I remember trying to access the John Muir Trust’s website during their fundraising campaign to buy Talla/Gameshope estate in the Scottish Borders. I was at work, contracting in a particularly toxic Scottish bank and was dismayed to discover their web filtering software blocked access, as the JMT was deemed an ‘activism’ organisation. Naturally, I assumed they had a crack team of Monkey Wrench Gang type saboteurs when I became a member, but it turns out that they are entirely reasonable and evenhanded in their approach to conservation. It’s not about stopping progress at all costs, but advocating responsible stewardship of the landscape we’ve been blessed with.
Both Margaret and I are in agreement that we prefer to donate to smaller organisations, where we can see the fruits of their labour firsthand. Margaret sits on the Board of Trustees of a small Edinburgh charity, we know exactly where the time and money we donate has gone and the difference it makes; with the JMT, it’s no different.
The organisation itself is pretty impressive, especially given it’s small size. The property it has acquired in 30 years of existence is testament not only to the dedication and hard work of the Board of Trustees and Management Team, but to the passion of it’s membership for our landscape.
Without the JMT to educate, promote and raise awareness of issues surrounding wild land, we’d be much worse off. Comments this week from the House of Lords in reference to fracking in the ‘desolate’ NE of England remind us of the challenges we face in ensuring that government, whether democratically elected, or arbitrarily appointed as in the Lords, are held to account. The view that landscape must be ‘developed’ and ‘monetized’ to be of value should be challenged.
As population has become more centred in urban environments, the work JMT does with the John Muir Award is key to engaging the next generation and promoting discovery and enjoyment of our wild landscapes. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in the country, I can’t imagine a childhood without a backdrop of rolling hills and the freedom to explore and discover. Without that connection, I may never have taken an interest in such issues.