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.