Transforming our countryside into a theme park

Tue, 14/04/2009 - 11:49
Submitted by Cavan Scott

I was left puzzled after watching Countryfile on April 5th. Matt Baker reported on repairing years of erosion on the fell paths and also the relatively new pursuit of ghyll scrambling. Did anyone else feel there was a contradiction between these two articles?

Path erosion causes ugly clefts and damages large areas of ground. It is repairable but at a cost in terms of both money and energy. In 20 years time will the effects of ghyll scrambling be so easy to renovate? Water courses and their banks provide a unique environment for both flora and fauna, from moist ground to deeper water, turbulent oxygenating waterfalls, and rocky outcrops that provide shelter and areas of quieter water.

Water running through a ghyll serves the wildlife both within its waters and along the full length of the stream. Disturbing stones and damaging the stream bed will have repercussions ranging from distressing the wildlife and destroying their shelter through to diverting an established water course which will have knock on effects to established plant life and animals further down stream.

Path erosion is serious enough but creatures who rely on the ecology of the eroded path areas are perhaps more able to move. The same is not so true of creatures and plants established in and around a stream when the complex environment is disturbed or destroyed.

I do despair sometimes that the countryside is being used as a theme park providing all the thrills and spills of Alton Towers but with no thought for the invasion and disturbance to the natural inhabitants which, once destroyed, can rarely be replaced.

What next? Perhaps dry stone wall hurdling…

Sue Bebbington lives on the Isle of Mull.

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A theme-park countryside

Thu, 16/04/2009 - 20:46

Couldn't agree more, Sue. Indeed, the ever-exuberant Mr.Baker said himself after crashing down the ghyll on his backside. "It was just like being in a theme park!" 'Nuff said.

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