One thing very upsetting but it might have passed under the radar for most people is not so much Cameron/Clegg/Millipede, Obama/Romney or even the feminists but something to do with deaths everyday.
It seems unlikely that a fungus that killed 90 per cent of Denmark’s trees and spreads by air will not be devastating here, too. There is a glimmer of hope in the fact that ash, unlike elms, reproduce sexually so they are not clones — uniformly vulnerable to the pathogen. But it’s only a glimmer: tree parasites, from chestnut blight to pine beauty moth, have a habit of sweeping through species pretty rampantly, because trees are so long-lived they cannot evolve resistance in time.
And what of the supposed guardians of all things tree-ish in GB?
The Forestry Commission’s apologists are pleading ‘cuts’ as an excuse for its failure to do anything more timely to get ahead of the threat, but as a woodland owner I am not convinced. An organisation that has the time and the budget to pore over my every felling or planting application in triplicate and come back with fussy and bossy comments could surely spare a smidgen of interest in looming threats from continental fungi that have been spreading out from Poland for 20 years. The commission was warned four years ago of the problem.
And what are they actually doing?
Just last year, I received a letter from the Forestry Commission demanding access to survey one of my woods to answer the question ‘what are the forecasts for timber, biomass and carbon?’ in order to ‘help the United Kingdom meet international commitments, such as reporting for the Global Forest Resources Assessment and the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)’.
So, sweet FA. It’s the mindset:
The Forestry Commission’s priority has been, as in so many government bodies, to supply talking points for the international carbon-obsessed bureaucracy. The implicit assumption here, of course, is that climate change is the greatest threat to Britain’s trees, when in reality far greater threats come from diseases carried around by foresters themselves. This is happening throughout the world of nature conservation. A climate fetish has sucked all the oxygen from the real threats to species and habitats — indeed it has actually begun to make those threats worse.
As an ardent champion of free trade, by the way, I make one exception: we are far too free in trading live creatures that can carry diseases or smuggled pests. We need to get more serious about this issue.
Instead, the perpetual urge to elevate climate change as an ecological threat has distracted the world from the truth that the greatest cause of species extinction is the invasion of alien exotic species: fungi, weeds, snakes, rats, cats, goats, mink, grey squirrels. No other cause even comes close to this one. Of the 181 species of bird and mammal that have died out since 1500, just nine were on continents. The rest were on islands (Australia counts as an island in this respect, having an isolated and vulnerable fauna).
Shan’t reprint his entire article but you get the general idea and I’m really devastated by this, and not just as a boatbuilder who sees his lovely timber disappear. I want to appeal to those of a similar mindset to me on socio-political issues. Having a green mindset on things like the ash and on the NY Moors heather does not make one a socialist/feminist/do-gooder/whiny-moany.
I’m not going to rush out and hug an ash tree. But equally, I really want to see this devastation cease. There’s too much devastation in too many areas at this time.