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Treacodactyl

Wildflower meadow protection plan 'backfires'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29037804

Quote:
Some 98% of English meadows have been lost to intensive farming, but the rate of loss nearly doubled after the EU said it wanted to protect grasslands.

The report says many farmers responded by digging up their meadows before tighter rules could be introduced.


Sad, but hardly surprising.
Rob R

No, unless they introduce it retrospectively, it was bound to do that.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, with the land we've been offered. Although much of what we have, but not all, is secured because it's Natural England land but that still doesn't stop it degrading because it isn't fully utilised. On other bits payments exist as part of HLS (EU) money, but again that is useless unless there is someone buying the produce at the end of it as it isn't enough to subsidise the keeping of animals purely for that purpose.

I've been racking my brain as to how we can incentivise wildflower meadow reared livestock - if it were possible through public buying habits we wouldn't be in the situation we are now. In reality the only people who do care about meadows are a small group of the public, farmers and conservationists. Sad
dpack

the "public"for the most part buy what the supermarkets offer them and base their "choices" on

price
advertising
familiarity

rather than selecting produce based on

quality
sustainability
environmental diversity/welfare standards/residues etc etc etc

most of the public are too infantalised to even consider that they are being told what to eat let alone what the personal or environmental consequences of that "choice"might be.
Rob R

so, what should we do about it, nothing? Or is there a solution?
dpack

i recon create a separate economy based on quality and environmental/welfare etc issues rather than compete with tescopolis et al

it probably wont ever be more than a niche market but it can be a profitable niche if supply/costs /price can be worked so as to make it sustainable.

that 2% of grazed meadows have survived does mean that those using them do have a rather exclusive artisan product where as the supermarkets have an industrial mass product.
Rob R

that 2% of grazed meadows have survived does mean that those using them do have a rather exclusive artisan product where as the supermarkets have an industrial mass product.


I think luck has come into it far more - many have previously been used as additional grazing for the more mainstream markets but now, with increased price pressure and time demands, it's far easier to feed them more efficiently (ie filling up a hopper, not walking miles to check on them) indoors and not do the challenging thing of grazing more diverse pastures.

As I say, the incentives are there, but you can only rely on them so much if the animals aren't there to actually do the job of maintaining what is left, as it'll just go to ruin even if it is still there. The niche may too niche and we might be looking at a niche of a niche.

Sorry, but I am reminded of the problem each evening and I look across the valley thinking of all those other acres. Most people don't get that constant reminder, and out of sight is out of mind, but equally being 'in' sight wouldn't necessarily be best for the wildlife either... Confused
Rob R

The NFU response
Rob R

I can't help thinking that the meadow in the article has been partly doomed by the action of the residents themselves. Without a right of way through it and right next to a housing estate I imagine there were all manner of undesirable deposits that would make livestock problematic and hay unpleasant to feed.
Mistress Rose

I agree with you on this one Rob. Too many people see the countryside as a playground and expect farmers, foresters and others to keep it nice for them for no payment. I am sure if they knew about grants some of them would object to us having them as it is a waste of their money. The worst of this sort also probably buy the cheapest products they can from the supermarket and waste their money on holidays abroad.

There are two issues here; selling the produce you can get from the land, which can be niche like Robs special meat, or more mainstream like our firewood, and the cutting of NE (or whatever they are called now) so that they can't actually do anything. The first one is up to all of us as consumers to buy the products from the farms etc. that we want to manage the land for us, and the other is less direct and can only be changed by making sure politicians understand we are willing to pay a little more on tax (and/or get things organised so very rich people and large companies don't get away with avoiding theirs) to get the things we need, including some better input into the countryside.
Nick

You sound very bitter. 'The worst of this sort.....waste their money on holidays abroad.'

I shan't waste any breath.
Mistress Rose

Sorry, but we, like Rob, suffer rather badly from the general public, some of whom are very general, damaging our woods, leaving litter and dogs mess (frequently in plastic bags), and not liking it when we ask them to behave better, even if it is in the interests of other visitors to the woods. We can't charge people to go into the woods easily, and they expect us to clear up behind them, accept that they steal our wood, damage our trees, and have in the past lit large fires, dug up the ground for metal detecting, picked orchids and bluebells and various other antisocial things.
Mistress Rose

The latest thing is that we found 2 women in charge of 8 dogs, and saw in the local paper that a dog had been attacked by another in our woods. The police are investigating the latter.
Rob R

You sound very bitter. 'The worst of this sort.....waste their money on holidays abroad.'

I shan't waste any breath.


That aside, it seems a bizarre situation where locals have been using private land for their recreation for years and they are expecting to maintain that use. It could have been that someone who would take on the hay meadow as a wildlife hay meadow and still the locals would have been stopped from using it for their recreation. The only reason they appear to have been allowed to use it in the first place is because the owners (coal board) didn't use it.

There are plenty of genuine semi-/utilised hay meadows that need preserving without pretending that this is one of them. It looks like the 'hay meadow' context has been hijacked by the locals. If Natural England had taken it on for public benefit they still wouldn't have had the use of it, and farmers can't maintain fields for other people to run their animals on. Surely if they'd wanted that use it would have been better to have bought, or offered to buy the land for amenity use.
Mistress Rose

Yes but that would have cost money wouldn't it. Before we bought our wood, there were some people who wanted to buy it for the village. I don't think they had any concept of the costs. Apart from the initial purchase, which would have put a few pence per year on the local rates, there would be the long term maintenance. This doesn't come free, and so there would be ongoing costs for ever.

Same applies to wood, field or whatever. Initial enthusiasm perhaps or a feeling that 'they' ought to do something about it, but when it comes to long term commitment to looking after something, that is another thing.

As you say Rob, there are a lot of places where 'traditional hay meadow', 'ancient woodland' and similar terms are bandied about. I don't know the case in question, but every time someone wants to do work on any woodland round here, it suddenly becomes 'ancient', even if we remember it being planted. But then we have been round here longer than most people, not the 10 years some seem to think it takes the wood that was there when they came to be come ancient.

I do believe that real ancient woodland and traditional hay meadows, old hedges and various other old countryside features should be looked after properly, which means managing them in the way they have always been managed. We are trying to do that with our wood. However, people claiming every bit of land they want to walk on should be protected because it is an ancient feature just muddies the waters, and degrades the terms they are using. As you say, if it really was, and they were stopped from walking there as a consequence, it would probably upset them more.
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