Born in Whitehaven, Cumbria, in the 1950s and brought up in North Lancashire, I have spent the whole of my working life in Scotland before retiring in 2016. This blog is not so much about me, as about that experience, mostly to do with rural land management in Scotland.  Many different and overlapping stories have unfolded over the years which I observed, participated in and tried to learn from. Perhaps nobody else is interested in all this but, for my own satisfaction, I want to explore and reflect on these experiences.  If I can draw out lessons which might help us all in facing the future, I shall be content.

Growing up, I became aware of the natural world and gradually began to recognise how it is changing – often not for the better.  Doing something about this became my lifelong commitment.  This was all inspired and reinforced by reading the work of some prominent authors of the 1960s and 1970s – for example Gerald Durrell, Gavin Maxwell, Peter Scott and Frank Fraser Darling. There have been (and still are) many other conservation ‘heroes’ whose efforts to raise awareness have been welcome and necessary, but not sufficient in themselves to tackle the problems we all face.  Doing so requires collective effort, in many forms, and so my appreciation and concern for wild plants, animals and landscapes always involves people and the ways we strive (and often fail) to achieve successful stewardship of our planet. There’s plenty of content out there on what this means and why it is important, but not so much with a focus on how we can best put things right.

Why Constructive Tension?  That was commended in the 1972 Select Committee report ‘Land Resource Use in Scotland’1.  I lived with the consequences throughout my career.

Alan Mowle

(The header photo, by the way, shows sunrise over the remote west coast of Jura)


  1. House of Commons HC511 1971-72