/ OPINION: The Trouble With Bracken

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UKC/UKH Articles - on 12 Sep 2017
Bracken - a voracious eater of footpaths, 4 kbIt's taking over hillsides and swamping crag access routes... and then there are the ticks. Bracken is hard to kill; so what makes it so successful, and what can be done?

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Dave Cumberland - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Finally people are waking up to the ecological disaster that many have been going on about for years, especially local climbers and farmers. Good article and if I got the detailed reading correct, so-called "climate change" was not mentioned once - admirable, because it's bu66er all to do with that. The word "sustainable" was used however, and surely that must be one of the most badly misused and rendered meaningless words in our time (particularly since it is used by scam ruinable and unreliable energy companies).

Excellent balanced article. Now - what is to be done, because we are losing access to places faster than you can imagine, especially in the Lake District and especially to some excellent crags in the height of what passes for a so-called summer these cool days.

The Lake District National Park Authority has been supine, and under its watch, bracken has become the greatest ecological problem in the Lake District imaginable. It's time they got their finger out and stopped posturing with all the other cr_p they get involved in and get rid of bracken!

Bracken is effectively removing access for climbers, farmers, killing all the indigenous wildflowers and grasses and spreading disease as it expands dramatically due to the mis-management.
DC
gaw - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:
I've been told by an ecologist that bracken doesn't spore in the Lake District, only spreading through its rhyzomes. I can't remember the details but searching for it I came across this which suggests I may be correct at least for Scotland (being cool and wet - and therefore possible for the Lake District)

http://www.snh.org.uk/publications/on-line/advisorynotes/24/24.htm
gaw - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

I'm not sure what the LDNP has done to let bracken prosper? I imagine it is more to do with increased sheep grazing leaving a 'better' (for bracken) habitat for bracken to spread into. And I would think that is down to how Defra has directed subsidies in the past.
timjones - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to gaw:

> I'm not sure what the LDNP has done to let bracken prosper? I imagine it is more to do with increased sheep grazing leaving a 'better' (for bracken) habitat for bracken to spread into. And I would think that is down to how Defra has directed subsidies in the past.

If that is the case you have to wonder why bracken thrives in areas that have absolutely no sheep grazing?
Bristol_Quornstar - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Interesting to see locally to Bristol on the Mendips for the 2nd year running Bracken is being cut, harvested and sent for processing into stove briquettes ('brackettes!') http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/2017/06/07/brackenburn-a-growing-success-story/
toad - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones:

Because it's an opportunist, like any self respecting invasive. Often its a historical problem - a bad fire a generation ago, or (whisper it) overused and poorly maintained footpaths - but once the bracken has established, it doesn't go away. Overgrazing is only one factor in picture, but it is an important one.
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:
> Excellent balanced article.

Indeed; unlike your response.

How would you advise the National Park Authority to 'get rid' of the bracken and at what cost.

My view is that any impoverished ecosystem is at risk from invasive species - in this case an upland covered mainly in grass and disturbed by overgrazing fits the bill.
Post edited at 11:36
Dave Cumberland - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> My view is that any impoverished ecosystem is at risk from invasive species - in this case an upland covered mainly in grass and disturbed by overgrazing fits the bill.

There's no overgrazing, even in the past it was minimal. Neither is the ecosystem impoverished apart from where there is blanket bracken, you need to get out more. Do you want wildflowers and wild grasses or bracken?

27 quangos are all paid with loads of job-creators to "run" the Lake District worse than the farmers ran it in 1953. Get rid of the bracken with spraying, cutting, rolling, recycling into briquettes, bedding, fuel blocks, garden mulch etc. Not difficult with all those lovely people paid to "run" the area.
gaw - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones:
So it does but overgrazing is one of the mechanisms. There will be other reasons for spread as well as Roger Hart outlines in his article - uncontrolled heather burning for example.

Edit - Sorry, just seen your other comment where you mention fire.
Post edited at 12:35
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

> There's no overgrazing, even in the past it was minimal. Neither is the ecosystem impoverished apart from where there is blanket bracken, you need to get out more. Do you want wildflowers and wild grasses or bracken?

> 27 quangos are all paid with loads of job-creators to "run" the Lake District worse than the farmers ran it in 1953. Get rid of the bracken with spraying, cutting, rolling, recycling into briquettes, bedding, fuel blocks, garden mulch etc. Not difficult with all those lovely people paid to "run" the area.

1953 is a long time ago - farming has changed. Sheep farmers in the Lake district are essentially decoration propped up by subsidy and sentimentality.
Simon Caldwell - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> Sheep farmers in the Lake district are essentially decoration propped up by subsidy and sentimentality.

So make some of that subsidy conditional on controlling bracken - the money could come from cutting some of the superfluous jobs Dave Cumberland rightly identified.
Rob Morgan on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to toad:

Indeed it's opportunistic, but the article states it is not invasive. It's a native species that has thrived due to our management of the countryside.
toad - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Rob Morgan:

not all invasive species are non-native, but the invasive aspect was maybe not as explicit as it could be. I'll have a word with the author ;)
nufkin - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

> killing all the indigenous wildflowers and grasses

The article does point out that bracken is itself an indigenous species - presumably some sort of equilibrium established itself before human intervention, and just seeking to 'get rid of it' isn't a very balanced approach
nufkin - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Rob Morgan:

> but the article states it is not invasive. It's a native species that has thrived due to our management of the countryside.

Oops, beat me to it
Rob Morgan on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to toad:

Apologies, didn't make the connection there.

I also just so often associate invasive with non-native, I suppose that's not always the case (depending on human perspective)!
wee jamie on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:
Can I just put up one positive for bracken (the only one I can think of, other than providing a habitat for moths etc)?, and that's the glorious colour it turns in Autumn.
Drive past Glenfinnan and on to Lochailort, and the colour of the hillsides there on a November afternoon is beautiful and quite incredible.

Apart from the autumn spectacle, I agree that bracken is a total nightmare!
Post edited at 13:59
neilh - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:
You want to read that book about sheep farming in the Lakes that was a big hit last year. It might open your eyes a bit.The shepherds life by James Rebanks.
Post edited at 14:51
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

I've read it and enjoyed it but it left me very conflicted. I appreciate the tradition and integrity of the farmers but times change. I don't like to see an area's appearance being dictated without it being explicitly stated i.e. 'we are paying for people to hill farm this national park over other types of land management/use because it looks nice'.
And if we are paying for it then should it be done a certain way? Do we allow wintering sheds etc?
neilh - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

I am quite relaxed about it as the farmers are more the long term guardians/custodians of that landscape than most visitors.
MG - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

You sometimes make valid points but shoe horning conspiracy theory climate change denial into every thread just makes you sound bat shit crazy. You should drop it.
beverooni on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:
Re the Peak 'At least here there aren't any ticks. '
That may be true about the author's experience that day, but I've brushed ticks off my bouldering mat in the Peak.
Bulls Crack - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Current farming in many upland areas is partly subsidised (for now) and agri-environment grants provide 'additional' income-forgone payments (sort of) for specific objectives (and include payments for bracken control) This means is that the tax-payer has a vested interest in what those objectives are and how they're met, value for money etc. Places like the Lakes are largely managed for their landscape which is a much bigger economic driver than marginal sheep farming.
Farmers are indeed custodians/stewards of that landscape but it is a common resource which we've all got an interest in.
toad - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to beverooni:

> Re the Peak 'At least here there aren't any ticks. '

> That may be true about the author's experience that day, but I've brushed ticks off my bouldering mat in the Peak.

valid point, I think. There's probably room for some more research about the spread of ticks in the UK, but I've never seen ticks in the kinder/ bleaklow area, and I've spent a lot of time flat on my face in those areas, measuring stuff (technical term). I wouldn't rule them out somewhere like Big Moor at the back of the Eastern Edges, where there's a red deer population- certainly I saw them last year in Sherwood, and they were unknown there until the last few years
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Let's not romanticise them too much - if they weren't so bound by regulation and the terms of their subsidies some, at least, would be changing their methods. Look at the industrialisation of farming elsewhere.
summo on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> Let's not romanticise them too much - if they weren't so bound by regulation and the terms of their subsidies some, at least, would be changing their methods. Look at the industrialisation of farming elsewhere.

For most farmers it is a question of having time, no regulations that would stop a farmer cutting bracken, but many upland sheep farmers are working 60/70hrs a week to balance the books. Or, having to focus on non farming activities such as accommodation or another unrelated off farm part time job, just to subsidise the farm activities.
FactorXXX - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

It's taking over hillsides and swamping crag access routes... what can be done?

Braxit?
Post edited at 16:50
felt - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

That wouldn't be such a ptreribble idea.
Toerag - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

> I am quite relaxed about it as the farmers are more the long term guardians/custodians of that landscape than most visitors.

In their heads yes, however they also have to make ends meet, and when push comes to shove they'll do what they have to to survive. Same goes for commercial fishermen, but it's worse with them as fishing is addictive and difficult to give up on.
USBRIT - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

This week on my Mt bike below Catbells in The Lake District I came across about 40 sheep who I believe had been separated from their lambs and had gathered as close as they could in the far distance to the cries of their lambs . What really surprised me All of the sheep were grazing with vigour on the Bracken (ferns) Did not expect this is it unusual ?
charliesdad - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to summo: There's an obvious answer in Cumbria at least; stop all subsidies to farmers. Most upland hill farmers immediately go out of business, as without massive subsidy, upland hill farming makes no economic sense. So the over-grazing stops. The land regenerates. Farms are re-purposed as anything-but-sheepfarm. Employment actually increases.

None of this is new thinking - read George Monbiot.
wintertree - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> How would you advise the National Park Authority to 'get rid' of the bracken and at what cost.

Aggressive reforesting with trees that are regionally appropriate adjusted to take in to account changes in climate and disease since there was last ancient forest standing.

I'm getting sorely tempted to buy a few acres of upper Weardale and do exactly that. I don't know if it'll attract ire and criminal damage from the grouse estates in the same way that raptors allegedly do. But the land itself is dirt cheap and few people care about the currently grossly artificial views unlike in the lakes.
Post edited at 19:58
MG - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> I'm getting sorely tempted to buy a few acres of upper Weardale and do exactly that. I don't know if it'll attract ire and criminal damage from the grouse estates in the same way that raptors allegedly do. But the land itself is dirt cheap and few people care about the currently grossly artificial views unlike in the lakes.

Don't know how serious you are about this but similar thoughts have crossed my mind here in the north Peak. Perhaps something that crowd-sourcing could work for? I would potentially be interested in supporting something if you are serious. There has been quite a bit of planting here already in areas and even after three years, the difference is very apparent.

MFB - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:
What evidence, including anecdotal, do we have for this change, the braken in Langdale has been extensive since my childhood in the late 60's IIRC.
Cycling along Langdale valley this evening, brakens heaviest beyond fell wall (farmers controlling inbye fields) on south facing slopes below 350m, nothing on steep north facing breast pike of blisco.
Ticks - has the change from OP's made a difference (apart from operators health)
Post edited at 20:38
MFB - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

There is money out there to plant trees and I think to remove drains
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/woodland-capital-grants-2015-tree-planting-te4
wintertree - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

> Don't know how serious you are about this but similar thoughts have crossed my mind here in the north Peak. Perhaps something that crowd-sourcing could work for? I would potentially be interested in supporting something if you are serious. There has been quite a bit of planting here already in areas and even after three years, the difference is very apparent.

Pretty serious. It's going to be about a year before I can have funds ready then it's a lottery as to when suitably located and affordably small pockets of land will hit the market. The big charities are - understandably - more interested in accessible locations near big population centres whereas I'd like to do an upland area. The big hit with a small site will be fencing costs. I've mulled over forming a charity to do upland replanting but haven't put any time in to research - an exceptionally bad and busy year.

I've just started with a much smaller half acre plot that's currently a mess of decade old self seeded Stikka Spruce on the edge of the moors.
neilh - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

Landscapes evolve and so do communities.

Are you saying you would prefer to go back to some form of feudal agricultural system.
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Err no. I think an organised retreat from agriculturally unviable land (as much of the lakes would be without assistance) is in order.
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:
Do you fancy releasing a couple of lynx while you're at it?

If we wait for the process of hand wringing and prevarication needed to get any official decision to run it's course it'll be 20 years before anything happens.
Post edited at 20:40
wintertree - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> Do you fancy releasing a couple of lynx while you're at it?

If they eat rabbits - yes. I was disheartened to find the buggers had gnawed through my spiral wrap tree protectors.

If they eat grouse eggs - no. Anything that eats grouse eggs around here seemingly either poisons itself or shoots itself.


Post edited at 20:50
Dave Cumberland - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:
> You sometimes make valid points but shoe horning conspiracy theory climate change denial into every thread just makes you sound bat shit crazy. You should drop it.
No need to be insulting but thank you for the compliments on the "valid points".
I think the fact that so-called "climate change" was not mentioned in the article is a definite plus and a touch of intelligent, perceptive writing.
Indicates that some people do live in the real World.
There is no "conspiracy theory" to worry about, we are talking about a well-written article here which tackles a significant and damaging influence on where we climb.
9 degrees tonight here.
DC
MFB - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

Access compromised?, which crags are you thinking of
went to Christmas crag borrowdale, let the brakens take it, terrible
Access - Clifton is interesting
richprideaux - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> Err no. I think an organised retreat from agriculturally unviable land (as much of the lakes would be without assistance) is in order.

Can we include Snowdonia and most of mid Wales if we're going down that very attractive road?
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to richprideaux:

Absolutely, the Cambrian Mountains represent all the worst that we can do to an upland landscape short of quarrying it away entirely.
pasbury on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> If they eat grouse eggs - no. Anything that eats grouse eggs around here seemingly either poisons itself or shoots itself.

Ha! Nicely put.

The Peak moors do seem to be managed mainly for a few nobs with shotguns.
toad - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland: Erm, not sure how to reply to this. Thanks for the kind words, but Climate change is probably the single biggest threat to upland habitats - the issue is so fundemental that it kind of overshadows all the other things I mentioned, so I talked about issues that were perhaps more manageable. Maybe I should have looked at CC, but that might have been a different article.
toad - on 12 Sep 2017


> If they eat grouse eggs - no. Anything that eats grouse eggs around here seemingly either poisons itself or shoots itself.

Spooky, isn't it? It might be an interesting exercise to find someone with very deep pockets to buy up shooting rights, but not exercise them.

Dave Cumberland - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to MFB:

> Access compromised?, which crags are you thinking of
> went to Christmas crag borrowdale, let the brakens take it, terrible
Agree!
20 odd routes in the guide, only 5 real lines of any value.
But there are bigger fish to fry where the bracken is a barrier like Great End, Bleak Howe.
DC
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to charliesdad:

> There's an obvious answer in Cumbria at least; stop all subsidies to farmers. Most upland hill farmers immediately go out of business, as without massive subsidy, upland hill farming makes no economic sense. So the over-grazing stops. The land regenerates. Farms are re-purposed as anything-but-sheepfarm. Employment actually increases.


Totally agree. There is a lead in period of about 20-25yrs before first thinning and any income, so you would need to support. One problem, and it's not the farmers, it's the national parks policy. They want the bare hill sides, the over grazing. They don't want the hills covered in forest. In the lakes they dont want farmers owning land either and the various bodies do anything they can to stop private ownership.

MFB - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:
Loads of trees being planted all over lakes, gov scheme for farmers.
Masses planting Duddon, Eskdale and up St John's in vale.
Post edited at 05:55
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to MFB:

> Loads of trees being planted all over lakes, gov scheme for farmers.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/mass-tree-planting-with-our-rangers-across-the-lake-district

Masses... 1400 trees across the lakes which is roughly 1400hect or 3500acres... They made a big story about planting 1 tree every 2.5acres. it's better than none, but I bet sheep ate millions of year 1 saplings trying to grow from seed.
Bulls Crack - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:

'They want bare hillsides'

I think this is could be an exagerration. The LDNP use national Landscape Character Assessments in common with most other planning authorities and much of the hillsides we're talking about are covered (aha) by agri-environment schemes for which the LDNP do not set the objectives.
oldie - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:

The NT site you refer to says:"The aim was to replace tree cover that has been lost in the past."
Wasn't there once total tree cover over most of UK to roughly 3000 ft? I'm not really sure sure that most people would want that (loss of views, damp crags) and would rather stay with our present totally artificial landscapes even with more bracken.
Trees cover in selected areas might be about the only permanent way of naturally controlling bracken to some extent and as you imply every sapling needs protection of some kind. Even then would it be possible for natural forest regeneration to occur thereafter (deer/sheep grazing, soil vanished etc)?
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> I think this is could be an exagerration. The LDNP use national Landscape Character Assessments in common with most other planning authorities and much of the hillsides we're talking about are covered (aha) by agri-environment schemes for which the LDNP do not set the objectives.

CAP has nothing in it that would stop a farmer planting a hillside with trees, but the LDNP wouldn't let them, they control the who and what. Besides given the fact that the national trust has an obsession of trying to buy up all the lake's farms so they can control the land use, it's largely irrelevant, farmers do as their landlord allows them.
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to oldie:

The trees would grow, reduce the grazing, cull some deer. The soil wil be fine and once you have a cycle of leaf litter every year, it would improve. 1400 trees is nothing, even in terms of storm replacement. You could plant 2000 in one hectare(2.5acres), you'd then go round it clearing at maybe 5yrs, thinning after roughly 25 and 50years.
Bulls Crack - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:

AE schemes have clear area objectives which limit where and how much upland planting an agreement holder could do. The Woodland Grant schemes allows more but again has restrictions
goosebump - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Brackens presence is a result of many factors, its reduction in extent/frequency will mean controlling all those. Youd need a long term strategy that would probably be a mix of/constrained by all sorts of stuff - tree planting, hydrology, grazing pressures, cutting, presence of rare butterflies/birds, local expertise, availability of machinery, pesticides, distance to watercourses.

However, there is no (appropriately priced) financial incentive to manage for ecosystem services and in my opinion until there is, the bracken (and heath rush and matt grass) will remain.

with regard to extensive re-afforestation; in some cases youd need an EIA first https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6dfl55
timjones - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> Aggressive reforesting with trees that are regionally appropriate adjusted to take in to account changes in climate and disease since there was last ancient forest standing.

Nice idea but I was out walking in a very old broadleaved woodland last weekend and it was chest high bracken all over.

Are you sure your plan would would?
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> AE schemes have clear area objectives which limit where and how much upland planting an agreement holder could do. The Woodland Grant schemes allows more but again has restrictions

That is if you want to remain within AE claiming cap, or have some grant for planting. If you own the land and think I'll start investing now for my grandkids and diversify.. then you can. Unless you are in an NP?
wintertree - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones:

> Nice idea but I was out walking in a very old broadleaved woodland last weekend and it was chest high bracken all over.

Interesting. There aren't many such woods near me but the bracken only dominates around the periphery and in clearings. Perhaps when the trees mature and thin out with big canopies the bracken returns?

> Are you sure your plan would would?

I'm not so bothered about bracken if it's coexisting around trees. My bigger concern is protection against the wind on the fells - the reforesting around the Torridons (Gairloch/Loch Tolaidh area by the red hut) becomes notably stunted and slow in the windier areas - and even the lower level trees are growing very slowly.
timjones - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to charliesdad:

> There's an obvious answer in Cumbria at least; stop all subsidies to farmers. Most upland hill farmers immediately go out of business, as without massive subsidy, upland hill farming makes no economic sense. So the over-grazing stops. The land regenerates. Farms are re-purposed as anything-but-sheepfarm. Employment actually increases.

> None of this is new thinking - read George Monbiot.

How do you owrk out that employment will increase?
timjones - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> Interesting. There aren't many such woods near me but the bracken only dominates around the periphery and in clearings. Perhaps when the trees mature and thin out with big canopies the bracken returns?

it's likely to be a problem in anything but the most densely planted woodland, I bet that many people wouldn't like dense woodland any better then they like bracken

> I'm not so bothered about bracken if it's coexisting around trees. My bigger concern is protection against the wind on the fells - the reforesting around the Torridons (Gairloch/Loch Tolaidh area by the red hut) becomes notably stunted and slow in the windier areas - and even the lower level trees are growing very slowly.

What is it that you think needs protecting against the wind?

I suspect that the real problme is that once we start managing landscapes there will always be disagreement on how we should manage it.

An interesting observation on a small area that we fenced the livestock out of over 20 years ago is that when it is left to it's own devices trees naturally start to grow through the bracken and shade it out. If nature is being left to take it's course maybe we shouldn't stress about bracken?


MFB - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:

> Masses... 1400 trees across the lakes which is roughly 1400hect or 3500acres... They made a big story about planting 1 tree every 2.5acres. it's better than none, but I bet sheep ate millions of year 1 saplings trying to grow from seed.

Think that was a single day push, more about getting folk involved than just numbers
More substantive, the work fix the fells has done over last few years
http://www.fixthefells.co.uk/what-we-do/working-now/west-team-news/tree-planting-continues/
Loads of trees have gone in on Lingmoor, Eskdale, Duddon, Wrynose, and around St John's vale over last couple of years.
Post edited at 16:13
Arms Cliff - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

> I think the fact that so-called "climate change" was not mentioned in the article is a definite plus and a touch of intelligent, perceptive writing.


You perhaps missed the sentence about bracken having spread to the Antarctic in 50 years?
tony on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to MFB:

> Think that was a single day push, more about getting folk involved than just numbers

And it just involved NT land, which is just a small part of the whole Lake District.
wintertree - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones:

> it's likely to be a problem in anything but the most densely planted woodland

Is this what you think will happen with deciduous woodland in uplands? I don't see it in lowland woods of low or high density except as I said at peripheries.

>, I bet that many people wouldn't like dense woodland any better then they like bracken

Doesn't bother me - there's lots of bracken for people dislike, lots of heather moorland where I am and very little deciduous woods.

> What is it that you think needs protecting against the wind?

I was talking about my interest in tree planting on the moorland of upper Weardale. Without established forest or any screening around them, new trees will be very vulunerable.

> I suspect that the real problme is that once we start managing landscapes there will always be disagreement on how we should manage it.

Fine, no skin of my nose. At the moment my local upland area is almost entirely managed for one purpose. Let's give people other uses to grumble about.

> An interesting observation on a small area that we fenced the livestock out of over 20 years ago is that when it is left to it's own devices trees naturally start to grow through the bracken and shade it out. If nature is being left to take it's course maybe we shouldn't stress about bracken?

I don't actually care about bracken, I want more trees. I've loved visiting established upland woods that aren't 'orrid plantations in other countries and would love to see more locally.
summo on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to tony:

> And it just involved NT land, which is just a small part of the whole Lake District.

https://www.lakedistrictletsgo.co.uk/national_trust/nationaltrust_main.html

According to this the NT own a quarter of the lakes 36000 hectares.... that's a lot of land!!
Andysomething - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to MFB:

> went to Christmas crag borrowdale, let the brakens take it, terrible

Terrible? How?


MFB - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to Andysomething:

Well it wasn't that bad hence the
but
I wouldn't recommend the crag to anyone I liked
The walk in was savage - I went with a youth
The routes were fairly poor
Day before I'd been on Dow and climbed Raindrop on Black crag on walk out, so made a strong contrast In my mind.
On plus side it faced south, had breeze for midges, dried quickly and I'd never been before
silverdarling - on 14 Sep 2017

In 1980s woodland Perthshire bracken cutting was the traditional summer occupation of 15-16yo schoolkids. We went 'weeding' with a 'heuk' (sickle) cutting rows up the hills. The idea was to clear the bracken so the young trees wouldn't get smothered by it. The problem, as the author points out, is that bracken is pretty dense, young trees hard to see and teens more bothered about hacking bracken to bits, and piece breaks than the actual point of the job.

Result was we chopped down more trees than the bracken suffocated and eventually, after many years of poor results, this occupation was relegated to history. It did however pay for many a good night in village bars, we were well tanned (in every sense) and happy with our almost-macho position in 'the wood'.

Nowadays, in occasional fits of nostalgia we take to spontaneous weeding of hill and loch side. Especially if the bracken is young and vulnerable. We are professionals, see.

Which is an old bracken cutter's long winded way of saying that the bracken based economy should be revived. Perhaps there is a market for razor sharp attachments converting trekking poles to lethal slicing instruments "Fun for all the family". And the Mendip brackettes sound great. But better money methinks in the author's implication "the Japanese eat the young fronds as a delicacy" .. off now to research how well the ? travels.

Andysomething - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to MFB:

Oh ok.

I quite enjoyed my day there in that the rock was pretty clean and someone else was leading the harder bolder routes! It was a sunny day and made a change from repeat visits to the usual venues in Borrowdale. The views were great and needless to say no one else was there. Like you I wouldn't rush back though. And no comparison with your previous days out.
charliesdad - on 21 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones: Upland sheep farming requires a very modest labour force. Almost any other business, (cafe, B&B, pony trekking), requires more labour and creates more jobs. They may not be great jobs, but frankly sheep farming isn't top of many people's wish list either.

charliesdad - on 21 Sep 2017
In reply to summo:
I can't speak for the National Park, but I did speak to a senior person in the National Trust, who are a very significant landowner, and could change the policy if they wished. He felt that the NT were sympathetic to "re-wilding", but were scared of the public reaction to any change in the appearance of the landscape.
John2 - on 21 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I was informed last week by a minibus driver on Hoy that cattle will destroy bracken if they walk about on it when it is just starting to grow.
timjones - on 22 Sep 2017
In reply to charliesdad:

What on earth makes you think that those businesses aren't already operating alongside sheep farming?
timjones - on 22 Sep 2017
In reply to John2:

They will make a difference but there won't half be some bitching if they are at a high enough rate to destroy bracken.
charliesdad - on 22 Sep 2017
In reply to timjones:
Clearly they are. I was responding to a follow-up question about how jobs might be generated.
I'm not suggesting that every upland sheep farm should become a B&B or cafe.
I was Just giving some examples of the type of business which - over time - can replace upland sheep farming in areas like Cumbria. When farm tenancies become available I believe the NT is actively seeking tenants who wish to look at new business ideas, rather than just whack as many sheep as possible onto the land and live off the subsidies.

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