A Letter to Tony Juniper
I farm a small piece of Farndale on the North York Moors.
Via a National Park scheme I intend to plant more trees this coming winter, in a further attempt to create wood pasture here.
The National Park team have contacted NE for views regarding the planting scheme; I'm not surprised to find the response seeks to preserve the status quo.
I find it odd having read about the work of Margaret Atherden and others that trees would be regarded negatively. This isn't plantation forestry. I understand the permaculture principle of slope, I intend for trees to capture carbon, create transpiration and infiltration and provide shelter for my 100% pasture fed cattle.
The NE response talks of the current limit of trees! I've found bluebells on pasture, once the bracken has been cut and raked, highlighting the historic greater density of wood pasture.
There's plenty of moonscape in this region due to the shooting industry.
The 'keepers persecute stoats and foxes and hence farms are blighted by unchecked rabbit grazing. I want to grow a wide variety of pasture plants on my hillsides, but the erosion caused by rabbit, sheep and hay making has to be reversed. Trees are part of that effort.
I'm aware of the importance of ground nesting birds, but NE staff use that phrase as readily as the game shooting industry to justify a barren landscape of rush and rabbit.
I'll attempt to work with your officials, to highlight the challenges and to open their eyes to the potential solutions.
Tony Juniper is Chair of Natural England.
Natural England is 'the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England.'