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Land management contracts analysed:
items 8 & 9: moorland grazing and rush pasture
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 14 Mar 05
This article continues the series which analyses
the 17 items included in the menu of the recently announced Land
Management Contracts (LMCs) (1).
Item 8. Management of moorland grazing
Improve management practices on moorland. Prepare and carry out
a grazing plan, including shepherding, stock management and feeding
practices to benefit the conservation interest of the moorland.
Payment rate is £1 per hectare per year.
Improved biodiversity on moorland areas through management practices
benefiting birds, mammals, invertebrates and plants. A more attractive
landscape through managed grazing of livestock on the hills.
The worry here must be that the needs for livestock
are to take second place to those of birds, mammals, invertebrates
and plants - that is second placed to everything else. Scotland's
landscape is highly praised throughout the world. Why is it so desirable
to have as a priority "a more attractive landscape through
managed grazing of livestock on the hills", taking precedence
over the health and welfare and optimum management of the livestock?
It would appear that the whole programme of how farming is supported
in Scotland has been hijacked by ecologists with little interest
in or knowledge of livestock (2).
What may happen with the switch from subsidising
production in favour of "the environment" is that substantial
numbers of livestock may be taken off the hills as there is no realistic
financial reason for keeping them there. That would in turn greatly
upset important balances involved in the overall management of livestock
in Scotland. Not only that, but the important role of livestock
in the management of moorland could be seriously upset.
Ecologists and geographers may wish to use livestock
as a means of promoting their specialised interests, but their lack
of farming knowledge may well result in their plans backfiring.
Who wants a biscuit tin lid of pretty landscape in preference to
a vibrant one based on the harmony between man and beast, making
a living from the land and feeding his compatriots (and hopefully
others in foreign lands sooner rather than later)?
Item 9. Management of rush pastures
"Management of areas of dense rushes through grazing and
cutting. Creating an open, variable mix of rushes and grass pasture.
Payment rate will be £125 per hectare per year.
"Creates a mixed rush and grassland habitat which benefits
birds, mammals, invertebrates and plants by opening up dense areas
Here again the priority is to use livestock as
a means of providing a better habitat for all sorts of other creatures.
But from the livestock health point of view using them to clear
rushes in wet ground may not be a good idea. An example is the spread
of liver fluke in both cattle and sheep which is now a serious problem
1. Irvine, James (2005). Land
management contracts analysed: Item 7 - linear features. A mixture
of sense and nonsense.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 10 Mar 05,
Here to View
2. Irvine, James (2003). The arrogance
of academics pontificating about rural affairs - are they letting
us down? ECRR conference "Scotland's landscape - a fixed asset?"
Battleby, Perthshire 8th May 2003.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 14 May 03,
Here to View