A land management practitioner could be a gardener, landscaper, arborist or forester. Their skills and qualifications may be less or more - but they are professionals. Their job is the management of elements in the landscape on behalf of mainly private owners.
Ignoring the value of the practitioner is to ignore the main conduit of knowledge of issues including (but not exhaustive); land management planning, sustainable development, ecology, the wider environment, the local landscape engagement beyond the boundaries of private ownership and science with the public.
It is the practitioner who has to decipher an ever increasing amount of scientific knowledge and governmental guidelines then combine this with their knowledge of a location and tailour it to suit a clients’ desires.
This is a vastly underrated feat.
At a time when so much policy is changing rapidly, when new buzzwords are being coined almost daily together with an increasing array of acronym’s by a much larger and wealthier (at the practitioners loss) middle tier of organisations (calling themselves ‘stakeholders’) who spend all their time imposing their opinions on us all directly or through intense lobbying, the risk of disenfranchisement of the practitioner seems ascertained – or is it?
This same situation, combined with misinterpretation of new science or academic study by media, largely confuses a public who only take an opinion which makes sense to them in their place.
The practitioner cannot simply walk onto a clients land and carry out work based on the latest thinking, they are constrained by the clients own perception. And the real trick of the practitioner is being able to discover their clients leanings with regards the wide range of issues more widely discussed and whose only other source of information is general media, whose only goal nowadays is trying to keep debate and better still an all fight ongoing.
For example: If a client does not care to believe in climate change, and there is a scary percentage who don’t, the practitioner will not get the contract by arguing that they are wrong – but as good practice in land management is sustainable development, which helps towards combating climate change by default, the practitioner is in a position where they simply carry out work which increases soil carbon sequestration, enhances an environment for biodiversity to flourish and works to maintain that most precious of emblems of our landscape – trees. The climate change question is negated, brushed over – but progress is made.
This week saw the official handover of the Forestry Panel’s final report. There is much talk of a ‘woodland culture’, like the one we had? Like the one we have in many parts of rural Britain? Or one that is now completely and firmly in the hands of the ‘stakeholders’ who clearly do not see practitioners as peers? It is of course the latter and it is a sadness that they probably won’t change their mindset until they realise that there is no one left to actually manage the woods as they need to be.
Because the land management practitioner is a dying breed, whose only hope of survival is dependent on the private clients who still, thankfully, believe in them. However this is changing; with the poor weather, the wider disenfranchisement from media, policy makers, NGOs et al, rising costs and lower pay how much longer can the land management practitioner stay viable? Unless the message can be put across that they are the ONLY hope in achieving Sustainable Development, then there is little hope.
Add a Comment