Monday, 31 December 2012

The National Trust Year


It’s been a year when the National Trust has been carving up the Dark Peak uplands and imposing its agenda via cunningly contrived consultation strategies. This has happened not just on the Sheffield Moors but also on the High Peak moors. Their plan has been one of management and more management leading to a future of landscape control in which the exploitation will be little different to that which led to the monotony we see today. We can be fairly sure that section of the  upland countryside not in private hands will hardly vary from that ruined by economic and self serving interests over hundreds of years.

Simultaneously with the Sheffield Moors consultation (so called) the NT ran another on the High Peak moors. That one obviously influenced the other and the impossibility of ordinary people being involved to any meaningful extent in both meant that the industry view would inevitably predominate bringing just the subsidies and jobs that help careers to thrive beside which landscape and wildlife come a very poor second and third. They have been keen to demonstrate that there has been a debate yet all has been so skewed that those who contribute most, the urban and suburban population have been kept largely ignorant of the issues and even the process. And the result will be more of the same over-controlled countryside. However many times they use the word iconic to describe the Bleaklow vista I can see it only as somehow mirroring the slag heaps of a coalfield and symbolic of a comparable exploitation. Why we would want to keep the one while being anxious to remove the other I struggle to understand. 

So 2012 has shown the NT as leading the anti-nature and pro-exploiting agenda in the Peak District uplands. They justify their approach by rationalising the grim abuse as cultural or historic, therefoire needing to be conserved, while knowing well that these words can be applied to any period of history or any human activity. Why should this be returned to 1870 rather than 870 or 8700 BC? Or better still leave it for nature.  After all nobody lives there. They make the choice and there’s no doubt it’s for reasons of building empires and raking in subsidies. I sometimes think it would be no worse than having Bleaklow covered with wind turbines and pylons. Predictably the NT is protesting against wind turbines and pylons across Wales and its Chair, Sir Simon Jenkins has spoken out, as one expects him to. Though I’m not sure he was Chair at the time when the NT’s then Peak District property manager Mike Innerdale wanted to put a wind turbine at Longshaw and the PDNPA wouldn’t let him. It’s possible that Innerdale is not a great supporter of attractive landscapes especially more natural ones, given his work in the High Peak area around Bleaklow. Anyone who can have such a warped aesthetic as to think Bleaklow should be restored as a grouse moor must be viewed with suspicion surely? A few million native trees would be public money well spent, now we're to lose so many ash trees, instead of creating something for the shooting lobby to salivate over? The bare moors obsession is one of the most perverse ways of spending public money that even land managers can have dreamed up; but then it’s good for jobs, managers jobs. And there’s a bonus: once you discover the public is stupid enough to allow it to happen with its own money you realise there’s no end to the kind of self serving nonsense you can get away with. One of the odd perspectives that’s thrown up is the uneasy alliance between the subsidy loving conservationists and the normally anti-tax paying lobby among the wealthy classes who value grouse so they can have something to shoot. Perhaps that’s the secret of the scam: neutralise your likeliest opponent by drip feeding them what they want. 

The National Trust's chair Sir Simon, is an interesting case. It would be instructive to hear him justifying what is happening in the Dark Peak. He is possibly the most articulate and elegant of journalists with an enviable ability to illuminate current events with a new perspective yet also staggeringly prolific. Having been editor of The Times and London Evening Standard and written regular columns for both papers he's now firmly established at The Guardian. I recently found an article of his written for The Times in 2005 headed "....Finally We Have Licence to go Wild in the Country."

In this he welcomed the end of the farm subsidy arrangement in the CAP whereby farmers were paid for the amount they produced and looked forward to more beauty in the countryside including rewilding. The article is in The Times archive needing a subscription but it can be accessed here.

There's food for thought throughout but I'll quote the ending:

Yet the more I read about this dawn the more I sense something missing. The new countryside is being designed by English Nature, the Countryside Commission and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, by botanists, ecologists and soil scientists. Nobody has asked me what sort of countryside I want to spend £3 billion a year protecting. Nobody has asked the millions of mostly urban Britons who have spent huge sums to support farming in the past and must continue paying such sums in the future. Their wishes are taking for granted.
They may want a more sensitive ecology, but I believe they want more for their money than this micro-regulation. I do not care about fallen trees. I am happy to see sheep pasture return to scrub, plantations fill with undergrowth and moorland run wild with gorse, heather and bracken. I know the “rewilding” of Britain requires intervention, but wild is the direction in which it should go. This involves far more than species protection. It means a care for horizons, views and coastlines. It involves the elimination of ugly farm buildings, power lines, masts, turbines and defunct warehouses. It means treating the landscape, and the farms to protect it, as an aesthetic as well as a scientific reality.
There is none of this in the new policy because Britain has no lobby for beauty. Any fool can save a sedge but it takes a genius to save a scene. Yet it is Britain’s scenery which, in truth, we are now all paying to protect. We need the courage of this revolution, to think big as well as small.

There's quite a bit I would agree with there.

But where does he stand on grouse moors and the insistence on management even of the wildlife itself so that only those creatures that serve the interests of the landowners are allowed to live freely? As Chair of the National Trust I think he has a duty to tell us.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Taking Advantage

Wild animals are opportunists. In this they may resemble certain aspects of humanity.


The bank voles are taking advantage of the milder temperatures and the seed deposited each day for the birds. It was tempting enough to bring out two of them.


The large stag who's been roaming solitary across Blacka lately has an almost white face, more noticeable from a distance.



There's plenty of variability in colouring among the local deer but this is the most striking. Still none is quite as dramatic as the black stag I once saw. It was a bit disappointing later to find he had been rolling in a peat bog.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Some Differences



Most people, but maybe not all, know that red deer and reindeer are not the same. You can still see drawings of reindeer that look more like a red deer stag. There are several species of reindeer and in most both the male and female grow antlers. Those of the male (bull) can become huge. The reason sometimes given for both having antlers is that they use them not just as weapons but also to clear away the snow to find food.

Our red deer would be better off this year with buckets and mops.

Friday, 21 December 2012

No Reversal

One change from the last year that should not be reversed as itself it is a return to what should have been, is the removal of the blighting power lines from this favourite path.


Looking down into the gorge to the right shows one reason that it's now improved.


Unfortunately there are too many changes that should be reversed and will not be; and the worst of these is the change that brought farming and fencing and grazing in 2006 to a place that had long been free from them. No Christmas Greetings to the managers for that.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Eyecatcher

Though more than one young calf has been around since summer this one has caught the eye most. He has a  a certain poise that marks him out from the others. I say 'he' because there's something about him, maybe the nose or the spacing of the ears or even the way he looks at you; still I could be quite wrong.


The 'family group' phase may now have passed. In the dark hour before sunrise a larger collection of hinds could just be discerned still with the one stag, who it's tempting to call a hart. Traditionally he should be at least 5 years old to deserve the name.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Daw Chorus


It's possible to love something without knowing exactly why. You could think of it as being instinctive or lack the words to do it justice. Genuinely romantic impulses take this as read. In fact over-interpreting can be the death of feeling.

So it might be with the morning flights over Blacka. The jackdaws can be in thousands and the numbers themselves are spectacular as are starlings in pre roost rituals.  This morning wave after wave of the birds came over each one more than a hundred with the accompanying daw chorus. They wheel and dive and climb and veer, sometimes an individual striking out across the flock impertinently but taking most of the others with him. It's their unconstrained freedom that gladdens the heart. Up there  are no fences and no management to detract from their uninhibited behaviour. They would if they could you can be sure. But the sky has no limits, we hope.

Too many words already.

Monday, 10 December 2012

More Torture from SMP

Masochists and lovers of gushing aspirational prose should enjoy this further extract from Sheffield Moors Partnership's draft Master Plan.
This part is their Strategic Outcomes for 2028. Their consultation specifically asked for responses to this. This is what it says:

"WHAT WE ARE PLANNING TO ACHIEVE – THE STRATEGIC OUTCOMES BY 2028
In 15 years time, delivery of the Vision will enable the Sheffield Moors to be characterised by the following (in no particular order):


Theme 1 – Being Involved

1.1 People and community involvement is at the heart of all activities

People and communities are actively involved in the Sheffield Moors. Many aspects of the care and management of the landscape are delivered by volunteers, user groups, and the wider community facilitated by appropriate training programmes and other support. Stakeholder forums provide regular and on-going opportunities for people influence how the landscape is cared for and managed, whilst land managers such as farmers are committed to achieving the vision alongside and as part of their economic activities.

1.2 High quality visitor experience

Visitors explore, enjoy and learn about the natural and historic environment, gaining a range of health benefits and a sense of well-being from the landscape and through a variety of experiences, from the wild moorland of areas like Stanage Edge, to the more formally managed like Longshaw.

Fixed interpretation and other signage is focused at key entrances and gateways into the area. Exciting and innovative methods are used wherever appropriate, minimising visual intrusion in the wider landscape.

1.3 Inspiring activities and engagement

A co-ordinated programme of inspiring and innovative" .................... and so on, and on, and on.....


Anyone inspired to read (innovatively of course) the rest of the Strategic Outcomes section of the document can access it here.

_________________________________

FoBM's carefully considered response is below the consultation form's question.


  3. What do you like about the Strategic Outcomes proposed in the masterplan?

It’s difficult to find something to like. All is designed to lead to more management and more management jobs. There’s also too much forced, breathless and misleading language more appropriate for a sales brochure. Get rid of the sales clich├ęs and woolly undefined, often subjective terms that give very little idea to the reader but deliver carte blanche to the managers to interpret in their own way.

Holistic landscape.
Historic and characterful
Enhanced
Inspiring and innovative
Exciting and innovative
Integrated and sustainable
Sympathetic signage
Cultural heritage
Sensitively protected
Strong sense of understanding
High quality habitats
Favourable condition
Sense of wellbeing

Economically viable
Environmentally sustainable
Wild and open nature of landscape
Feeling of wilderness
Historic character
Collectively and inclusively
Aspirations of the vision

What do these mean?

The rest of the FoBM response on Strategic Outcomes can be read here.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Moonstruck


We have to fear for the future of this land and expect to see its character steadily eroding over coming years. The obsession with more management has become an unstoppable force, spawning more and more derivatives just as surely as the banking industry before the crash.

We have now begun to put pennies in a jar to save the 1.4 billion dollars needed to take two of us to the moon hoping to find somewhere free from the influence of land managers and conservationists. There’s a chance that on arrival we will find a post decorated with A4 laminated notices among which will be one telling us that the place is a SSSI in unfavourable condition. It may also say that barbed wire fencing will soon be installed as a prelude to a ten years agri-environmental scheme based on conservation grazing.

So it might be better to devote our energies to raising the cost of sending all conservationists, there to indulge their empire building compulsions, thus leaving this country for us and for nature. It’s worth investigating whether this would save the public money from farming subsidies but that is predicated on an optimistic belief that there is a finite number of these people. The total EU farm budget is £62 billion about 40% of total spending. But the growth in conservation managers is alarming. Already moon fares for the 32 who attended the recent SMP event would take us well into that unless a block booking could be made on generous terms.

Meanwhile the imaginatively challenged local functionaries are already charging ahead relentlessly with plans for Higher Level Stewardship with wall to wall and fence to fence sheep and cow grazing. One bird watcher, for whom no other words are adequate, supports this because, so he claims, deer tread on the nests of birds !





Thus it's imperative we protect the wildlife from the, er, wildlife!  How on earth did nature exist before man came along?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Higher Equals More



The more we climb the higher we get and in winter the more likely to find snow. It's also generally true of landscapes throughout the world that the higher you get the more wild and the less managed your surroundings.

It's only in places like our very odd National Parks that the uplands are expected to be managed in order to provide jobs for managers. Very odd.

This is the kind of day to get your Christmas card views. Each year provides something.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Vision of Controlling Fluffiness

The consultation on Sheffield Moors Partnership's draft Master Plan closed a week ago. While we all knew it was a waste of time and an utterly frustrating exercise Friends of Blacka Moor duly submitted its response. The only reason that partners might welcome our comments is that they can use them to balance any arguments from cranks who want the moors to be closer to 'traditional' shooting and farming estates; which is a pretty feeble reason but the sort of thing that managers like to do.

The draft plan starts with numerous pages of vague blather that nevertheless betrays where the managers are coming from.
They first asked us to comment on their Vision which goes like this.
_______________________________________________________________

OUR VISION FOR THE SHEFFIELD MOORS
Vision Statement
Our Vision for the Sheffield Moors by 2028 is:
A dramatic, cherished and working landscape in the Peak District National Park, the Sheffield Moors are being cared for by a thriving collaboration of voluntary, public and private organisations, individuals and the wider community.
Through a shared vision and responsibility this partnership delivers exemplar conservation, heritage management, integrated and multi-use access, and inspiring and co-ordinated engagement.

Moreover, the vision will mean: The Sheffield Moors are the eastern gateway to the Dark Peak, providing exciting and high quality outdoors experiences for all, and bringing people closer to nature through an integrated access network that links ‘town and country’, people and wildlife.
The diverse and distinctive landscape of open moors, dramatic and wild gritstone edges, and enclosed upland pasture is of high quality and management protects and reinforces this historic character, whilst the stories and cultural heritage of the area are shared, cherished and protected.
To read on click  here...

_____________________________

My response is very similar to that of FoBM and it goes like this fitting into the format requested.

1. Do you support the vision for Sheffield Moors?
The vision is a missed opportunity.
It was not based on a genuine public debate although this was called for more than once during the course of the process. So it was always going to be a bureaucratic fudge. And it is if anything worse.

It is drearily unambitious and unimaginative with no semblance of a big idea to prioritise wildlife and natural landscapes.

The main purpose seems to be to serve the interests of the conservation groups and charities.

So no I don’t support it. I go further and say the production of this ‘vision’ has been a waste of public money and looks like leading to even more unnecessary spending.

2. Is there anything you want to change to improve the draft vision?


Everything. The text is far too subjective.

Almost all terms need defining at least to an extent. There are also too many fluffy words like ‘amazing’ and ‘cherished’ which are meaningless. This kind of document should be a sober and carefully written text, but this is an off-the-shelf promotional brochure.

Good landscape does not need a sales pitch.

The phrase that damns the whole document is “Working Landscape”. That means it will be exploited. This area should be a safe haven from the economy and the inevitable management and development and misuse that always accompanies it.  



To read on click here...



Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mysteries

In the wood, where sinister alders are a heavy presence, the darkness is emphasised by a dusting of snow.

Beyond, after the sun has raised itself over the bar of cloud to the east, a more benign but still mysterious spirit rules.


One of our problems is that the most valuable aspects of a site like this are near undefinable tempting us to fall back on highly subjective language that is not part of the vocabulary of the local minor functionnaries. As with Mr Gradgrind of Hard Times imagination is some sort of dangerous concept. So using words like 'magic' or even 'unpredictable' doesn't recommend something to those who get their satisfactions and fantasies from screens and synthetic pre-digested experiences.


We desperately look for hope. Did I see a still from a soon-to-be released film (07 of the series) showing territory not unlike the more unmanaged parts of Blacka? Will they make the link?

Money Saver

BBC's Farming Today this morning mentioned a new outfit calling itself The National Centre for the Uplands. It seems to be based at Newton Rigg College in Cumbria and is another of a growing number of voices arguing for farming everywhere.
The item today reported that it's hard to get young farmers to take up tenancies in the uplands. Not very exciting apparently being a long way from the bright lights and decent broadband etc. Further on in the report a hill farmer explained that he could only keep going because of agri environment schemes. So nobody wants to do it and it costs lots of public money.

Well, Mr Osborne, was the obvious solution part of your Autumn Statement?  Give the uplands back to nature and do the farming elsewhere. And save some money.

In it Together?



In the end we're all going the same way. The Chancellor repeated his phrase today in the Autumn Statement  : "We're all in it together." So rich and poor, high and low each in our own style we share the same goal and we will get there in the end. Politicans claim the pursuit of personal success benefits all in society and self- interest brings rewards to everyone. Viva competition. Some have reservations.

Perhaps Mr Osborne's been watching the daily corvine commute. Balancing the communal with the individual is what daws and rooks have been doing for thousands of years. In their case the journey can appear to have a ritual significance beyond the destination and the goal. Strung out across the morning sky they are agreed on the destination but there's no uniformity about the way they fly. A snapshot reveals many different poses, the groupings are constantly changing and individuals strive to be first. On the ground and in the trees arguments are always breaking out as they compete for advantage.

The morning flight is one of the most compelling wildlife sights of the region and one that is easy to see but rarely valued. You can't predict when a large flock of migrating geese will choose to pass over, nor when a waxwing invasion is imminent but this is most days. The great thing about the daws and rooks is that they guard their individuality while valuing the communal life. They travel at the same time and in the same direction but each  reserves the right to do it his way.

What a blessing they've never adopted money.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cosy?


It's  too cosy and sentimental to be true. All that I've heard from observations about red deer elsewhere is to the effect that once the rut is over stags and hinds go their own ways. Groups of stags wander around together while hinds also remain in largely single sex groups but accompanied by the youngest of both sexes. Now this is the third year that this has happened. Most of the hinds have gone elsewhere leaving a couple with one calf.

Nuclear families in wild animals is about as anthropomorphic as you can get. But you can but report what you see and this group of three has been seen now five times this year and that repeats the observations of two previous years.

Aaaaah!

Essentials

A nursing profession focused on compassion?

Whatever next? Teachers committed to education? Police enforcing the law?
We can all add to the list:

Politicians responding to the will of the people?
Nature conservation organisations focused on putting nature first?

How did we ever lose sight of the essentials? The common thread is management cultures and their remoteness from what really matters.

First offered solution: Get all managers working 50% of the week on the ‘shop floor’.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Official Opening?

A view of the newly surfaced (and substantially widened) bridleway near the stepping stones. This has to pass for what the local functionaries call 'improvement'. In the same way that new motorways are an ‘improvement’ on what was there before them. I’ve been avoiding going down here while the work was going on. There’s only one thing to do now: invite the Minister of Transport (constituency not far away) to come along for an official opening.

This is part of the general trend to make any path or track fit for juggernauts. Not surprising that users are stunned at the mindless insensitivity. Mountain bikers' representatives have been eloquent in expressing their disgust and I'm grateful for that. And as more people get to see it more complaints will follow. This is the work of Sheffield’s Public Rights of Way team.  At the stepping stones themselves another shock: the old stones have been removed and replaced with new ones.


Are we really going to stand by while they sanitise everything?  That’s the trend now. More and more management and more and more intervention. Somewhere back at the office on a dusty piece of paper is a documented justification.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Foambound



It's one time when you can say that all you can hear is natural sound. Hardly tranquillity but refreshing nonetheless.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Control

The weather remains something that can't be controlled. Fortunately. You don’t really know a place and understand its character if you only visit when the sun’s shining. Places have secrets that can be reserved for certain conditions.


Today the familiar paths were unfamiliar, transformed into streams and needing respect. Trees you thought you knew have a changed appearance. We expect that with snow but that’s only the most dramatic of makeovers. Mist and rain work their magic with less contrast and more subtlety.



Hence my contempt for the practice of the local conservation industry whose publicity is always accompanied by photos taken of their managed sites when heather is in full bloom. That is not just symbolic. It’s well known here that certain managers and officers are prone to emerge from their offices on a lovely day. I remember walking once with a senior manager of Sheffield’s Countryside service. It had never occurred that places might be left unmanaged. He pointed to some bramble and ferns at the side. People don’t want to walk there – he said, appalled. I pointed out that there was a path nearby so they didn’t have to. Not the only Council officer with such views. At the Icarus consultation six years ago I had one of those moments when two people fail to understand each other utterly. Sheffield’s Ecology officer was talking about developing this and enhancing that and creating habitats here and there. I said “You want to control everything”. “Yes I do” was the reply. As I said in a previous post once the management bug has bitten there’s really no stopping them. Maybe the wind and rain are next on the list.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A Question

Not  wishing to embarrass the managers of the Sheffield Moors Partnership, but if they are planning to use the red deer as a management tool to graze the moors - and I deplore the very idea - are they going to expect them also to negotiate the obstructions they have put in their way? And are these obstructions something that managers reserve for wild animals to have to deal with in the course of their employment but wouldn't dream of inflicting on humans ? I've not noticed managers in the building trade setting up obstacle courses for brickies and labourers to jump over to make their tasks more difficult, or heard of managers in the Royal Mail deliberately entreating householders to engage savage dogs to make the job of their postmen more challenging.

Farm livestock with similar behaviour patterns would expect to have their habits and needs catered for. Once you decide to utilise somebody or some animal as part of your scheme of management you take on certain responsibilities surely?
The pictures below are from April 2011. Perhaps the deer need a union or a good lawyer.









Adult deer usually but not invariably cope well with fences. Young deer calves may be a different thing. I've heard of very sad incidents.

Memo:




Must remember to get out that woolly scarf put away at the end of last winter.

He looked surprised, not expecting to see other creatures out with a gale blowing. And those who stayed indoors avoided some of the wettest conditions even this year has brought.






Friday, 23 November 2012

Vulnerable

As one of our regulars at the Wall Caff has already appeared on a post today, it's only fair to feature another of the most loyal customers.


The excuse for mentioning him is the news that the great tit is likely to be more vulnerable to outbreaks of avian pox than other birds. This is a disfiguring and unpleasant growth that can affect the eyes and beak of the birds. A good account of the likely impact of the disease can be found on the BBC's website.

How Could They Not ......?

Trying to get through to those who make the decisions can be so frustrating that it hurts. Words just run out. So pictures have to be tried. I recently spoke with Sheffield council officers who represent the biggest partner in the Moors Partnership. I tried. Somebody has to. It is that important. I had taken along the laptop and showed pictures illustrating the difference between land under management and the same or nearby land unmanaged. They seemed genuinely stunned at the scenes of unmanaged wildlife.

How could they not be entranced and moved as I had been when taking the pictures?

This morning, as the sun appeared early, was another when words are hard to find which describe the visual richness that unmanaged Blacka can give us. I hope God can forgive anyone who tries to diminish this with more management. I can't.

Sun on the bracken here in November is a delight that should bring sightseers from abroad. As I feasted on the colours the hind appeared.

Then along came her young calf. And you can still just make out the fading flecks on its side.

Father arrived just behind.

Reds

Reds and oranges everywhere. Sometimes we just have to thank God for bracken.


Pink only a month ago now the alder catkins are red.



And nearby our familiar 9 a.m. friend



Thursday, 22 November 2012

"Let's Manage Everything..."

................heard at a meeting of conservation officers?


Free now - soon to be managed*.

In fact it has a certain inevitability about it. Once the management bug is caught they don't know how to stop. They probably can't.
The process (along with the published justifications)  becomes inexorable, propelled by the growth of the organisations behind them.

So managing the vegetation becomes by extension, also managing the wildlife. There's no real argument about this. They talk about managing habitats and controlling vegetation. They encourage everyone in the land management sector to proclaim at every opportunity that our countryside has to be managed. And that inevitably means the wildlife. It starts on the ground with trees and shrubs, grasses (and tussocks!!) and 'invasive species'. Though you may notice that nobody mentions the most invasive species of all, mankind and its fastest growing representatives the managers themselves.  If ever a case could be made.

They already have systems put in place to manage certain animals judged by landowning interests to be undesirable. The methodology becomes cultural. Not just foxes but corvines and mustelids are regularly targeted as not wanted and therefore fair game for the trigger happy. Now the badger is well on his way to being managed. Let's have just 20% of them and kill the other 80% seems to be the call. Someone at a desk must be the one to make the decision.

Deer are next on the list, whipped up by an ignorant muttering campaign from farmers and others for whom the word deer always invokes the word cull.  But the management tendency hardly needs backing. Cattle and sheep can devastate the vegetation in a place but nobody talks of culling them. They are already in the managers' command and control toolkit.


A huge part of the pleasure gained from seeing deer on Blacka Moor comes from knowing that they are free, not managed in response to anybody's plans and self interest. That is now set to change if the Sheffield Moors Partnership's Master Plan gets the approval that the partners obviously expect. They intend to manage all the moors by "extensive grazing". They say that "appropriate livestock and the resident red deer herd " will be used and that this grazing will be "the primary land management tool on the Sheffield Moors." That is a horror story. Wild and free animals are to become a management tool. And the managers will take the credit and assume responsibility for managing them. They may stop short of ear tagging them and dipping them but I would not be so sure.

If this happens that will be the beginning of the end of the attraction of Blacka Moor for some of us. We have already seen the insistence on meddling with the landscape by tree fellings and poisonings, managers asserting their own will on the natural land by spraying and coppicing so that soon we will not be able to say that parts of Blacka are free from their casual and indiscriminate interventions.

They will also be developing "an overall deer management policy for the Sheffield Moors and adopt by 2015".

Let us be clear what this means. These managers are completely under the thumb of the farming industry which will simply not put up with large animals roaming uncontrolled. We know their attitude to badgers. At a meeting two years ago about the Eastern Moors they spoke one after the other in favour of a cull of deer, exaggerating the numbers shamelessly. Some of these people believe it is their birthright to shoot any wild animals and some of them will never be fully satisfied until nothing is left but their own miserable looking livestock. So an overall deer management policy can only mean shooting the deer.

If we do not fight this now while we have the opportunity we will have ourselves to blame. Part of the magic and vital life will be gone from our most special places.

* managed = culled.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Taking Responsibility

Outside the rut stags can be pretty laid back and rarely put on a show of protectiveness. Hinds and their young are usually left to sort out their own problems. Once an excitable dog approached a mixed group and the stag looked on little interested, leaving the senior hind to stamp and exert some discipline: at which the dog turned and wandered off, reproved.

This morning  I disturbed the hind and calf.. The stag then appeared  looking distinctly annoyed.



These 'family groups' are something of a puzzle. During the rut not long ago there were as many as twelve hinds. Small groups like this have been a feature in previous years. Seeing them like this leads one to assume that they are as seems, though they are never likely to go through a legal determination of parentage.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Managerial Blight

It's cry often heard.

"It needs to be managed."

I remember that when I raised the Blacka Moor problem with a councillor years ago I got the instant response "It's got to be managed". She had clearly never thought there could be any alternative. But Sheffield councillors are not noted for their deep thinking.

A senior BBC broadcaster told another BBC broadcaster referring to the present trials at the BBC that its management culture was to blame: When a crisis occurs they just send in another manager.

Not much use when too much management is the problem. 32 managers attended a Sheffield Moors Partnership event, referred to in this post. One of them was unwise enough to suggest a bit less management. He was probably taken outside and duffed up by the others.

Stumbling and Mumbling is a thoughtful blog and consistently bemoans the curse of managerialism. A quote from a recent post.
We now take managerialism so much for granted that we assume that the only people who can possibly be responsible for improving an organization must be managers.
Except I would go further. Try this. A couple of pictures chosen 'selectively' I admit which illustrate the effect on Blacka Moor of a) more management and b) less management.

a) more

b) less


No contest?