Friday, 18 April 2008
Lynxes and wolves and bears, oh my!
Did you catch the BBC programme about Paul Lister and his plans to introduce 'native' species to his Highland estate, Alladale? It's sparked a huge debate. If you missed it, you can still catch it for the next few days on the BBC's wonderful iPlayer here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer. For the record, I visited Alladale in 2005, and we published a feature about Lister's plans in our September issue that year.
My own view on the programme? Well, never has the English language been so twisted by so many for their own ends. Labels like "natural", "rewilding" and "freedom" were bandied about by all sides, as if giving something a name made it right or wrong. It's like saying predators are "good" or "bad" - it completely misses the point. But it seems that's the way the media - and wildlife politics - works.
Plus I'm bemused by the current fashion for reintroducing "native" species and trying to push the countryside back to some golden age when all was wonderful and natural and man hadn't got his grubby hands on it. That's like reading the Famous Five and trying to turn the clock back to the days of steam trains and lashings of ginger beer.
Besides, how far back is "right"? Forget wolves and bears, perhaps we should be repopulating the Highlands with Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus Rex?