Thursday, 27 January 2011

Under the Greenwood Tree

We live in what is grandly called "Queen Elizabeth Avenue", and "Avenue" presupposes trees. Not to Hampshire County Council, it seems. We are almost next door to the Police Station in Lymington, and there have been some good trees along the front and side of it. A couple of years ago two mature 'false' Acacias were pollarded, for no very good reason. One of them died as a result, but the other recovered and last year put out some good branches. Today, men from the council came and removed the stump of the one tree, and the whole of the other. "It was dead" they said. It certainly was not. The trunk which they lopped into bite-sized pieces was sound throughout. Then they went on to hack at a very fine Cedar; no, they were not going to take it down, they said, just pruning it. My picture (above,l) shows them stopped in their labours eyeing the photographer suspiciously.

I spoke to a tree person at our local Council, the New Forest District. 'Not us, Guv; the police station is a County Council property'. So I emailed Hampshire County Council's tree person. I eagerly await his reply. I am told it can have nothing to do with making the Police Station site more saleable for development. We shall see.

All this is particularly a matter of concern just now as the Government, in the cause of the "Big Society" (and nothing, of course, to do with raising some ready cash) intends flogging off our Forests and Woodlands - ours, not the Government's. Oh, well, local groups can get together to buy them. What, buy the whole of the New Forest? What of the Verderers and their ancient rights, with HM the Queen as Head Verderer? What of the thousand years of history of this ancient Forest, by no means all of it woodland, much open moor and secluded glades? Who will have the resources to care for it, as the Forestry Commission and the National Parks Authority have done? It will be very tempting for someone with a large wallet to buy up sections of the Forest and sell the timber, or develop the open areas for yet more golf courses.

Open land and Forest

There is a 'public consultation' just beginning, and you can find it at the DEFRA website; or you can make your views known to them direct by emailing them at It will probably be useless, even though it seems some 80% of the population is opposed to this sale, since the Government is hell-bent on raising this cash, but at least we should not stand by and wait for it to happen.

Oh, and on that website DEFRA asserts that 'Heritage and community forests which provide high public benefits will be protected by inviting new or existing charitable organisations to take on ownership or management'. Have they any idea who will staff such undertakings? The running of the New Forest, or the Forest of Dean, or any of our other great National forests, is not something to be funded by jam-making and staffed by volunteers from the retired community which is already over-stretched. I know, for I am part of that community.

1 comment:

  1. Campaigners are urging people to protest to their MPs and sign a petition being organised by the campaign group 38 Degrees, which can be found at