July 31, 2021

What Can a Rowan Tree Remind Us About Managing Our Landscape?

Cara Roberts

Spoken word, Short StoryWhat Can a Rowan Tree Remind Us About Managing Our Landscape?, 2021

Conservation is a conversation with the land. It tells the land our values and priorities. What are we telling it? I worked in conservation for decades. Writing this story brought my heart into imagining what parts of Scotland could look like. ‘Traditional land-use’ preserves the status quo of the past two hundred years, not the millennia before when we had a closer relationship with the land. Where is the wild heart of our world? Is it still here? Is it too late? Can we dare to hope? Humans are part of nature; we always have been. Over time we have forgotten what wild spaces actually look like, and what they can teach us. Nowhere is that more evident than in the uplands of Scotland. We talk of its wild beauty, of our impressive wildlife— not realising that what we have is a bare shadow of what was here before. Rewilding is coming into the public consciousness and stirring debate about what our land should look like in a sustainable future. It is controversial because it challenges our expectations and even our world view, just as debates around capitalism and oil consumption are challenging in a society reliant on them.