Druids for trees

There is no separating Druidry from trees. It’s there in what little written history we have, with ancient Druids cutting mistletoe out of oaks. It’s there in every etymology attempt on the word itself. It’s there in our history, ancient and modern, of celebrating in groves.

Like many Druids, I am deeply disturbed by the way short term financial gain is always put ahead of the needs of the landscape. All too often when we want to build in the UK, tree loss will be dealt with by offset. As though a wood is nothing more than a replaceable cluster of trees. A wood is much more than its trees. It’s the fungi in the soil, the insect life, the undergrowth, the resident birds and mammals. Each wood is a unique interaction between precise local climate, underlying geology, and the bringing together of many different species. Ancient woodland, with its huge biodiversity, takes centuries to form. You can’t just recreate that by sticking a few saplings in what was previously a field.

Challenging developers means engaging with your local planning department to make a case for the trees. It helps if you can speak a language the planners recognise. To this end, The Woodland Trust has developed The Planner’s Manuel, which can be used in a number of ways.

It’s good information for activists to use when talking to planners.

If your area is developing a local plan, you can use this to find ways to get tree protection into that plan.

There’s also the possibility of getting in ahead of a problem and raising awareness of ancient woodland issues with your local planners before you need to protect a specific piece of land. There’s a lot to be said for being in first, and for having the space to raise awareness when you aren’t trying to fight a specific battle at the same time.

In the UK, planners working at a local level are usually are the ones making the decisions that can make or break the future of an ancient wood or veteran tree. Sometimes, as we’ve seen with fracking, local decisions can be overturned, but nonetheless, local is where to start with this. The Woodland Trust’s aim with the Planner’s Manuel is to educate and encourage planners to help them make the right decisions for our irreplaceable habitats.

I don’t know how useful this will be for anyone outside the UK, but it is a place to start if you don’t have other resources you can draw on.

Find out more here – http://bit.ly/PlannersGuide

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Druids for trees

  • Ann Beirne

    I think all of our trees should be protected and properly, most councils are just chopping down trees, willy nilly. A Green party councillor has had to go to court for peacefully demonstrating against this in Sheffield, These trees didn’t need to be cut down at all, they were healthy but unfortunately not everyone Loves trees as much as we do, and they will find any excuse to get rid of them. I went to a meeting of neighbours a few years ago and one person wanted an old tree chopped down because a pigeon had pooped on her car, if she had put in the drive this wouldn’t have happened.

    I am a tree hugger and I have many friend trees within my area and my heart aches when I hear a chain saw sound and I know once again one of our beautiful trees are needlessly being cut down.

    I have always loved nature and especially trees since I was very young, unfortunately a lot of people are nature haters and can’t wait to find new ways of getting rid of every bird, tree, Bees,flowers and herbs..

    • Nimue Brown

      What’s happening in Sheffield is heartbreaking and immoral in every way – a council paying to kill healthy trees when other budgets are being cut. I think there’s a shiocking lack of education in the mix here too – I hope that if people understood the science of why nature matters they might at least manage some enlightened self itnerest.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    The sad thing here in the States, few people have ever seen a real forest. What they see are entire forests of trees the same type and mostly the same age, and much thickly grown than any normal forest would be, all trees being fast growing replacement trees that do not even provide decent wood to build anything of.

    I am sorry but it takes a good many ears for a tree to show what it is capable of. Some may take at least a hundred years to become themselves. We cannot imagine the awe and the fear that our ancestors had of the huge ancient forests that covered most of the land, full of hidden areas unknown to all be very few.

    What a loss to the rest of us, even those that don’t know what is missing in their lives.

  • Jude Keene

    I’m interested in whether or not you ever think it is justified to chop a tree down even if it isn’t dead dying or dangerous? There is significant evidence that managing woodlands in the UK improves their overall condition and allows biodiversity to thrive opening up space and light on forest floors to allow new regeneration and a wide variety of flora and fauna to thrive. Woodlands are currently struggling due to lack of management and biodiversity indicators suggest that our woodlands are declining in condition because of this. There is evidence also to suggest that pressure groups advocating no tree felling leads to a fear of managing our woodland because of public unease and potential protest. The result is that our woodlands fall into a state of neglect and monodiversity. Woodlands are being closed to public access because they are unmanaged and owners are unable to take on the risk associated with allowing the public into areas overgrown and with the potential for tree collapse. This leads to a lack of public connection with our woodland sites to all but a few.

    The message around the felling of trees is complex and my fear is that an overtly emotional response without clear understanding of the issues runs the risk of stopping active management of our trees and woodlands. Its not enough to just say no, there are unintended consequences of this approach.

    • Nimue Brown

      I’m actually a big fan of coppicing and working sustainably with woods – I shall put that on my list of things to blog about.

      • Christopher Blackwell

        Just remember to leave enough of the best specimens of each tree to restock the best of the trees. The problem here in the states is they tend to harvest the best of the trees and replant with something that grows faster, but does no not provide good quality wood so that they can come back and re harvest. Again thinking of the forest as a producer of products to sell, rather than as a living thing worthy of its own healthy existence. A healthy old growth forest takes centuries to create itself. Another thing about natural forests is they have gaps and meadows, giving a variety of ecosystems provided a variety of living areas for other plants, and the animals and bugs that live there.

        The monoculture that we call managed forests in the United States are disasters from the beginning. If any bug, any disease, or any climate change happens, then you lose the entire forest, rather than have the forest adapt to the changes. Over the centuries, the nature of the forest would change and adapt to changing circumstance, perhaps changing to grasslands, deserts and back again.

        Areas in Northern Europe did this many times during the time man has been there even before man was numerous enough to have much affect on the land. We need to remember that we are part of the land, for our own survival. Nature will recover over time with, or without us.

      • Nimue Brown

        Especially true for oaks who have to reach a fair age before they produce any acorns at all. And such a good point about meadows, too – it is the margins of a wood that always have the most life and diversity.

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