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Last update: 13th Feb, 2009
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About Us

From the trauma of 2001 FMD and subsequent events CONSERVATIONWATCHER was born

      The co-editors of this website comprise a man who learned the hard way to survive the rigours of a hill farming life. From that work has come a deepening understanding of the countryside and the belief that the knowledge gathered over more than four decades should be passed on to others.

      Helping him are a hill farmer's wife and two former “urbanites” who worked throughout the FMD disaster. One has developed a keen knowledge of agriculture and in particular, the issues affecting commoners & graziers. Her correspondence with the local and farming press pokes a sharp finger into the tender areas of an un-thinking government. !

      Her husband chaired an auction company which took the brave decision in 2001 to build a new mart which has been of immense benefit to West Cumbrian farmers and the local community.

      The farmer's wife, over and above her normal arduous duties, has spent years identifying and propagating many of our old traditional and almost forgotten apples.

      Together they form the nucleus of an approach which many will find easy to comprehend and will add to the store of knowledge. Before the recent world financial crisis there was scant interest in looking at sustainability in food supply. Now we can all see it is a matter of the greatest importance.

      Hill farmers will give you a wry smile when you mention “green” issues. They have been producing food in a near-organic condition for hundreds of years: they do not need to be reminded. What they do need is a market for their goods and a movement to ensure their environment is not violated by those who believe they know better.

      There are many organisations which claim to be conservationists, but that have a blinkered, or tunnel-visioned approach. They do not, or will not see that so often the 'saving' of one species endangers another.

      The reality is that if we continue to neglect the countryside of Gt. Britain we will continue to lose our wild birds and wildflowers because someone has forgotten the simple “cycle” – grass eaten by livestock passes out into droppings which encourages bugs and insects which in turn, provide food for wild birds. A richer soil encourages plant growth which attracts bees, butterflies, birds and other small animals.- If we continue to pay landowners to neglect the hills and uplands, which are capable of producing good meat naturally and economically, we will starve. Easy isn't it?

John Ruskin, the Lakeland writer said: “ What we think or what we know or what we believe in is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do”

Herdwick Sheep, 'The Gather'.
Herdwick Flock Gathering; to learn more, 'click' on image.
Photo: David Stephenson

EU HABITATS DIRECTIVE (92/43/EEC):-  Article 2 states...

  1. The aim of this Directive shall be to contribute towards ensuring bio-diversity through the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora in the European territory of the Member States to which the Treaty applies.

  1. Measures taken pursuant to this Directive shall be designed to maintain or restore, at favourable conservation status, natural habitats and species of wild fauna and flora of Community interest.

  2. Measures taken pursuant to this Directive shall take account of economic, social and cultural requirements and regional and local characteristics.

EU HABITATS DIRECTIVE (92/43/EEC):-  Article 6 states

  1. For special areas of conservation, Member States shall establish the necessary conservation measures involving, if need be, appropriate management plans specifically designed for the sites or integrated into other development plans, and appropriate statutory, administrative or contractual measures which correspond to the ecological requirements of the natural habitat types in Annex I and the species in Annex II present on the sites. (NOT the "one size fits all" that we have got in the UK.)

Article 8[j] of the Berne Convention on Biological Diversity:-  

  • Nations required; “…to respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,”

The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development:- 

  • It is a key principle that “… local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices.”
The UK Government is a signatory to the above. Perhaps it forgot to read the scripts, forgot where it had filed them, or cynically permitted political ideology to override both law and common sense.
    What wildflower is it?                                                                                                                                                                                                 What wildflower is it?        
Hairy Rock Rose
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