Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Landbridge Workshop

The inaugural workshop of the Landbridge Network stimulated some fascinating discussion. My guess would be that many of the attendees weren’t sure of the relevance of the event to their day to day work when they first signed up for it. But once they were there, it seemed from the lively debate throughout the day that they found the event not only interesting but also very useful.
I certainly did. As someone who advises farmers on agri-environment schemes and other environmental matters as well as writing regularly for the Farmers Guardian and NFU members publications, there was lots of food for thought for me.  Not least, the inter-relationship between environmental and animal welfare issues.
When conservationists promote cattle grazing of remote moorland or wet grassland as a habitat management tool, are they giving animal welfare issues sufficient priority compared to their desired conservation outcomes? It seems to me that in many cases they are not aware of the potential issues for the cattle – nutritional deficiency, possible parasitic infestation and the risk of injury.
If ecologists, farm advisers and vets were to work more closely, many of these issues could be flagged up at an early stage.  Not only could this avoid future bad publicity for some projects, but it could also mean that many of the concerns of the farmers and graziers could be recognised and acted upon at an early stage. This, in turn, would deliver benefits for all involved, not least the animals themselves.
Chloe Palmer
Farm and Environment Consultant

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