Why the multi-million pound conservation charities are drawing the wrath of local communities
Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Last month this website passed 12 million views, which is a tremendous milestone given we only started three years ago. Many of our readers are loyal supporters who for too long have felt voiceless and steamrolled by the multi-million pound conversation industry. But we also know that not all of these viewers are our friends and that many disagree with our views – and indeed our approach to airing those views. That is okay.
But it won’t surprise readers to know that we are angry. We are angry at the individuals and conservation charities that have misled innocent members of the public by abusing their simple desire to make the world a better place by turning that into a money making machine.
We understand that it seems obvious to people who manage the uplands that – as they produce such remarkable outcomes in terms of species breeding success, the provision of drinking water, flood mitigation, fire risk reduction, and carbon sequestration – we should only have to explain this to the conservation industry and all will be well.
We understand that; but we also understand that it hasn't worked and isn't going to, unless something changes.
The problem is that there is no indication that the extraordinary achievements of many privately owned moors, in terms of really positive outcomes and delivering the things government and the public are asking for, are being recognised.
Because the conservation industry continually fail to produce positive outcomes, the last thing they want to see is privately owned land outperforming them, and even worse, mostly using their own money.
If your business model is based on raising vast sums on the need to urgently reinforce your own failure, the last thing you want to see is someone telling the world how they got far better outcomes using next to no public money.
We are also faced with people who will say almost anything to win (whatever their version of winning is) and in the context of the uplands we know what that looks like.
We know, because they've told us, that they will consider they have won when driven grouse shooting has ceased to exist, traditional grouse moor management has ceased to exist, and when the jobs and community that these activities support have also ceased to exist.
Why would we not be angry when what we love is being lied about with the stated intention of destroying it and our way of life and our culture? This is not some game, it is not an interesting academic exercise: it is a matter of life and death.
At stake is a rare and precious landscape, masses of rare wildlife and millions of tonnes of stored carbon, clean water and our livelihoods. In such circumstances, how would any reasonable person expect us to react when already rich and powerful organisations with celebrity backing, turn up and start making wild claims and allegations designed to demonise entire communities.
Remember also that there is no dialogue. These behemoths of the conservation industry have no interest in dialogue. Their strategies are formed in meeting rooms hundreds of miles from the reality of moorland management, based on assumptions made by people who may have never been on a moor, informed by the need to protect their brand image so as not to compromise their income generation capacity.
When one of the immortals descends from Olympus, as happened this week when the RSPB's Duncan Orr-Ewing spoke at the Game Fair, we watch an exercise in condescension and platitude with no discernible indication of any interest in listening to views that conflict with their own commandments.
Perhaps next time these conservation charities and their supporters question why great swathes of the uplands are angry with them, they might start reflecting on why this is the case.