Visitor weblog – Saving Useless Wooden (1) by Les Wallace – Mark Avery

Who I’m  – Scottish with a fascination for wildlife from childhood – in lieu of formal {qualifications} (and never having the ability to flash them about!) – was on the 1990 Worldwide Youth Conservation Alternate to Hungary, was the 1993 winner of the BBC Wildlife Journal ‘Realms of the Russian Bear’ competitors and spent practically two weeks within the Aksu Zhabagly Reserve in Kazakhstan because the prize – discovered the native abdomen bug was way more harmful than the brown bears. Particularly within the removing of invasive non native vegetation and conservation of lifeless wooden and bushes and related fauna/flora as conservation points – my private expertise suggests they’re badly uncared for matters. My major background is in recycling and waste discount.

Les’s earlier visitor blogs right here have been in September 2018, Pushed Grouse Capturing – your bluff’s been referred to as, in February 2021 Jagged Ends and final week, Blue Frogs and Scimitar Cats.


I cursed myself for taking so lengthy in getting an web connection for my new flat once I noticed by way of an internet site that I’d missed a session in regards to the native wooden. The outcomes hadn’t been good for conservation. Respondents had requested that ‘ugly’ lifeless bushes blighting the view be eliminated. The ‘environmental’ organisation answerable for the survey was clearly eager to indicate their credentials as one which actually listened to the general public, so that they offered two photographs (earlier than) with the offending bushes, (after) with out them – the results of costly and time-consuming skilled tree felling companies.

For an excessive amount of wildlife the sight of a lifeless tree like that is improbable information, subsequently it’s an important sight for conservationists too. Sadly resulting from ‘aesthetic sensitivities’ some individuals dislike them typically to the purpose of repugnance, and when there’s a public session train they’re those who normally decide the destiny of any conspicuous lifeless wooden and bushes – it will likely be eliminated. Not good for conservation or schooling. Photograph: Les Wallace

There was an added notice that the ensuing logs had been positioned out of sight underneath bushes thus giving a nod to those that knew of the conservation worth of lifeless wooden that some provision had been made for it. Nonetheless, there was nothing to point to anybody else it was to assist wildlife and I strongly suspect there had been no try in the course of the session course of to make individuals conscious that standing lifeless wooden was important for all kinds of species from specialist fungi and invertebrates to gap roosting bats and foraging woodpeckers. It’s actually by no means been in any session I’ve taken half in.

Not lengthy after this I ran into an previous acquaintance and understanding our shared pursuits associated the incident. After a protracted sigh with accompanying grimace, he advised me the identical had occurred after a session carried out for customers of the Union Canal which occurs to run a number of hundred metres from my entrance door. There’d been calls to take away some ‘ugly’ lifeless bushes from its banks too, and once more this was performed promptly and included the reducing down of uncommon hole bushes being utilized by bats. As he was a retired ranger, I’d completely no cause to doubt any of this particularly as I can’t say it counters any of my expertise of how little curiosity there may be in serving to or selling the wildlife that exists on that canal.

Just a few months later I went on a guided tour of a (non-shooting) native property used for recreation and forestry. The rangers have been wonderful guides extremely certified in forestry and conservation and real wildlife lovers. We occurred to go alongside one path with a pleasant view of a lifeless oak tree, it hadn’t been notably massive or previous, however any lifeless tree is a pleasant bonus. I used to be so happy that I needed to praise a ranger on how uncommon, however excellent it was to see standing lifeless timber. He chuckled and replied the one cause it was nonetheless there was as a result of the workers had determined to show a blind eye to a public session the place some respondents had wished ‘ugly’ lifeless wooden eliminated. My abdomen turned once I heard this, that pretty lifeless tree’s continued existence had been fully depending on subterfuge. I suppose the preliminary commentary needed to be simply too good to be true.

I’d participated in that very session years earlier than and had made a particular effort to state how vital the lifeless wooden within the property was, probably even an academic useful resource. I identified it’s a distinguishing function of pure, wildlife wealthy forests versus manufacturing ones (plantations), a significant aspect of the previous, inevitably uncommon within the latter when bushes are items of manufacturing and principally eliminated. It will be good to have native woods the place faculty events might be proven why lifeless wooden is vital for wildlife subsequently highlighting why scale back, reuse, and recycle helps wildlife, it permits us to depart bushes alone to develop previous, die, decay, and supply habitat for the kindred species concerned within the pure recycling course of. The property was near the most important secondary faculty within the district so was notably helpful on this respect.

These ideas got here to nothing, they have been rejected though they have been according to conservation aims and positively the needs of the property workers. There will need to have been extra individuals who stated lifeless wooden wasn’t good to have a look at. It was notably lucky that lifeless oak had been spared because it turned out bats had taken to roosting behind its peeling bark, however there was removing of lifeless wooden, so the ecology and wildlife of the property hasn’t come off utterly unscathed. It was a frequent sight there now it’s largely gone.

There’s a parallel difficulty on the property in {that a} standing lifeless oak is likely to be actually irreplaceable as ‘sustainable’ harvesting of native hardwoods is now practiced so that individuals can relaxation their backsides on a picket bench relatively than one that might have been comprised of recycled plastic picked off a seaside as a substitute. Reusing previous plastics would permit bushes for use by wildlife relatively than for human consumption in addition to save marine animals from strangulation. One other difficulty for one more day, lifeless wooden and bushes being squeezed out of existence from two totally different instructions, ‘harvesting’ for gas and timber disastrously complimenting the response to its supposed assault on aesthetics.

In order that’s three incidents at three areas re the removing of lifeless bushes and wooden, for no different cause than some individuals not liking the way in which they give the impression of being, inside a 2.5-mile radius of my flat!!! Except that zone is someway the nationwide black gap for lifeless wooden conservation, I might hazard a guess that it’s the usual not the exception for the remainder of the nation – isn’t this worthy of a severe official examine ASAP? There’s no assure there haven’t been extra incidents I don’t find out about, with or with out public consultations, on this space – there most likely have in addition to the reducing down of the odd lifeless tree right here and there. Would possibly there simply probably be a hyperlink between this and the plummeting off a cliff populations of willow tits, stag beetles, lesser noticed woodpeckers and so on, and so on, and so on?

I’ve given up counting what number of instances I’ve learn an article or piece on social media the place ‘on account of a public session we have been advised by native those that the wooden was overmature’, or ‘earlier than opening up the wooden to the general public we will likely be eradicating the lifeless wooden’, and my coronary heart has sunk straight to the underside of my ft. Public session because it stands is a whole and computerized kiss of demise to lifeless wooden conservation, as I came upon even when there’s a dissenting voice. Any proof on the contrary will likely be gratefully acquired!

The enterprise of reducing down lifeless bushes is a talented and probably harmful job, so it’s time consuming and bloody costly. When it’s not being carried out for legit entry or public security causes, then it’s being eliminated merely for extremely subjective aesthetic ones by which case one in every of if not the very best of our conservation priorities, the standing of actually tons of of endangered saproxylic (deadwood related) species, is being additional undermined on what to me is an immoral foundation. Nobody will die on the sight of lifeless wooden however eradicating it to spare the fragile sensitivities of some will successfully kill and compromise all the pieces from longhorn beetles and bracket fungus to bats and woodpeckers. That hardly signifies humanity taking its obligations critically to the opposite life we share the planet with.

A lot of that is because of the default setting throughout the public session course of being that if extra individuals say they don’t like how lifeless bushes and wooden look than it must be stored and appreciated the chainsaw is rapidly reached for, whereas not one single truth in regards to the conservation and ecological worth of lifeless bushes and logs will likely be offered anyplace to anybody. Nationally how does the time, cash and energy expended upon eradicating lifeless wooden for supposed aesthetics evaluate with the time, effort and cash spent on public schooling as to why it’s important for wildlife and wholesome woodlands? Throughout the public session framework, the reply appears to be Chainsaws 100%, Public Schooling 0.

With no clear, or actually any, cause why the availability of related data isn’t a part of the general public session course of we’re left with conjecture so upfront I’ll state right here that what follows is my greatest guess based mostly on what I’ve noticed and what I do know of human behaviour. It’s not ideally suited, but it surely’s a needed start line – in each ebook on rewilding I’ve learn together with Feral, Wilding, Rebirding and at current Cornerstones the essential significance of lifeless wooden and standing lifeless timber have been highlighted. But they’re presently being erased from our countryside and woodlands, I’ve seen this (dis)course of described as an ‘environmental’ enchancment including large insult to damage. It’s actually ecocide.

Initially, I need to stress that I’m a agency believer in public session, it does give individuals a possibility to make feedback and current views that on the very least do then grow to be a part of an official report, and infrequently end in a victory for conservation, even when simply quickly. My grievance is with the way in which it’s performed, and I might say the potential for abuse by those that take part in them. One thing that’s not often commented upon, however in personal discussions with others have discovered it’s been their expertise additionally that sadly in giving a platform for all you present a very good one for native Prima Donnas. They’ll take any alternative to play the sufferer, be aggrieved and thereby dominate dialogue and marginalise the views of the extra affordable. A bit like social media actually.

You possibly can encounter the identical difficulty exterior of the general public session course of in fact. To the native department of a nationwide union, I as soon as made some extent about how wasteful bottled water is not only when it comes to pure sources, but additionally in cash spent that might have gone to public companies or charity as a substitute. The purpose was nicely acquired, I hadn’t anticipated that it wouldn’t be and was happy, if not shocked on the constructive reception. This was till one of many members piped up dramatically that the lack of bottled water from their office would trigger them nice private hurt, you see they wanted it as they have been allergic to faucet water!

I might have dearly beloved to have referred to as them out for being consideration in search of and ridiculous, however successfully you’d be calling them a liar or on the very least a drama queen. I wished to hit again with a relatively pathetic quip by asking them in the event that they have been a ‘hydrochondriac’, however bit my tongue as I needed to. One individual out of forty-four, a supposedly accountable grownup, derailing what had been a really constructive dialogue – possibly that was a part of the enchantment, an influence kick. I’ve skilled different sickening situations of such obstructive melodrama and I guess each individual studying this has too.

Within the context of a public session that is notably poisonous, even when the train is merely a PR sop to the lots, a part of that’s at the least the pretence of listening which you’ll be able to intensify by doing completely nothing else, even the availability of important, related data when it’s wanted. Let’s suppose that in response to feedback that lifeless wooden/bushes are ugly and have to be eliminated the consulting physique makes contributors conscious it’s a wonderfully pure and inevitable aspect of an actual woodland and with out it the pure recycling course of and wildlife will likely be significantly compromised. This is able to be the continuing development of the session course of, guaranteeing as new factors come up so does extra data enabling everybody to make higher knowledgeable judgements.

Sadly, that easy, affordable (re)motion might be labelled as a problem to the unique perspective, contradiction coming from ‘the authorities’ in response to the needs of ‘the general public’ – which is usually simply the needs of the loudest and most strident. Utter nonsense in fact, however some individuals will genuinely imagine so. Others realize it’s garbage, however any alternative to play the sufferer, aggrieved occasion, the morally incensed to the group gained’t be missed, they’ll lay it on with a shovel.

That is one thing the conservation motion should attend to each inside their very own session efforts and people performed by different our bodies. We’d like as particular person conservationists and our consultant organisations, to tackle the strident, wilfully ignorant, and egocentric. Offering data related to conservation shouldn’t be seen as inappropriate to the general public session course of, both proactively or reactively, it’s knowledgeable democracy. How many individuals who requested for the removing of lifeless bushes wouldn’t have performed so in the event that they’d been advised it was good for wildlife? What number of of them could be appalled in the event that they’d recognized what they’d inadvertently contributed to if advised afterwards? What number of would really feel awkward (fairly rightly) about urgent their views that lifeless bushes are ugly when their conservation worth is highlighted? For some individuals it might make completely no distinction, however the provision of primary related conservation data may make theirs the minority view. Wouldn’t it’s good to search out out?

We have now completely nothing to lose by doing so, certainly we’re shedding very badly by not. There’s speak of getting lifeless wooden zones in woodland, areas the place lifeless wooden is left in situ. Change the phrase zones with reservations or ghettoes and it is likely to be simpler to know why I don’t like this seemingly constructive step, it’s rationalising ignorance and/or failure to fulfill our duties to wildlife. I’m assuming that the zones will likely be away from the place these members of the general public who object to the sight of lifeless wooden would possibly see it. Meaning all publicly accessible components which gained’t depart a lot else. Native woodland to start with constitutes a small share of our panorama, ecologically useful woodland dangers turning into a small fraction of that. I do know for a truth, as a result of they’ve advised me, that as coverage native forestry and council workers disguise lifeless wooden away from public view in woodland, they’re answerable for. We have to be reversing not formally establishing that observe.

In Fife there’s a neighborhood woodland group that’s taken to arranging unfastened lifeless wooden into relatively creative piles. That is in recognition that whereas it’s a significant element of wholesome woodland ecology some individuals specific their dislike of it visually. Though that is nicely meant and at the least some enchancment of the present scenario I’ve to say it makes me grind my tooth. We must be informing those that if they honestly love woodland and its wildlife then lifeless wooden and decay is a needed element of it, it’s absence not presence ought to alarm us. It’s not precisely amongst my prime priorities for any cause that individuals who go to woodland don’t should see any lifeless wooden, personally I’ve bought many higher issues to do with my life than indulge them. Conservation and schooling are the true priorities.

Sure, there are diehards who it doesn’t matter what you say to and present them will proceed to spit nails on the very concept they could should see a chunk of lifeless wooden or some uncut grass. However, a giant however, I’ve additionally encountered others who after they complained about the identical completely dropped their objections once I identified their worth to wildlife, they merely hadn’t recognized. That was it, a fast phrase, however is even that being someway too ‘confrontational’ in direction of the general public for some? The close to complete absence of data re the conservation worth of lifeless wooden in public discourses the place it’s supremely related suggests to me it’s.

It will actually assist if we had the woodland equal of the Sandford Precept which states – in principle anyway – that in Nationwide Parks conservation will likely be given precedence over growth. For woodland this might be recognition that we have now ethical obligations in direction of wildlife, private duties in addition to rights, conservation earlier than aesthetics. Should you go to some wooden, it’s going to be an actual wooden with lifeless bushes, bushes and no backyard vegetation – that’s what a wooden is, for those who don’t like that go to a park. Sure, woodlands must be for everybody, however turning it right into a park means it isn’t a woodland anymore for anyone. We have to guarantee it’s recognized that we’re not glad to see woodland with out lifeless wooden, we wish to see it as a result of we all know it signifies a wholesome and wildlife wealthy woodland. Why shouldn’t we have now a 180 diploma flip round and the presence of lifeless wooden turns into the conference?

It should even be remembered out of sight means out of thoughts, that’s hardly in line with offering the general public schooling wanted to interrupt the vicious cycle of ignorance that’s by twist and switch remodeling woodland into glorified parks. Whereas clearing invasive cherry laurel in an area wooden a manic septuagenarian gentleman was actually at my heels with a chainsaw clearing newly uncovered lifeless wooden that had been hidden by the evergreen laurel for years. He didn’t have permission to take action and no security gear. A neighborhood fourteen-year-old boy who owned a chainsaw of his personal requested if he may assist him, the provide was gratefully accepted. Yours really needed to have a quiet phrase with the council to have this insanity stopped much more to stop a maiming than assist fauna and flora. Is {that a} rational mentality we must be making an attempt to include in how we ‘handle’ woodlands or opposing it with vigour?

The opposite aspect of the coin is that once I was discussing this difficulty with an area girl in the identical wooden, she advised me when she took her grand daughter for a stroll there the little lady would mechanically run over to any lifeless wooden and elevate it as much as see what was residing underneath it. As conservationists the place do our duties lie, acquiescing with relatively than difficult the manic revulsion to actual nature whether or not it’s lifeless wooden or uncut grass or ensuring future generations aren’t critically handicapped by inheriting the blinkers worn by earlier ones?

The simpler life is to provide in to the loud and (too typically) bullying and let our pursuits be marginalised to the purpose they’re virtually invisible. That’s the worst cop out attainable letting down our threatened wildlife and the prospect of kids main higher, extra enlightened lives full of fascination not revulsion as a result of we don’t have the backbone to face as much as the assertive and un-listening, ignorant and egocentric. Disgrace on us if we let that occur.

Within the second and closing Saving Useless Wooden weblog I’ll study why I imagine the conservation organisations aren’t as proactive within the public sphere (exterior of their reserves) standing up for lifeless wooden as they need to and a small, quite simple concept which may assist in the event that they did. We might have touched all-time low right here in Half 1, however hopefully the one means will likely be up in Half 2. 


The inconsistency, actually utter lunacy with which lifeless bushes and wooden are handled in public locations is underlined by this picture. Whereas what should be a fortune has been spent eradicating lifeless bushes and wooden from native woodlands in Falkirk District resulting from supposed assault to aesthetics, here’s a massive piece of lifeless and decaying tree positioned in a really conventional and formal public park as a decorative function!!! So we are able to’t have conspicuous lifeless wooden in an area woodland, however we are able to have it as a decorative function in a Victorian Park!?! For the need of primary public schooling re the conservation worth of lifeless wooden being made obtainable time, effort and cash is sort of actually being spent eradicating it unnecessarily – schooling would certainly be a greater spend than chainsaws? Picture taken Greenback Park, Falkirk, Might 2022. Photograph: Les Wallace

Within the meantime, to show I’m not simply lifeless wooden’s reply to Victor Meldrew, I do attempt to be constructive I’ll depart you with this revealing anecdote about an try to begin a dialogue. I used to be the secretary of the native FoE group on the time and invited a rep from the organisation concerned within the session and subsequent ‘administration’ of my native wooden, the place they’d proven the earlier than and after pics of lifeless bushes being eliminated, to provide a chat to my group.

I requested that they put particular emphasis on the battle between public session workouts and conservation aims. He agreed, got here alongside and the following dialogue was relatively enlightening after we bought on to the topic of consultations and conservation. It shouldn’t have come as a shock looking back to search out out that there have been frequent ‘blazing rows’ again on the head workplace as a result of the organisation wished to completely adjust to the bulk views offered inside public session paperwork, workers who knew and cared about conservation didn’t. The general public schooling that will’ve helped to resolve the problem clearly wasn’t on the playing cards.

Nicely, nicely who would have thought that. You spend a number of years slogging your guts out at uni, get your diploma probably whereas saddling your self with debt, handle in a extremely aggressive job market to safe your dream one inside an environmental organisation….then you definately discover out you gained’t use your extremely costly and hard-earned schooling to assist preserve wildlife and educate the general public why you accomplish that, you’ll assist lower up lifeless bushes as a result of any individual stated they didn’t suppose they give the impression of being good. What a horrible, utter waste in so some ways – I is likely to be biased, however I feel there’s one hell of a robust correlation between schooling and conservation, the dearth of actual conservation tells me schooling isn’t the precedence it must be both. What number of instances and in what number of workplaces up and down the nation do the identical arguments happen? That must be value a examine too.


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