ECOLOGIST James H C Fenton
Note: My website address has changed to This is because after Brexit the .eu domain name will no longer be valid. The old address was
How do we know what we know? Some things we just know! For example, we know that woodland is the climax vegetation in our part of Europe; that tree regeneration without fencing is ‘natural’ regeneration; that the reason that there are so few trees in the UK uplands is because of our actions, now and in the past; that there is too much grazing in the our uplands; that sheep grazing in the hills has reduced their biodiversity value; that peat erosion is caused by human action and is a sign of bad land management; that erosion generally is caused by poor land management; that trees prevent floods and landslides; that tree planting is good for climate change mitigation… But how do we know all these ‘facts’? Do we just know them because everyone else does, i.e. GroupThink? Or do they all have a sound evidence base? Are they facts or beliefs? Do we ever stop to analyse our own beliefs? Nowadays, is ecology really science-based or belief-based?…
A View from Argyll James Fenton’s perspective on current conservation issues Click here for previous blogs
*NEW* James Fenton’s latest paper, first published online at 9 October 2019
WOODLAND OR OPEN GROUND? Scenarios for the persistence of woodland in the presence of grazing The Highlands of Scotland as an example
*NEW* MUSINGS ON THE MEANING OF WILD A wild experience. The wild Highlands. Really wild! Wildlife. Wild nature. Wild land. Wildness. Wilderness. Re-wild… We use the word ‘wild’ all the time but what does it mean? With all the current talk of wild land and rewilding, this essay is particularly relevant. It was first published in Wild Land News Issue 95 (Summer 2019), magazine of the Scottish Wild Land Group It can be accessed here. pdf A5 9pp 6mb
Note: I have recently added new papers to the peatland page. These consider the long- term dynamics of ombrotrophic peatlands.