11 Jan 2014

Environmental offsetting

It’s amazing that someone with as tenuous as grasp on natural sciences as Owen Patterson could be our environmental secretary, taking decisions about the future of nature in the UK.

Apparently he thinks its ok to chop down ancient woodlands for development, if you do some offsetting some other place. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25599249 As though all you need to do to replace ancient woodland, is plant a few trees.

Perhaps Mr Patterson has never seen a wood? Clearly he’s never read anything more complex than ‘may contain trees’. Ancient woodland is so much more than the trees. It is a habitat. All manner of things live there. Birds, insects, animals, plants that are not trees. Ancient woodland has different flora to younger woods, and that flora is precious. None of these things magically relocate just because you planted some other trees for them. In many ways the most important thing about ancient woodland is not the purely the trees, but the complex interplay between fungi in the soil, and the trees. The life below the surface of the woodland floor is as important as the bits you can see. Quite possibly more so.

Woodlands are not separate from the land they stand on. They have grown up over hundreds, sometimes thousands of years in relation to the shape of the land, the flows of water, the underlying geology. Nothing is replaceable. Every wood is unique, and none should be chopped down carelessly for the sake of a fast buck for a few already overly-rich individuals.

Woodlands are our heritage. We should leave them intact as best we can for future generations. It is Owen Patterson that needs removing for development, and for the good of our countryside.

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