From our Director.
For a few moments today I sat with my head in my hands.
An argument over land management payments risks setting nature conservation back by decades.
This article is one of several to appear today: Welsh wildlife groups accused of pedalling ‘fake dystopia’ in battle for farm funding subtitled ‘NFU Cymru fears campaigners are painting a misleading picture of the contribution farmers make to wildlife and the environment in Wales.’
The context is Welsh Government’s consultation on the next system of payments for land management in Wales. Many farmers want direct payments to continue. Many conservationists want more of the money to support nature recovery. With Welsh Government asking a big set of questions it is inevitable that there will be a wide range of answers. Government’s job is to find a way through and, for a change, they have our sympathy.
Let’s be clear on one thing – there is nothing fake about the disintegration of nature; in Wales as in many other parts of the world it is real and well evidenced – anyone with doubts should read the UK State of Nature Report or the Wales-specific State of Natural Resources Report. But that’s not the most important point.
Many farmers do good conservation work – for nature’s sake, not for money. Farmers love their land and their work and they have shaped the land we all love. Conservationists love the nature that makes its own fragile living from that same land. For decades people have sought ways to marry these two great loves together, to keep people and wildlife on the land where they belong. Some efforts have been more successful than others, but the conversation has, bit by bit, been getting more comfortable to have. Millimetre by millimetre the common ground has expanded.
If we allow ourselves to be torn apart again, we’ll continue to be chained to two separate pillars for another generation, maybe more. ‘Production’ versus ‘nature’ is the false dichotomy that needs to be abolished. We can have both if we accept that it won’t be perfect. We need to work together.
Back to work, now. We’ll submit a positive response to Welsh Government’s Brexit and our land consultation. Our response will be positive about keeping the core skills of land management where they need to be and we’ll look forward to seeing them contribute to the recovery of nature in Wales.
National Parks are not perfect but they are the best examples we have of farming and conservation working together at landscape scale. Let’s build on that and offer Welsh Government an ambition for Snowdonia that keeps us working together.
*Love will tear us apart – Joy Division, 1980