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APPENDIX: (Letters sent to local press)

North Glen 02/12/95
Sir,

The Millennium Forest for Scotland aims to re-establish areas of Scotland's native forest with maximum benefit to the people.

The Forestry Commission wishes to get rid of ten thousand acres of alien trees for cash.

One of the arguments for planting such trees in the first place is that they partially repair the damage of centuries of overgrazing and ready the land for succeeding forests.

Why not sell the trees, but keep the land, and create ten thousand acres of real forest?

At present this mass of trees is not a forest. There is little bio-diversity and minimal value as watershed. A true forest is a complex ecosystem of plants and animals, large and small, of which trees are only the most obvious. It provides employment, recreation, and oxygen and regulates the water table many miles downstream.

The re-creation of ten thousand acres of mixed native woodland habitat in the Southwest would indeed be a fitting monument to the millennium and, perhaps, begin to repair our own damaged relationship with the natural world.

There is no need to obtain the land. It is already in public ownership. In its present state, there is little point in arguments about access - who wants to visit millions of regimented conifers, anyway?

(sent to local papers mid Feb 1996)         Dear Sir,

Things are progressing nicely with community forestry in the Dee/Urr catchment.

Among your readers there are many folk who live and work in that landscape.

They may be interested to know of our project to develop community woodlands from Watershed to Waterfoot.

From Carsphairn through Parton to the Urr estuary. It is only a small project so far, but that's the way trees begin.

We are likely to grow nearly half a million oak, ash, birch, alder and other native trees from seed and get them into the cleuchs and glens and down the hillsides across the Southwest over the next decade.

But that's only the beginning. This is a forest to comemmorate the new MILLENNIUM. These Southwestern upland forests are destined to meet similar forests planted by our friends and colleagues in the Borders and Doon Valley.

We are working from the bottom up to meet with our neighbours at the WATERSHED.

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you on the ground, in the forest.

(sent to local papers late Feb 1996)
Dear Sir,

The Nithsdale forest continues to exercise my imagination. There are 9000+ acres of timber, a goodly amount nearing harvest.

Community management of the second and subsequent rotations in this watershed surrounding the Southern Upland Way and down the glensides into the communities is a priority.

This cannot be reliably ensured other than by binding obligations on any owners subsequent to the Forestry Commission.

It is my position that there should be no need to pay the Central Exchequer to reclaim the birthright of communities in the immediate locality to common use of this land and its benefits, of which direct immediate economic benefit is only one.

It is already public land, and some of that public live and work in on and around it - not in the cities!

There is no body which has a greater interest in the proper long term management of these lands than the people who live there, few though they may be, compared to the urban areas.

How can it be argued that someone, whose idea of a wood is a set of lines on the map and a sheaf of words and statistics, knows better how to work with it than someone who walks it and tends the paths, respecting the byeways?

Unless the place is managed with a view to Environmental sustainability, over the very long term, arguments about access are meaningless.

Trees in rows are not a forest - they're a pretty boring and inappropriate use of our birthright as humans. As a crop of potatoes develops the garden soil, however, the first forest rotation can also lay the groundwork for the native forest of the millennium.

We should thank the centralised authorities for the good work they've done, but I reckon it's better if the communities take it from here. I'm only an incomer, though.

Sent to local papers in October 96

Sir;

"Land doesn't belong to people; people belong to the land." Each of us has a natural stake in and a relationship to the landscape we occupy together, but for centuries the development of our modern culture has increased the sense of separation between Humankind and Nature.

Since the beginnings of enclosure we have divided and sub-divided our common birthright in land into smaller individual packets, precisely defined by lines on paper and fences or walls on the ground. Our sense of personal security has become closely tied to the ownership or tenancy of a bit of territory.

When a significant portion of the landscape is 'owned' remotely, and authority has become so centralised indeed, that the precise shape of 'local' government right down to village level is dictated and largely funded by Whitehall, it's small wonder if there is little 'grass roots' sense of community in the local landscape.

Some feel that 'ownership' confers the right to control access, and now, thanks to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, even Scotland's wild mountain areas are, for the first time, subject to laws of trespass. The only substantial amount of land in public ownership is Forest Authority (aka Forestry Commission) land, now apparently on offer to the highest (private) bidder!

In the face of all of this comes the Millennium Forest for Scotland, a visionary proposition that it would be a fitting way to commemorate the start of the next thousand years by reversing the destruction of the last remnants of Scotland's ancient native forest cover. We can begin to create a landscape which will sustain our communities for a thousand years or more.

It is not just about planting trees, rather it is about restoring the relationship between local people and the natural neighbourhood in which we live. It is about landscape improvements, recreation, employment and training, artistic and cultural projects, research, education, wildlife, and the innovative development of woodland products.

But first and foremost, it is about empowering local people, initiating local action. There is advice and expertise a-plenty available; there is funding from a variety of sources, including the National Lottery via the Millennium Commission.

But this time it's actually up to local people. Of the ninety locally generated projects put forward already, NONE have come from our region. It is about grass roots. Have we got any left?

Sent to local papers in December 1996

Sir,
Community.
What is community?
We hear the word a lot.
What does it mean?
Isn't it us? All of us?
What we do together.
For each other, with each other.
Where we live together.
What we have together.
To sell something we must have an idea of its value.
For someone to want to buy it, they must believe that value.

If there is a buyer for the Nithsdale Forest, he or she (or it?) must believe it's worth the price.
Can it be worth less to us, the community?


1997 election week in Galloway News: Sir,

With regard to LOCAL RURAL matters, I would like to raise the following points in the hope that candidates might wish to comment:

1>The largest landholding in the Galloway & Upper Nithsdale (GUN!) constituency is Forest Enterprise, an absentee with headquarters in Edinburgh, and district 'factors' in Castle Douglas, Ae and Newton Stewart.

2>Over one quarter of the constituency land is forest, but it provides fewer than one in fifty local jobs (D&G European Partnership figures)

3> Forest Enterprise must operate within strict Treasury rules of financial viability with no grants, while a private owner of the very same land would be able to choose from a wide menu of generous grants. Why do we treat 'the public', of which communities are the local manifestation, less generously than private owners, who may well be total absentees!

4>The biggest ever sale of Forestry Commission land is currently underway in this constituency. (9000+ acres in Upper Nithsdale)

5> There is a growing conviction that what is already publicly owned ought to remain so, and, in an ideal world, should come into stewardship of local communities for their benefit.

6> The Upper Nithsdale sale is unlikely to be completed before the election, especially if it becomes an issue.

What would the various candidates do, if elected?

18/04/97 Sir,

Thank you for the very interesting article in April's Farming Review. It is refreshing to see how one of the country's largest landowners is managing its holdings: through resident tenants on 36 moderate-sized farms (average 442 acres) and a resident Forester. There seems to be great benefit to the community and retention of population in a rural area.

Another of the largest landowners in the country, particularily in the Southern Scottish constituencies, is the Forestry Commission, with upwards of ten times as much land. Might we ask our candidates how communities might get as good a deal as from the Crown Commissioners?

Isn't it amazing? In the most forested area in the country, Forest Policy isn't even an issue.

Ed Iglehart

(the Upper Nithsdale Forest sale was finally abandoned in the first few weeks of the election campaign. 3000 acres have since become the basis of the Cairnhead Community Forest in partnership with the Forestry Commission.)

Sir,

Can squirrels win the lottery?

Time was when a squirrel could jump from tree to tree from here to John O' Groat's and never see a spruce tree.

Scotland's native woodlands have been so severely depleted over recent centuries that they are now reduced to less than 4% of their former extent.

The availability of Lottery funds with the added focus of millennium timing provides a unique opportunity to look forward and undertake restoration projects of national, indeed international significance, which could not otherwise be achieved.

The overall aims of the Millennium Forest for Scotland are to promote restoration of Scotland's native woodlands as an important part of our natural heritage and to bring them back into long term sustainable management for the widest possible public benefit by:

·        encouraging and supporting practical work designed to extend the cover and improve the stewardship of native woodlands; and

·        re-establishing social, cultural and economic links between communities and their local woodlands.

Friends of squirrels from all over the Southwest are meeting at the Urr Valley Hotel, Castle Douglas Thursday the 30th at 7:30.

Anything is possible. Bring YOUR IDEAS!


Editor,

In order to avoid any possible 'party' inferences and to avoid identification of individuals - all good men - I would prefer the nom de plume 'Localist.' Thank you. (Background on representation at localgov.html)

Ed Iglehart, North Glen, DG7 1PN Tel: 01556 600200 email: tipiglen@btconnect.com credo.html

Dear Neighbour,

A candidate visited me the other day. I explained that, while I was in general agreement with his views and pleased with his past performance, I felt even moreso about my sitting councillor.

I asked was it not a reduction in local democracy when the number of elected representatives is reduced and good men must become rivals? He agreed, but that "was the way they were doing it."

Who are 'they' that decide we need less democracy? Are they we?

Langholm is more local to Nottingham than to Drummore.

Localist

Local People, Who Are We?         There are among us those whose ancestors fill the local graves, And some who have found a home here, and are likely to be buried here, There are some who have found work here, including Some whose employers have posted them here. We are all local people.         May the present and coming times bring our shared goals closer to realisation. May we come to understand and share one another's goals where we do not already. May the forests and communities grow and prosper together in the knowledge that we can create our own circumstances.

Madam Editor, (1999)

As reported in the News (17th June), the Forestry Commission, who manage one quarter of the Stewartry's land area, are inviting local residents to suggest just how much say in the management & development of Dalbeattie Forest we wish to have.

I have for some time felt there are two ways to ensure sustainable development and empower local communities :

1. For public land, the prime consideration of development policy must be LOCAL BENEFIT.

2. For public land, development policy must be DECIDED & IMPLEMENTED BY bodies on which LOCAL RESIDENTS constitute a clear majority.

Does this not suggest an answer to the Forestry Commission's enquiry? Fully local control for local benefit.

Those who feel similarily, (or differently) are encouraged to attend at the Lesser Town Hall, Dalbeattie at 7PM on July 12th.

Your absence will demonstrate what many suspect - That you don't care and can't be bothered, in other words, you are an absentee owner.

Sincerely Ed Iglehart

26/09/1999 Editor, (I cannot stomach 'Sir' when my understanding is that a feminine form of address would be more appropriate. You may use 'Madam,' or such other form as you choose, including 'Sir,' if that is your wish. -E.I.)

We can see the symptoms, but do we recognise the disease?

Andrew Dodd is distressed by the intrusive and insulting attitude apparent in EU officialdom. Please, Andy, don't hold your breath too long.

Allan Wright (perhaps unwittingly?) informs us that up to 143 of our oldest neighbours now view life in an institution as preferable to being 'sent home', presumably to be a 'burden to their families'.

Mrs Lockhart seems to be under the mistaken impression that rates and council tax pay for local government, when in fact four fifths of Council income is from central government.

Derek Roan hopes for 'government help financially' to pay the advertising industry to educate the rest of us about healthy habits, and thereby improve the market for milk.

Allan Phin implies that our MP/MSP believes that new supermarkets might encourage more folk to drive into local towns, thereby abandoning the remaining village shops.

The human species can be credited with only two inventions for which there are no obvious natural models: the wheel and centralised authority. Both have their useful aspects. To become too dependent upon either is pathological.

Localist

Dear Madam Editor,

I would prefer that, should you choose to publish the comments above, that the pseudonym "Localist" be used. The reason being to avoid prejudices (positive and negative) which might be involved if my name is published. If you do not feel this is sufficient reason, you may publish my name. It is your choice.

Sincerely

Ed Iglehart Palnackie DG7 1PN 01556600200

P.S. My congratulations on the renewed practice of publishing a leader, or what I grew up calling an 'editorial'. A balanced approach is to be applauded, but not a disinterested one.

Far too early, we seem to learn an inverted pyramid of importance, where things are more important the more distant (and centralised?). By the age of 10 or 12, kids are itching to get to the centre of action, always distant. This is often accompanied by a contempt for things local, which may be obscured or implied rather than apparent.

I hope we can find new and better (and perhaps old and better!) ways of imparting a recognition in the early years of the true importance of home, family, community and locality (place).

These thoughts may some day be worked out sufficiently to form the basis of some sort of essay or the like. Much of my source material can be found at or from credo.html#credo

In the meantime, your entire paper is full of worthwhile articles of truly local interest. Keep up the good work.

With my very best wishes, I am Sincerely yours,

Ed Iglehart

26/10/1999

Twenty years ago, a bunch of folk from all walks of life huddled in the lee of a large boulder left atop Mulwharchar by a retreating glacier. The rain was horizontal. Gill bottles passed back & forth. I was there to see what we might lose if a waste dump came to the Galloway Hills, and whether I minded.

A few minutes later and 600 feet lower, some of us barefoot with trousers rolled up, stood in the edge of Loch Enoch. The sun was shining, and I decided I did mind.

The arguments were long and passionate. Local folk from all stations were broadly united in opposition to the very idea that the nation should dump on us. Few thought it would bring much employment or attract tourists.

In the end, even though an Inquiry determined the project could go ahead, "they" decided not to do it (for the time being).

There were a number of reasons why Mulwharchar was attractive for such a use. No doubt many were valid. A compelling fact was that the land already belonged to the Secretary of State through the Forestry Commission.

It still does.

But times change. Twenty years have flown by and our children have grown up, many of them gone to study or work elsewhere. Many are unlikely or unable to return and live here. We lose a child for every retiree we attract.

Today, local communities are being promised a real say in the management of local public land, a say in how we use it. The promise comes right from the top.

If you owned Dalbeattie Forest, what would you do with it? What would you like your grandchildren to inherit?

Dalbeattie Town Hall Monday November 29th from 3PM Until 9PM.

The whole of Dalbeattie Forest is due to be re-planned. The planning starts with YOUR IDEAS and YOUR MARKS on the map. Especially for grandchildren and young people of all ages...


19/11/99 to Galloway News "To put the bounty and the health of our land, our only commonwealth, into the hands of people who do not live on it and share its fate will always be an error. For whatever determines the fortune of the land determines also the fortune of the people. If history teaches anything, it teaches that." -- Wendell Berry (forward.html)

Dear Madame Editor,

May I presume upon your goodwill again and ask your assistance in bringing an important event to the notice of important folk. (local residents) Thanks in advance - Ed Iglehart

Participative workshops will take place in the Upper Town Hall, Dalbeattie from 3PM until 9PM on Monday November 29th. The timing is opportune, since the entire "Forest Plan" is due for its five-yearly update and revision during the coming year. It is hoped that local folk of all ages and opinions will take the opportunity to have their say on any and all aspects of the future of Dalbeattie Forest.

As reported by Fraser Robertson in the Galloway News (17th June), the Forestry Commission, who manage one quarter of the Stewartry's land area, invited local residents to suggest just how much say in the management & development of Dalbeattie Forest they wished to have.

A series of meetings of the resulting steering group has led to the Dalbeattie Forest Community Partnership, which has proposed a constitution and is seeking charitable status. The objective is:

To maximise the voluntary involvement of local residents in the management of Dalbeattie Forest for the environmental, social and economic benefit of the community. To be achieved by:
Encouraging and supporting practical work designed to preserve and develop the forest as an amenity of the town, its populace, and neighbouring communities; and
Re-establishing social, cultural and economic links between the communities and the forest, thereby promoting an interest in and commitment to the sustainable management of the forest in the long term.

Some contacts should you wish to put a reporter on the job: Bob McGarva 01556611326 (chair) Karl Bartlett 01387247745 ( FC recreation ranger) Charles Foster 01556610296 (treasurer) Jim Sorbie 01556630321 (colvend) John Harding 01556610650 (walking?) William Montgomerie 01556502840(orienteering?) Jock Pickthall 07887873235 (millennium) Judy Baxter 01556630267 (National Trust) Richard Edkins 01556 612131(secretary) Len McVinnie 01556612176 (cyclists)

Personally, I have for some time felt there are two ways to ensure sustainable development and empower local communities :

1. For public land, the prime consideration of development policy must be LOCAL BENEFIT.

2. For public land, development policy must be DECIDED & IMPLEMENTED BY bodies on which LOCAL RESIDENTS constitute a clear majority. (and it seems possible that it might happen...)

15/02/00 to Editor and other interested parties: REFERENCE: Holm Farm WGS application and Local Forest Frameworks

You will be aware that the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Dumfries & Galloway Council have expended considerable time and effort and spent a significant amount of public money in mounting the Local Forest Frameworks (LFF) exercise, which is at an advanced stage, but not yet completed.

Along with a number of other ordinary private persons and representatives of voluntary organisations, I have taken the time to participate in the exercise during the past year. We have taken the time to inform ourselves regarding the issues, to attend exercises, and to communicate our comments at various stages as the exercise has progressed.

Now, it would appear that, in an attempt to frustrate the express purposes of the exercise, an effort is being made to rush through an application for planting grant for land which is clearly identified in the LFF exercise as unsuited for planting. I have had confirmation from Christine Brien regarding the Council's position. REF: 99/C/40049 (no objections)

May I repeat that I (and many others) would consider it an abrogation of responsibility to proceed with approval of this or any project while the tri-partite consultation covering the area in question remains unfinished. This is particularily true for the reasons cited in my original communication, to wit: That the general and particular thrust of the LFF in the present draft form argues against further planting in the area concerned. The duty of public care argues that any decision must await the final outcome of the consultation.

The present government (and the last) have made a great deal of the value of involving local people in the decisions affecting their environment. We who make the effort to participate give freely of our own unpaid time because we agree with those sentiments.

There is more at stake here than simply whether or not a few acres more or less are planted to commercial forest. The good faith and credibility of every agency and official involved in the exercise is at risk.

Ed Iglehart

20/03/00 Elisabeth, (Editor, Galloway News)

Anyone who thinks farmers are kept alive by subsidies hasn't really thought about it. The subsidy system has its roots in shortages which were overcome fifty years ago. It pays farmers to keep more animals than the land can naturally carry or to produce more tonnage of crops than itcan naturally yield. To achieve this, of course, it is necessary to buy feed for the animals and fertiliser for the depleted soil. It also requires bigger buildings and machines, pesticides and herbicides. So the subsidies go to support (distant) manufacturing and transport, and our neighbours are simply middlemen (sorry, middlepersons).

The food, of course is supposed to be cheaper due to this support, and it is, to those who buy it - industrial processors, distributors and absentee-owned supermarkets. Once again, the subsidy goes to industry and transport. Please tell me I'm wrong.

Ed Iglehart

(the following is direct plagiarism of Wendell Berry, but irresistibly appropriate)
Editor,
IN OCTOBER OF 1993, the New York Times announced that the Census Bureau would "no longer count the number of Americans who live on farms " In explaining the decision, the Times provided some figures as troubling as they were unsurprising. Between 1910 and 1920, there were 32 million farmers living on farms-about a third of the population. By 1950, the proportion had declined, but the farm population was still 23 million. By 199l, the number was only 4.6 million, less than 2 percent of the population. That is, the American farm population had declined by an average of almost half a million people a year for forty-one years. Also, by 199l, 32 percent of farm managers and 86 percent of farmworkers did not live on the land they farmed.

These figures describe a catastrophe that is now virtually complete. They announce that there is no longer an agricultural class in America that is, or that can require itself to be, recognized by the government; there is no longer a "farm vote" that is going to be of much concern to politicians.

But that all happened in another country.

I was wondering whether any of my neighbours could find similar figures for Scotland. Just so we know how far down this frightening road we have gotten.

We may find that our farmers, who over the years have wondered whether or not they counted, may then put their minds at rest: they probably don't.

We have all probably become statistically insignificant.

Sincerely,

Ed Iglehart

19/11/99 (as sent to local paper, who used some of the text within an article )
"Text of letter from STB Quality Assurance, dated 20 September 1999: "Dear Mr Iglehart "TOURIST SIGNPOSTING NORTH GLEN GALLERY "Following your recent visit for signposting purposes, I am writing to advise that with regard to the current standard of facilities available to visitors the provision of white on brown tourist signposting cannot be approved. "The gallery itself is an interesting feature, however the working area where visitors experience the glass craft is restrictive. The viewing could be enhanced by generally tidying this area and re-arranging the layout. I am sure you will be disappointed at this outcome, however following improvements in this area we would be pleased to revisit."

I was indeed disappointed at the outcome. After all, we've been welcoming visitors to North Glen for almost three decades, and the proportion who return time after time, write remarks in visitor's books and send letters and emails supports my impression that many folk find what we have to offer is of interest. We've also usually managed make a little income from gallery sales, but not this season.

Last Spring (99), just before Easter, along with several other small family businesses in Palnackie, we received legal notice that we must remove our informal signing. We were encouraged to apply for permission for 2 temporary signs, which in order to comply with 'uniform standards', had to be ugly, characterless, more intrusive, (and less effective as it turns out), than what had been in place.

These were to fill the gap until we could arrange 'uniform standard' white-on-brown approved tourist signing. The approved temporary signs have been in place all season, and visitor numbers at North Glen are down by half, if not more. Of 27 seasons so far, this is the worst ever - a disaster!

Two of the informal signs we removed were at road junctions, one a mile southwest of Palnackie, another two miles northeast. They weren't big or ugly, but it seems they are sorely missed.

We live in a world increasingly dominated by machines. For a machine, uniformity is the only measure of 'quality', but if you think about it, true quality is in the differences. With machines it's possible to make each item virtually identical. In fact it's ONLY possible to make them so.

We would do well to remember that machines, mechanical or bureaucratical, exist to serve our needs, not the other way round!

Nobody can quarrel with a desire to improve the quality of experience which our visitors can expect, but I've been to Disney World (and liked it) and cannot believe this is our target market.

We are starving here, and all in the interests of providing visitors with some sort of homogenised 'uniform standard.' My own research (asking them) indicates that a powerful reason visitors come back to Galloway is that it hasn't yet been entirely smoothed out and paved over... they're escaping from uniformity - not seeking it!

As a matter of fact, before she learned of the STB letter, one of my colleagues undertook to do a substantial clean & tidy-up and has made the 'viewing area' at least a lot less cluttered. The actual work table and its surroundings remain in the chaotic state characteristic of creative practice. A bit like myself, actually.

I am writing to the Quality Assurance folk at STB to see if they'll re-inspect the facilities, but we do have to consider how far down this road we wish to travel in search of a 'uniform standard'.

There was a time, unless I mis-remember, when sweet reason ruled hereabouts. Now, it seems, we are bringing order out of chaos. With luck, we'll soon catch up with America - lots of work for lawyers there!

As I write, a young man with a powerful machine attached to a tractor is battering a hedge into submission to the continual sound of shattering stems and twigs. I have tied ribbons on five trees (two oaks, two hawthorns and an ash) in the hope that he might skip these again this year. Last year we (hedge & I) lost two oaks and two ash which had escaped for two years, but if we keep trying, we may yet get a few above the uniform standard!

Sincerely Ed Iglehart

15 April 0815 BST
The local paper letters last week had one from a lady who was incensed that the "shows"
had occupied the harbour square in Kirkcudbright, and was adamant that the square should only be used for "what it was meant for - a car park!" I didn't get round to sending in a oneliner (too busy with CHE term papers), and on this week's letter page two more appeared in support of her. SO:

Elisabeth, Madame Editor,

This Saturday morning dawned gloriously
bright with a light frost, and as I stood
taking it in, I glimpsed, out of the corner
of my eye, a familiar shape perched on a
wire. A swallow who may well have been
hatched in my workshop has returned
from its travels to the far south.

Seed time, harvest, and other such
seasonal events and activities have
marked the years from time immemorial.
Could it be that returning swallows once
wheeled and soared over an encampment
in downtown Kirkcudbright long before
the invention of the the cars which some
folk now consider so important?

Ed Iglehart


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