoking gun if you like) that the industry cannot self-regulate and that an outright ban on driven grouse shooting is therefore the only answer. It should be replaced with walked up grouse shooting, giving those bankers some healthy exercise! With research suggesting hen harriers may be incompatible with the production of a "shootable surplus" (read: plague-like numbers of gamebirds abundant enough to support their ritualised weekly slaughter), I cannot see any way that driven grouse shooting (a uniquely British obsession) can ever exist in harmony with our native wildlife. The RSPB's support for diversionary feeding is an unsustainable fudge favoured only because their charter prevents them taking a stronger and more appropriate line.

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      1. Red kite style reintroduction of hen harriers on NT's high peak moor once there is sufficient proof of pudding in the eating around their strategy for recovering other BoP species? A springboard for eventual recovery of the English population?

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        1. I am always reluctant to suggest this level of intervention but it seems like this would make a great project which would attract a huge level of public support. It feels a bit like the decision to send Goldies to Ireland...you know that some are going to get killed but in the end they cant kill them all.

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  3. "Elsewhere in the country the NT is working with groups of farmers to provide premium, NT branded produce to supermarkets. We would be keen to help and work with farmers to identify marketing opportunities from the Peak District and to help them differentiate their quality product..."
    "To date we have however received a fair degree of scepticism as to whether this can work, including more widely from representative organisations such as the NFU."

    Groan!

    I heard that the National Trust for Scotland who manage the Ben Lawers NNR up in Perthshire had a similar idea to explore niche marketing mutton/lamb from the Reserve. Same difficulty with scepticism and absence of drive from tenants - but at least they didn't have the so-called farmers representative body against them as well!

    What is it with these people?

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    1. "What is it with these people?"

      More cattle: It would be nice to imagine cuts of beef raised in the High Peak being sold in farm shops or in local butchers and markets but it doesn't necessarily work like that. The supply chain for beef is more complicated than humanly imaginable. From a purely practical viewpoint - how many HP farms would be capable of finishing beef, and in numbers great enough to satisfy demands and delivery in spec. of the wholesalers and supermarkets? It's more feasible that progeny would be sold as stores - off they go to be finished elsewhere. Then there's the capital investment in infrastructure needed if there is no existing suckler beef enterprise - which can be doubled (and the rest) by the cosmetics requirements of the NP planners. Then there's the issue of straw import, cost, road transport by insanely large vehicles that can't get up narrow lanes or turn into farm entrances. Then there's the problem of where to spread the wastes stored over winter. There is no sensible place to spread them, that's where. Exporting waste to a suitable home - like for intensive farms in NVZs - is as dumb an idea as importing the straw and winter feed in the first place.

      Summer grazing with traditional breeds as practised by conservation graziers is a far better bet, but Bill Graysons don't grow on trees.

      Groan: Yes - NFU don't like the idea of market differentiation of extensively reared beef, especially if it claims superior nutritional value, as it makes everything else finished on cereals (as recommended to conform with Climate Change Act requirements) look bad.

      Mince is the most popular joint, accompanied by spag Bol, the most popular vegetable.

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      1. filbert - thanks for the comment (as always). What do you mean by the remark about finished on cereals and the Climate Change Act please?

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        1. Mark,

          See this: http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/2012/05/16/national-trust-–-‘what’s-your-beef’-report/

          I can't find a link to the actual report, but it is well worth a read.

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        2. This is probably not the place to debate the debacle of Life Cycle Analysis as applied to UK beef, as this is a positive thread about potential Good Things and how they could be brought about.
          Farming as an industry is supposed to comply with carbon emission targets set by CCA 2008. Standard LCA methodology excluded land use, land use change and forestry, and sequestration of carbon under grazing - aka Real World inclusions - from the calculations. The result was - of course - that fast growing animals finished on cereals and soybean meal (imported, obviously) had smaller C footprints than those reared more slowly and extensively on grass.
          It's all Out There. The NT website has a download link to its "What's Your Beef" report on this page: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356398465642/

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  4. I would like to add my voice in support of the NT vision, it would be a fantastic leap in the direction many of us would like to see the management of our moors going in the future.

    Could other land owners follow this lead in the future to the benefit birds of prey in the UK as a whole? more importantly will they?

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  5. Yes well done indeed and taken the time to e-mail those of us who contacted them I think.Lets hope it is a turning point in the High Peak.

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  6. I too hope the NT hold their nerve, but it may be out of their hands so to speak. Persecution of such species like Goshawk, Peregrine and Hen Harriers I think they can do something about it, but will they go to the trouble of checking property for poisons/traps etc, I hopes so. But how will they tackle an individual/group who apply for a liscense to destroy species such as Buzzards.
    Shooting times is making a big play for liscenses to cull Buzzards, informing members it's the way forward and to convince Joe Public it will not result in an open season on Birds of Prey (yeah right!), the further strengthen their call they're making a big deal about the Buzzard that stole the Osprey chick from a nest in Aberdeenshire, even saying the landowner is now calling for better control on Buzzards, sadly it now appears the Buzzard is the "new" Hen Harrier.

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  7. This does look like a good effort so far. The NT's response to this consultation indicates they are listening and making the right decisions. This and the announcement last week of the rather ambitious woodland restoration project at Fingle Woods (an area I love), is enough to persuade me to re-join the National Trust.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/02/woodland-trust-national-trust-fingle-woods

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    1. Joe

      The NT Press Office has an RSS feed open to non-members afaics - in addition to the Fingle news I got his last week: http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/young-farmer-wins-keys-to-iconic-welsh-farm/

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      1. Thanks Filbert. It is pleasing to see the NT going out of their way to encourage not only a young, but also a female, entrant into the upland farming sector. For the 12 months that Caryl Hughes is in post, she will probably bring down the average age of farmers in that valley by a good few years.

        “My priorities will be to re-establish a flock here with good grazing management to retain this natural environment around us" Did she mean herd ? Either way don't tell the Moonbat.

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  8. Well done NT.

    As someone who lives close to the High Peak moors and have been stopped on footpaths on numerous occasions by gamekeepers claiming that "bird protection work" is underway and the public is excluded, I can only hope for tangible improvements in years to come. The NT has long been regarded as bending the knee to the HFS brigade and this document should go some way to changing those attitudes (including mine), provided that we see some meaningful implementation

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  9. I quit my NT membership a while back following some, in my view, ill-chosen appointments to their Council but if the new High Peak management strategy is implemented without getting watered-down then I may consider rejoining.

    I don't know if the Hen Harrier can be rescued. Re-introduction strikes me as a waste of resources until such time as the entire game shooting industry can be rebooted (or got rid of entirely). At the moment the "hooked bill = vermin" sentiment seems so entrenched that it would take a whole generation to cut out. Vicarious liability would have to be a must; all shoots would need to be subject to licensing with stringent conditions; possession of carbofuran/aldicarb etc should attract genuinely deterrent penalties and these would just be for starters.

    The shooting/gamekeeping lobby is always pleading its innocence but it would be more convincing if its adherents visibly took tough measures to rid itself of criminality and develop a genuine conservation ethos. I'm afraid that saying "We're wonderful 'cos we help Lapwings" doesn't cut any ice with me......

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  10. Filbert Cobb explains things brilliantly,how funny that people who do not understand High Peak farmers role and problems get picky over small things that do not really matter.
    All these people getting upset about feeding cereals to livestock ignore the fact that if the choice of humans is to eat cereals then they will become too dear to feed to livestock.
    They need to stop knocking livestock farmers and realise that lots of the country such as the High Peak will not grow cereals.
    They even make more mistakes than the NFU.
    Lets hope at sometime they research what they know very little about.

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  11. All this in the day that it is announced that there have been no successful Hen Harrier nests in England for the first time since the early sixties, with of course all the usual obfuscation, bullshit and downright lies from the men in tweed suits and their lackies at GWCT and NGO. Oh where oh where are the teeth of NE and DEFRA on this --- remarkably silent, the NT view of Upland Management offers a broad blue print for the future, what hope that other major land holdings are managed the same way in the future, Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent, Northumbria Water or United Utilities immediately spring to mind. Perhaps then and sadly only then will the missing 300 + pairs of harriers have any chance at all our the uplands and remember Short Eared Owl, moorland Peregrines and Goshawaks are all going the same way.

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  12. I applaud NT on its vision, lets hope they actually implement it now. I would fully consider rejoining and showing my support for them if they do. As its so good, how about NE roll the principle out on all upland designated sites, truly allowing recovery and not allowing the minority to burn the hell out of it and overgraze it for short sighted personal gains?

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  13. Hen Harrier again attempted to breed in the high peak in 2013 but the male bird was removed!! so what's new!!

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  14. Yes, well done NT, I also welcomed the reasoned approach in the doc (all 34 pages of it), it's a good example of how to publish responses to consultation.

    I can't argue with Filbert on supply chains except on the narrow point that they make it work here in France. Most relevant local shops, from village stores to hypermarkets sell locally sourced produce, branded as such. As this includes the megas, such as Carrefour, I can only assume that this works outside, and in addition to, the normal supply chains. Of course it.s easy to argue that it works because of traditional French preference for local produce, but the UK is heading in that direction too. There is quite a lot of help from the state (and, around here, the National Park) on new brands etc to support local producers.

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    1. Alan

      I think the preference for foods of quality in France is also relevant. Whereas the UK has long been in the Age of Stupid and its defining races to the bottom of everything.

      There is indeed increasing evidence in UK supermarkets of locally produced and farm-branded food - at the upper end of prices. This reflects not only changing attitudes to food on the part of the public and a growing interest in artisanal foods but an increasingly entrepreneurial trend in the farming community.

      The National Trust actively promotes this movement - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/what-we-do/big-issues/food-and-farming/

      It will very interesting to see what develops in the High Peak - whatever the success in accommodating forever the wishes of everyone, it will be the tenant farmers who will do the lion's share of the work and will provide the element of continuity necessary to deliver the vision over a long period.

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      1. "I think the preference for foods of quality in France is also relevant"

        Yes and they are prepared to pay for this extra quality. Some studies suggest that the French spend the equivalent of $20 per person per week on food.
        (http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/03/daily-chart-5)

        Things are changing, but slowly. It will be decades before the penny drops with Joe Public that there is no such thing as cheap food and I can fully understand the reticence that many High Peak tenants would have in trying to produce such products for larger markets and retailers. Far better to concentrate on supplying quality produce on a smaller scale through on-farm shops and box schemes like the excellent Robert and Sarah Helliwell do at Upper Booth Farm.

        http://www.upperboothcamping.co.uk/thefarm.aspx

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  15. I was discussing this with a colleague earlier today and one of the things that came out of that discussion in conjunction with the current state of the Hen harrier and other raptors on our upland moors most of which are in SPAs or SSSI for the very species that are absent. This vision should be what NE/ DEFRA should have been insisting on in management agreements for years as best practice, it shows what they do in a very very poor light ( Walshaw Moor Anyone!)

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