An article from Do or Die Issue 5. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 63-64.
Far from being the environmental advocate many would like us to believe David Bellamy has shown himself to be an ally - not of the ecological movement, but of the multinationals and the rich. This is all the more disgusting as Bellamy, (a trained biologist), is neither ignorant of this system's ecocidal path, nor of those who lead this process, those he now in fact allies himself with.
Bellamy has in the past done many good things, educating the public on ecology and in fact taking part in numerous environmental protests (notably the successful Franklin Dam campaign, Tasmania 1983): however he is now more often seen advertising the wares of multinational companies than taking action against those same companies for their desecration of the earth. Bellamy consistently helps to obscure the fundamental conflict between the forces of industrialism and the ecological movement. Presuming Bellamy is as intelligent as some of his older writings indicate, (maybe a large presumption), he must realise why international chemical companies like to be associated with him. It is not merely for his charismatic hand gestures and beard that they pay him; they value him because it confuses the public into believing that as Bellamy is a 'leading' environmentalist then the product must be without ecological blemishes. Dementedly jumping up and down for ICI and Detox, (among others), he helps the companies in their propaganda war to further still the great cause of global consumption (the consumption of the globe).
Bellamy has made numerous public statements of his belief in game keeping as beneficial for conservation, he is a patron of the 'Moorland Gamekeepers Association' and is involved in a number of other similar organisations that put this idea across. His claim is entirely false. Rather than beneficial, game keeping would be better understood as a constant war against nature. Grazing by deer kept for hunting is one of the major factors in the lack of regeneration of the Caledonian forest and as W. Pearshall explains in 'Mountains & Moorlands':
"Sporting values have led to an enormous increase in... [heatherl... in the interests of grouse preservation. Widespread drainage of the wetter moors has disturbed the natural balance of the vegetation, and, because the production of large numbers of grouse requires an abundant supply of young heather, frequent burning is resorted to, a practise which must have marked effects on the fauna and flora. There can be little doubt that this treatment has profoundly modified even the original heather-moors... Under modem conditions, moors are almost always overstocked for sporting purposes, and hence very rapid spreading of... diseases takes place. Ruthless extermination has been the fate meted out to any bird or animal suspected of preying on either grouse or grouse eggs. The result is that out of the long list of birds and beasts of prey that formally were to be found on our moorlands, only two, the kestrel and the merlin, are now to be seen regularly on grousemoors."
The enclosure of the highlands was an essential part of the industrial conquest of Scotland, which continues to this day. When the people have land, who will work in the filth and monotonous boredom of factories? Colin MaCleod wrote in issue 3 of DoD , ('Land & Liberty: A letter from Scotland'), that:
"The people of Scotland are landless as a result of historic coercion into the capitalist labour force... The wholesale eviction of the indigenous population [of the highlands was carried out with a blind economic totality and is a matter touching our innermost feelings... Glasgow was historically a slave camp of the industrial era, doubling as a reservation for the dispossessed natives."
Bellamy knows full well the involvement of the families he mixes with in the destruction of Scotland's great wildlands and land based communities. Their continued occupation of the land makes it, without their dissolution, impossible to create a green future and keeps the poor in the slums and hellholes of the city. People in Scotland view supporting the Highland landowners and their lust for blood and money as something on a par with supporting the genocidal land seizure by the USA of indigenous territory.
When Bellamy's book, 'The Roadside',  fell into my lap even the cynical writer of this article was astonished. This book was published in 1993 AFTER the Yellow Wednesday eviction on the dongas at Twyford Down, at which Bellamy was PRESENT, (albeit in an observing role - remaining 'even-handed', he remarked that “behaviour on both sides was bad").
This is a children's book. The back cover says:
"An environment as beautiful and complex as this needs to be understood, so that it can be protected from harm. This book describes the fascinating animal and plant life patterns of the roadside and explores its ever changing world."
An old, overgrown track is described at some length. The first few pages describe the varied flora and fauna to be found anywhere that has been left alone for some time. However, one day some men appear with surveying equipment and we realise that the change Mr. Bellamy has in mind is something other than the flowing of the life force we expected. Ah! Perhaps we are about to be subjected to a tirade against road building; after all, Bellamy is one of those whinging environmentalists. Let's read on...
Sure enough, the whole place is getting trashed! Oh but, hang on a minute...
"By the summer, despite the upheaval... some plants and animals have made themselves at home... one of the foxes even searches for food in the rubbish sacks... At last the Work is finished. So this is what it was all for! Where the old track used to wind, a great, straight six-lane road is ready for the traffic. Hedgerows have gone, but the wood is still there and the verges are seeded with grass and summer flowers that feed the butterflies again. Where the hill used to rise above the old farmhouse, now the road runs through a deep cutting in the sandstone. The rocky walls on either side are already riddled with the nest holes of sand martins. Despite the cars roaring past only a few metres away, the vixen dozes peacefully in the sun. She knows that her cubs are safe to chase butterflies. The road builders have done a good job [my emphasis]. They have laid a pipe under the road to carry the stream to a big new pond on the other side. This also gives the toads a safe way through from their home to their mating grounds in the pond... A pair of ducks are rearing their first batch of ducklings. The road doesn't seem to bother them at all, or the swallows, back again for another summer."
In early March '92 Bellamy gave a speech at the Winchester Guild-Hall. He proclaimed, "How could anyone have the stupidity to carve an obscene great hole in these Downs?"
How indeed, David? Could it be that they read too much uninformed bullshit when they were children?
All in all Bellamy can be seen to be truly worthy of a place in our "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing" column. David, we await your defence!
1) 'The Roadside' - David Bellamy (Macdonald (sic) and Co., London) No. 3 in the series "Bellamy's Changing World ".