Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tuesday: Bog-athon Cumbria

Today was not an ideal day for this, but a hardy team assembled above Mosedale on the east side of the Lake District to take on the worst that the weather could throw at us. In this area, the blanket peat sits on top of the fell and that was where we had to go.  The photo says it all!

This was the final planned Bog-athon visit.  The visits have served to move debate forward and demonstrate that, correctly applied, the Outcomes Approach being introduced by Natural England has value. It is a way of thinking, not a solution in itself, and involves in reaching a consensus about to objectives for the management of the area.  Extending the coverage to include Exmoor and the Lake District was well worth the effort.  If nothing else, these last two visits have served to emphasise how parts of the uplands can be so different, and how a 'one size fits all' approach to their management is a complete non-starter.

Today, grazing was the only management available, or required, for the area of (very wet) deep peat that we looked at, but it must be recognised that it is a delicate balance to maintain the appropriate levels of grazing while providing the farms with enough income to survive.  Also, it was clear that large commons require a large amount of staff input from Natural England to get them into grant schemes and then support the scheme through its life.  The Outcomes Approach that has been at the core of Bog-athon maybe desirable, but there is a question mark over whether NE has the resources to implement it fully.  

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