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Trust’s critics can’t see the wood for the trees | Letters

Walkers stroll through wintry woodlands in Nottinghamshire
Walkers stroll through wintry woodlands in Nottinghamshire. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The response in your letters section to the northern forest raised some useful points (Development for the north? Let them eat wood, 9 January). However, drawing parallels between the Woodland Trust’s native woodland policy and xenophobia demonstrates ignorance of the ecology and the conservation of semi-natural woodlands. Britain’s native woodlands are so diverse because of the association and dependency of species that have co-evolved over several thousand years. 

The accusation that we create “plantations of birch and rowan and field maple, producing scrub rather than woodland” couldn’t be further from the truth (and, by the way, scrub habitat has huge conservation value). We use local tree and shrub species to create diverse, functioning and resilient habitats for biodiversity and local communities.

While other organisations have an important role in promoting non-native species for productive forests, our aim has been to champion and protect what’s left of our precious ancient woodland and create new native woodlands where the opportunity arises. Readers should be reassured, all our native tree species (with the exception of some rare Sorbus species) are actually quite “multicultural” and are found throughout many other parts of Europe.
Dr James Paterson
Conservation adviser, Woodland Trust

• I fear that your correspondent Derek Goldrei is being overoptimistic. Decades before the northern forest is harvested for sleepers or anything else, millions of leaves will have rained down, ensuring that the polluting, underpowered bi-mode and diesel trains (foisted on us by the Department for Transport’s abandonment of electrification) will for years to come be slipping and sliding up the gradients of the Pennines every autumn.
Paul Birchall

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This article titled "Trust’s critics can’t see the wood for the trees" was written by Letters, for The Guardian on Thursday 11 January 2018 07.14pm


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