Friday, 21 January 2011

Our trees, Woodlands and Forests

I was drawn to Druidry by my love of nature, by paying attention to the patterns of the year  the passing of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the solar year and the lunar phases all the circles that mark out our  lives.  In Era when so many have lost touch with natural world I have a deep concern for the future of our  trees, woodlands and Forests.  Many are under threat from disease, pests  privatisation and  commercial priorities and exploitation.
Who now remembers, or has seen,  the Elms that dominated so many hedgerows, fields, park and woodlands in Britain? That is until the 1970's when Dutch  Elm Disease saw these giants of the British woods and Farmland sicken, die and crashed to the ground.  Yews only survive in sheltered valleys  in Wales and Scotland. I hope that these trees may as  Andy Thompson in Native British Trees  so  optimistically believes 

" may find regeneration because
 the profuse sucker growth may yet prove to be the key to its survival.  
This once major player came back from near extinction 5000 years ago."

Hopefully other trees, under threat from disease and pests, will also be able to regenerate.

One  of these trees is the the Horse Chestnut.  Walking in a  local parkland with my dog Pops,  I met a friend who told me four of the Horse Chestnuts trees were  going to be felled by the council.  This step is being taken because the trees are suffering from Chestnut Canker, a disease spreading  to both old and young trees through out the UK and Europe. In Hampshire UK a survey of 230  these trees found half were suffering from the disease.  More trees are effected in urban areas than in rural places. Sadly there is no cure available at the moment.

The trees are bleeding to death!  Looking closely at the trees on St James Green I could see gaping wounds with sap dripping slowly down the trunks.  These Trees are part of the landscape of my life.  One springtime  I remember walking to the  Avebury stone circle via a beautiful avenue of  mature Horse Chestnuts.  The beautiful spires of pink flowers  sprinkled the ground with white and pink confetti. The flowers held the promise of the fruits to come which are treasured by wildlife and by generations of children.  I am sure many of us have childhood memories of conker fights in the school playground and parks.

Touching one of the four trees I felt a deep sadness and ask the universal energy of Reiki to help the trees and inspire those looking for a treatment to cure the disease.  While the disease is spreading it is unlikely that these trees will be part of any planting  plans in the near future.   I cannot imagine the English landscape without these beautiful ornamental trees. The  link below gives more details of Chestnut Canker.

While reading a gardening magazine I learnt that oak trees have been taken out of the planting plans for the 2011 Olympics because of progressionary moths.  Although the tree can survive an attack  from these moths they do have a health risk.   The caterpillars form huge nests and their hairs are irritating to the skin and eyes and even bronchial tubes of  humans and animals.  Fortunately this is,usually, only when there is a massive infestation.  I have seen these moth nests and felt the irritation caused by the hairs on my arms and face - ouch. 

The colder winters of the last two years may have killed many of the overwintering caterpillars and eggs. The infestations can be treated for example, the  R.H.S gardens at Kew were closed on the 18th of January so that the oaks could be sprayed to protect them from these moths. 

During the past months there have been  many stories in the press about to the potential sale of public forest land by the  UK Government.   This is sad new for all of us who love walking in forests and woodlands.  The places I walk in locally in Hampshire and the New Forest have open public access, the sites are usually provided with car parks, trails, many have disabled access and visitor information Centres.   Will private land owners provide the same facilities?  Or will "the right to roam"  mean clambering over high gates, or fences?

The present Government whose Prime Minister told Civil servants in May:

"I want the new coalition administration to be
 "the greenest government ever"

have already drawn up the plans for the sale.    Not the just 15% of Forestry Commission land allowed at present by law - .They are planning to change the legislation to sell off  100%  all the woodlands and forests in England.  The Public Bodies Bill  if passed would allow the Minister of State to sell of 100% the land without reference again to Parliament.  Minister, Jim Paice MP,  on the 24th November 2010 stated that it was  

“the decision to move towards substantial, large-scale disposal of the forestry estates."

The majority of the sites already proposed for sale are ancient woodlands.  Which both English Nature and The Woodland Trust deplore.  

Scotland and Wales have refused to sell off their public woods and forests. 

The Sunday Telegraph carried on the 24th of January a letter of protest signed by a hundred people, including the Archbishop of Canturbury, actors, business leaders and other public figures.

In Cumbria part of  the Lake district, woodlands and meadows are already being sold off by the National Park Authority.  The sale has begun!

Come on England say - NO!
This article by Johann Hari  is a good source of information about this topic

see also the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission Sites.  
As well as

Some good news is that the Woodland Trust  has raised  £800,000 to buy a remote woodland in the Snowdonia National Park.  The Woodland Trust says nearly 15,000 people have contributed to its appeal.  The Trust has now purchased almost 1,000 acres of the woodland, which lies in a valley between Dolgellau and Barmouth. 

2011 is the UN International Year of Forests.
Starts 25th of January 2011

I have been writing about  concerns about trees in the UK but globally our forests are under threat. I enjoy walking in woodlands and forests in the UK and Europe. The loss of forests and woodlands would be dreadful to me personally; however, 1.6 billion people in world depend on forest for their livelihood.  80% of biodiversity is contained in forests and woodland.  We cannot afford to let  forests be lost by commercial activity, neglect or from climate change.  Please engage with UN Year of forests.

Here is the link.

I am sending Reiki to all those involved in  the present and future management and care for trees, woods and forest that the right decisions are taken, and that our love of trees will give us strength fight  to protect every tree, woodland and forest for ourselves and generations to that follow. 

*Native British Trees Andy Thompson - Wooden books

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