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The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) Annual Lecture 2012

Date : 29 November 2012 - Time : 19:00 - Location : Great Hall, London Road Campus, Reading

Richard Benyon

Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries will give a lecture on The British Countryside 2030 / the future of the British Countryside at The Museum of English Rural Life’s (MERL) Annual Lecture.

Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, said:

“In 2012, it could be said that the British countryside is in a state of imbalance. While many species have, within a generation, all but disappeared from the landscape, others are thriving and becoming increasingly problematic as pests or predators of endangered species. We face an unprecedented number of invasive and non-indigenous species, as well as the unwelcome arrival of new diseases in plants and animals. So we have to face it: for perhaps decades we have been getting it wrong. Now, we need to be braver about intervening to better manage our wildlife and countryside.”

Following the lecture, the minister will take part in a Q&A, chaired by Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor of The University of Reading.

Professor Richard Ellis, Dean, Faculty of Life at the University of Reading said:

“Landscapes today are a consequence of landowners’ management practices, influenced by aesthetics, technology, economics and politics over many generations. The British Countryside provides a landscape of mosaics for us all to appreciate, reflecting our history of managing the resource for food, fuel and fibre production, sites for extraction (e.g. gravel) or abstraction (e.g. water) or development (e.g. house or road building), an ecosystem for flora and fauna, a playground for access by all or some for sport and recreation, and for some an asset for investment with potential for development. To date these conflicting demands have been governed by independent and often short-term initiatives. Whether we look at the declining numbers of, for example, wrens or the deterioration in the nutritional value of the diet of the poorest 10% of the UK human population we can see evidence that diverse policy goals are not being met. The British Countryside has a future – but how compatible are the different sorts of futures different groups in society desire and will work towards?”

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