Sunday, August 12, 2007

biosphere 0.994

Rackham takes great delight in surprising his reader, often subverting popular notions that have calcified into myth. One old battle he fights is the idea that industry was always the great enemy of trees, and that enterprises such as iron smelting or shipbuilding brought ruin to woodland. The clarification he often repeats is the key difference between felling, from which the wood will recover completely in time, and grubbing out, which removes for ever the means of timber production. [...] He makes plain that what really laid our woods low was their supposed lack of economic value. In the twentieth century, this notion, coupled with an insatiable and partly subsidy-driven demand for the extension of agriculture, as well as the formation of the Forestry Commission in 1919, had baleful consequences. Between 1930 and 1990, Britain lost as much as a half of all the ancient woods that had survived since the time of the Domesday Book.
M. Cocker, "Trees' company", TLS Jan 12 2007, p. 7



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