The Wildlife Management Project

If we want a countryside rich in biodiversity, where farmers can go about their business without their livelihoods being imperilled, we must accept responsibility for managing wildlife. Doing little or nothing – which is what often happens – is no longer an option. Read more here.

Book launch: The Facts of Rural Life

London, 29 June 2015

The Facts of Rural Life was launched last week at the Farmers Club in London. Among those attending were Members of Parliament and Peers, including five former ministers, as well as scientists, journalists, country vets and representatives of a range of organisations involved in nature conservation, land management, animal welfare and field sports. [read full article]

On field sports, death and moderation

Rutundu, Mt Kenya, 18 February 2015

We had come to Rutundu, some 10,200 ft above sea level on the northern flanks of Mt Kenya, to enjoy the mountain scenery and the pleasure of staying in log cabins where wood fires and hurricane lamps were the sole source of heat and light. We had also come to fish, and as soon as dawn broke on our first morning Jo Harrison – a serious fisherwoman with a trout stream of her own in Hampshire – and I clambered down a steep gorge in the company of Cosmas, one of the Rutundu staff. [read full article]

Bested by bats

Hoby, Leicestershire, 12 November 2014

The authors of the Book of Leviticus were under the impression that bats were birds, and listed them alongside hawks, owls, ravens and herons as being unclean, or an “abomination” in the words of the King James Bible: as such, they were not to be eaten (11: 13–19). Modern churchgoers know that bats are mammals, not birds, but many would agree that they belong among the unclean. [read full article]

A conservation conundrum on the Marlborough Downs

Marlborough Downs, 27 October 2014

“When I came here as an assistant shepherd 32 years ago, this was a vast arable prairie, totally devoid of wildlife,” says Chris Musgrave, indicating with a sweep of his arm a great swathe of rolling countryside at the heart of the Marlborough Downs. “But just look how it’s changed!” [read full article]

I remember, I remember

Almondbury, Huddersfield, 5 October 2014

If you listened to the Today programme on Radio 4 last Thursday, which was National Poetry Day, you might have heard Alan Bennett talking about Philip Larkin. Larkin’s childhood, he said, was characterised as ‘a forgotten boredom’. To illustrate the point, Bennett read the poem I Remember, I Remember, in which Larkin describes his thoughts as his train passes through Coventry, the town where he was brought up. [read full article]

Paradise regained: the return of the grey partridge

The Norfolk Estate, Arundel, 26 July 2014

In 2002, Dick Potts, one of the world’s leading authorities on grey partridge and farmland ecology, visited the Duke of Norfolk at the estate office in Arundel. “Dick told me that if we didn’t act now, the grey partridge would soon become extinct on the South Downs,” recalls the Duke. “I thought: as a shooting man, and as the owner of part of this area, if I can’t do something, then nobody can.” [read full article]

What’s good for the grouse is good for the curlew….

Coverdale, Yorkshire, 24 June 2014

“When we arrived in Coverdale in 1983, the in-bye land was like a billiard table and the heather on the moors was rank and scraggy,” explained Stephen Mawle as we watched a pair of grouse and their chicks feeding among the young heather and bilberry. In those days there were over 3000 breeding ewes here and Coverhead Farm was heavily overgrazed. [read full article]

Exmoor’s red deer – why good management matters

Somerset, 12 May 2014

When we had finished breakfast Tom Yandle suggested we head up the hills behind his farmhouse to see if there were any red deer about. After a short, steep drive through woods smelling of wild garlic we surprised 15 or so hinds. A couple of fields later we came across a herd of over 100 deer. As we approached they streamed gracefully into the thick woods beyond. [read full article]

Foxed in Wales

Caerphilly, Wales, 21 April 2014

This has been a good spring for Arthur Davies, a sheep farmer in South Wales. He and his family have finally moved into their newly built eco-house on his farm on Manmoel Common, some 1100 feet above sea level, and so far he’s lost just one lamb to foxes. [read full article]

Farming for food and wildlife

Gloucestershire, 18 April 2014

“I enjoy growing good crops, and I enjoy doing my bit for wildlife,” says Richard White as we set off around his 450-acre farm near Tetbury, on the edge of the Cotswolds. The fourth generation of his family to live in the village of Ashley, he has always been keen to encourage wildlife around his crops, and his efforts to do so have been strengthened since he signed a 10-year High Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England. [read full article]

So what’s the problem?

London, 17 April 2014

There is scarcely an acre of Britain which is truly wild. Farming, forestry, hunting, water extraction and urbanisation have all had a profound effect on our flora and fauna. Some of our top predators, such as lynx, wolf and brown bear, have been lost; many other species have been introduced, frequently with disastrous consequences for livestock, crops and indigenous wildlife. [read full article]