An amazing turn around which can have an influence around Britain!

I have lived and worked in a remote part of Cumbria since 1981, and I love to watch wildlife of all kinds not just birds of prey which I am especially keen on. While travelling close to home on Monday I drove passed a banking which I knew held a verity of special plants, including Butterfly Orchid, Rest Harrow and Betony along with different sedges and grasses. With these plants come a mixed insect community, enjoying this rare habitat in an area dominated by commercial grass. The steepness of the banking means it is not suitable for cutting silage or planting crops and is lightly grazed after the summer cutting of silage on the flat ground above the banking. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the banking was being planted up with trees, which as they grew would shade out the plants as well as prevent grazing other than Roe Deer and Hares. I returned home and added remarks to a Facebook page related to Cumbria Botany. One of the readers asked me to return and photograph the planting which I did the following day. As the planting was still going on I spoke to the farmer who informed me that he was being paid by Nestle, the same company who he sold his milk to.

The banking before any tree planting

I returned and posted the several images as well as emailing the North Pennines AONB as the area is close to their boundary as well as in a new scheme called ‘Fell foot Forward,’ a scheme to help farmers undertake management like planting trees. The manager of this scheme just happened to know someone high up in the Nestle company, and by the Wednesday, at all the wheels were in motion to have the site’s trees removed. Remember this area is not protected by any special classification like Special Site of Scientific Interest [SSSI], but with the country ‘gone mad’ on planting trees to capture carbon some of these locations may not be suitable if it badly damages other wildlife.

In the meantime, a member of the Facebook page asked if he could ‘tweet’ my story and in one day there had been 220,000 hits meaning the story had travelled around the country. Not just members of the public had seen it but journalists, TV presenters and many more. So, by the Thursday an article had appeared in the national paper ‘The Times,’ and I suspect that many more articles may follow.

The banking following tree planting

The heading was ‘Nestle’s trees pulled up to save flowers’. The effect of this sends a message  to many in the tree industry not just big companies like the Woodland Trust who were supposed to have undertaken a survey on the land before the tree planting took place. At no time was the farmer at fault, as he was not to know his bank contained a good mixture of uncommon and rare plants. He was taking the advice of so called tree experts.

Let’s hope with new environmental laws via Brexit that other important banking’s like this ( 1/2 Hector plot) will be protected by knowing what is growing upon them before people think trees are the only answer.


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