Friday, 10 August 2012

New Shooting Times Feature Attacks RSPB

The Shooting Times publishes an article today by Roy Green, cited as a 'gamekeeper' Roy was until recently the manager of Buccleuch Sporting the game business of The Buccleuch Estates. Read it, it is nothing short of a thinly veiled blackmail letter from a founder of the National Gamekeeper's Organisation and former employee of one of the largest landowners in Britain. The message is clear, stop telling us what we can and can't kill or we will deny you access to the land we own.

Green is openly contemptuous of the RSPB from the off writing "The likes of the RSPB overlook that this minority successfully manages more acreage for British flora and fauna than all the conservation bodies put together. This work is funded by the same people whose goodwill and generosity the RSPB relies on for co-operation and access."

He neglects to define how this 'success' is measured and perhaps if he had used the word 'some' in front of British flora & fauna it would have been more accurate given the list of unwelcome predators that he and his brethren are employed to despatch.

Green returns to his theme a few paragraphs later " As an organisation, the RSPB has become too powerful and needs reminding that, without the generosity of landowners and managers, much of what it is paid for by the Government purse could not be achieved." 

What lies at the heart of Roy's problem with the RSPB? Roy explains " Globally, practical conservation groups recognise the need and value of predator control for the benefit of other species and the environment. They recognise that fieldsports bring huge benefits to the social and economic survival of many communities. Why, then, does our leading bird charity continually oppose predator control?"

Perhaps by 'practical conservation' Roy is referring to those shooting and hunting organisations that have slipped the word conservation into their name in a bid to convince the general public that the spade is actually a fork. Yes, predator control is used in a limited way at times in conservation but in relation to sensitive species protection or eradication of non-native species not for profit! 

It was not until near the end of Roy's article that I finally found some common ground " Issues such as buzzard or cormorant predation that impact on our ability to finance countryside management should be scientifically studied and solutions found" calls Roy. Who wouldn't agree but I'd go further and suggest that what we should be looking for are solutions that allow natural predators such as the Buzzard and Cormorant to co-exist with man's use of our natural resources rather than solutions that simply seek to remove them from the equation.

Roy does raise an interesting question though when he asks "  In the way the RSPB charges us to visit its nature reserves, perhaps we should also begin to charge the public entry fees to the countryside we manage?" That is a possibility but I imagine a campaign to return to public ownership large tracts of land removed from common ownership and gifted to the forebears of their current owners by the nepatism and daylight robbery of some of our more corrupt Kings and Queens over the years would prove a great deal more popular with the general public at the moment.


Giles Bradshaw said...

Not sure if it's the Shooting Times attacking the RSPB or the writer of the letter. Why don;t you write in a letter in support of the RSPB and if they publish it someone can blog 'Shooting Times support RSPB?'

Alan Tilmouth said...

Giles, the article is listed under 'features' on the Shooting Times website rather than 'letters' surely reasonable to assume the Shooting Times is supportive of the views of a Features writer?

Giles Bradshaw said...

Magazines and newspapers can carry features without fully endorsing them. Any attack originates from the author of the piece. If you want to attribute attacks to the shooting times you should do so on the basis of what they say in their editorial or other public comments they make on their own behalf.

Alan Tilmouth said...

I've amended my post title to reflect your concerns Giles.

Giles Bradshaw said...

great ta :)

Alastair Balmain, Shooting Times said...

Alan, to clarify: Roy's article appeared in last week's Shooting Times as an opinion piece. We put it up on our website, where it was subtitled (as it was in the magazine) "A keeper's view on a charity losing its way". So it's not strictly accurate to headline your blog "Shooting Times attacks RSPB".

Roy Green was one of the founders of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation and is also one of the judges of the Purdey Awards for Game & Conservation. He has spent his working life managing shoots, including an enormous amount of SSSI land and has had a working relationship with the RSPB and many other conservation groups in the course of his career. Rather than dismissing his opinion as "thinly veiled blackmail", perhaps consider why someone of his standing, who has reached the top of his professional ladder, should hold such a negative view of the RSPB.

As he stated, at the start of his career he had tremendous faith in the RSPB and that faith has, over the years, been eroded.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Alistair, thanks for your comment, following Giles' earlier comments I have amended the title to reflect the fact the 'feature' attacks the RSPB rather than the publication that provided the platform.

It would perhaps be more surprising to me if someone who helped found the NGO and had spent his working life immersed in the game industry didn't hold such views. It is hardly encouraging to have someone of 'his standing' suggest that landowners become refuse access to the biggest and most significant conservation organisation in Britain.

A quick search reveals his opinion on raptors