The rewilding movement: is ecotourism to displace food production?

A Cumbrian hill farmer has asked who or what is behind the push for rewilding?

George Monbiot recently presented a rewilding manifesto, on his own blog and in the Guardian, which he thinks would:

  • re-enchant our lives,
  • and increase eco-tourism which might have a higher potential for employment, for supporting communities, for keeping the schools and shops and pubs and chapels open than sheep farming.

“We should turn the rivers flowing into the lowlands into “blue belts” or “wild ways”. For fifty metres on either side, the land would be left unfarmed, allowing trees and bogs to return and creating continuous wildlife corridors. Bogs and forests trap the floodwaters, helping to protect the towns downstream . . .

“A few of us are now in the process of setting up a rewilding group in Britain, which would seek to catalyse some of these changes”.

natur cymru text

Proposals for the British Isles propose the reintroduction of beavers, raptors (predator birds), the lynx, wild boar and wolf. Magnus Linklater has pointed out that this “odd business, this drive to repopulate the country with predators” kites, sea eagles, beavers and possibly the wolf, “to re-create some imagined past” is a fallacy.

Reintroduce, then kill?

Currently in Scotland, farmers suffer as powerful birds of prey are seizing young lambs.

A BBC report records that wolves were hunted to near extinction in southern Scandinavia until a hunting ban was imposed in the 1970s. Following the species’ natural return in Scandinavia, Sweden and Norway worked together to help restore a viable population.

  • Norway culled some wolves in 2001, saying the population had spread too far.
  • The Swedish parliament has now decided there should be at most 210 wolves in Sweden.

A later BBC report added that the problem is not just that the animals cause severe damage to crops and meadowland. They are also beginning to encroach on areas inhabited by humans. Omnivorous, adaptable and highly mobile, increasingly, wild boar have been spotted in town streets and gardens in recent years.

In 2009, they were responsible for nearly 21,000 road accidents across the country.

Neighbouring countries including Germany and Italy reported similar problems. Now it is up to the hunters to keep the wild boar population under control. To curb their numbers, the government recently enacted a National Wild Boar Control Plan.

Political Concern comments: will government ever realise the folly of relying on finance and tourism and redirect their energy and our money to build a solid, stable economy in which skilled people once more produce real wealth – food, energy and goods?

This subject has been aired on its site (links below): draw your own conclusions:

Britain: conservation and political initiatives are killing my world – not intensive farming
Britain: a 21st century fantasy land to attract tourists – 2
Britain: a 21st century fantasy land to attract tourists – 3

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