MOST people I know who live, work or visit Cornwall value the landscape of the area above many things.
Of more relevance to readers of this article is how to balance the competing demands on the landscape in the future. In my view it should be seen as a living, working, ever-changing managed environment rather than a picture postcard.
While many of the field patterns have remained the same for years the use of the land within them has changed with market forces. This use takes many forms and includes farming for commercial return and/or environmental management for biodiversity or landscape value. These should not be conflicting objectives and in many cases it is the job of the manager of the land to deliver both. Various schemes and incentives have been put in place to try and encourage the sensitive use of land in the Penwith area and one of the largest (The Environmental Sensitive Area designation) draws to a close in 2013.
This could see major changes in how the landscape is managed and as part of an exercise to investigate new ways to maximise the economic and social benefits provided by the landscape, an informal, unconstituted Penwith Landscape Partnership has been formed. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust has been asked to lead the activity on behalf of the partnership and at the end of the exercise it is hoped that a 20-year vision, along with a two-year delivery plan, will be produced by independent expert consultants. In order to ensure a rounded view it is essential that the debate includes the views of farmers, land managers, communities and visitors to our landscape and so there are a number of ways to get your views heard. This includes a series of workshops, telephone and face-to-face interviews, internet questionnaires, etc. Two early evening consultation events have recently taken place and further events are to be organised – keep a look out in the local press for details. Mark Turner, an independent environmental professional with experience of community consultation, will be available to talk to people so that everyone can have their say. Anyone can request to meet with him to offer your view. He will also be available to attend local meetings and events at your request. Mark will be based at the offices of Farm Cornwall and can be contacted by e-mailing enquir firstname.lastname@example.org
Make no mistake I always approach discussions regarding landscape from the point of view of the people who make a living from managing the land that makes up the landscape but I recognise that other organisations and individuals also have a stake. Not all of these are farmers but the majority of land is farmed and in order to be sustainable this has to be profitable. I am assured by the Penwith Landscape Partnership that the views of the farming industry will be at the very core of its work but in order to guarantee a mature debate it is vital that a wide range of people are present at the events. Perhaps this will lead to a greater understanding between all parties of the challenges faced by farmers and of the value placed on the landscape by non-farming interested parties? One thing's for sure, non-profitable land management is not a long-term option so things will change.