Saturday, 11 February 2012

Magic Compromised

It's an unlikely spot for enchantment but when places are allowed to go wild it happens more often than might be expected. This woodland is surrounded by rhododendron but in the middle the trees are native and as full of character as anything on Blacka. It is close to a major road and despite the useful deadening of the noise, courtesy of the rhododendron, the sound of traffic never quite goes away; it's just that the visual interest helps you to forget it. It's also close to the car park so those out for a short dog walk use it frequently. Everything plays its part. The thick evergreen also keeps off the wind, giving it appeal to red deer, foxes and badgers. There's a layer of shrubs including bilberry and bramble through which alder birch and pine create natural sculptures worthy of a gallery. Many small birds relish the native trees even more when they can also take advantage of the evergreen shelter. This morning the numbers of robins and tits astonished us as they fell over themselves to get to the daily deposit of seed and grated cheddar that we leave for them on the wall: it was like a fictional greetings card from the RSPB. One robin seemed intent on landing on my hat as we were harrassed having taken a minute or so too long to reach the feeding station.

We've always known that wildlife trusts have a compulsion to remove rhododendron so were reconciled to work being done. So I discussed this with Sheffield Wildlife Trust and thought that they understood. The signs were that they did. When removing rhododendron, we agreed, do not take it all and do nothing to destroy the character. And one feature in particular was a treasure: The main entrance through the rhododendron into the wood was a leafy corridor and as you come through it the magic is thrilling. My daughter summed it up one morning when a dusting of snow lifted the view. "It's just like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". Others too have called it Narnia having walked through the wardrobe/corridor into the enchanted world. That special feature has been communicated to SWT and we thought they understood. Obviously they didn't. The 'wardrobe' has gone and with it some of the sound insulation too. We were not against the thinning of the evergreen but this is so draconian I've not trusted myself to write about it before. And still anything said cannot do justice to the sense of helplessness.

They could have cut rhododendron at any other point and we would have scarcely minded. It simply underlines the gulf there is between us. All around have been left scores of piles of branches tidily gathered together compromising the special atmosphere we once had.

The debris has been here for months and could be permanent.

There is still beauty here but less of it and the truly worrying thing is that with people like this in charge what hope can we have that what we still have will remain? It is as if we are different species and the aliens are not the invading evergreens but the managers dropped on us from another planet where they think and feel in a different way.

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