Following their recent exchange of views on the future of the uplands, Rory and the environmentalist George Monbiot are to hold a debate in the Lake District in Spring 2014.

George Monbiot has called for the uplands to be re-wilded and for sheep farming to be replaced by a wilderness. Rory has dubbed this “willful blindness”, and has called for a policy designed to preserve small family sheep farms.

This is an increasingly controversial debate, as hundreds of small family farms have disappeared in the last decade and environmental policies are replacing sheep pasture with wild landscape. Rory’s campaign for upland sheep farmers has involved challenging all the major players in the Lake District to measure the impact of their policies on the numbers of small family sheep farms, and to predict how many farms will be left in twenty years’ time. His campaign has included many meetings with organisations such as the RSPB, Natural England, United Utilities, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, and the Lake District National Park Authority.

RORY STEWART MP represents the largest and most sparsely populated constituency in England, and the constituency with the highest percentage of upland farmland, with 1.5 million sheep. He believes passionately in a human landscape, and calls small family sheep farms our “last fragile link to a past that we love”.

GEORGE MONBIOT is an environmental campaigner, a regular columnist for the Guardian newspaper and the author of several books on climate change, including Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. He writes regularly about climate change science and policy for the Guardian and his own website, often addressing claims made by climate sceptics.

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