Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Save Our Forests!


As my regular readers will know, this is not a political blog. I very rarely speak or even think of politics. But as someone who loves trees and woods, how can I remain silent when the forests of my country are under threat of being sold?

It was with disbelief, then horror, that I first read via Twitter that the government are intending to sell off our Forestry Commission forests. Sell our heritage, our public domain places of solace, inspiration, special family times and memories? Surely this could not be so!

But it is so at this time of writing. For those who would know about the details, the implications and the public's overwhelmingly passionate response to this threat, I direct you to the links at the top of my right sidebar. These will take you to several hard-working campaign sites dedicated to informing the public and saving our forests.

My focus here is on the more 'intangible' emotional and 'spiritual' reasons for opposing this sale.




These special places are vital for our well-being: physical, mental and 'spiritual'. In our stressful materialistic world, we need to regain our sense of wonder, to break free from the obsessions with monetary profit, market forces and measurable assets. For me a walk in the woods is frequently a transcendent experience, as well as an enjoyable form of exercise in fresh air and beautiful surroundings.

How can we quantify the feeling of looking up through light-dappled leaves, that lifting of the spirits, which at the same time brings tears to our eyes? It is not only with our physical senses that we revel in the scent of damp earth, the soaring trunks, the sighing of the wind through branches. Is beauty measurable? What price do we dare to put on imagination, creativity or sense of place?

There is an ancient symbolism in trees and forests that runs through history. It flows through our literature, our art, and our popular culture. How many authors have been inspired by woods! Tolkien, whose descriptions in Lord of the Rings contributed immensely to my own appreciation of trees, Julia Donaldson with her wonderful Gruffalo children's books, and many more.

These are just a few of the reasons why I, along with so many others, am so passionately opposed to the unfair and unnecessary proposals to sell off our forests.


12 comments:

Rebecca said...

Very well said, I was horrified when I heard about the selling off of our forests. Not even tiny little patches of woodland that dot our countryside, but great swathes of, for example, the forest of dean and such places! I had believed (erroneously, so it seems) that these forests were part of our national parks and could not just be sold off to line the pockets of those who happen to be in government at any one time.

Have we, as a society, as a race as a whole even, still not learned the error of our ways when it comes to 'selling' our areas of natural beauty to the highest bidder? Those who sell this land can give us all the assurances in the world, but consider what happened in the gulf of Mexico last summer when, despite all assurances, oil was spilled and allowed to destroy some of the worlds most pristine aquatic habitats. Greed and the want for money not only ruined thousands of humans lives who depended upon those habitats for their living, but thousands of lives were lost and damage done will not be repaired for many a year.

Whilst it is doubtful of course that someone will strike oil in our ancient forests, greed will only end in their destruction. It may be half an acre cleared here or there at first, but eventually we find that our lust for money has destroyed what we may have once taken for granted. Our beautiful island used to be covered in such grand forests, it is of vital importance that what remains of them are protected. The stories of characters such as Robin Hood will live on in our childrens hearts forever, but how sad will it be if they cannot visit Sherwood and experience for themselves, as I did as a child, that magical place where the legends say he roamed a free man against the greed of the tyrant overlords of the land.

No assurances can be made, the only way to protect our ancient forests is for them to be held on behalf of the people of this land to whome our ancestors have handed these forests down to, by our elected government in perpetuity, and not to be seen as a source of revenue!

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Rebecca! I strongly agree with and appreciate everything you say here.

Lucy said...

It's funny how things change. When I was a child, the words 'Forestry Commission' brought everyone out in groans and moans because it was planting pines in straight rows all over the place. Now, we are seeing it as a defender of access and variety.

Lucy

Paulie said...

Amen! You said it so well.

Phoenix C. said...

Yes, it's wonderful how the Forestry Commission have gradually played a bigger and bigger part in protecting and increasing our bio-diversity, and in encouraging our community to experience our forests in so many ways. I am so grateful for all the Forestry Commission workers who have worked loyally over the years to enable us to enjoy our heritage.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Paulie! A lot of us in the UK are voicing our heartfelt dismay at this threat.

Barbara Martin said...

Times are certainly changing, and it is necessary for the public to sepak up about their desires and needs with respect to issues like this. Forests are very important for the very things you mention, as well as cleaning the air we breathe. The more trees are destroyed the more our climate will change for the worse. It makes one wonder what business moguls are thinkging. In the long run, it will affect them as well.

Phoenix C. said...

This is so true, Barbara. We all have to live on this planet, and harming our environment and heritage for short term gain is ludicrous.

Diane AZ said...

Oh, this is sad and shocking news! But, I'm glad you're speaking up, giving a voice to the forests and ultimately, our planet. Your illustrations are gorgeous and moving.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Diane. It was shocking news, and there are very many of us speaking up for our forests.

Anna said...

Catching up with a backlog of blog reading at the moment. You have said it most eloquently !

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Anna! Just had good news on Twitter: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/16/forests-sell-off-cameron-uturn