Thursday, October 27, 2005

Beavers - awesome!

Good news for hat makers as six beavers are to be released in Gloucestershire. The little critters haven't seen these sceptered shores for 500 years so I'm sure they'll be a warm welcome for them.

Well perhaps. Is Gloucestershire actually ready for them? Beavers can dramatically alter landscapes with their damming ways, creating reservoirs in weeks after a few nibbles of a venerable oak (just ask any Canadian). Good news for ducks, the water vole and water boatmen - a healthy natural constituency to be sure. Farmers, with considerably more political and economic clout, will nevertheless be fuming. Already frustrated by their inability to hunt foxes and badgers, Jo Grundy and co will be nonplussed at the prospect of new creeks and streams diverted through their property.

(Ah, 6music news has just informed me that these beavers are a lot less destructive than their N. American cousins. Relieving words to be sure, but foolhardy I feel. Might Britain, to misquote Trevor Phillips, be "sleepwalking into deforestation"?)

The Grauniad, a little behind the pace, is also upbeat about Britains ecological future: one where farmers clear out and let nature take its course. This is certainly good news.

About 800,000 hectares of Britain have been identified as places where
traditional farming could be replaced over time by wilderness nature reserves,
possibly inhabited by vanished species such as elk, moose, beaver and wild
The radical vision of developing large-scale conservation areas and
linking them via ecological corridors to allow herds of animals to roam across
hundreds of miles is proposed as a relatively inexpensive way to revitalise the
large areas expected to become uneconomic to farm during the next 15 years as
European subsidies are progressively cut.

Did I read that right? Moose! This can't be true! Now looking very carefully at this moose map below there doesn't seem to be much of a moose population in blighty and, after 45 minutes of trwaling the internet does there ever seem to have been one.

Moose map

However, The Guardian is elsewhere adamant that this is the case:

[Conservationist Paul Lister's] plan is to abandon deerstalking as a method of
managing deer numbers and instead reintroduce once-native,
self-sustaining populations of predators, such as the grey wolf, European brown
bear and Eurasian lynx, as well as wild boar and moose.

Well shove a hose pipe my arse and turn pressure to full, that is quite a confounder. I mean, Mr. Lister wouldn't be lying would he? Nothing during my 45 minute research has uncovered a thing about moose in Great Britain. Anyone who has any knowledge on this please tell me, I'm extremely vexed.

Debates on the indigeneity of the moose and the destructive potential of the beaver are not, however, the cause of such procrastination on FE's part however. This "wildernisation" is most noteworthy for being a handy solution to the problems of the Common Agricultural Policy. When this millstone is removed, the beaver scheme will cushion the blow for farmers who will be able to go into forestry. The present plan doesn't seem to want farmers to keep their land but perhaps a sort of co-operative scheme could be set up with multiple landowners contributing to the scheme and therefore sharing the benefits of eco-tourism and sustainable forestry.

The solution is more furry than fluffy - but it is undeniably economic.

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