Appalling News: Ash Trees are Threatened and Politicians are Brain-Dead

The Forestry Commission have just announced that a deadly disease of native ash trees has been imported into Britain and has escaped and been found on their land in East Anglia. In fairness, the Commission staff are moving heaven and earth to stop/contain it and have done much to raise the public’s interest in the threat. This development potentially marks the start of a process that will lead to the permanent mutilation of the British Rural landscape. Dutch Elm Disease was bad, catastrophic even, but this will be far, far worse. I am at my wit’s end: why, oh why, didn’t politicians do anything about it, before it was too late? The situation is exactly like it was when Dutch Elm Disease was imported. The pathogen was known to be across the sea and lay beneath the bark; so we on our little island continued to import trees with bark intact. It was rather like importing dead bodies with typhoid and storing them in a warm reservoir. For me, the ‘seventies were blighted by the sight of dead and half-dead elms in our hedgerows. They were rather like the rotting corpses of convicted felons that swung from gibbets at cross-roads in the 18th century: pointless and obscene.

Someting must be done to persuade our politicians that a week isn’t a long time in politics or in life: they must start to take a longer term view of our world. They mostly obsess about ephemeral things that have stirred the media, not about issues that really matter and affect us all. They fail to realise that what they decide (or worse, fail to decide) now, will shape our lives and landscapes for decades, even centuries to come. But do any of them get it? Do they? Hell no…

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