Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 19-05-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on May 21, 2021
  • Articles

We wanted rain, we got rain – plenty of it, and we are delighted. The grass and crops already look so much healthier. The lawns now need frequent mowing – a small price to pay for the prospect of a good harvest, including barns filled with hay and straw to see us comfortably through next winter.

The Queen’s speech included a number of issues which have stimulated plenty of debate within farming and countryside communities. In its bid to appear to be ‘caring’ by again raising animal welfare standards, the Government proposes to introduce an Animal Sentience Bill. This would enshrine in law that, ‘animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure as well as pain and suffering’.

Apparently a committee of ‘experts’, and civil servants in Defra, will ensure the Government’s policies take this change into account.

The debate, including what laws should apply, which organisations take precedence, and what the book of rules allowing livestock farmers to farm, and traditional country pursuits to continue, will no doubt become a hot topic. Will this proposal embrace ‘caring for our rural communities’?

What is evident from comments already hot off the press, is that the Government clearly has little concept of the conflict this topic will ignite between the extreme element of ‘animal rights’ organisations, and British  livestock farmers who already care for livestock from birth to death, to the highest welfare standards in the world.

If they think the ‘2004 Hunting Act’ was divisive, I am led to believe, this will be ten times worse.

The launch of The Queen’s Green Canopy this week is a most appropriate tribute. Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince of Wales, Patron of QGC, planted the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle during March.

This UK-wide tree planting initiative, created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, invites people, as Boris Johnson said, “To create a national legacy in honour of The Queen’s leadership over 70 years”.

Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girl guiding groups, farmers, landowners, environmental groups, villages, cities, schools, and businesses will be encouraged to get involved and plant trees – all sorts, and hedges from October 2021, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022.

As well as planting new trees, the QGC will also highlight 70 amazing irreplaceable Ancient Woodlands and identify 70 ancient Trees.

All planting projects will be uploaded onto an interactive map on the new QGC website.

The co-ordination of projects within each county has been delegated to Lord Lieutenants, Her Majesty’s representatives. An important task which will ensure that every single tree and hedge planted, whether on private or public land, a copse, an orchard or individual ‘Fruit and Nuts’ trees, or trees which in time will become magnificent oaks, will be logged onto the QGC map.

Those not wishing to actually plant a tree but would like to contribute to this fitting tribute to Her Majesty, can make a donation, and their support will be acknowledged.

The project is supported by Natural England, the Woodland Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society, Trees for Cities, the Forest Canopy Foundation, Coutts, Rentokil Initial plc, John Lewis, and the Royal Mail, to mention a few.

Sue Biggs, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, said, “It is wonderful to be involved in the Queen’s Green Canopy. We could not be more delighted the initiative is launching during RHS Virtual Chelsea week. When we normally hold the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Her Majesty has visited often”.

Coutts Chief Executive Officer, Peter Flavel, said “We’re proud to be a Founding Partner of QGC. Planting the ‘right tree, right place, right reason’ principle, is of paramount importance.”

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