Caught by the River

Wood For The Trees

27th October 2010

In the three and a half years since starting Caught By The River, we’ve tried to avoid explicitly talking about politics and any partisan beliefs we might hold. We’ve always figured that (to borrow the words of a great man*) “the people who know know’; if you’re along for the ride with us, your heart’s probably in the right place and you’ve more than likely had us figured out for a while now. But, with the sad knowledge that inevitably all rules are there to be broken, it’s been quite hard to not cover one story emanating from Westminster that’s doing the rounds at the moment.

Unanimously, people’s responses to coalition plans to sell off huge tracts of British woodland have been aghast. Green MP Caroline Lucas labelled them “an unforgivable act of environmental vandalism” while Paul Hetherington from the Woodland Trust pointed out “This sale is likely raise a tiny amount but could do immeasurable damage and cost the nation dearly.” For me, the best summation of the situation has been Goodbye To The Cuckoo author Michael McCarthy’s piece in yesterday’s Independent. With Zen like wisdom, he writes “A forest is much more than trees.” How can you possibly put our indigenous woodlands up to tender to anyone with a pot of cash and any number of morally dubious intentions?

However the Coalition want to dress it up, from here it looks like another regressive move back to the bad old days: privatisation and the short term money-grubbing gains that come with it are back on the agenda. In this case, it’s trees they’re trying to monetise. Whichever box you ticked back in May, you have to believe this will only leave us as a much poorer country. It looks less like the pathway towards the big society, more a move towards a meaner, more selfish society.

Before the election, David Cameron was forever trumpeting that his would be ‘the greenest government ever’. If I’m right in assuming that’s green as in the dictionary definition naïve or lacking in sophistication, he was bang on the money.


* Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke, naturally.

Sign up to the Save The Forests campaign here. The more voices, the louder the message.