One issue cropping up regularly now is the new move for large scale sustainability. There are now significant areas of post farmland, which has been bought by non farmers, (including a plethora of GP's for some reason). And as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and others preach the benefits of a sustainable life, (and rightly so), many dream to achieve the same, without realising just how difficult it is, (an hours tv programme a week is not enough of a qualification)All of us in land industry should be gaining work from this situation; as quite frankly this type of land management is not as easy as it seems. Agriculture is a tough industry, farmers were not simple people there is a need for an immense amount of knowledge - and if think you can hold down a job elsewhere and assume to be able to keep even a decent sized smallholding under good management, you will be very mistaken.The proof that many have fallen foul is already very apparent, particularly in rural Devon and Cornwall, where noticeable tracts of land are in poor management, notifiable weeds are running rampant and grant aided 'new wave' farmers are being prosecuted for bad animal husbandry, (whilst they set out with the best intentions).We have been asked so many times to provide help, on the Cornish Apple Trees site we see around 20 or so emails a week asking for quite in depth advice. Sometimes this generates consultation contracts, but 9 times out of 10 the scale of the lack of knowledge of the client has led to massive problems which requires significant capital to sort out.We have even allowed some clients to come and train alongside some the CSL contractors to get to know the basics, but this is still not enough. Anyone planning to do the 'good life' needs to allow a contingency for outside contractors particularly in the early stages and must not get too greedy with the quantity of land they require.The best books around to use as a basic guide are: The Agricultural Notebook, 20th Edition, by Richard Joffe. The New complete book of Self Sufficiency, by John Seymour. Forestry Commission Handbook 8, 'Establishing Farm Woodlands' by D R Williamson. And absolutely essential is to keep well updated with all relevant Defra laws and rules.Defra and other land based quangos have a shortfall of funding, which has meant that many people have no inclining that they have actually been breaking the law, in some cases quite seriously, in the way they are managing their plots of land. And unless kept in check, we will soon see major changes to the traditional British landscape, together with huge swathes of non productive land.The best advice we can give to anyone who has found themselves with large plots and wishes to go sustainable is to plant most of it with trees, particularly fuel crops such as hazel or alternatively orchards for apple production, (at present one of the largest growth areas of land industry, helping to feed the binge drinking culture that we are). But even then trees need management and it is quite disgraceful driving around the UK, both in urban and rural areas to see how our trees are suffering from not just minimal management but frankly no management at all - when there are plenty of qualified personnel to carry out the work.All of us in land industry have suffered greatly from the common misapprehension that we are only there when a landowner, (be it a garden or estate), cannot cope anymore. This is unfair and the landscape as a whole has suffered and this is set to get
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  • Similar things are happening north of the border loads of new crofters from the city with grant money in they pockets. Leaving animals out in winter growing the wrong trees. Funniest is watching standard trees bought from a garden centre which are staked and planted on cliff edges, it should be a crime. Best to let them know about this site and leave you guys to sort out
  • I agree; there is definitely a need for someone to fill the hole between something like FWAG and a consultant ecologist.... keep me posted as it's an area we're interested in developing too...
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