Knowing our National Treasures

My heart sang when I learned on Wednesday that the Welsh Government has passed a law that puts sustainability at the heart of Welsh decision-making. The protection and enhancement of nature, land, water and air are highlighted, as well as measures to do with waste management and cutting emissions. There is more to be done, but it is an encouraging start.

My pleasure at the news was sadly dampened when I heard, at the same time, that the British Government’s plans for the High Speed 2 Railway will result in the destruction of many acres of ancient woodland in England. 50 woods will be affected directly, and a further 48 will be damaged by the effects of tunnelling, creating access roads, noise and pollution. A spokesman for the Woodland Trust said that the importance of these woods, the trees and soils of which are hundreds if not thousands of years old, was equivalent to that of our finest Grade 1 listed buildings. They are our treasures.

Welsh woodland

Ancient Welsh woodland

When I have an emotional reaction to an occurrence, I try to challenge myself about it, seeing alternative viewpoints in order to be fair. Here, the Welsh and the English positions on nature are very different, and I incline strongly towards the former’s principle of protection and responsible sustainability. I know, however, that legislation can be misused and I have seen environmental vandalism that has been encouraged by Welsh local authorities, so my support for the Environment (Wales) Bill is tempered by caution.

On the other side, I recognise that change is inevitable and that sometimes sacrifices must be made to achieve what is for the greater good. I know, too, that everything will die one day, including woods and forests, and that being sentimental is unhelpful. I wonder, though, as I try to be reasonable, whether the destruction of what is so precious for the sake of saving a few minutes travelling time, created at great expense, is worth it.

The British Government’s priority is to stimulate the economy at whatever cost, and, for ministers, their national treasure is making money and being re-elected. The Welsh Government wishes to enhance Wales according to her uniqueness, and to differentiate the country from the rest of the UK – as well as being re-elected. Neither is perfect, and both mistakes, as do we all.

Sometimes it is necessary to pause and to reflect upon what our priorities are – what are our national treasures? David Cameron and George Osborne have forgotten that a treasure is something that is loved for itself, honoured for its special qualities and guarded respectfully for the sake of past and future generations. For many Britons, our woods and countryside are a true treasure, bringing a sense of peace and beauty, and linking us with our past and our future.

Soon, if we are not careful, all that will be left of what is most precious will be the mourning for its loss. How sad that would be.

 

 

 


4 thoughts on “Knowing our National Treasures

  1. I absolutley love woodland, its home to many species of animals incld birds who are fast disappearing from the Uk because we are taking their habitat and breeding ground away…More.High speed railway affecting 50 woods..sounds dreadful……more transportation to link towns cities etc…….i guess enabling people to travel farer quicker wdier again to work and makes sense since people are moving out more for peace & affordability re residence. when i ride in Epping forest when i`m in london i often try to visualise what england must ve been like and this forest too when it wasnt `cut up` with roads and building …..woods are places of such beauty & energy…..wild and untamed, i love the smell of rotting vegetation & the dampness freshness after rain has fallen…….just to be riding or walking through is such a joy..shame this governemnt really arent much for preserving our countryside, what with the fracking……makes me sad Glad Also i`m considering Wales or Scotland for my community project, maybe for me the time to be leaving i feel nature calling

  2. Thank you for your thoughts, dear Claire. Spot on as always. Honestly I doubt HS2 will ever be fully built in the way it has been planned up to now. Such railway monster projects will soon become obsolete. In the near future transportation will be about driver-free cars running on the earth’s magnetic field…so much better for our beloved tree friends. Judith x

    • Thank you, Judith. I love the thought of driver-free cars using the magnetic field…..just like the old days! I agree with you about HS2 – I feel for economic reasons at least it will be limited, or delayed – or stopped.

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