If you’ve ever tried activism, you will know how good the odds are of being hassled over your choices. Worried about refugees? Why aren’t you looking out for the homeless in this country? Worried about poverty in the UK? Didn’t you hear about the poor people facing famine? Helping animals? Why aren’t you protecting abused children instead? Helping local children? Think of all the advantages they have compared to animals who can’t speak for themselves. So yes, why be a tree activist rather than saving elephants, fighting for world peace, or some other cause?
It’s important to me to flag up just how fraudulent the whole line of questioning is. Anyone who tries to help in any way is likely to be hit by one of these. It very seldom comes from other campaigners. It usually comes from people who aren’t doing anything but want to derail you. This is a tactic, and the effect of the tactic is to wear down and overwhelm anyone who thought they could help. It comes (I think) from people who are so defeated, so crushed and dehumanised themselves in face of all that is wrong, that they cannot bear anyone else trying to improve things. If anyone else keeps going, it probably invalidates their sense of being entitled to not try. That’s my guess.
So I took up tree activism, because I needed to pick something to focus on. There are many, many causes I care about and I’ll help where I can, but I can’t be an effective, active sort of activist for everything, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Also, I love trees.
Standing up for trees does a whole array of other things. Protecting trees means protecting habitats for other creatures, and green spaces for the good of human mental health. Trees take carbon out of the air, so protecting trees is a way of fighting climate change. Woodland in the UK helps prevent flooding. Woodlands overlap with human heritage sites – Sherwood Forest being an obvious example. There’s lots of traditional, more sustainable small scale industries depend on trees, while resisting development to protect woods is still resisting development. It ties in with being anti-fracking, anti-pollution, anti unsustainable development.
For me though, the best bit is that tree activism isn’t just about resisting. It’s not just about saying ‘no’ to a horrible, destructive future. It’s also very much about having a positive vision. A vision that is literally greener and cleaner. A vision of landscapes protected for the good of everything in them – humans included. A slower, quieter, more human way of life, with plenty of peace and beauty for all. A kinder, gentler, more accommodating future. The culture that gets its head straight about the importance of trees will have also figured out why trees are good for people, and why people don’t do so well in nosy, polluted, stressful environments.
Want to know more? http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/