Longhorn cattle not suitable for heathland grazing.
Why did Natural England fail to intervene and, instead, encourage Longhorn's initially and even suggest increasing their numbers ?
Having read the Cornwall Access Forums minutes of December 2010 ,and in view of the serial archaeological damage to Tregeseal Circle, it was agreed,in the knowledge of Mr Stephen Warman (Natural England senior manager) who was present, that Longhorn cattle were,and are,not suitable for heathland grazing.
Being mindful that this was months before the recent damage to archaeology, Natural England must,I believe,justify why they failed to intervene and encouraged Longhorn's initially and went beyond that in suggesting increases in Longhorn numbers?
I would also ask why the grazing of Dartmoor ponies was encouraged throughout the year with a minimum number but NO maximum?
The above simple questions bring the competency of NE into question as the HEATH project was clearly promoted as being of benefit to tourism, and archaeology, but the decline in visitor numbers at Carnyorth(totally unrelated to the current economic climate) and the damage to our heritage is clearly of immediate concern and indicative of the project management.
The real question must however be targeted at the current and future status of Carnyorth as heathland.
NE and my own observations leave no doubt that this heathland was in good condition and thus,I believe, should only require management as prescribed in the HLS(Higher Level Stewardship)handbook BUT is,in fact,attracting added herbivore'management',with no maximum set grazing numbers of ponies, whilst management of Bracken etc(agreed as a priority and representing part of the management justification) has been tardy
My view is,and has been,that tools to depress public access are being installed in W.Penwith(for conservation not environmental reasons)and that the low accountability of the decades old ESA scheme and its consequent heathland degradation(confirmed by Mr Jim Paice, Agri Minister)is being continued through Higher Level Stewardship.(Carnyorth is a Cornish exception to this degradation).
HLS,as a scheme,has many good attributes and some good stewards but the problem in W.Penwith is the suitability of the component parts of HLS to the selected sites and the intransigence of Natural England regarding HEATH project sites.
Alternatives to grazing exist and produce 100% biodiversity over 25 years(Rob Rose,Institute of Terrestrial Ecology/Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)without the collateral negative impacts produced by grazing and the added benefit of the possibility of job creation. NE have communicated that they are unlikely to consider HLS applications that do not include grazing thus excluding management options that could offer benefits that would avoid the problems that are currently being encountered.
The governments chief conservation adviser recently stated that conservation is unsustainable without public participation.An interesting statement in view of the actions taken in W.Penwith and the clear belief,by NE,that sustainability and exclusion are comfortable bed fellows!