Lake District Futures – Reflections 4 – It’s not what you do… It’s the way that you do it

Much of the Lake District Futures project focused on the influence of perception, which in turn highlighted that it is not always what you do in land management but how you do it. It emphasised that at times, success, consensus and agreement rely as much on the connotations of certain words, and the ability to share ideas and find common ground, as on the detail of what is done.  A few examples to get you thinking…


  • The subject of implementation of agro-environment schemes came up regularly and there was discussion of farmers feeling, ‘de-motivated, and unappreciated, and disempowered’ and a ‘lack of trust, and a lack of understanding’
  • Many respondents talked of the need to develop schemes which engaged with farmers more and offered a greater sense of pride and satisfaction for the farmers involved.
  • Rewilding scenarios suffered from negative connotations of words like abandonment:
    “I think we are not generally going to progress too much, it is conflict straight away with that language, you either have rewilding and no farming, or farming and no rewilding, and I don’t think that is necessarily has to be the case…”
  • And a number of people questioned if the concept of ‘rewilding’ itself was helpful:
  • “It’s not about trying to turn the clock back, we are very clear about that”
  • “I am personally interested in the rewilding agenda, but I don’t think it is the right word, it conjures up images of reintroducing predators and so on, but natural processes are the key thing”

The future of the Lakes is a delicate balance between the needs of residents, visitors, resource management and wildlife, so gaining a good understanding of these connotations and perceptions is key in achieving workable compromises; which brings us to the topic of tomorrow’s final reflection – is compromise possible, and is it always the best solution…


About domhall

I have spent the last 15 years juggling careers in education publishing, expedition leadership and safety training. It has involved a careful balancing act of dreams of expedition travel, a love of climbing, walking and the outdoors and the the realities of life - and the later has definitely come off worse. I've run an adventure travel and expedition training business and lived in the sometimes sunny Lake District. Having taken a year out to complete an MSc in Environmental Technology I am now working for The Conservation Volunteers, working on engaging communities in their local green spaces.
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2 Responses to Lake District Futures – Reflections 4 – It’s not what you do… It’s the way that you do it

  1. I have found exactly the same thing during the last three years while I’ve been involved in the Land Keepers project. I have talked to many farmers and many of the people involved in land management and policy decisions. The common theme, in almost every case, is the need for clear communication between people whose priorities are not necessarily the same.

    A couple of weeks ago I was talking to Neil Johnson who is the National Trust’s Food and Farming Advisor for the northwest. He’s keen that discussions between all the parties who have an interest in the way the landscape is managed in the national park should begin with the positives. ‘It’s very difficult to win an argument based just on the negatives,’ he told me, ‘and that seems to have underpinned the stalemate between the ‘conservationists’ and the agricultural industry: we were in a stand-off based on negative and defensive arguments. I think the Partnership has given us the opportunity to move forward, to be proactive and find the positives, starting our conversations based on our shared values, and then work towards our shared and individual goals. Hopefully that’s the point we’re getting to now.’ Full interview on line at

    Good to read your posts and the results of your research Dom – I will keep checking in.

    Harriet Fraser

  2. domhall says:

    Thanks Harriet, that’s interesting and I totally agree that there is a need to focus on positive common ground, of which there is perhaps more than it sometimes feels!

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