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I pine for a more sensible approach to saving our forests


Steve Yandall takes his fight to the Minister for the Environment and Natural Affairs - the Rt.Hon.Caroline Spelman.

We must demand environmental accountability says Steve Yandall. Good evening Ms Spelman.

The background to current agri/env initiatives is clear to all.A continued loss of habitat,reduction in biodiversity,based on the failure of initiatives to date.Within that too high a percentage of monies have been spent on too few species thus exposing common species to depopulation.

Beyond the above NE and I disagree.If indeed they would ever admit to being in agreement with me at all.

It is taken as read that the encouragement of population growth by government,the increased demand for materials/food and the collateral public exclusion is all a 'hidden' but key part of the agenda that is now HLS.

NE would have us believe that guilt lies,generally,with the public(the 1997 application to HLF for 14m funding for heathland schemes quoted the public as a key factor in heathland degradation but no EN failings) and commercial pressures.That guilt ensures future funding and also maintains central action is viewed as impeccable and unaccountable.

That is simplistic and suggests avoidance.All evidence points to schemes like ESA in W.Penwith failing(Toogood stated that heathland had been degraded under ESA) because English Nature/Natural England failed to monitor the input of stewards for the millions spent on the scheme.The known problems of ESA were not acted on for years thus creating a huge problem that the stewards, failing to maintain the system under ESA, are quoted as stating that HLS is too big to manage other than with cattle. Having been paid for a job not undertaken they are now being paid a second time and complaining that the means that should have been adopted in the past are not economic to undertake!Had ESA been made to work the cost to the exchequer and the environment would be far less.That,of course,would have undermined the current grazing imposition.

ESA failed through lack of accountability and a failure to impose management but NE continues to propagate guilt/concern amongst the public thus divorcing them further from nature.NE also denigrate alternative management based on ESA failure thus missing the point that ESA was their failure not the failure of a particular means of management.

Having studied the wealth of information produced by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology(now Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)and spoken to leading researchers it is clear that there is disquiet amongst them regarding the selective nature of NE's science.Suggestive of an agenda,rather than a science based initiative.

Today we sit at a crossroads.A combination of species/habitat destruction and the natural imposition of climate change leaves past 'science'compromised but NE insistent that grazing is the ultimate(and only)tool to meet the challenges we all face.In view of the multiple variables involved they are failing to'spread bet'(bad management)and rely on intervention over 10 years when other systems require 25 year cycles and are lower intervention.

Thus,in the face of climate change,NE have 'gambled'all our futures on one bet.I say that in the posession of an NE letter stating that they would find it hard to agree HLS without a grazing component.

Please do not mistake me.Grazing can be environmentally hugely rewarding but requires skilled,knowledgeable ,stewardship to achieve that.All research points to under/overgrazing as being a great risk and hugely damaging(even NE on their NNR Lizard have overgrazed the area South of Goonhilly).

We thus have NE imposing an agenda which requires a skilled husbandry base to achieve the required results.Farmers are unused to viewing the environment as' the crop' and require mentoring/monitoring until mastery happens.NE do not have the resources and,in some instances,the knowledge to offer that support.NE know this but plod on in the "maybe it will work" mode?

I am aware that Jim Paice says otherwise but concerns exist amongst farmers(Feb Farmers Guardian)and logic is defied in that NE have less resources(-30%)than under ESA but the expanse and demands of HLS are far greater than ESA ever was.

The reason ESA failed?Lack of accountability. The reason HLS will fail?Avoidance of accountability and avoidance of letters like mine. The reason HLS deserves to fail?The means by which it was imposed. The reason HLS must change and succeed?All our futures,

Example on Carnyorth Common of failure indicators;

The first HLS scheme in W.Penwith(entering its 4th year)has seen no decrease in Bracken(despite the management plan stating that management would be undertaken last year)."Bracken will be controlled by cattle" was a claim to the public and a justification of grazing.

The same scheme has seen 6 examples of archaeological damage by cattle.Each time NE categorically denied cattle caused the damage as "archaeology is to benefit from grazing"was another claim.

20,000 was withheld in the first year of this scheme through a failure to manage.This was drawn to NE's attention by the public, not through official monitoring.

Public access has dropped by up to 80% since fencing/grazing was imposed but the project claimed access would be enhanced.

NE have never surveyed to establish grazings impact on access and all claims they make are anecdotal which,in itself,is suspicious in view of the CROW act.If NE surveyed and found a decline in visitors on open access land it could be established that grazing cattle/fencing were an obstruction and thus illegal.

It is equally of note that NE are not always"mindful of the disabled".The W.Penwith HEATH Project had NO allowance for disabled access on any of its 3800hc.Could it be expedience that kept grazing and the disabled seperated?We thus have the CROW Act and DDA as obstructions to an agenda but both conveniently avoided.

Lastly the existence of natural self sustaining heaths.One of the World's rarest systems. NE have never located or surveyed these sites and,in fact,denied their existence until I involved Jim Paice who confirmed I was correct.I supplied NE with research references prior to this but they still denied.This,of course,impacts on NE's 'expertise' but also compromises the existence of this rarity.If the HLS handbook did not mention it and NE staff did not know of it the system could be compromised by the imposition of unnecessary and damaging management(as at Porthgwarra).

I would add,as a general example, to the above NE's total failure to defende Marsupella profunda against a SITA 'defence' of their proposed incinerator based on human tolerances not plant tolerances!

Above are just a few of the reasons I resist a total imposition, by NE, of HLS grazing.

Macro management ,on a landscape scale,to 'restore' systems that are the result of micro management over millenia is symptomatic of reactive poor management and a failure to recognise the real lessons of decades of misplaced funding and low accountability.

I believe that NE does pose a threat to conservation but that the larger threat lies in its continued apparent belief that humanity is the problem and democracy a barrier.When NE realise that humanity is the solution the global degradation caused by NE's huge spending will reduce and the UK will start a natural revival that will be an example to Europe and the rest of the World. Currently global degradation fuels our 'salvation''.

my best regards,
Steve Yandall.
Rainbows End Nursery.
TR20 9RX.

The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !

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