Simon's Blog: Going about our business
Like many people my wife and I enjoy a spot of wildlife watching. She has a fantastic phrase when she sees a creature looking for food or shelter which is: ‘It’s going about its business’
This phrase came to mind recently on a visit to a landowner in one of our nationally designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landowner was discussing his plans with me for the future management of his land. He was stressing the importance he understandably placed on securing his financial well-being, but also the importance he placed on the landscape and the wildlife it supported.
He has a long history of supporting our wildlife projects from barn owls to stag beetles and much of his farming operations have made space for nature through field margins and woodland and hedge planting (often for commercial purposes such as timber and soil protection).
So, the landowner was ‘going about his business’, but so was the wildlife. Without really looking we observed a Buzzard, a Little Owl and a descent of Woodpeckers. (I understand the collective noun is due to their penchant for dropping down on great height for ants). The landowner also reported he had Nightingale, Brown Hares and various Bats.
The balance between the, sometimes competing, interests of farming, landscape and wildlife appeared to be in harmony, and all the better for it too. Today’s countryside can be of benefit to society. We are indebted to the farmers for producing food but there are other less obvious benefits too.
The enjoyment people derive from getting out into the countryside can benefit their own health and wellbeing, with the obvious benefits to society of reducing the burden on the health service.
There are direct economic benefits too. The two eastern Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have tourism industries worth a combined £250M per year. This spend supports local communities and businesses based in them.
So, as we go about our business, whether it be as a farmer, a business or just enjoying the outstanding landscapes, we all have something to gain from a multi functioning countryside.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times May 2017