Monday 10 July 2017

The following letter by one of our Trustees was published in the online version of the Guardian in response to an article by George Mobiot suggesting that the Lake District is "sheepwrecked"

Andy Goldsworthy describes his “sheepfold” sculptures as challenging our preoccupations of the natural environment and enriching our perception of a cultural landscape that is as much about people as it is about wild nature. George Monbiot presents a different view of farming as showing little evidence of an authentic system of traditional husbandry, but emphasises desertification by sheep.

Pastoral commoning has shaped and been shaped by the environment from time immemorial and has adapted many times through custom; ie what works best in a particular place at a particular time, thus sustaining diversity and relevance. Commoning has a past, present and a future in which to adapt to new challenges. Far from being moribund, pastoral commoners and partners are working hard to deliver public goods which deserve to be understood and celebrated. Collaboration to enhance understanding will deliver reciprocity and respect, the glue of diverse rural communities. Brexit itself presents opportunities to rebalance top-down policies with bottom-up experience and expertise to enhance outcomes. Undermining indigenous rural husbandry systems is an unworthy cause.

Lin Ostrom, who shared the Nobel prize for economic science in 2009, primarily for her work on commons, congratulated the commoners of Cumbria for their progressive work.

Dr Andrew Humphries
Wetheral, Cumbria