Anger over newspaper columnist's claim that the Lake District has been 'sheepwrecked' (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Anger over newspaper columnist's claim that the Lake District has been 'sheepwrecked'
10:20am Friday 6th September 2013 in News
AN OUTSPOKEN environmental activist this week branded the Lake District landscape as having been ‘sheepwrecked’.
Writer George Monbiot used his column in The Guardian to attack farming methods on the fells.
He compared the Lakes as now competing with ‘the chemical deserts of East Anglia for the title of Britain’s worst-kept countryside’.
He also questioned an ongoing campaign for the area to win World Heritage Status.
“The celebrated fells have been thoroughly sheepwrecked,” wrote Mr Monbiot.
“The forests that once covered them have been reduced by the white plague to bare rock and bowling greens.”
He said this had led to the area becoming a ‘no go area for wildlife’; adding ‘you would see more wildlife in Birmingham’.
In response, Richard Leafe, Lake District National Park chief said sheep farmers had helped create the environment that attracted millions every year.
“The importance of the hill farmer cannot be over-estimated,” said Mr Leafe.
Richard Greenwood, of Cumbria Tourism, said: ‘’Far from being a wildlife desert it is bursting with bio-diversity; there are wild uplands and mountains, river valleys, lakes and tarns, coastal marshes, rolling grasslands, dappled woodlands and forests.”
Mr Monbiot said sheep were responsible for eating young trees and keeping the fells ‘naked’. “Mowing down every edible plant that raises its head, depriving animals of their habitats,” he wrote.
The National Sheep Association expressed its ‘extreme alarm’ at the comments – branding them ‘disgracefully misleading’.
Phil Stocker, chief executive, said: “The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places on earth because of the harmonious relationship between sheep, human farming activity, wildlife and ecology, landscapes and the local economy.”
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