Alton Webteam: May 2017
From the point of view of a tree, the human race is a recently introduced foreign species, an invasive weed which seems intent on destroying the natural balance of the earth's resources. Trees have been here some two or three hundred million years and individual specimens may live for a thousand.
When the Romans arrived in Britain, it wasn't bare grassy slopes over which they marched; it was through dense forest only patches of which now survive. Robin Hood would now find it difficult to hide away from the Sheriff of Nottingham's men in what is left of Sherwood Forest,
The plain fact is that human beings have found wood far too useful as fuel, as a building material, for the making of tools like ploughs and for building ships to leave forests to grow in peace.
Peace is something which descends on you when you go into an unfrequented forest, leaving behind the incessant noise of traffic, the buildings, roads and all their signs and clutter and all the attempts to impose order on Nature. But this peace, however calming to the human spirit, is deceptive. Every green leaf is hard at work, using the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and water from the trees' roots into wood and in the process releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
However useful wood might be to us as a material out of which we may fashion the things we need or the things we delight to possess, more important is the oxygen when we and every other animal needs to survive. The preservation of the world's forests is not a sentimental or an aesthetic matter, it is a matter of life or death.
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