Sloshing through the autumn woods last Sunday, birch leaves piling up in the muddy tracks; it occurred to me how lucky I was to be among the trees. I had a quiet place nearby to leave behind the chaos of the city I worked in five days a week, where I could immerse myself in another world – a world every bit as important to our health as sleep and more real than anything any book or TV programme could conjure up.
I had moved from Wandsworth to Surrey with the specific intent of taking more opportunities to spend time outside all year round and now live within a quarter of a mile of four separate open spaces – I got more than I had wished for and, having spent 14 years living in New Cross and Wandsworth, I don’t take it for granted. I see the importance of trees; for local ecology, for human health and for environmental harmony.
Besides, I’ve always been a child of nature (we all are) and can’t help but take any kind of abuse of it somewhat personally. Why wouldn’t I, everything we do always circle back to each and every one of us?
That’s why I am dismayed to hear about the latest problem affecting the health of our Ash trees. That, alongside existing diseases affecting our Horse Chestnut and native Oak, not to mention certain parties all too apparent intention to turn the trees we have left in to some kind of cash crop, puts an unacceptable strain on our woodland. We need to find a way to protect and replenish these vital areas.
Of course, as there are so many issues affecting the health of our planet on such a huge scale, individual action can seem hopeless, but I don’t think inaction is a choice those yet to come (or only just arrived) will celebrate us for - each of us should at least do what we can now.
Start with an issue that resonates with you and do all you can.
Personally, I feel a responsibility to protect and cultivate trees; do I have the right to absorb their magic if I am complicit in their destruction; if I deny future generations that magic; if I deny other species their perfect right to live within them?
I’m going to continue to plant a tree for every book we sell with www.beetrootbooks.com, continue to support woodland charities (I donate 5% of the sales revenue to The Woodland Trust), continue to ride my bike, recycle all paper and carry on sloshing around in the winter woods for as long as l can.