THE letter by S Jones concerning grazing and other conservation projects in Habberley Valley brings to mind the plight of another once-pristine nature reserve, the Rifle Range.

When I was a boy you could walk unhindered anywhere across its sandy expanse and climb around the shallow cave in the Devil’s Spadeful (I use the name we used 55 years ago), the area quite bereft of fencing.

You just had to avoid the tanks when they were training.

Today much of its area is fenced off for the grazing of the cattle and rare breeds considered by today’s conservationists to be essential to preserve the ecology of the Rifle Range.

Since when were soay sheep environmentally friendly?

Much of the walking domain presently opened to the public follows rat runs between barbed wire fence enclosures.

The purpose of barbed wire is to keep humans out, not animals in.

To the west of the Devil’s Spadeful huge areas have been bulldozed almost to bedrock, the heath completely destroyed.

Many trees have been felled beneath Whitehill Wood.

The purpose of all this devastation, I believe, is to promote even more revenue-raising grazing areas (cows don’t eat heather and birch scrub). The fencing will surely follow, further restricting public access.

The despoliation of the Rifle Range Nature Reserve has reduced some areas to hideous scars and being sandy heath, the damage will be lasting.

Following a huge public protest recently, the selling off of the Forestry Commission, including parts of Wyre Forest, is presently on hold. But what is happening to the Rifle Range would have surely have been duplicated on an even grander scale among local woodland, with only age-old public footpaths and bridleways open to the public (thus preserving, however loosely, the ‘public access’ sop, with huge tracts of ‘private woodland’ fenced off forever).

This gradual and insidious shrinking of and encroachment into once public space is the Acts of Enclosure all over again, this time without even the dubious validity of an Act to back it up.

A JORDAN Clovelly Court Leswell Lane Kidderminster