Opinion: WHS status for Lake District? Not if it’s preserving a sheepwrecked monument to subsidised overgrazing and ecological destruction

George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, argues that, with UNESCO deciding in the next few weeks about inscribing the Lake District as a World Heritage Site, this would lock the Lake district into its ‘current shocking state’, ensuring that ‘recovery becomes almost impossible’.

Monbiot writes:

If this bid for power succeeds, the consequences for Britain will be irreversible. It will privilege special interests over the public good, shut out the voices of opposition and damage the fabric of the nation, perhaps indefinitely. In the next few weeks UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organisation, will decide whether or not to grant world heritage status to the Lake District. Once the decision is made, it is effectively irreversible.

Shouldn’t we be proud that this grand scenery, which plays such a prominent role in our perceptions of nationhood, will achieve official global recognition? On the contrary: we should raise our voices against it.

World heritage status would lock the Lake District into its current, shocking state, ensuring that recovery becomes almost impossible. Stand back from the fells and valleys, and try to judge this vista as you would a landscape in any other part of the world. What you will see is the great damage farming has inflicted: wet deserts grazed down to turf and rock; erosion gullies from which piles of stones spill; woods in which no new trees have grown for 80 years, as every seedling has been nibbled out by sheep; dredged and canalised rivers, empty of wildlife and dangerous to the people living downstream; tracts of bare mountainside on which every spring is a silent one. Anyone with ecological knowledge should recoil from this scene.

For the full text of the article see The Guardian

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