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|[[Political/Economic organisations]] · [[Academics]] · [[Political bloggers]] · [[Bloggers]] · [[Correspondents]] · [[Politicians]] · [[Unaffiliated/Freelance]] · <span class="plainlinks">[http://www.whocomments.org/wiki/Category:Journalist_roles Journalist roles]</span>
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*[[Boris Johnson]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/12177006/Dont-be-taken-in-by-Project-Fear-staying-in-the-EU-is-the-risky-choice.html  ''Don't be taken in by Project Fear – staying in the European Union is the risky choice''] - The Remain campaign, including HM Treasury, is actively talking down Britain’s prospects - 29th February
*[http://charlotteleslie.com Charlotte Leslie MP]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12176875/In-or-Out-of-the-EU-Im-proud-that-I-dont-know-yet.html  ''In or Out of the EU? I’m proud that I don’t know yet''] - On such a big and complex question, be wary of those who claim certainty about the best way to vote in the referendum - 28th February
*[[Charles Moore]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12176873/Dont-bother-God-with-the-EU-referendum.html  ''Don’t bother God with the EU referendum''] - The Almighty endowed us with minds so that we could choose freely. The truth is that there are respectable Christian arguments on both sides - 28th February
*[[Janet Daley]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12176224/All-this-sound-and-fury-over-Europe-will-do-nothing-to-sway-rational-voters.html  ''All this sound and fury over Europe will do nothing to sway rational voters''] - Westminster theatrics should play no part in the referendum on the most important question we have faced in a generation - 28th February
*[[Liam Halligan]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/02/27/power-hungry-eu-is-doomed-to-pursue-its-anti-democratic-path  ''Power-hungry EU is doomed to pursue its anti-democratic path''] - 28th February
*[[Christopher Booker]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/12176234/Nine-deceptions-in-our-history-with-the-EU.html  ''Nine deceptions in our history with the EU''] - The strange pseudo-deal stitched up between David Cameron and his 27 EU colleagues is yet another example of the EU's smoke and mirrors - 28th February
*[[Simon Heffer]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12175911/Shame-on-the-academic-EU-scaremongers.html  ''Shame on the academic EU scaremongers''] - Brainwashing has already started at our universities. The pro-EU forces will stop at nothing - 28th February
*[[Charles Moore]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12175130/The-euro-like-the-banking-system-is-good-for-the-few-not-the-many.html  ''Safety first, says the PM, but the EU puts money and people at risk''] - 27th February
*[[Dan Hodges]]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12174716/Those-saying-we-should-leave-Europe-are-infected-with-madness.html  ''Those saying we should leave Europe are infected with madness''] - The out campaign is stark raving mad – come June, the majority of rational Britons will vote to stay in Europe - 27th February
*[https://uk.linkedin.com/in/richardwalton5 Richard Walton]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12175207/Being-in-the-EU-doesnt-keep-us-safe-from-terrorists.html  ''Being in the EU doesn't keep us safe from terrorists''] - Maintaining close links with our neighbours is the key to security, whether we are in or out of the EU - 27th February
*[https://twitter.com/nsoamesmp Nicholas Soames]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12175117/Churchill-my-grandfather-always-loved-Europe.html  ''Churchill, my grandfather, always loved Europe''] - Today, as in the Forties, it would be madness not to play our part in saving the continent from disaster - 27th February
*[http://www.europe-economics.com/page/22/andrew-lilico.htm Andrew Lilico]: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12174582/How-the-EU-would-dominate-us-if-we-stayed-inside.html  ''How the EU would dominate us if we stayed inside]'' - We hear a lot about the risks of Brexit, but here's a dispassionate look at what could happen if we remain in the EU - 27th February
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*[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Parry_(Royal_Navy_officer) Chris Parry]: [http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/thunderer/article4701518.ece  ''Don’t count on the EU to protect us. Nato will do that''] - European countries lack a collective will - 29th February
*[[Adam Boulton]]: [http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/columns/adamboulton/article1672372.ece  ''Win and Cameron still faces a neverendum''] - 28th February
*[[Dominic Lawson]]: [http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/columns/dominiclawson/article1672385.ece  ''Pass the bourbon and I’ll pour you a hard shot of truth about the EU''] - It’s good to see the chancellor doing his bit for British exports by talking down the pound - 28th February
*[[David Smith]]: [http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Comment/article1672744.ece  ''Britain whistled a happier tune after joining the EU''] - 28th February
*[[Janice Turner]]: [http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4700649.ece  ''Confessions of a lonely, left-wing Brexiteer''] - Dinner party liberals are appalled that I’m in bed with Galloway, Farage and white-van racists. They need to get out more - 27th February
*[[Melanie Phillips]]: [http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4699609.ece  ''Project Fear looks more like mafia blackmail''] - Military leaders strong-armed, civil service hobbled . . . this is blatant government manipulation - 26th February
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*[[Wolfgang Munchau]]: [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f9c8bb52-dcac-11e5-8541-00fb33bdf038.html ''Europe enters the age of disintegration''] - There will not necessarily be a formal break-up of the EU, but it will become less effective - 29th February
*[[Robert Shrimsley]]: [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/19b04646-db46-11e5-a72f-1e7744c66818.html  ''Gimme a Brexit break''] - ‘I’ve already heard every argument there is to hear on British membership of the European Union at least a dozen times’ - 26th February
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*Nicola Sturgeon: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/29/eu-business-scotland-vote-stay-uk-economic-arguments  ''The EU isn’t just about business. That’s why I think Scotland will vote to stay''] - My hope is that the rest of the UK will agree that solidarity, social protection and mutual support are just as important as the economic arguments - 29th February
*[[Matthew d'Ancona]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/28/voting-brexit-david-cameron-23-june-referendum-job  ''Voting Brexit to punish the PM would be self-defeating''] - Cameron’s big challenge is to persuade people that the 23 June should not be a referendum on his job - 28th February
*[[David Mitchell]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/28/boris-johnson-back-brexit-instinct-david-mitchell  ''Gut instinct not heartache made Boris back Brexit''] - No one knows if we will be better off inside or outside the EU. The liars are those who claim to be certain - 28th February
*[[Andrew Rawnsley]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/28/david-cameron-eu-referendum-needs-woo-opposition  ''Why swapping partisan nastiness for olive branches would be smart''] - David Cameron needs support across the opposition for his In campaign. The problem is, he’s royally riled them all - 28th February
*[[Kevin McKenna]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/27/europe-referendum--two-kinds-of-tory  ''Referendum tale of two Tories leaves me cold''] - There are the barking ones. And then there are the other lot - 27th February
*[[Jonathan Freedland]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/brexit-campaign-wrong-uk-sovereign-nation-eu-masters-of-our-destiny-power  ''The Brexit campaign is wrong: the UK is already a sovereign nation''] - The out campaign claims our membership of the EU prevents us from being masters of our own destiny. In fact we already have that power - 27th February
*[[Natalie Nougayrède]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/27/europes-growing-tensions-show-us-exactly-why-we-need-eu  ''Europe’s growing tensions show us exactly why we need the EU''] - From Austria to Greece, Poland and Germany, the ancient grievances behind current disputes remind us that conflict was once the most likely result - 27th February
*[[Deborah Orr]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/britain-cheered-europe-on-as-freedom-swept-across-so-why-give-it-up-now  ''We cheered Europe on as freedom swept across it – so why give up on it now?''] - My first visit to Germany has set me thinking about all the strides Europe has taken since the second world war, and how Britain celebrated them – and no petty political argument persuades me that we were wrong to do so - 26th February
*[[Sarah Helm]]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/boris-johnson-latest-euro-myth-brexit  ''Boris Johnson has just launched his latest Euro-myth''] - In Brussels I saw how he dealt in half-truths. With his latest political move as a Brexit campaigner, it seems we now have another - 26th February
*[https://twitter.com/ruth_wishart Ruth Wishart]: [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/eu-referendum-scottish-playbook-project-fear-europe  ''The EU referendum is already following the Scottish playbook, Project Fear 2.0''] - In 2014 the government set about frightening voters about the apocalypse that would follow an end to the union – and now it’s doing the same for Europe - 26th February
*[http://www.theguardian.com/profile/bridget-christie Bridget Christie]: [http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/feb/27/should-i-feel-sorry-for-david-cameron-bridget-christie  ''David Cameron is under pressure. Could that be sympathy I’m feeling?''] - I’m not saying that, in a fleeting moment of something resembling humanity, he has cured my Tory phobia, or made me like him more than a dying rat. No - 27th February
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*[[Ian Burrell]]: [http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-is-causing-an-identity-crisis-for-the-british-media-a6901811.html  ''Brexit is causing an identity crisis for the British media''] - The media will take into account the views of their powerful owners. But they will also weigh the instincts of their audience – and that’s where some intriguing dichotomies arise - 29th February
*[[Mark Steel]]: [http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/eu-referendum-negotiations-is-there-some-way-we-can-make-both-sides-lose-this-referendum-a6883441.html  ''Is there some way we can make both sides lose the EU referendum?''] - The debate has become about which side will manage to be more horrible to immigrants – what an advert for humanity - 29th February
*[https://twitter.com/LiamBoothSmith Liam Booth-Smith]: [http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/here-s-how-london-could-stay-in-the-eu-even-if-the-rest-of-britain-votes-to-leave-a6901271.html  ''Here’s how London could stay in the EU – even if the rest of Britain votes to leave''] - A new ‘city state’ tier of membership would be a novel extension of George Osborne's devolution revolution - 28th February
*[[Jim Armitage]]: [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/eu-referendum-why-did-british-bosses-lose-their-bottle-on-brexit-while-boris-jumped-the-gun-a6899471.html  ''EU Referendum: Why did British bosses lose their bottle on Brexit while Boris jumped the gun?''] - 27th February
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*[[Dominic Lawson]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/columnists/article-3468765/DOMINIC-LAWSON-Operation-Fear-s-like-Operation-Pull-One.html  ''Operation Fear? It's more like Operation Pull The Other One''] - 29th February
*[[Peter Hitchens]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3467666/PETER-HITCHENS-EU-Hotel-California-check-ll-never-leave.html  ''The EU is our own Hotel California: We can check out, but we'll never leave''] - I’m sorry to break this to you but it looks as if we’ll have to endure not one but two EU referendum campaigns - 28th February
*[[Black Dog]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3467631/BLACK-DOG-Michael-plays-fall-guy.html  ''Michael plays the fall guy...''] - Brexit-backing Michael Gove’s nimble manoeuvrings in favour of quitting the EU contrast with the Justice Secretary’s reputation for being about as physically co-ordinated as a day-old giraffe on ice - 28th February
*[[Rachel Johnson]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/mailonsunday/columnist-1033629/Rachel-Johnson-The-Mail-Sunday.html  ''How Boris went for Brexit over tennis''] - Mayor's sister... tells the inside story of how he agonised over decision and texted PM after sharing a bottle of wine''] - 27th February
*[[Quentin Letts]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3464905/Plop-plop-plop-came-cliches-Philip-s-dull-mind-QUENTIN-LETTS-listens-Hammond-s-monotonous-case-stay-EU.html  ''Plop, plop, plop came the cliches from Philip's dull mind: Hammond's monotonous case to stay in the EU''] - 26th February
*[[Sarah Vine]]: [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/columnists/columnist-1082216/Sarah-Vine-Daily-Mail.html  ''The torture of watching my husband choose between his beliefs and his old friend the PM: Daily Mail columnist SARAH VINE's intensely personal account of a momentous decision''] - 24th February
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*[[Nick Ferrari]]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/nick-ferrari/648140/Stop-bullying-Dave-Nick-Ferrari Stop the bullying, Dave''] - So much for the good clean fight promised by the Prime Minister, then - 28th February
*[http://www.johnwhittingdale.org.uk John Whittingdale]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/648136/John-Whittingdale-warns-must-take-control-back-from-EU ''I have nothing but respect and admiration for the Prime Minister and consider it a privilege to serve in his Government''] - 28th February
*[[Crossbencher]]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/648148/Crossbencher-bets-Boris-back-Brexit-insider-knowledge  ''Bets on Boris to back Brexit may have come from insider knowledge''] - It has been suggested that there may have been some insider knowledge among those who placed bets on Boris to back Brexit - 28th February
*[https://twitter.com/COLRICHARDKEMP Richard Kemp]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/648113/National-security-strengthened-Brexit-EU-UK  ''Brexit would strengthen national security''] - All the arguments in favour of leaving the EU, defence and security are the most clear cut - 28th February
*[https://twitter.com/Birderman Stuart Winter]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/stuart-winter/648186/Birds-feather-stick-together-whatever-happens-EU-vote-Birdman  ''Birds of a feather will stick together whatever happens with the EU vote''] - HOSE iconic birds we regard as traditionally British will continue to need their European “passports” whatever the outcome of a certain referendum this summer - 28th February
*[[Macer Hall]]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/macer-hall/647966/Inside-Politics-Tories-civil-war-politics-David-Cameron-Conservatives  ''Tories heading for a civil war''] - David Cameron is fast learning the lesson from history that civil wars are often the most brutal of conflicts - 27th February
*[[Frederick Forsyth]]: [http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/frederick-forsyth/647520/EU-deal-referendum-Cameron-Wilson-Gove Let’s judge the EU by past experience''] - So, the Cameronian camel has duly gone into labour and produced the utterly foreseeable gnat - 26th February
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====THE SUN====
*[[Trevor Kavanagh]]: [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/suncolumnists/trevorkavanagh/6963588/Trevor-Kavanagh-on-David-Cameron-and-EU.html  ''Cameron’s EU scare scam is blown apart in one week''] - European Union is chaos with member states exposed as criminally incompetent - 29th February
*[http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk David Owen]: [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6962667/David-Cameron-to-blame-for-EU-leadership-battle.html  ''David Cameron is to blame for leadership battle''] - Former Labour Minister David Owen says PM has to abandon Project Fear if he wants to keep holding the reins of power - 28th February
*[[Tony Parsons]]: [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/suncolumnists/tony-parsons/6962075/Staying-in-EU-is-no-guarantee-of-safety-says-Tony-Parsons.html  ''Staying in EU is no guarantee of safety... ask Paris''] - Sun on Sunday columnist reckons only reason the Govt wants to stay in Eurozone is fear - 28th February
*[http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/suncolumnists/6960455/James-Forsyth-Cameron-needs-a-clean-fight-or-any-victory-party-will-be-a-lonely-one.html  ''David Cameron needs a clean fight or any victory party will be lonely''] - The PM is stung by the number of Tories who have come out for Out - 27th February
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*[https://twitter.com/thecarolemalone Carole Malone]: [http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/britain-dictatorship-under-cameron-after-7455290  ''Britain is a dictatorship under Cameron after EU referendum 'bullying campaign'''] - The Prime Minister promised the public that there would an honest debate on the EU, but has let us down - 27th February
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George Monbiot: Scorched Earth Conservation

National park authorities inflict mass destruction on wildlife and habitats, then call it conservation

14th January 2016

At one end of the country, conservation groups are doing all they can to stop the burning of moors. Challenging the grouse shooting estates, for example, the RSPB argues that “there is an urgent need to restore these landscapes by … bringing an end to burning.”

At the other end of the country, conservation groups are doing everything they can to ensure that moors are burnt.

Exmoor and Dartmoor, national parks covered by every possible conservation designation, are now in the middle of swaling season. Swaling is the term used in the West Country for burning the land. And the national park authorities, supposedly responsible for conserving and enhancing natural beauty and wildlife, oversee and assist the process.

Here’s how the Dartmoor authority justifies the practice:

“Dartmoor has been going up in flames in recent days – in an environmentally friendly way and much to the delight of various ground nesting birds like skylarks and grazing livestock.

“It’s all part of the age-old art of swaling – the notified controlled burning of overgrown heath land and clearing the ground of dead vegetation so that new growth can appear.

“This year swaling has been deemed more important than ever on the moors because fewer grazing animals have been released on the highland commons over recent years, resulting in the extra growth of plants such as gorse and bracken.”

Let’s take this step by step.

Environmentally friendly burning? Fossil fuel companies could take lessons in public relations from these people.

Why is it that practices we recognise as destructive when we see them elsewhere in the world are judged “environmentally friendly” here? When we see land being burnt in Indonesia or Brazil, do we call it conservation, or do we call it destruction? Because it damages soil and hydrology, incinerates wildlife and simplifies ecosystems, destruction is the correct term. Burning on Dartmoor has the same impacts. It’s about as environmentally friendly as tipping bleach into a river.

“Various ground nesting birds like skylarks” tends to mean, these days, just skylarks. Skylarks are used as the justification for every kind of destructive practice a land manager wants to inflict. This is because, unlike the great majority of wildlife, they can survive in open landscapes without cover, and they happen to be highly resilient to the forms of destruction we deplore when we see them encroaching on habitats in other countries: cutting, burning and grazing.

But “grazing livestock”: well that’s the nub of it. This burning has sod all to do with protecting the natural world and everything to do with extracting as much grazing from the land as possible. It continues in direct contradiction of the Sandford Principle, which is supposed to govern the management of national parks: that when there is a conflict between conservation and other uses, conservation should take priority.

As for “overgrown” heath land, “clearing the ground of dead vegetation” and “extra growth of plants such as gorse and bracken”, these are classic examples of the mortal fear of natural processes entertained by conservation bodies in this country.

An entirely treeless landscape, maintained this way by a savage regime of burning and grazing over many years, becomes “overgrown” the moment it starts to recover. The beginning of successional processes (“extra growth of plants such as gorse and bracken”) is regarded as a threat. We all know what happens next. Scrub grows and then, God help us, trees. Wildlife is returning: quick, fetch the matches!

The Exmoor National Park authority uses a similar justification:

“Exmoor National Park Authority is particularly keen to support swaling on Exmoor. Swaling maintains the character of the landscape by rejuvenating moorland plants, which in turn provides grazing for livestock and habitats for wildlife.”

Here’s the photo the park authority uses to illustrate the practice:


What do you see in the background? Miles and miles of bugger all, a treeless waste, kept in that state by a process the park is “particularly keen to support”.

This is not the only form of elective destruction in which Exmoor National Park engages. It employs other methods to ensure that trees don’t grow and rich habitats can’t return. The local sheep farmers don’t put their animals on the highest land, known as The Chains. So the park authority contracts a grazier on an annual basis to keep it mown.

I understand that in some places there is a difficult balance to be struck between the demands of tenants and commoners who graze their animals on the moor and the conservation of wildlife. I happen to believe that too much weight is given to sheep farming, and too little to wildlife. But where there are no tenants and no grazing, instead of using this as an opportunity for ecological restoration, the Exmoor authority is bringing in its own sheep to ensure that seedlings can’t grow and wildlife can’t recover. It’s utter madness.

I’ve made a short film for the BBC, broadcast yesterday, about these practices, in which I challenge the Exmoor park’s staff.

Even by the parks’ own criteria, swaling and grazing are causing an environmental disaster. Adrian Colston, the National Trust’s general manager on Dartmoor, has published a series of maps showing the astonishing deterioration over the past 25 years of the habitats the park claims to be protecting. Here is his map of good quality blanket bog in 1990:


And here’s the extent of it in 2006:


Here’s heathland in 1990:


And in 2006:


As he reports, “These maps do not tell a happy tale. Our land is now in far worse condition than it was in 1990 as a result of overgrazing and burning (known as swaling on Dartmoor).”

The places in which we are invited to escape the impacts of humanity’s assaults on the natural world are being destroyed with the active collusion of the authorities charged with protecting them.

Not only have they failed to discharge their role as guardians of our natural wonders, but they also systematically mislead people about what they are doing, describing destructive practices as beneficial to the natural world. Since when did the duties of our national park authorities extend to greenwashing?

And that’s not the worst of it, as the criteria they use are highly questionable in the first place. Why, for example, do we see moorland as the desirable ecosystem on our hilltops, rather than more advanced successional states, such as woodland? Upland woods are vanishingly rare in Britain, but they harbour a far greater range of wildlife than moors do.

Because there are so few of them, comparative studies are scarce. But in the Cairngorms there is enough woodland to create a meaningful contrast. The results? Wooded habitats are 13 times richer in nationally important species than moorland*. There are 223 species on the massif which are found nowhere else in Britain. Of these, 100 are associated with woodland or trees. But just one – a fungus that lives on bilberry leaves – requires moorland for its survival.

So why is heather moorland, a highly impoverished habitat which results from repeated cutting and grazing, our conservation priority? When we see such degraded ecosystems elsewhere in the world, we recognise them for what they are: the products of deforestation.

In either case, both the Dartmoor and Exmoor national park authorities (in common with the bodies running most of Britain’s other national parks) are wide open to legal challenge under the European Habitats Directive, for failing to keep these supposed wildlife refuges in favourable conservation status. Such challenges require time and money. Does any conservation body have the nerve to take on the national parks?

In October (and fair play to them), I was invited to talk to the UK National Parks conference, on Dartmoor. I didn’t hold back. Among other things, I argued that our national parks should be reclassified as ecological disaster zones, pending a complete reassessment of the way they are managed. (You can watch the talk here, gallantly posted on YouTube by the Dartmoor National Park).

While the talk generated controversy, to my astonishment I found that many of the park staff at the conference appeared sympathetic to my arguments. There is, I discovered, a widespread sense that we cannot go on like this, that we cannot keep destroying in the name of protection. Something has gone badly wrong here, and there is an urgent need for change.

  • P.Shaw and DBA Thompson, 2006. The nature of the Cairngorms: diversity in a changing environment. TSO: Edinburgh. 444 pp. ISBN: 9780114973261


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