The debate to ban driven grouse shooting

After listening to the full debate I was left very depressed and it did nothing to dissuade me that this is not the beginning of the end for shooting. All of the fine arguments of biodiversity, employment and rural economic sustainability will not sway or influence the majority of ban supporters or stop that support growing whilst illegal raptor persecution continues. I think we are years away from a ban but unless the shooting industry radically changes I believe a ban is inevitable.

The shooting industry has the power to stamp out illegal killing. If they don’t I think the support for a ban will just keep relentlessly growing especially as technical advances and increase in public awareness will lead to more reporting and discovery of persecution.  Eventually like fox hunting the numbers will grow sufficiently to start possibly influencing a few marginals and when that happens it is curtains for shooting. I believe if the shooting industry wishes to survive it must stop killing raptors and mountain hares.

One of the arguments expressed is that the antis do not understand the countryside and this is probably true, but they do understand the concept of illegal persecution and  many will just see this as another example of  the law turning a blind eye to criminal behaviour by the rich or on behalf of the rich.

It was also touching to see all these Tory MPs suddenly become so concerned with the employment needs of the rural working class! In many rural areas there is no shortage of jobs especially low paid jobs, but a shortage of people to do those jobs because of a lack of affordable housing and public transport plus a higher cost of living, it would be nice if those MP also turned their attention to these problems.

 

Thank you Slaidburn Brownies and Rainbows

Slaidburn Brownies and Rainbows won a class The Friends of Bowland sponsored at this years Hodder Show me and Louise and Jane Baddeley Chair of FoB visited them at one of their sessions to present the prize and talk to them about wildlife. We also took along some wildlife stuff to show them. It was a fantastic evening the children were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and we plan to help them do some wildlife projects next summer. We were really pleased when I got a call from the AONB office that someone had left a card for me it turned out to be a wonderful hand drawn card from the group see below.

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An interesting talk and Bowland’s future as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Went to an interesting talk hosted by the Friends of Bowland last night, the speaker was John Alpe who farms behind the Inn at Whitewell. Most of the talk was about the educational work he has done, on and off the farm. I got the impression that most if not all the land was or is farmed organically and farmed for conservation. However, and I apologise if I have got this completely wrong, but the impression I got was that the motivation for this was financial and that if it had been more profitable to go in the opposite direction he would.

This got me thinking about how things may change in the future and how fragile the natural beauty of Bowland is. The first thing that came to mind is realisation that The Forest of Bowland is not an area of “Outstanding Natural Beauty”, it is an area containing outstanding natural beauty. That natural beauty is there because past and present land management  by accident or design has not destroyed that natural beauty. I say not destroyed because I doubt there is any aspect of the natural beauty of Bowland that would not be profitable to destroy if the current protection and financial support was removed.

The political and economic pressures of Brexit, I worry will severely test that protection and support. However I also believe Brexit could lead to innovative ways to satisfy both wildlife conservation needs and farming profitability if the political will was there.

Petition to ban driven Grouse Shooting

Following the online petition to ban driven Grouse Shooting passing the 100,000 mark which now means there will be a parliamentary debate on the subject on 31st October. In preparation for this the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and Petitions Committee questioned Dr Mark Avery, petition creator, Jeff Knott, Head of Nature Policy, RSPB, Amanda Anderson, Director, The Moorland Association, and Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting, The Countryside Alliance. You can watch this interesting presentation of ideas in full here parliamentlive.tv/event/index/cf85fa5a-c53d-40d7-9b6a-abe86c35ee4e my personal view is that ecologically well managed Grouse Moors can play a positive role in the mix of upland land uses and the loss of active management could have serious negative environmental consequences. However I do believe if Grouse Shooting and shooting as whole is to have a long term future it must tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey issue.

An interesting perspective on shooting can be found in the following information on the Fieldsports Magazine website https://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Gamekeeping/the-view-from-the-coalface-part-1.html and https://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Gamekeeping/the-view-from-the-coalface-part-2.html here they interviewed some of the top gamekeepers. A common concern was the intensification of shoots and the constant pressure to supply larger and larger numbers of birds for the shooters.

Clitheroe naturalists

We have been meaning to track this group down and have a look at what they do for a while, finally did it and paid them a visit. In the winter they meet every fortnight at the St. Mary’s Centre, Church Street in Clitheroe at 7.30pm. They also have fortnightly local country walks on Saturdays. This years programme is below.

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Bell Sykes Meadow Slaidburn

Over the summer I have been  recording the growth on one of the meadows at Bell Sykes near Slaidburn by taking photographs from the same spot every week. This was to help Sarah Robinson, the Forest of Bowland Hay Time Project Officer http://forestofbowland.com/Hay-Time-Project-0. Bell Sykes meadows are part of the Coronation meadows project.

The Coronation Meadows website coronationmeadows.org.uk describe them as

“Bell Sykes Meadows includes six unimproved flower-rich fields. Three of these include grasses such as meadow foxtail and sweet vernal grass along with moisture loving flowers like great burnet and meadowsweet. The upper three fields are home to the characteristic flowers of dry hay meadows in northern England. Meadow crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle grow together with a colourful mix of yellow rattle, eyebrights, pignut, buttercups and lady’s mantle.

Bell Sykes Meadows is one of the last unimproved flower-rich grasslands in this part of Lancashire. This vulnerable habitat has become increasingly scarce and has largely been destroyed in Lancashire through agricultural intensification.”