Tag Archives: development

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

Crime stories

Not what I’d planned for today, but Tom’s bike was stolen overnight, and this is all on my mind rather. To the police, it’s just a stolen bike. Not inherently worth all that much. The trouble is, as is so often the case, the value and impact are judged from the outside. Steal thousands from someone rich and the odds are the police will be interested in you. Steal twenty pounds from someone who consequently can’t afford to eat that week, and it’s small time stuff and nobody cares. Value is a tricky thing to judge. For us, the value of a bike includes it being our primary mode of transport, and technically difficult to replace. We don’t live in easy walking distance of anywhere that sells bikes, and as we live on a boat, getting one delivered would be challenging. We had plans for today. Bike dependent plans. Worth is about so much more than the price tag.

How about the worth to the person who took it? I wish I could feel it had been taken by someone in extremis, prompted by dire need, an urgent requirement to get somewhere. It probably wasn’t. More likely, as when we’ve had thing taken in the past, it’s been a brief giggle, a quick adrenaline high, or something to sell on, or throw in a ditch. Something that was cherished and valued by us, probably isn’t being valued by whoever made off with it.

We have a habit of naming things. When you believe that everything contains spirit, when you recognise that spirit as part of day to day living, the naming of things comes easily. This bike was called Henson, because according to Tom it looked like the kind of bike Kermit the Frog would ride. When you name something, it ceases to be just another ‘thing’ to use and discard at whim. It becomes a friend, a fellow traveller through life’s journey. You care more. I’ve never been drawn to the acquisition of stuff, but at the same time the things I have are loved, and frequently named. Saying goodbye to a worn out pair of shoes is like saying goodbye to a friend. I appreciate that for the kind of person who steals, this would sound insane. I’d still rather be the sort of person who grieves the loss of a well loved thing than the person who doesn’t care for anything.

And then there’s the egret, flying over the canal this morning, oblivious to the development threat to one of his fields. He stands to lose a lot more than we have. It’ll be worse for all the ones who call that hedgerow home, or who are the hedgerow. Theft is a very human concept, and is only used to describe what happens when one human takes a thing another human didn’t want them to have. Up until relatively recently, we were pretty good at not even counting some humans as being able to own, and therefore to be stolen from. But when you think about it, we steal all the time. Homes, food supplies, offspring… and most of the time no crime has been committed at all.

Grant, oh spirits, thy protection. And in protection, strength, and in strength, knowledge, and in knowledge, the knowledge of justice, and in the knowledge of justice, the love of it.

I suppose in theory I could love justice, I just don’t think I’ve ever seen more than fleeting glimpses of it, so it’s hard to tell. I find it increasingly hard to believe that it exists at all, which is one of the main reasons that I find it hard to believe in any kind of gods, or karma, or anything that helps to balance the scales a bit. I see no evidence for it. And as for human justice…. The more I see of that, the more I believe it comes down to money far more than anything else. And that’s as true for the egret, as it is for me.

What I can do is keep trying to do the right things, for the right reasons. Yes, I can put pen to paper and give the egret a voice in the process. Whether that will do any good, I can’t say, but I’m having a go. Justice, like so many other ideas, depends a lot on our ability to believe in it. Or enough bloody mindedness to think that if it doesn’t come naturally, we ought to get out there and damn well make some. But today has been another knock back, another reason to admit defeat and stop caring, stop trying. Another reason to decide that maybe the life lesson to learn is that there is no point and that I might as well not bother. So far every time I’ve been knocked down I’ve managed to get up and try to do something about it, or move on. But there are days like today, when I question the point of what I do, and I wonder why I’m doing it.