The nonsense of conservation speak

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Last updated 19 May 2016







St Catherine's Hill

Portsdown Hill


Ashdown Forest

Blacka Moor

Bickerton Hill

Chobham Common

Harpenden Common

Loxley & Wadsley Commons

Nine Maidens Common

Swineholes Wood

Surrey Heathland Project


Epping Forest

Odiham Common


Cornwall AONB

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

It depends on your point of view, but much of the language of conservation professionals and their adherents jars very greatly with those who want to see wild nature have a greater influence in our landscapes. This is a compilation of nonsense-speak that will be added to, as more wince-making and patronising examples crop up.

You can play BUZZWORD BINGO as you read the conservationspeak on this page, or you can use any Wildlife Trust, Plantlife or RSPB newsletter. Score points whenever you see the words:

exciting......precious.... fragile......rare....... traditional management..... former glory......  invasive.... dense..... neglected.... rank........ over topped..... over stood .... healthy..... tip-top condition.... fantastic opportunity...... nationally scarce habitat......naturalistic grazing ........internationally important...... internally rare......mosaic  of habitats....... landscape scale...... living landscape ...... last great wilderness..... moorland wilderness..... currently inaccessible …… open up areas ………..views will be opened up …… swamped ….impenetrable …… original feel …..coherent feel …..holistic landscape …….historic and characterful …..enhanced ……inspiring and innovative ….. exciting and innovative ……. lntegrated and sustainable …… sympathetic signage …... cultural heritage ….. sensitively protected ….. strong sense of understanding …… high quality habitats ……. wild and open nature of landscape ….. feeling of wilderness …… historic character ….. aspirations of the vision

Here is one of the recent nonsenses I have come across:

"Sea urchins are the "rabbits" of the marine world. They are the most important grazer of subtidal rock surfaces and are vital to the maintenance of biodiversity"
From a brochure on Skomer Marine Nature Reserve, Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) Welsh Assembly Government


"The reserves are the shop windows of the Trust, and are potentially a very good way of attracting new members. HLF encourages and allows us to spend money on some of the more aesthetic considerations, which, in the past, were not priorities due to scarce funding. The often complex habitat manipulations and restoration will be lost on many reserve visitors, but they can understand well-maintained fencing, gates and signs. This is often the image of Trust reserve management that they will take away with them"
About the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves


“dominated by bracken and species-poor birch…….invasive natives like birch and bracken……blanketed by species poor birch growth…....a species-poor late stage birch wood”
Professor Ian D. Rotherham, The Call of the Wild: Perceptions, history, people and ecology in the emerging paradigms of wilding, ECOS 35(1) 2014

“All this sudden management activity may look savage to the untutored eye, but there is a lot of neglect to remedy”
Conservation in Grass Wood, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust notice board

“For some woodland features of interest, natural change could be as damaging as direct human intervention. If a site is important for butterflies associated with open space, 'natural change' that leads to the glades scrubbing up will put the butterfly feature in unfavourable condition”
Woodlands, Ecosystem Dynamics, Common Standards Monitoring Introduction to the Guidance Manual, JNCC 2004

“The lack of management within our woodlands has led to rapid declines in specialist woodland wildlife, like the rare and beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillary”
Dr Kate Dent, Tytherley Woods Project Officer, Butterfly Conservation's South East Woodlands Project

“The area of scrub/tree cover should be stable or not increasing as a whole (to be determined using aerial photographs or from the baseline map). Otherwise it is considered a negative indicator”
Vegetation composition - indicators of negative trends, Common Standards Monitoring Guidance for Lowland Heathland (2004) JNCC

"A FLOCK of shaggy eco-warriors has been let loose on a Derbyshire moor - to munch its way through unwanted vegetation"
Sheep turned loose to keep the weeds down, Sarah Dunn reporting on the FC Press release below, Sheffield Star 19 December 2007

“The majority of the District’s woodland is made up of oak, hornbeam, ash, birch, hazel, field maple, cherry and holly. Some of these have been traditionally managed as coppice with standards to provide wood for the local area. Such management ceased early last century and many woods have since deteriorated directly through a lack of intervention”
Woodlands and Wooded Commons, Tree strategy and policy for St Albans District Council 2004

"Simple woodland management can make use of this precious resource and let wildlife thrive. Woods needn't be all dark and oppressive. We need light and we need butterflies"
Dan Hoare, Butterfly Conservation, in "Woodland coppicing project aims to give at-risk butterflies space to thrive" Times, 14 May 2008

"In the dune 'slacks' (the damper hollows) rabbits perform a useful function in keeping the creeping willow well grazed. This allows many rarer plants to establish"
Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve leaflet, English Nature 2004

"In recent years the National, Trust and some of the county wildlife trusts have made  significant contributions to woodland management for conservation….. Public perception of what is good for woodland wildlife lags some way behind. At one extreme, people think no trees should be felled in nature reserves - but this would be disastrous. Our neglected woods are crying out for thinning and more openness. Regeneration, and much of woodland wildlife, thrives on sunshine, as every peasant and forester once knew"
Peter Marren in Nature Conservation – a review of the conservation of wildlife in Britain 1950-2001

"Tree felling is unpopular with many people and woodland management, no longer understood by many members of the public, is often opposed. There is therefore an urgent need for education and increased communication between local communities and woodland managers"
Woodland: a Habitat Action Plan for Surrey, Surrey Biodiversity Partnership June 2001 

"Mr Byatt refers to pristine woodland, implying, I think, that it is natural. In fact woodland, by definition, is the result of human activity. It is the long tradition of coppicing, pollarding, tree felling and often grazing that has resulted in woodlands as we now see them in Britain. The SWT is continuing an ancient tradition in its management of this site"
Wendy Birks letter in defence of tree felling by Staffordshire WT at Swineholes Wood, Leek Post and Times 17 October 2008

"Equally the conservation managers and foresters were also able to identify the benefits that managing woods with livestock can bring, such as maintaining a mosaic/diversity of habitats and maximising biodiversity; controlling rank ground vegetation i.e. bracken, brambles; creating niches for native woodland regeneration; benefiting particular species e.g. Butterflies (Marsh Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Chequered Skipper), dragonflies, lower plants (lichens, bryophytes and fungi), Medicinal Leach, Black Grouse etc; and controlling thicket birch regen without having to use mechanical means (i.e. a cost saving)"
Livestock in Woods, Spring Newsletter, West Highland Woodland Grazing Project 2005

"Levels of management to deliver a dynamic, diverse and healthy woodland ecosystem will vary from intensive, sustainable woodland management (such as traditional coppicing where appropriate for biodiversity conservation) through to the restoration and encouragement of natural processes (such as minimal, or non-intervention). Targeted management is needed to support species and mosaics of woodland and non-woodland habitats. Mosaics of habitats should be restored, to support rare and threatened species and create dynamic, resilient woodland landscapes for the future"
Woodlands in England: Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Manifesto June 2007

"Grazing is an important means of maintaining woodland and biodiversity but sustaining the right levels can be difficult. Too much grazing can decimate the ground flora, whilst too little results in overgrown and shaded woodlands, a problem that has developed as formerly grazed woods have been fenced off"
Seeing the light in our woodlands, Dr Jenny Duckworth, Plantlife Magazine Autumn 2008

"Coppicing is one way of protecting the biodiversity of ancient woodland. Each winter, an acre or so of the woodland is felled, and in the spring a glorious carpet of flowers erupts from what seemed to be barren ground. The next year, too, the flowers may appear, and with them some butterflies and bumble bees enjoying the nectar and the sunshine. But the sunshine also brings out the brambles and bracken and, by the following year, these will have shaded out the flowers. Later in the cycle, the re-grown coppice also shades out the bracken and bramble and the ground returns to its apparently barren condition. So, in order to have flowers and encourage bees and butterflies you need to coppice successive acres each winter, progressively moving over the ground year by year"
Margaret, blogging on, January 2009

"Part of the plan's policy for the maintenance and protection of the Heath is the creation of wooded glades by reducing and controlling undesirable species and scrub, increasing the biodiversity of flora and fauna and careful management of native trees to encourage healthy development as well as the proper maintenance of the heathland"
Peter Jones, Contract Monitoring Officer for Petersfield Town Council, quoted in 'Wooded glades' created on Petersfield Heath, East Hants District Council news 19 January 2009

"Volunteers are needed for two projects to improve woodlands in East Staffordshire. Burton Conservation Volunteers will tomorrow be carrying out work in Tower Woods, Brizlincote Valley, Burton, from 10.30am to 4.00pm. It will include crown lifting, pruning and habitat creation. No experience is necessary as guidance and training will be given"
Help woodland projects by doing the spadework, this is Derbyshire, 27 February 2010

"From removing tough grasses to allow wildflowers to flourish and even eating small trees, the crack team of monster-munchers have a busy year-round diary travelling from site to site across the county"
Cheshire Wildlife Trust bring in four-legged lawnmowers to RSPB reserve, Chester Chronicle 1 July 2010

"The former farmland was untended in the 1990s, and became the home of various breeding and wintering birds. Mr Brucker set up the volunteer group in 1999 to prevent shrub and tree growth which would change the area into a damp woodland"
Nature reserve is back on track, Oxford Mail 4 October 2010

A Cheshire Wildlife Trust spokesman said: “We completely understand that this work may appear quite dramatic and destructive. But that is often what must be done to reinstate original wildlife habitats. The clue, of course, is in the name Knutsford Heath. The site is not supposed to be a wooded area and without intervention, that is what will happen within a few years”
£13,000 trust project to convert Heath goes back to nature, David Morgan, Knutsford Guardian 31 December 2011


"It might be tempting to think that the most beneficial approach would be to stop grazing altogether in these upland areas, but actually that would be incredibly damaging in terms of conservation. These unique habitats have evolved as a result of traditional farming practices, and abandoning such areas would have a huge impact on the international important plants and animals that live there”
Dr Darren Evans, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology at the University of Hull, commenting on a 10 year study of mixed grazing on the uplands, March 2015

"I am completely unworried about whether a Russian's going to own it. I think what's going on is two visions of the Lake District clashing here – an indigenous, farming vision, which sees it as a landscape that they already have ownership of, and then you have a modern, urban and industrial one. We have to take as much as control as we can, to make sure nothing ever changes. The history of farming people in the Lake District – of which we're very proud – is that a very long time ago, we won the grazing rights, the commoner rights, and we never lost them"
Anonymous local shepherd, quoted in an article about the sale of Blencathra - Mine's a peak: pub customers rally to buy £1.75m Blencathra, Zoe Williams, Guardian 9 May 2014

"An Old Breed For a New Situation.
The Exmoor Pony is probably an indigenous member of the wild fauna of the British Isles but it is now classed as an endangered breed"
About Exmoor Ponies, Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust

“The contribution of upland livestock farming still fails to be recognised nationally and internationally. Ninety-nine per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is in private ownership, so you don’t need to be a genius to work out the size of the contribution that farmers and landowners make to the conservation and enhancement of this Jewel in England’s landscape"  NEW
David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority 7 February, 2011

"The loss of traditional practices can, over time, have a fundamental impact on the way a local community perceives the value of heathlands, which, to some people at least, become viewed as ‘waste land’ of little obvious value. This change in culture can be difficult to overcome but does have to be tackled in order for heathlands to be effectively re-integrated into the socio-economic fabric of the local community"
The Lizard candidate Special Area of Conservation, Cornwall, UK. A case study by Jeremy Clitherow, English Nature, BioForum Case Studies, The European Biodiversity Forum

"Most of what is special, rare and unique in the wild life of this island (and indeed much of lowland europe) is the product of thousands of years of agricultural activity"
Jon Hudson (and legions of other conservation professionals)

Environmental indicators will not tell us whether we are sustaining the cultural processes that shape the landscape. We need indicators to assess the cultural as well as ecological health of the uplands”
Upland Landscapes: ICOMOS-UK Perspective, Susan Denyer (2006) Secretary ICOMOS-UK

“As the North West Farm Tourism Initiative indicate, farms are custodians of the natural heritage and environment; the raw material that attracts visitors to the countryside”
Wild Ennerdale: Tourism opportunities for farming and rural communities, A report to North West Farm Tourism Initiative, Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, Penrith, December 2006

“PCNPA believes that continuity of management by expert graziers passing on accrued knowledge from generation to generation lies at the heart of maintaining the landscape and nature conservation quality of the common. Additionally, the graziers' knowledge and way of life are an important part of the national park's linguistic and cultural heritage”
Proposed bracken control on Carn Ingli, Mike Howe, News and Views, Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (2007) 17, 14-16

“Farming and forestry of some kind are dominant land uses in most [National Park] areas in the UK, and have helped to shape much of the landscape which is now so valued nationally and by visitors. This is most notably the case in upland areas, whose scenic beauty is partly the creation of centuries of livestock rearing, as well as management for shooting and other country sports”
Protected Landscapes, Benefits Beyond Boundaries, Council for National Parks 2003

"First, it is important to examine the relationship between agriculture and the environment in the UK (and Northern Europe) where more than 75% of the land surface is farmed and where almost all of our valued wildlife habitats are anthropogenic and plagioclimactic. The major threats to these are neglect and nutrients. The intimate relationship between the way land is managed and the resulting spectrum of wild plants and animals will be illustrated, for pastoral systems, by work from the CEH Dorset lab on the reintroduction of the Large Blue butterfly (Maculinea arion) and the restoration of species-rich chalk grassland at Twyford Down in Hampshire."
Biodiversity, Biotechnology & Agriculture, Professor Alan Gray, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Dorset - and see St Catherine's Hill

“The sheep are very effective at combating undesirable vegetation and will speed the transition to fully-fledged heathland. It would take an army of foresters to do the same job, combating tree and weed growth and trampling bracken…… We want the sheep to suppress the kinds of plant we don’t want, but to encourage heathland vegetation like heather and grass. It’s a delicate balancing act, relying on the age-old skills of traditional sustainable farming”
Sheep enjoy a free lunch to boost rare heathland, Forestry Commission News Release No: 10244, December 2007

"Most of our ‘natural’ heritage is, in fact, semi-natural in the sense that it is made up of collections of native plant and animal species which, over thousands of years, have adapted to man’s farming activities, including grazing. These communities are now reliant on man’s continuing management of their habitats if they are to survive. Activities such as grazing and mowing are crucial to maintaining the quality of certain types of habitat"
How has grazing changed the countryside?, Amazing Grazing, The Grazing, Landscape and Food project (formerly known as the Undergrazing project) East of England, Natural England 

"Much has been written about the cultural significance of heathland. Although natural in appearance and possessing a 'wilderness quality', heathland is an ancient landscape that has been influenced by human activity over thousands of years. It is believed that in some parts of the country, Surrey included, heathland was already extensive by the Bronze Age as natural woodlands on acidic soils were cleared by felling, burning and grazing
History of Heathland in Surrey, What is
heathland, Surrey Heathland Project

"Surrey's Last Wilderness is a five -year programme of heathland restoration run by the Surrey Heathland Project"
Heathland Project - Surrey's last wilderness, Surrey Heathland Project. How many times have you heard a cultural landscape in Britain described as the "last wilderness"!

"Six Highland Cattle calves are the newest members of RSPB Pulborough Brooks nature reserve’s management team!....... The cuddly calves bring the resident herd of Highland Cattle at the reserve up to 19, and over the coming months they will all be grazing areas of the north brooks floodplain, and visitors to Pulborough Brooks will be able to see the herd, including the calves, from the nature trail………'For centuries, much of the Arun Valley would have been cattle-grazed flood meadows, and we have successfully recreated these traditional conditions here at Pulborough to benefit wildlife.'"
Pulborough Brooks welcomes new recruits, RSPB Press Release 14 April 2008

"These fields are being grazed by hardy traditional herds of cattle. They feed on the rough grasses and rushes that other livestock do not eat. This helps to keep open areas of ground where rare plants and flowers can grow"
Limestone Country - poster at entry to Ingleborough NNR

"Since the world began, every time we have taken land to produce food we have pushed back 'truly' wild nature (other than hunter-gatherer lifestyles - and this lifestyle will not feed 6 billion or would not have produced the internet!). Once such nature has been pushed back to a relatively small geographical extent, then we start zoning - i.e. designating (SSSIs, Natura, NPs, wildlife reserves, etc.). In other words, the mainstream approach is to zone the countryside into 'productive bits' and 'non-productive' bits. I cannot see any other approach working, and have for a long-time come to the view that, where agriculture and forestry is possible, then eventually all the land on the planet will be used for this - apart from the 10%, say, set-aside for non-productive use (designated areas). In other words, the rest of the world will eventually catch up with the balance of productive land/non-productive land that is found in England today"
James Fenton, Scottish Natural Heritage, on VINE discussion group November 2007

"So ingrained is the concept of management that in Britain we do not seem very interested in how the natural world actually  works"
Peter Marren in Nature Conservation – a review of the conservation of wildlife in Britain 1950-2001

“Modern conservationists are to some extent stepping into the vacated shoes of farm labourers, shepherds, woodmen and peasants, who would not have been able to read a conservation manual but knew more about conservation practice than most of us. The challenge today is to obtain similar results by different means. Recent advances include the creative use of bulldozers, JCB diggers and suction dredgers”
Peter Marren ibid. While Marren often faces both ways in his books, he is firmly wedded to interventionist management.

“Without grazing animals, the heath would eventually lose most of its rare wildlife, and become a more mundane birch, willow and pine woodland”
Conservation Cowgirl, National Trust latest news October 2008

"The nature of habitat management is that there will be some casualties, sometimes "important" organisms. However, government targets are to try and improve biodiversity as a whole, we will never be able to improve all numbers of all rare species and habitats all the time"
James, Countryside Ranger, explaining the loss of reptiles from heavy handed management of Surrey Heathland. WildBritain Forum May 2007 

"Hill farmers are vital custodians of the upland countryside and play a crucial role in the delivery of environmental and landscape benefits. Uplands ELS will reward them for the delivery of these environmental and landscape benefits, by rewarding existing good practice as well as encouraging positive change. This allows us to explicitly reward the sustainable extensive hill farming systems that have helped create our much-loved uplands"
Upland support in the future: Frequently Asked Questions, DEFRA Dec 2008

"Heaths are vulnerable to invasion from seeds from nearby trees and woodland and can quickly become dense and impenetrable if left unchecked. This would not only mean the loss of the heathland and the rare wildlife that depends on it, but also of the fantastic views across the landscape"
Chasewater heathland project to protect skylarks, Lichfield Mercury, 7 January 2009

“The sheep are going to be a great addition to the Flat Holm family. As well as being another exciting part of the incredible wildlife on show there, they’ll also play a really crucial role in the island’s conservation. What we’re continuing to do at Flat Holm is important both for environmental and educational purposes"
Councillor Nigel Howells, quoted in “Flocking to Flat Holm”, NewsWales February 2009

"This is another great opportunity for us to protect Norfolk's biodiversity and help secure the future of a vulnerable native pony. It is important to maintain the ponies' wildness, because if they become too tame they can become overly-friendly to the public on our nature reserves rather than carry out important conservation grazing”
Mel Slote, Norfolk Wildlife Trust grazing officer, March 2009

“The Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales are one of Britain’s outstanding landscape areas, the product of thousands of years of interaction between an upland environment, and the remarkable and unique communities which have succeeded in creating their livelihood in these remote hills”
Cambrian Mountains – The Heart of Wales: Developing a Strategy for a Sustainable Future, Cambrian Mountains Society 

"Despite giving the impression of wildness, the Cambrian Mountains are a “living landscape”; their natural beauty is the result of interaction between natural forces and human activity. The landscape and its beauty are maintained by the local communities, landowners, farmers and estate managers who look after them. These people have helped mould the landscape for centuries, and this continues today"

“It’s completely manmade – in the past, people would have cleared it and farmed the fields. On these headlands, which are too windy for crops, they'd have put animals out for grazing. So every inch of Scilly was used in the past for some kind of farming activity……Grazing – it's very important. In the past there were even records of grazing animals on Samson and Tean (both now uninhabited) – so they'd use every bit of available land they had…..Grazing has always been on our lips. This landscape was created by grazing – so how do we go about it? In 2003 we were lucky to get a Heritage Lottery grant which helped us to pay for the infrastructure which helped us grazing our heathlands. It helped us pay for electric fencing, the trucks, the tractors, the water bowsers – all the infrastructure to help us look after our animals….. That project finished last year and we were really fortunate to get Higher Level Stewardship [under the Natural England grant scheme] for 10 years and that helps carry on our grazing”
Julie Love, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, in A little grazing goes a long way, The Cornishman 1 April 2009

"We have a landscape unlike that of much of the rest of the world — one that has been actively farmed for hundreds of years. Our biggest concern is where the beaver would fit into today's modern, working English countryside”
Country Landowners' Association quoted in There's gnaw doubt... they're back, this is Somerset April 2009

“A particular problem at the reserve is the abundance of tor grass (Brachypodium pinnatum), an extremely aggressive competitor which can quickly swamp out other species. It is a very difficult species to control because it is unpalatable to most breeds of livestock. However, Exmoor ponies and Herdwick sheep have proved successful in controlling this invasive grass elsewhere; and these native, hardy breeds will also happily graze on other coarse grasses and scrub. Sarah stresses that while people should come along to Markham Banks and Clouts Wood to enjoy the wildlife, they should not feed the ponies”
Ponies help rare wild flowers, this is Dorset April 2009

"But all the work to recreate the landscape as it would have looked before farming has encouraged a wider variety of birds to the area. 'If you look at a map of the Yorkshire coast there are only about five similar sites of grazing marshland,' said Richard
Richard Baines, of East Yorkshire ecological consultancy Wold Ecology, quoted in Rare bird's flying visit to wild site, Alan Brook, Bridlington Free Press April 2009 

"We need a national strategy and a government that champions wise-use conservation and recognises that our wildlife must be managed to fit into the rural economy just as much as we need to protect it from modern farming and forestry methods"
Mark Hudson, Chairman, The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, in a letter to the Times about the damage done to our woodlands by grey squirrels and deer, June 2009

"Farmers and land managers are the only people capable of providing the natural habitats that we all want, and are already doing a great deal in this respect”
William Worsley, president of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), in response to the report, Lost Life: England's Lost and Threatened Species, March 2010

"Without upland farmers and their grazing livestock a scrubby wilderness of tick and bracken would quickly swamp many areas of upland Scotland"
Halting the hill livestock exodus, Ross Montague, Scottish Countryside Alliance

“Heather, although thought to be an icon of heathland sites, is less important than disturbed ground. (“We shouldn’t be scared of getting machinery in and making a right mess,” said Dr Dolman, “physical disturbance isn’t always bad in fact it is essential for many plants and insects.”)”
Pioneering study reveals nationally important biodiversity hotspot, University of East Anglia Press Release Nov 2010 

"Abraham Wood in Boars Hill, Heyford Meadows in Sandford-on-Thames and Marston Meadows are just three of the inspirational wild places where Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) are re-creating traditional wildlife habitats. ………you can see the original woodland pasture with pollard oaks where it is easy to imagine cattle and sheep grazing……Traditional management of the old willow pollards will extend their lives and make them ideal homes for bats, birds and insects"
Wild treasures of Oxford, Oxford Times December 2010

"Mr Meldrum makes the classic error (common to many commentators in this field) when he talks of ecosystem “protection”. Land managers will tell you that what maintains ecosystems is appropriate management, which costs money. Protection is putting a fence around it. Management is securing grazing mouths and manures for meadows, and culling or felling invasive species – the list goes on"
Oliver Harwood’s response to a comment on Biodiversity as a strategic priority for commissioning and use of evidence, DEFRA 21 April 2011

"Natural England’s Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve (NNR) has welcomed some new residents to keep the heathland in top condition. Dersingham Bog is of international importance for its wildlife and now four pedigree Black Galloway cattle and their calves have joined the Reserve team to help keep the heath healthy......Livestock grazing at Dersingham helps to prevent scrub and grasses from dominating the heath and crowding out more sensitive species, and the Black Galloways will be perfectly suited to the rough grazing that Dersingham provides. These handsome animals will remain at Dersingham for the rest of their lives so they can develop an intimate knowledge of their surroundings. By being ‘hefted’ to the Reserve in this way, they will learn where the best grazing is and which areas to avoid. In turn, they will pass on this information to their young, ensuring a happy, healthy herd of cattle"
Home is where the heath is for Galloways, Natural England 10 December 2011

“I think the important technique is to divide and conquer the opposition - do not let their campaign get too much momentum, and use every member of the community who can diminish the opposition to the scheme”
David Hodd, Countryside Manager, National Trust, Public Safety and Cattle Grazing, Extracts from Nibblers online discussion group, Grazing Animals Project

“The most compelling reason for reintroducing grazing must be that it is a traditional way of managing heathland, in essence giving the heath back to nature”
Sarah McWilliam, Padworth Common Countryside Ranger, in Proposal to fence Padworth Common, Application to Planning Inspectorate, West Berks Council September 2011

 “it has been demonstrated beyond doubt by many grazing programmes worldwide that grazing is only ever beneficial to an ecosystem”
Sarah McWilliam, Padworth Common Countryside Ranger, in Proposal to fence Padworth Common, Application to Planning Inspectorate, West Berks Council September 2011

“With regard to the selection of the best pony breeds for equine conservation grazing. When the grazing scheme is over, have written into the costings, euthanasia and carcase disposal as a precaution. At least £300 per animal. Animals won't necessarily be able to enter the food chain or be rehomed easily”
Margaret Mackintosh, Exmoor Ponies in Conservation, in Coastal grazing with Ponies: Extracts from Nibblers online discussion group, Grazing Animals Project


“Environmentally, there is an ideological conflict between a strand of environmentalism - called re-wilding - which believes, wrongly, that the ‘wilderness’ is best left to be ‘wild’"
Why rewilding is wrong, The Social and Environmental Crisis in the British Uplands, Alistair McConnachie, Sovereignty

“The idea that habitats should be returned to a wild state often seems linked to people’s feeling that semi-natural habitats are somehow deficient, because they are partly manmade. But our treasured wild places in Britain are in fact ancient cultural landscapes, not wild in the sense of natural or untouched”
Nature without nurture, Hodder and Bullock, Planet Earth, Natural Environment Research Council Winter 2005

“The potential social consequences of a policy to create wild land also require consideration, as it may be regarded by some as land abandonment”
Wild Ennerdale: Tourism opportunities for farming and rural communities, A report to North West Farm Tourism Initiative, Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, Penrith, December 2006

“Replacing management targets for species and habitats with a vague notion of ‘natural process’ conservation cannot be the solution, for many reasons. For one, ‘natural process’ is sadly something of a misnomer: nature reserves will be affected by pollution, exotic species, falling groundwater levels, and will lose key species, to name just a few ‘unnatural’ problems”
Nature without nurture, Hodder and Bullock in Planet Earth Winter 2005, Natural Environment Research Council - and the standard cop out of most conservation professionals

“Rewilding itself can be overplayed, in the UK there will always be fences, health and safety concerns, and grazing management decisions”
Matt Shardlow, director of Buglife

“Nor, sadly, is there a guarantee that re-wilding could provide the conditions needed to help wildlife adapt to climate change……….The absence of large herbivores in our environment (other than as livestock) means that the landscape we create by re-wilding is unlikely to resemble the conditions in which much of our wildlife evolved. This means that we cannot be certain that such an approach would actually aid the survival of species in the countryside”
Climate Change: wildlife and adaptation - 20 tough questions, 20 rough answers, RSPB Sept 2007

“The decision to not encourage 'rewilding' is because of the powerful relationship between people and the land, which goes back so far in the history of this area”
Richard Neale, Property Manager
, Hafod y Llan - ten year anniversary, National Trust Nov 2008

“Dunwich Forest is currently undergoing a process of 'rewilding' with a long term plan to recreate and regenerate the natural landscape that existed prior to the conifer plantations… The more northern area being managed by SWT and grazed by a herd of Dartmoor ponies. The heathland habitat to the south is being managed by the RSPB……The area covered by heathland will increase as conifer crops are gradually harvested and areas of deciduous trees are allowed to revert to heather”
Simon Leatherdale, Dunwich Rewilding Project, Dunwich Forest, Forestry Commission

"We've been successful in working with farmers and other agencies to help create the sort of environments where they thrive - moorland wilderness areas with supplies of their favourite foods, fresh heather shoots and various small berries"
Stephen Bladwell, RSPB Cymru's head of biodiversity, in Black grouse numbers rise in Wales, but only in RSBP-managed areas, BBC News Wales March 2012


“Another conceptualisation of the ecosystem approach amongst some interviewees was revealed by their arguments that fishing stocks and grounds is necessary to avoid them ‘stagnating’ and becoming infested by ‘vermin’ like starfish and anemones”
Fishing industry and related perspectives on the issues raised by no-take marine protected area proposals – article by P.J.S. Jones in Marine Policy

“Fishermen are like the farmers of the sea in that they turn the ground over, thin the stocks and help maintain productivity

“Areas impacted by scallop dredgers simply support different communities and are modified rather than damaged. We accept semi-natural, ie modified, terrestrial habitats such as meadows, so why not accept the value of modified marine habitats?”

“Many fishing industry representatives feel a sense of proprietorship, if not ownership, over the seas they fish and are very resistant to the extension to the marine environment of the ‘terrestrial’ protected areas approach and related biodiversity conservation objectives”
ibid. Since fisherman think they are the farmers of the sea (see above) then they already carry out a terrestrial protected area approach!

“The Western Isles is already carrying a heavy burden of environmental designations, which impact on our day-to-day activities. These designations will further restrict our ability to make a living from a pristine environment which we have maintained over millennia”
Local fisherman Willie Douglas reported in "Action group formed to fight designation of special sites", Press and Journal January 2009


St Catherine's Hill

"St Catherine's is a site of special scientific interest because it is chalk grassland created and maintained by sheep grazing on it”
Mark Langford, Reserves Officer, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, in Owners take the lead in dog walking protest, this is Hampshire 2006

"In order to maintain a species-rich sward and its associated insects and other invertebrates, calcareous grassland requires active management. Without management it rapidly becomes dominated by stands of rank grasses, such as Tor-grass. These grasses, together with the build up of dead plant matter, suppress less vigorous species and lower the diversity of the site. Eventually, the site will scrub over. Traditionally, management is achieved by grazing.”
A statement of English Nature’s views about the management of St. Catherine’s Hill SSSI

“Analysis of management data from sites where P. coridon was monitored over the 1990s indicated that successful management for the butterfly was dependent upon an integrated approach to stock grazing, scrub clearance and Rabbit control. Proactive management change was a feature at sites where the P. coridon population increased. At the sites investigated, the single most important factor influencing management success was the extent to which grazing levels (of stock and rabbits) were controlled and fine-tuned”
The changing status of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly Polyommatus coridon in the UK and the impacts of conservation policy, designation, land-use and management, Brereton, Warren & Stewart, Biological Conservation

"The third phase is the manipulation of management techniques to drive the development of the plant and animal communities towards the desired grassland types. The most commonly used methods on chalk grassland are mowing or grazing, with grazing generally considered to give the most desirable grassland
Twyford Down project, Dase Studies, Flora locale

"Join Reserves Officer Mark Langford at St Catherine’s Hill Wildlife Reserve, as the Wildlife Trust flock of Shetland Sheep are allowed to free-range graze this 120 acre chalk grassland Site of Special Scientific Interest. Staff will be on hand to talk about the valuable work that the sheep do on the reserve”
Born to be Wild (Winchester), Event Details (2006) Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Portsdown Hill

”Recently, English Nature together with Defra RDS and Portsmouth City Council have carefully invested time and money to set about reversing the habitat decline and establish a stable positive management regime. In the last few months, English Nature and the City Council jointly purchased an AEBI scrub clearer which is now making a big dent in the scrub cover”
Scrub clearance on Portsdown Hill SSSI, Local News, Hampshire and Isle of Wight team, English Nature, April 2004


“Hednesford Hills Common Local Nature Reserve, managed by the Cannock Chase Council Countryside Service, continues to be the leading light in heathland conservation in the West Midlands….For over 10 years the Countryside Service has been restoring this internationally rare habitat with the method used being adopted by others in the West Midlands and Staffordshire Heathlands Partnership. Others call our approach the "Cannock Method". As part of this approach to the management of heathland the Countryside Service applied to DEFRA to fence part of the common so that grazing could be introduced. Between April and September you may see the cows grazing if you are lucky”
Countryside Service, Cannock Chase Council

Ashdown Forest

“This unit has been mown in various patches. Where mown there was pioneer and maturing heather. There was a lack of bare ground and heather too uniform in age. Bracken was well controlled but common gorse was dominating in parts. The edges of the unit are blurred into woodland. There is no fencing to indicate the edges of the unit. Car Park well used, Stone chat and Kestrel seen. Beautiful views”
Louise Hutchby, Natural England, 26 Sep 2012, Condition assessment comment, Unit 148 Dwarf shrub heath – lowland, Ashdown Forest SSSI. The Common Standards Monitoring for Lowland Heath has no criteria for car park use or scenic value.

“Chainsaws clearing trees in winter and tractors mowing bracken in summer: this stops them shading rare plants and keeps the heathand healthy”
What will I hear? Ashdown Forest, High Weald AONB

“Mr Marrable said that the only overall outcome is that the Forest’s heathlands are in ‘favourable condition’; this will have to be achieved whether or not there is an HLS agreement in place. ‘Favourable condition’ is not negotiable”
Minutes of the Conservation committee meeting of the Board of Conservators of Ashdown Forest, September 2006

"The Ashdown Forest has very little ancient woodland. Secondary woodland has very little bio-diversity value"
Public Consultation Process, Danehill and Chelwood Gate Workshop No 6 held Tuesday 19 June 2007 at the Danehill Memorial Hll, Danehill

"I am an ornithologist. Secondary woodland is bad news for birds, however heathland is rich in rare bird life"
Public Consultation Process, Danehill and Chelwood Gate Workshop No 6 held Tuesday 19 June 2007 at the Danehill Memorial Hll, Danehill

“Q.Why fell oaks and not Scots Pine as Scots Pine are not indigenous to the area? A. Scots Pine are heathland trees”
Transcript of Ashdown Forest Workshop – Public Consultation Process held on 8 May 2007 at All Saints Church Centre Crowborough

"Q. Why fell oak and beech and not Scots pine? A. All may invade heathland but the last is the least ‘threatening’: its leaf fall does not substantially change the soil and its control is far easier since, once cut, it does not regrow”
Frequently Asked Questions –derived from Stakeholder Engagement meetings 2007

"Ashdown Forest is managed in accordance with the wishes of Natural England, who fund that management through Higher Level Stewardship. As long as the Commoners are free to exercise their rights and the public have free access to enjoy the Forest as ‘an amenity and place of resort’, then the requirements of the 1974 Ashdown Forest Act are being met. Contrary to popular opinion, not everything is amenable to a democratic process"
Steve Alton, FLOWERScapes, excusing the fact that while the local public stumped up the money for East Sussex County Council to buy Ashdown Forest, they get little say in how it is managed.

Blacka Moor

"The trees and shrubs have the potential to alter the soils by cycling nutrients from deeper down, and making them unsuitable for heathland, so restoration would then be difficult, if not impossible"
Blacka Moor Grazing Impact Assessment, Penny Anderson Associates, 2006

“The main concern is that the soil is changing from a nutrient-poor acid soil (ideal for heathers and bilberry) to a nutrient rich soil (ideal for woodland and bracken) and cattle grazing is a proven method for reducing the build up of nutrients and enhancing diversity of plant and animal species”
Annabelle Kennedy, Reserves Manager Blacka Moor, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, in a letter to the Reserve Advisory Group, 12 February 2007

"It is widely recognised that grazing is a proven cost-effective and efficient method of controlling invasive plant species, when applied alongside other techniques”
Jean Glasscock, Sheffield City Council ecologist 2007

“To restore to favourable condition the dry dwarf shrub heath/short acid grassland mosaic: The extent of moorland vegetation and its associated specific floral and faunal interests will be maintained through extensive stock grazing by sheep or cattle. The maintenance of adequate grazing may require the provision of infrastructure such as fencing or water supplies”
Objectives for SSSI interest features, Blackamoor Heath, English Nature

"The habitat structure was not considered to be suitable for lapwing, curlew or golden plover, but could be suitable for ring ouzel, merlin and twite (although none have been recorded in the surveys described above)…..It is against this background that the programme to introduce cattle grazing as an essential part of the recovery plan has been researched and developed by the SWT"
Blacka Moor Grazing Impact Assessment, Penny Anderson Associates, 2006

“The decision to graze cattle has been made with the support of Natural England (formerly English Nature), Peak District National Park Authority, Sheffield City Council, the Rural Development Service, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England /Friends of the Peak District and SWT's Nature Reserves Steering Group and Trustees”
But not with the support of local people! - Annabelle Kennedy, Reserves Manager Blacka Moor, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, in a letter to the Reserve Advisory Group, 12 February 2007

Bickerton Hill

"National Trust officials say the claims about its conduct are inaccurate and that the tree-felling work, that has now been completed, is supported by Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Cheshire County Council"
Not, however, supported by the Friends of Bickerton Hill - National Trust ‘dawn raid’ angers Friends, Chester Chronicle 21 November 2008

Chobham Common

"English Nature is extremely disappointed with this decision, which has allowed the management of this internationally important wildlife site to take second place to misplaced fears about accessibility and appearance. The whole purpose of a National Nature Reserve is to encourage and promote enjoyment of wildlife and the countryside. The proposal to introduce grazing to the Common would not have interfered with this"
David Harvey, English Nature Team Manager for Sussex and Surrey, Press release in response to the refusal to allow permission to fence off Chobham Common, October 1998

Harpenden Common

"Harpenden Common is no longer grazed and trees and scrub have encroached over former meadows and heath with a detrimental impact on the natural wildlife"
They couldn’t see the trees for the wood, Countryside Management Service Spring newsletter 2008

Loxley & Wadlsey Commons

"Encourage some of the non-veteran oaks to develop veteran characteristics. Techniques include pollarding, breaking branches and making holes to initiate rot"
The Future of Wadsley and Loxley Commons, Management Action Plan 2004, Wadsley and Loxley Commons Advisory Group

"I have been walking the Commons for forty years and have seen the encroachment of the birch trees over that time. There were no trees on what were the playing fields years ago. GET THEM OFF they are nothing but weeds and aren't even native to this country"
Ellesmere 2-08, Help save Loxley & Wadsley Common, Sheffield Forum

"As the notices placed on the commons describe, the areas felled in the past few seasons are now at the point where they can be sprayed and/or burned prior to reseeding or recolonisation. Thereby the plan in those areas enters a more 'creative/constructive' phase"
Extract from a briefing paper on management of Loxley & Wadsley Common, sanman, 2-08, Help save Loxley & Wadsley Common, Sheffield Forum

"The council, the Rangers and the commoners need to balance the needs of the wildlife, the people who use the common and and the council tax payer. Some comments on this thread have been totally ignorant of the role of countryside management"
Wendyb1966, 2-08, Help save Loxley & Wadsley Common, Sheffield Forum

"The only way to restore the heather and the views is to fell the birch trees.  If felling is not carried out, the normal alternative is to have the area grazed by a herd of cattle. While the work is being carried out, it is unavoidable that the Common will look untidy"
Hannah Isherwood, Hon Secretary, Wadsley & Loxley Commoners – on a poster on the commons

Nine Maidens Common 

“Six reptiles are found on heathland, where they can bask on land that is the closest we have got to a desert. If you don’t graze them back they will grow scrub and be vulnerable to fire”
Spokesman for Natural England on the proposal to fence off and graze Nine Maidens Common in Cornwall, July 2008

"All we need is a long hot dry spell and an accidental or deliberate fire and we'll have a wall of flames heading towards people's cottages”
Peter Bowden, Cornwall's land management team leader for Natural England, August 2008

Swineholes Wood

"Tree felling is a natural part of woodland management"
Helen Gee, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust reserve manager - Too many trees being cut down - The Sentinel 7 February 2008

"It's a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and we have to make sure it is managed properly. We ultimately answer to Natural England and they wanted us to carry out this work. Everything that's been done has had the backing of the forestry commission"
Helen Gee, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust reserve manager - Tree felling claim is denied by trust, Your Leek Paper 16 April 2008

"The Regional Director of Natural England, Ciaran Gannon, has given his full backing to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s management of Swineholes Wood, on Ipstones Edge. The endorsement comes after Charlotte Atkins MP last week pledged to write to Natural England to question the actions of the Trust.......the Trust is legally bound to manage the site in this way to meet strict conservation guidelines aimed at protecting the heathland, which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest"
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust News Release 30 May 2008

Surrey Heathland Project

"A major part of heathland management is removing young trees (often referred to as 'scrub') to prevent the heathland being lost to developing poor quality woodland.

In Surrey, the main problem tree species are Scots pine and birch, sometimes also oak and sallow. A major part of heathland management is preventing these trees from taking over. Pines, when cut close to the ground do not survive but other species 'coppice', sending up several new shoots. In order to kill this scrub, it is usually necessary to treat the cut stump or the regrowth with a herbicide such as 'Roundup'. Where there is grazing, this might control the regrowth and kill the stump without the need for chemical.

When invading trees have taken over heathland, this 'secondary woodland '(so called to distinguish it from 'ancient woodland' which has a much longer history and is much richer in wildlife) can be restored to heather"
Tree and scrub clearance, heather cutting, turf stripping and grazing, Heathland management, Surrey Heathland Project


Epping Forest

"... cattle grids are necessary for the achievement of a step change in the levels of grazing required as a vital part of the future conservation and enhancement of the Forest’s natural aspect, in accordance with the Epping Forest Act 1878, and the general duty to protect the site’s special scientific interest"
Dr Jeremy R. Dagley, Conservation Manager, Conservators of Epping Forest, Proof of Evidence given to a Public Inquiry on the installation of cattle grids in Epping Forest, October 2011

" the extensive, naturalistic grazing that had been exercised across the Forest for many centuries"
Dr Jeremy R. Dagley, Conservation Manager, Conservators of Epping Forest, Proof of Evidence given to a Public Inquiry on the installation of cattle grids in Epping Forest, October 2011

Odiham Common

“Over time, the Common will become less accessible to local residents. The woodland will fill up with dense holly and other shrubs making it more difficult to walk through……….We believe that without grazing management holly bushes and dense shrubs will form an impenetrable barrier in the woods....We consider that the re-instatement of grazing management at Odiham Common would increase the ease of accessibility
Setback to plan for Odiham Common, Local
News, Hampshire and Isle of Wight team press release. English Nature July 2003


Cornwall AONB

"Grazing of the cliffs and slopes keeps these areas in tip-top condition for choughs which depend on a mosaic of habitats and access to the soil for their invertebrate food"
Good habitat is key as chough numbers rise, this is Cornwall 1 July 2010

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

"We've introduced Welsh Mountain ponies onto the coast to return the special heathland habitat to good shape"
Andrew Tuddenham, Manager North Pembrokeshire. Temporary National Trust sign fixed to fencing enclosing the coastal slope above Maidenhall Point on the Pembrokeshire coastline near Newgale, 2014

"In the 1980s it was recognised that the coastal belt was beginning to be dominated by scrub species such as gorse, bracken and bramble. These species have changed the landscape from a patchwork of habitats to a monotonous expanse with reduced biodiversity"
How is this habitat threatened? Coastal slopes, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

"Much of the cliff land has therefore been fenced off from the richer inland pastures, leaving it effectively abandoned"
Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003

"Dramatic results have been seen on even the most neglected and rank grasslands. Ponies are valuable for winter grazing as they will eat less palatable grasses left from the previous season"
Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003

“Those plant communities not requiring management are mostly restricted to a very narrow band along the most seaward slopes and to areas where most types of stock are least likely to venture. Thus most sites require grazing; the majority of the area of the majority of sites has been found to require management”
Does the site need grazing? On the flowchart in Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003

"Ideal management was identified as being summer-grazing with heavier animals to tackle the rank vegetation, combined with winterburning of the gorse to create a more balanced habitat mosaic and better access around the site"
Trefrane Farm, Newgale. Case Study in Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003

"We have been involved with the coastal slopes scheme for several years now, and in that time much of our cliff land, which had been abandoned over 10 years previously, has once again become an integral part of our farming system"
The Morgan Family, Hill Farm, Manorbier, in Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003

"Biological monitoring of the effects of grazing is essential to ensure that management is delivering and on track. This can range from simply taking photographs to complex vegetational studies, depending on time constraints, survey/monitoring skills of staff and the importance of the species/habitats on the site. There is much debate on the best way to do this!"
Monitoring. On the flowchart in Conserving the Coastal Slopes 1999-2002, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, 2003