Treebeard, Skinbark and Leaflock have taken a leaf out of Swampyâs Little Book of Protests and are preparing to march on London town in support of our culture, nay, our civilisation, not to mention our woodland fairies.
The tree huggers are out in force, pouring arboreal prose over every left of centre publication they can find. Where will Swampy perch in future should the genocidal Con-Dems get their way and flog off the Forestry Commission?
Articles are illustrated with pictures of every ancient bole, every diseased elm, every rancid oak they can muster. Visions are conjured up of the Kingâs forest in Suffolk â N-ooooo! â razed to the ground by heartless developers. We speak of children spellbound watching a ladybird crawl from the crisp flayed bark of a winter Oak, of the wood nymphs, goblins and sprites, of leafy glades where young lovers strollâ¦.
Nobody even mentions the acres of Sitka Spruce that blight the hillsides of Wales and Scotland, planted in response to the tax shelters created by the ever generous Treasury.
Take a few acres of barren hillside, plant the obliging Sitka in regimented lines to disguise the natural fall of the land, allow your friends to arrive with their twelve bores and shoot dear little Bambi and Thumper as they scamper in the shade, even encourage the Hooray Henryâs to arrive and curse and scream as they splatter each other with toxic paint, and Voila! You have a tax vehicle as efficient as any foreign haven, free of inheritance tax, and with no income tax on the profits you garner from either your mateâs blood thirst or flogging off the trees to be chipped into slivers to light those pesky cigarettesâ¦.
The spectacle of bleeding heart liberals waxing lyrical in favour of government ownership of the means to light a fag is almost as good as watching them trample over womenâs rights to integrity of body in favour of their hero Assangeâs rights to diss the American government.
As for destroying our culture, Huh? Cutting down trees IS our culture â we have been doing it since the Bronze Age when we figured we would rather eat than gaze at the woodland nymphs. When marauding fans of the eating culture arrived from abroad to share our wheat, we couldnât get the remaining trees down fast enough to build boats and drive them off.
Even in modern times we chop them up to feed the âgreenâ wood-burners so beloved of Period House magazine â a hint tree huggers, you get no heat out of the Spruce, that fire you are cosied up to in your hand knitted Peruvian socks is blazing away courtesy of a tax avoider chopping down his ash and oak treesâ¦
The low fat venison you buy in Waitrose is there, neatly wrapped in toxic cling film and unrecyclable foam platter precisely because the Forestry Commission took filthy lucre to let a group of bankers in to blast Bambi from his grazing spot.
Where do you think the Christmas Tree you lugged home from Bluewater came from, the one your children gazed on in wonder as they ripped the paper off this years version of the X-box?
Itâs no good getting all excited about our modern culture whereby the âpoorâ jump in their brand new Volkswagen Golf, turn off the 37â plasma screen, and hire a bicycle in Centre Parks to wander through the Spruce for a few hours before retiring to the lakeside bar and getting plastered.
But they donât want you to look at the reality; they would rather drown you in poetic prose:
But it is not the enormity of it we should be looking at, not the numbers or the acreage â rather, it is the specifics, the places, the people, the species under threat: the woods where you walk your dog, or where you take your children to see the bluebells in spring; the streams where you played in your youth, the trees you climbed, the dens you made. It is the foresters who work in these woods. It is the hornbeam, the field mouse, the foxglove, the pearl-bordered fritillary, one of the many butterflies under threat. It is the call of the nightingale, and the cuckoo, the hawfinch, tree pipit and the lark. It is the smell of wet earth and leaf mould; it is the sound of the mistle thrush, the sun-dappled ferns, and the scent of wild garlic. It is what has lain at the heart of English culture for centuries.
Less than 12% of Britain has any woodland, we are not â or at least we havenât been since the Bronze Age â a âwoodland nationâ. We are at the northern tip of the hardwood growing area, at the southern tip of the soft wood growing area â not the most viable place to make tree growing our main aim in life. The biggest worry of the tree huggers is that the land could be sold off to international companies seeking to chip the wood to â actually, to make Bio Fuelâ¦you know the stuff the tree huggers thoroughly approve of.
âFriends of the Earthâ is positively beside itself, there they were campaigning that chopping down trees in Africa was going to starve the wide-eyed Alesha who is just waiting for our Â£2 a week to save her fetching the water, and the energy companies have nipped in behind their backs and put in a bid for the English trees.
Soon there wonât be any wood left to fasten your protesterâs placard toâ¦..
Shall we just remind ourselves why we have a forestry commission in the first place?
The Forestry Commission was created in 1919, after the First World War, during a time when forest cover in Britain was at itâs lowest. Much of Britain had been deforested in order to fuel the war effort. The Commission was created in reaction to the fact that Britain and Ireland, at the time, were the least forested countries in Europe and were almost solely dependent on timber imports for their wood supply (Mackay, 1994). The goal of the Forestry Commission was to establish strategic wood reserves in order to decrease reliance on imports in case of another war.
Not so you could count the pretty Ladybirdsâ¦