Why is it right to celebrate the ethnic diversity of our human population but wrong to celebrate ethnic diversity in our woodlands? I asked that question of the Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust at the recent South West Woodland Show and she was unable to come up with an answer. She is adamant that all 'exotic' species - for which read coniferous trees - should be felled, when grown on sites which are deemed to be Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ancient being pre 1660), and replaced by 'Native Broadleaves.' Now hang on a moment what is 'native' in our country? Wheat, barley and maize certainly aren't yet no one seems to think that we should stop rowing these crops on our farmland while weirdly the hated rhododendron Ponticum appears to have been present in these island before the first Ice Age as pollen from it has been found in peat bogs in Ireland, so maybe we should be encouraging it rather than grubbing it up?
Sadly people like the Woodland Trust are in favour of the 'disneyfication' of the countryside and pay lip service only to 'sustainabliltiy of our forest and woodlands. So what is the definition of sustainable woods? Woods which are profitable and are managed .The definition of well managed woodland is one where the trees are regularly thinned and thus light is let on the forest floor encouraging all sorts of bio diversity to take place. Sadly too many of the woodlands owned by the Woodland Trust,and the National Trust for that matter, are 'slum woods' untouched by human hands and thus worthless to both wildlife and the rural economy.