Friday, 2 November 2012

Elegy for the tree

Our native trees are under attack.  There has been much in the news recently about the deadly fungus which attacks ash trees and has now been found in this country in the wild.  Other trees are threatened too - oak, horse chestnut and larch are all subject to debilitating disease.  This is on top of the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s which so changed the nature of the English landscape and virtually wiped out the elm tree.  

On a recent walk through some local woodland I came across a huge tree blocking my path - not a victim of disease but uprooted by high winds. It lay like a soldier in battle where it had fallen, its roots exposed to the air, its limbs already amputated for firewood by some enterprising neighbour. One magnificent specimen that took years to reach such a size is loss enough and leaves a gaping hole in the landscape. It is hard to imagine the resulting devastation to the countryside if all the threatened trees are wiped out. A world without trees does not bear thinking about. 

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