Podcast – the contrast between sustainable forestry and planning law – a live case

You buy land, you invest your money, time, sweat, blood, and tears. You engage your community. You find niche opportunities to get paid for your investment. You build resiliency in the soil, you battle people who have no idea what you do.

There is a visible disconnect between people who are the pioneers of modern land husbandry, and those who wield delegated power to read rule books written by people who seem to have never stepped foot on raw land.

All that is needed for a confrontation between the two worlds is a tip off by a “concerned member of the public”. Now it is your responsibility to prove to the “normal world” that what you do is beneficial to you, to the land, and ultimately to them. But that process will cost you money; A LOT of money.

Doug and Claire who chose to manage their woodland in a way that helps the local community, now face legal fees imposed by a system that not only doesn’t understand their way of living, but actively prevents it. Their case, and their story are one of many stepping stones which we all need for building a sustainable, permaculture future in the developed world.

Here’s Doug:

I hope that this conversation gives you valuable insight into what Doug and Claire have gone through over the past seven years, and how much more work lies ahead – just to be able to do the positive restoration work.

They have a lot of friends that have already come through, thanks to the enormous amount of work they’d done over the past seven years. They’re more than half way there, but it’s getting close to the end of the funding campaign.

Almost £20000 has been pledged at the time of writing. This campaign is important. It’s a chance to show real solidarity within our movement. Their case is not just two people being pushed back by the established regulations, and entrenched interests, it’s all got to do with all of us.

Cases like Doug and Claire’s are vital battles on the way to change the perception of land use in the developed world. Winning them is key to push the boundaries of what’s possible, push the needle closer to the tipping point. You’re not just helping them, you’re helping your children, our children to have the sort of future we dream of. Invest in that future now, by helping them win this battle.

We have a little over a week to the end of the campaign. Please go to, have a look at the amazing rewards on offer, and add your contribution.

Notes, links mentioned in the interview:

Hillyfield website
The barristers defending the case
Dartmoor Park
Forestry commision
Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy
Steward Community Woodland in Dartmoor
Guardian article

Lessons from the past seven years:

● Compromising as a skill,
● Communication – sharing the minimum, not trying to convince everyone about everything. Sharing only what they are ready for. The grand vision might be too difficult to grasp without prior knowledge, and therefore might feel threatening,
● Enjoy the land. Roll in the meadow, don’t just scythe it!

Save the Hillyfield EP
Helpx, Workaway, WWOOF
Brian Sedgbeer
Annabel Alison
Sam Alty musician

Music used: Luxe by Jahzzar is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License.


This podcast is part of a pilot series of interviews to highlight the work of permaculture practitioners in the UK. You can find more over at:

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