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Farmers are proud custodians of the countryside | Letters | UK news | The Guardian

British farmers are sadly used to George Monbiot’s one-man campaign against the farming industry, but his latest article is questionable even by his standards (The Lake District as a world heritage site – what a disaster that would be, 10 May). Mr Monbiot appears now to be attacking the Lake District National Park in order to try and prevent it being awarded world heritage status. He paints a picture of the area which is completely the reverse of what most people who work, live and visit the area actually experience. His view is that the Lake District is in a shocking state. This is far from reality. The fact that the Lake District National Park has 17 million visitors every year demonstrates the public support and enjoyment of a landscape which has been shaped by generations of farming.

Farmers are proud to embrace their role as custodians of the countryside, where they manage 70% of the UK landscape, and we are also proud of our environmental achievements creating new habitats and protecting wildlife. Not only do farmers care for and protect the landscape, they produce the raw ingredients that feed the nation and for every £1 of public investment, farming returns £7.40. If the Lake District does achieve global recognition as a world heritage site, this is something we should rightly celebrate, not denigrate.
Robin Milton
NFU Uplands forum chairman

• We are sheep farmers in the Lake District National Park and recognise absolutely nothing of what Monbiot says. He seems obsessed with a completely irrational hatred of sheep as well as Lakeland farmers, accusing us of “sheepwrecking” and “subsidised overgrazing”. The only erosion we ever see on our fells is from walkers, mountain bikes, illegal motorbikes and off-road vehicles.

How dare he accuse us of ecological destruction. We love our landscape and the plants and animals we share it with, as do the vast majority of people who visit the Lake District. The photograph accompanying the article shows the beauty of this area and the small but valuable impact farming has had: fields with a few sheep, dry stone walls, old trees and glorious fells – no sign of a “sheepwrecked landscape”. Dear Mr Monbiot, if you don’t like the Lake District, please leave us in peace to continue caring for the land we love and go and rewild your own backyard. (Written in the middle of the night while lambing.)
Louise MacArthur
Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria

• For once, George Monbiot has not set his sights well. He does not say which Lake District farmers have fought “tooth and nail” against conservation and “revile” the National Trust and the RSPB. He does not show why world heritage status conferred by Unesco should be disastrous for Lakeland when it has protected so many sites the world over. He does not explain why, if Brexit risks being fatal for the Lake District, Unesco should not offer a partial substitute for the EU as a generous funder. My answer to George’s Whose culture? Whose landscape? – the Lake District belongs to all who love it, wherever they are on the planet, and to every institution prepared to work with Unesco in protecting it.
Jinty Nelson
London

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/12/farmers-are-proud-custodians-of-the-countryside

On – 12 May, 2017 By Letters

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