Romantic ideal could render Lakes fells out of bounds

YOU might not agree with George Monbiot over his call for the Cumbrian fells to be ‘re-wilded’, but he has to be admired at least for being prepared to argue his case face-to-face with those upland sheep farmers he has undoubtedly angered.

Rather like Daniel venturing into the lion’s den, the controversial environmentalist has agreed to be quizzed on his views at annual general meeting of the Federation of Cumbrian Commoners next month.

It is certain to be a lively session.

In his book, ‘Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding’, Mr Monbiot attacks sheep farming as ‘a slow burning ecololgical disaster, which has done more damage to the living systems of this country than either climate change or industrial pollution. Yet scarcely anyone seems to have noticed’.

The forceful - many might say over-hyperbolic - language he uses is unfortunate because it does not allow for an understanding of wider issues.

While he may have an ecological point to make, Mr Monbiot ignores how the beautiful landscape of the Cumbrian fells has been shaped over thousands of years by sheep farming.

The animals have not just provided a livelihood for hill farmers, they have created a stunning environment for visitors to enjoy.

Taking sheep off the fells and allowing the ‘natural’ landscape to re-emerge sounds like a romantic ideal, but it could also render the fells inaccessible to walkers.

Does Mr Monbiot really want to damage two fundamental pillars of the Cumbrian economy - farming and tourism?

It is understandable farmers are keen to counter his views and the formation last week of Cumbria Young Commoners is a timely development.

But Mr Monbiot is not their only problem. A more pressing concern is the lack of financial support for young farmers seeking to get farms of their own.

In this regard, the new group deserves help and encouragement - from both within and without the farming community.

Comments (1)

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6:30pm Sat 8 Feb 14

brokenbanjo says...

You say one person talks hyperbole and troll out your own! Your arguments are nonsense. Sheep created the glacial landscape and the fluvial gills, didn't they. Not to mention the orogeny and former volcanoes that provide the substrate for the former. I forgot that people cannot walk through the Duddon Woodlands and actively avoid Borrowdale because of all the trees. God forbid if anyone would visit Grizedale or Whinlatter. The Forestry Commission must be struggling there. You say that rewilding is a bad thing for tourism, you must have an amazing crystal ball. What are the pools results this week? Rewilding has been shown to attract tourists and will attract even more people if we returned lost enigmatic species. How many nature treks do you see in the Lakes? Very few. People must adapt to changes in the world around them. Tourism would survive and prosper. Not to mention the other benefits of allowing rewilding, such as increasing the time it takes water to get in to the rivers and helping to reduce flooding events.
You say one person talks hyperbole and troll out your own! Your arguments are nonsense. Sheep created the glacial landscape and the fluvial gills, didn't they. Not to mention the orogeny and former volcanoes that provide the substrate for the former. I forgot that people cannot walk through the Duddon Woodlands and actively avoid Borrowdale because of all the trees. God forbid if anyone would visit Grizedale or Whinlatter. The Forestry Commission must be struggling there. You say that rewilding is a bad thing for tourism, you must have an amazing crystal ball. What are the pools results this week? Rewilding has been shown to attract tourists and will attract even more people if we returned lost enigmatic species. How many nature treks do you see in the Lakes? Very few. People must adapt to changes in the world around them. Tourism would survive and prosper. Not to mention the other benefits of allowing rewilding, such as increasing the time it takes water to get in to the rivers and helping to reduce flooding events. brokenbanjo
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