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Visitor weblog – Saving Lifeless 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 almost 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 timber and related fauna/flora as conservation points – my private expertise suggests they’re badly uncared for subjects. My fundamental 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 after I noticed through a web site that I’d missed a session concerning the native wooden. The outcomes hadn’t been good for conservation. Respondents had requested that ‘unpleasant’ lifeless timber 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, in order that they introduced two photos (earlier than) with the offending timber, (after) with out them – the results of costly and time-consuming skilled tree felling companies.

For quite a lot of wildlife the sight of a lifeless tree like that is incredible information, subsequently it’s an incredible sight for conservationists too. Sadly on account of ‘aesthetic sensitivities’ some folks dislike them typically to the purpose of repugnance, and when there’s a public session train they’re those who often decide the destiny of any conspicuous lifeless wooden and timber – it is going to be eliminated. Not good for conservation or training. Photograph: Les Wallace

There was an added observe that the ensuing logs had been positioned out of sight below 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 through the session course of to make folks conscious that standing lifeless wooden was very important for all kinds of species from specialist fungi and invertebrates to gap roosting bats and foraging woodpeckers. It’s definitely 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 informed 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 ‘unpleasant’ lifeless timber from its banks too, and once more this was achieved promptly and included the chopping down of uncommon hole timber being utilized by bats. As he was a retired ranger, I’d completely no purpose 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 glorious 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 giant or previous, however any lifeless tree is a pleasant bonus. I used to be so satisfied that I needed to praise a ranger on how uncommon, however superb it was to see standing lifeless timber. He chuckled and replied the one purpose 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 needed ‘unpleasant’ lifeless wooden eliminated. My abdomen turned after 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 characteristic of pure, wildlife wealthy forests versus manufacturing ones (plantations), an important factor of the previous, inevitably uncommon within the latter when timber are items of manufacturing and largely eliminated. It might be good to have native woods the place college events could possibly be proven why lifeless wooden is vital for wildlife subsequently highlighting why scale back, reuse, and recycle helps wildlife, it permits us to go away timber 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 college 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 targets and definitely the desires of the property workers. There will need to have been extra individuals who mentioned lifeless wooden wasn’t good to take 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 situation on the property in {that a} standing lifeless oak could be actually irreplaceable as ‘sustainable’ harvesting of native hardwoods is now practiced so that folks can relaxation their backsides on a picket bench reasonably than one that would have been constituted of recycled plastic picked off a seashore as a substitute. Reusing previous plastics would enable timber for use by wildlife reasonably than for human consumption in addition to save marine animals from strangulation. One other situation for an additional day, lifeless wooden and timber being squeezed out of existence from two completely different instructions, ‘harvesting’ for gasoline and timber disastrously complimenting the response to its supposed assault on aesthetics.

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In order that’s three incidents at three places re the removing of lifeless timber and wooden, for no different purpose than some folks not liking the best way they appear, inside a 2.5-mile radius of my flat!!! Until that zone is one way or the other the nationwide black gap for lifeless wooden conservation, I’d 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 chopping down of the odd lifeless tree right here and there. Would possibly there simply presumably 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 ‘because of a public session we have been informed by native those who the wooden was overmature’, or ‘earlier than opening up the wooden to the general public we will probably be eradicating the lifeless wooden’, and my coronary heart has sunk straight to the underside of my toes. Public session because it stands is a whole and computerized kiss of dying to lifeless wooden conservation, as I discovered even when there’s a dissenting voice. Any proof on the contrary will probably be gratefully acquired!

The enterprise of chopping down lifeless timber is a talented and probably harmful job, so it’s time consuming and bloody costly. When it’s not being carried out for reputable entry or public security causes, then it’s being eliminated merely for extremely subjective aesthetic ones during which case one in every of if not the very best of our conservation priorities, the standing of actually a whole bunch 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 things 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 inside the public session course of being that if extra folks say they don’t like how lifeless timber and wooden look than it must be stored and appreciated the chainsaw is rapidly reached for, whereas not one single reality concerning the conservation and ecological worth of lifeless timber and logs will probably be introduced wherever 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 training as to why it’s very important for wildlife and wholesome woodlands? Inside the public session framework, the reply appears to be Chainsaws 100%, Public Schooling 0.

With out a clear, or the truth is any, purpose why the supply of related info isn’t a part of the general public session course of we’re left with conjecture so prematurely I’ll state right here that what follows is my finest guess primarily based on what I’ve noticed and what I do know of human behaviour. It’s not perfect, nevertheless it’s a needed place to begin – in each e-book 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 harm. It’s actually ecocide.

Firstly, I have to stress that I’m a agency believer in public session, it does give folks a chance to make feedback and current views that on the very least do then grow to be a part of an official report, and infrequently lead to a victory for conservation, even when simply quickly. My grievance is with the best way it’s carried out, and I’d say the potential for abuse by those that take part in them. One thing that’s not often commented upon, however in non-public 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’ll be able to encounter the identical situation exterior of the general public session course of after all. To the native department of a nationwide union, I as soon as made a degree about how wasteful bottled water isn’t just when it comes to pure sources, but additionally in cash spent that would have gone to public companies or charity as a substitute. The purpose was properly acquired, I hadn’t anticipated that it wouldn’t be and was happy, if not stunned 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!

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I’d 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 needed to hit again with a reasonably pathetic quip by asking them in the event that they have been a ‘hydrochondriac’, however bit my tongue as I needed to. One particular person out of forty-four, a supposedly accountable grownup, derailing what had been a really constructive dialogue – perhaps that was a part of the attraction, an influence kick. I’ve skilled different sickening cases of such obstructive melodrama and I wager each particular person 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 intensify by doing completely nothing else, even the supply of significant, related info when it’s wanted. Let’s suppose that in response to feedback that lifeless wooden/timber are unpleasant and must be eliminated the consulting physique makes contributors conscious it’s a superbly pure and inevitable factor of an actual woodland and with out it the pure recycling course of and wildlife will probably be vastly compromised. This may be the continued development of the session course of, making certain as new factors come up so does further info enabling everybody to make higher knowledgeable judgements.

Sadly, that easy, affordable (re)motion could possibly be labelled as a problem to the unique standpoint, contradiction coming from ‘the authorities’ in response to the desires of ‘the general public’ – which is commonly simply the desires of the loudest and most strident. Utter nonsense after all, however some folks will genuinely imagine so. Others comprehend it’s garbage, however any alternative to play the sufferer, aggrieved get together, 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 carried out by different our bodies. We want as particular person conservationists and our consultant organisations, to tackle the strident, wilfully ignorant, and egocentric. Offering info 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 timber wouldn’t have achieved so in the event that they’d been informed it was good for wildlife? What number of of them could be appalled in the event that they’d identified what they’d inadvertently contributed to if informed afterwards? What number of would really feel awkward (fairly rightly) about urgent their views that lifeless timber are ugly when their conservation worth is highlighted? For some folks it could make completely no distinction, however the provision of primary related conservation info might make theirs the minority view. Wouldn’t or not it’s good to seek out out?

We now have 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 could be simpler to know why I don’t like this seemingly constructive step, it’s rationalising ignorance and/or failure to satisfy our duties to wildlife. I’m assuming that the zones will probably be away from the place these members of the general public who object to the sight of lifeless wooden may see it. Which means all publicly accessible components which gained’t depart a lot else. Native woodland to start with constitutes a small proportion of our panorama, ecologically purposeful woodland dangers changing into a small fraction of that. I do know for a reality, as a result of they’ve informed me, that as coverage native forestry and council workers conceal lifeless wooden away from public view in woodland, they’re answerable for. We must be reversing not formally establishing that observe.

In Fife there’s a neighborhood woodland group that’s taken to arranging unfastened lifeless wooden into reasonably creative piles. That is in recognition that whereas it’s an important part of wholesome woodland ecology some folks categorical their dislike of it visually. Though that is properly meant and at the least some enchancment of the present state of affairs I’ve to say it makes me grind my enamel. We must be informing those who if they honestly love woodland and its wildlife then lifeless wooden and decay is a needed part of it, it’s absence not presence ought to alarm us. It’s not precisely amongst my prime priorities for any purpose that individuals who go to woodland don’t must see any lifeless wooden, personally I’ve obtained many higher issues to do with my life than indulge them. Conservation and training 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 must see a chunk of lifeless wooden or some uncut grass. However, an enormous however, I’ve additionally encountered others who after they complained about the identical completely dropped their objections after I identified their worth to wildlife, they merely hadn’t identified. That was it, a fast phrase, however is even that being one way or the other too ‘confrontational’ in the direction of the general public for some? The close to whole absence of data re the conservation worth of lifeless wooden in public discourses the place it’s supremely related suggests to me it’s.

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It might definitely assist if we had the woodland equal of the Sandford Precept which states – in idea anyway – that in Nationwide Parks conservation will probably be given precedence over growth. For woodland this might be recognition that we’ve ethical obligations in the direction of wildlife, private duties in addition to rights, conservation earlier than aesthetics. In case you go to some wooden, it’s going to be an actual wooden with lifeless timber, 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 identified that we’re not comfortable to see woodland with out lifeless wooden, we need to see it as a result of we all know it signifies a wholesome and wildlife wealthy woodland. Why shouldn’t we’ve 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 according to offering the general public training 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. An area fourteen-year-old boy who owned a chainsaw of his personal requested if he might assist him, the supply was gratefully accepted. Yours actually 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 attempting to include in how we ‘handle’ woodlands or opposing it with vigour?

The opposite aspect of the coin is that after I was discussing this situation with an area girl in the identical wooden, she informed me when she took her grand daughter for a stroll there the little lady would robotically run over to any lifeless wooden and elevate it as much as see what was residing below it. As conservationists the place do our duties lie, acquiescing with reasonably 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 better life is to offer 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 potential letting down our threatened wildlife and the possibility of kids main higher, extra enlightened lives stuffed with 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 remaining Saving Lifeless 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 that may assist in the event that they did. We could have touched all-time low right here in Half 1, however hopefully the one method will probably be up in Half 2. 


The inconsistency, the truth is utter lunacy with which lifeless timber and wooden are handled in public locations is underlined by this picture. Whereas what should be a fortune has been spent eradicating lifeless timber and wooden from native woodlands in Falkirk District on account of supposed assault to aesthetics, here’s a giant piece of lifeless and decaying tree positioned in a really conventional and formal public park as a decorative characteristic!!! So we will’t have conspicuous lifeless wooden in an area woodland, however we will have it as a decorative characteristic in a Victorian Park!?! For the need of primary public training re the conservation worth of lifeless wooden being made accessible time, effort and cash is nearly definitely being spent eradicating it unnecessarily – training 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 timber being eliminated, to offer a chat to my group.

I requested that they put particular emphasis on the battle between public session workouts and conservation targets. He agreed, got here alongside and the following dialogue was reasonably enlightening after we obtained on to the topic of consultations and conservation. It shouldn’t have come as a shock on reflection to seek out out that there have been frequent ‘blazing rows’ again on the head workplace as a result of the organisation needed to totally adjust to the bulk views introduced inside public session paperwork, workers who knew and cared about conservation didn’t. The general public training that may’ve helped to resolve the difficulty clearly wasn’t on the playing cards.

Properly, properly who would have thought that. You spend a number of years slogging your guts out at uni, get your diploma presumably whereas saddling your self with debt, handle in a extremely aggressive job market to safe your dream one inside an environmental organisation….then you definitely discover out you gained’t use your extremely costly and hard-earned training to assist preserve wildlife and educate the general public why you accomplish that, you’ll assist lower up lifeless timber as a result of someone mentioned they didn’t suppose they appear good. What a horrible, utter waste in so some ways – I could be biased, however I believe there’s one hell of a robust correlation between training and conservation, the dearth of actual conservation tells me training 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 price a examine too.




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