Firstly, it is hard to find fault with the RSPB at all, they are without a shadow of a doubt one of the best and most successful in terms of “on the ground” conservation achievement of any Charitable Trust.
One element is cause for concern, there certainly appears to be, again no great surprise, a flexing of muscles by some of our larger charities, particularly the National Trust, Woodland Trust and now the RSPB.
There is a lot of money at stake, through grant/subsidies donations, and the many conflicting methods and opinions of Charitable Trusts for on the ground work. This is cause for concern as the future for our woodlands will become a battleground of large charities, who (without any real evidence), it can be assumed are already in negotiation with Government. The fact that the term “heritage woodland” is used is a huge clue that the NT are further advanced in discussion than we would think at the moment. This is not a good thing and contradicts the access debate hugely due to the fees imposed by the NT on any non-member (or any other large Trust that enters the fray).
Mark Avery’s comments reflect mainly on those small rectangular and square spruce plantations we see in our upland areas. And with regards to these his comments are 100% accurate. If it were not for the radical change in opinion at the time FC dedication schemes gave way to WGS and the work of an unsung hero – Dr Simon Bell, a landscape architect for the FC at the time, the whole current debate and fears would be exactly in tune with Averys’ comments.
He does appear to be relatively oblivious to the monumental changes that have occurred, this is not “waxing and waning” – the FC are simply not the same organisation they were. It is always worth remembering that the standpoint of the RSPB is “deep green”, they are opposed to almost all forms of agriculture, silviculture and any form of development (they have opposed almost all windfarms often successfully and other sustainable developments) anything that disturbs bird life. This blog is a classic example of their incumbent position.
The result of the current situation is going to alter the future of UK land management for Quangos, private industry and the Charitable Trusts. All three sectors have problems of some kind or another. This year is going to see a huge and varied debate, for which we are all going have to be involved in till the last.