An interview with...

Bill Grayson

Ex National Trust warden/Grazing Animals Project

Date: 29 December 2005
Arnside, Silverdale
Interviewed by:
Sue Weldon

Bill Grayson has lived and farmed in the Silverdale-Arnside area for 14 years. In 1992 he took a tenancy at Bank House Farm in Silverdale, owned by the National Trust, where he combined organic farming with a job as a part-time National Trust warden for the area. Bill talks about his work, as an active conservationist and as an innovator in conservation grazing, which he has gradually introduced to the AONB over the past 14 years. In the past 10 years, since leaving Bank House farm, he has worked as a self-employed grazier for a whole range of other conservation bodies (RSPB, Woodland Trust, English Nature, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the AONB). Much of the woodland management in the area now involves animal grazing but, as Bill says: ‘I prefer not to think of them as woodlands, it’s too rigid and compartmentalised’. In the discussion about the changing cultures and practices of woodland management he draws on his knowledge as a natural scientist and a lifetime of practical experience:

‘I feel that I suppose from an ecological point of view that this country will have always had woodlands, and that by and large those woodlands will have had grazing animals in them. There is a big debate at the moment just beginning to get going about the role of grazing animals in woodland. So I’m interested to see how the arguments within that debate work themselves out. So I’m just reasonably relaxed that we can, with goodwill on all sides, produce some situations where we get the best of both. That the woodlands will survive and they’ll provide benefits for the people that walk in them as well as providing a resource for grazing animals to be there as well.’

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