A few months ago, when the government announced plans to sell off Forestry Commission land, there was a huge public outcry with the Woodland Trust heavily backing the campaign. It was described as a policy of “environmental vandalism”, and the Government subsequently changed their mind.
Meanwhile, people across the country are ignoring the threat to ancient woodland from HS2.
According to the Woodland Trust’s evidence to the Transport Select Committee, 21 ancient woods will be directly affected by the building of HS2, but they say no mitigation exists for the loss of this ancient woodland.
Ancient woodland has been describes as Britain’s equivalent to the rainforest, a vital part of this country’s biodiversity. It is defined as having been continually wooded since 1600, and half has been lost since the 1930s.
And the Woodland Trust says that another 27 ancient woodland sites is at risk, as it is within 200m of the proposed route.
The Woodland Trust is scathing of the idea that the planting of new trees will make up for the loss of ancient woodland. One of the special features of ancient woodland is the centuries of undisturbed soils: almost be definition, new plantings involve disturbing soil.
The threat to ancient woodland posed by HS2 is one of the many reasons why the possible 72m land take of the proposed railway matters.
But Hs2 Ltd has expressed interest in land beyond the 72m strip of “vegetation management”
Alison Munro, in a letter to Bucks Free Press last week, the one we quoted yesterday, said
“And we would encourage landowners with land adjacent to the line to adopt similar approaches and to avoid planting large deciduous trees.”
Does HS2 Ltd want to influence the management of woodland, like that owned by the Woodland Trust, outside the 72m strip? This certainly implies they do.
And especially if you live in an area not directly affected by HS2, please write to your MP expressing your concerns about the project.