Sunday 6 February 2011

If you go down to the woods today...

Sadly, I've not had much opportunity for wildlife encounters this week. Nature's taken a bit of a buffeting recently, and I'm not just talking about the strong winds howling across the landscape.

Government plans to sell off publicly-owned woodlands in an attempt to balance the books have come in for fierce criticism from just about all sides. In comparison to the amount of debt we're in, the savings talked about seem paltry, so it is very short-sighted of politicians to think that the electorate won't suspect ulterior motives for the scheme.

Here we are, good old Great Britain, bigging ourselves up as environmental champions. Always banging on about how important it is to save the rain forests and how other countries have to play their part in managing climate change. What a bunch of hypocrites we must look. 

Our woodlands need protecting as much as any habitat. Their biodiversity is a thing to be cherished and celebrated, not threatened with short-term penny pinching. Countless generations of folk have appreciated the natural history and sense of well being found within our woods. They are places where wildlife and humans can exist together, with minimal impact on the former and stress-busting rejuvenation on the latter. No longer do many of us depend on woodland for our livelihoods, but the memories of those times are etched deep into our very beings. We need them for the sanctuaries they are, for the nature that dwells within them and for the breathing space it gives us as humans. They are places of active recreation and of peaceful contemplation, of sights, sounds and smells that banish the troubles of our contemporary lives for a while, for here the car is not king.

Woods are where we walk with our children, where the next generation can learn the wonders of Nature and the small acorn of hope is sown. For if our children do not have the opportunity to appreciate these wild places, to learn to care for the rich green tapestry of our countryside, then where will they revitalise their spirits in times to come.

This morning, as I typed an email to my local MP, asking why he had voted against a rethink of the sell-off plans, an echoing clarion call cut through the air outside my window. In an Ash tree, sat a Mistle Thrush, his clear, loud voice carried on the wind, shouting his defiance to all who could hear. 

We must care for our woodland or we will be the poorer for it and we will have failed the land.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

It's interesting how I'm aware of what's going on across the pond solely through bloggers. Bob @ Birds and Nature in the Forest of Dean has been very vocal: Did you sign the petition? Your embedded news article paints a slightly different picture. Public-private partnerships seem to be a movement here in CA (I can't speak for the rest of the U.S.), and despite much uproar, mainly due to lack of trust in anything private and potentially for profit, they seem to be doing okay in saving land and institutions that would otherwise be permanently closed due to lack of government funding. Of course, I don't know the details of your supposed sell-off. I do agree that we should not force other countries to save their (rain) forests, when we ourselves can't even manage to save the parcel of land down the street.

holdingmoments said...

Totally agree Graeme.
I e-mailed my MP the other day, and received a patronising reply, and poor argument in favour of the sell off.
Mr Iain Stewart hasn't heard the last from me.

Outrageous that a government could even think of doing such a thing.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Fair point, Katie. The future may be rosier than we fear, but our lack of trust has grown from bitter experience. The petition is well on the way to the half a million mark. It is reassuring to know that nature bloggers are carrying the flag and spreading the message.

Keith, I await my reply from Mark Lancaster. Green and pleasant land, eh? It won't be pleasant if it's not green :o(