Sunday, 31 January 2016

Who Cares?

If the fly-tipping stuff, lavatory seat and all, had been left outside the Town Hall,  or Sheffield Wildlife Trust's Offices would it still be there after two weekends? The idea that it might have to remain because it's a crime scene is absurd, given that wind and weather has spread it further and further since it first appeared.

It's enough to encourage other villains to leave their own unwanted junk, and possibly some have already.

Saturday, 30 January 2016


Curtain twitching is being encouraged.

Could be a bit intrusive. But don't forget the clipboard.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Opting Out

We're being spied on.

Nobody asked us. Anyway we're opting out. You wouldn't do this to humans.

Did the question ever get asked whether all this watching is intrusive? After all there's a lot of sensitivity among you lot around the issue of CCTV cameras.

But we are watching you. Very closely.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Worthy of Trust?

Reflecting on a few words exchanged with one of SRWT's trustees (one of thirteen and to his credit the only one who has made any effort to engage with me on any level), I wondered again: What is the point of trustees? How much do they influence what goes on and do they seriously admit any personal responsibility for what SRWT does? Or do they hope one of the others is covering what they don't? I've posted about this before but recent events have brought up the question again.

It’s pretty unlikely that any supporter of FoBM would be invited to become a trustee of SRWT. But that would be the only way of getting to know what goes on inside their meetings. There is some documentation on SRWT's website on the role and duties of a trustee, some of which is doubtless culled from the Charity Commission, the RSWT and the NCVA, but some may be specific to SRWT.

The kind of list that is assembled in this way can be problematic in that its compilation becomes a project in itself and may lead to a tick box exercise. That can blinker people from vital considerations not specified and at the same time a counsel of perfection leading some to decide we can't do all this properly anyway so we'll just go our own way in what we prioritise; feasibilty being a sore point with unpaid volunteers some of whom are more interested in adorning their CVs.  Another consequence is the tendency to agree that some roles get taken on by small sub groups whose work may not be fully scrutinised by the wider body of trustees; this may turn out to be the Chair and the Chief Exec, possibly with one other trustee or staff member.

All this is speculation because, in this case at least, what goes on is secret. Minutes of meetings are not available to the public which you might expect. But the secrecy goes beyond that: even members, who've paid their £50 have no right to see board minutes. Once a year they may attend the AGM and are then allowed to ask questions, though I'm not sure if they have to be submitted in advance nor how rigorous they are. SRWT's claim is that they have approaching 6,000 members and their staff have reminded me several times of this when implying that my views and those of other local users of Blacka should not be taken seriously in this light. How many of these 6,000 turn up to the AGM, have even been on Blacka, know where it is? How well informed are these members and trustees who serve as a counter to the very well informed, thoughtful and engaged members of the user public who each tot up hundreds of hours of visits and observation each year? (see Paternalism post).

The SRWT trustee I spoke with is the one most likely to be seen on Blacka and at meetings so I'm assuming he takes his role more seriously than some others. None of them has previously addressed me about what I write here but this one did. It clearly bothered him that I write in such terms about SRWT and he used some quite strong words. As he did not go so far as to contradict anything said here I concluded that it was the factual  accuracy of my comments that was more troubling than the occasional colourful language I choose. And the latter is of course a response to the dumb refusal to engage in dialogue over many years. I'm not proof against the tendency we all have when people are intent on not hearing what we say – I raise my voice and speak more robustly.

This was not the first time I had recently come across a pained response to my criticisms. That must be good news. It means they are bothered. Anything is better than the institutional refusal to acknowledge that there is another point of view and that it might be valid and that it could be worthwhile doing things differently.  We need to be careful, however, that when they try to focus on what we say and especially how we say it, is not a tactic designed to move any argument away from the serious points at issue – i.e. their policy and practices, what they actually do.
Among the things touched on was one that raises my suspicions more than most: the size of SRWT. From what was said to me on this occasion, I could be forgiven for having a go at the National Trust or the RSPB because they are wealthy centralised bodies. SRWT on the other hand has limited resources, only a small income and very few staff. I don’t buy this. Presumably any public criticism I make of these bigger charities won’t make a bit of difference anyway but if criticism of a smaller group like SRWT could cause more serious damage. The trouble is that SRWT does not behave like a small group. If SRWT is claiming to be more local and community focused then they should be able to accept that they should be more keen to consult in an honourable and meaningful way. And this does not chime with those things I’ve observed, the mentions of 6,000 members, the empire building through land acquisition, the insistence on PR, employment of publicity and development managers, website design and spin and such efforts to manage their brand and image. If it walks like a duck ................     They put themselves into the public eye through press releases behaving in much the same way as a commercial enterprise while giving scant attention to the legitimate concerns of local people who have intimate knowledge and great attachment to the land they hold. Should I reign in my criticism while this continues?  And they do have a national bureaucracy, maybe smaller than their competitors but still with centralising tendencies. And I've observed numerous times when the national body has dictated or influenced what has happened. So I’m suspicious of this story that SRWT is just a small scale operation with only minor ties to the national RSWT. I’ve seen times when the national body has intervened.

In the extremely unlikely event that I became a trustee, and if I had the power, I would replace most of the duties listed and referred to above and prioritise the following, emphasising that the charity should always be serving the public good. 

1 Acting as a representative of a wider civil society dedicated to transparency and accountability going beyond the narrow interests of one organisation and steering them well clear of the potentially murky areas of competitive business expansion, and marketing.

2 Being aware that staff may have experienced a narrow education and that at times their moral compass might need some adjustment; therefore insisting on the truth.

3 Taking more of a role as a ‘critical friend’ rather than a dedicated promoter of the 'brand'.

Taken together these could help to make the trust more worthy of the trust of local people.

First Served

Often with wildlife it's who gets the food first that matters. Seniority does not always go with size and pushiness counts for a lot.

And last to the feast at the Wall Caff are the pheasant, a squirrel and a pair of crows.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


His tiny antlers suggest he's only two years old but his impressive size already promises a very large stag when fully mature. Whenever I've seen him he has initially stood his ground allowing a sight of his strong shoulders.  By contrast another of similar age is shy and retiring.

These were on the other side of the barbed wire today, looking uninspired by the mild damp conditions; yesterday they were standing in the woods barely moving.

Crime Scene

Having reported this dumping incident last Thursday we might have expected it to be cleared up by now. Instead we find it's been declared an 'enviro crime scene'.  Does that mean it has to stay here getting worse and causing more mess, spreading out and affecting other areas until a suitably qualified investigator arrives (from the Yard?)

A pity the focus is not more on preventing crime than on solving it. This car park is a disgrace. Given the hyped-up language that's used to describe Blacka in official literature we're entitled to expect that access arrangements are a great deal better and that the place appears looked after- which it doesn't even when there's been no dumping. I've lost count of the times I've raised this matter. The curse of low expectations.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Where to Stick it?

Comment superfluous.

From SRWT's Twitter page:


Monday, 25 January 2016

Well Preserved

Staying in Birnam vicarage in the seventies when a family member was the incumbent enabled us to make numerous visits to those great trees the Birnam Oak and the Birnam Sycamore, respectively some 600 and 300 years old. A link here to a page in the site of the Ancient Tree Forum.

To survive so long those trees will have needed to be respected throughout their lifetimes somewhat more than when, in earlier history, Malcolm ordered his army to cut limbs from the trees of Birnam Wood in their advance on Macbeth in Dunsinane. Even he was less brutal than SRWT whose approach to oak recently has shown no respect at all and who plan  to take dire revenge on the local sycamores. But Shakespeare himself would struggle to find words to describe the entrenched philistinism we sometimes observe.

One of Blacka's sycamores:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Easy to Destroy

It takes many years to grow and  just minutes to destroy. The latest evidence that the chain-saw mafiosi have been predating on Blacka's trees is this, the remains of a red oak.

It was one of a group planted up here in the seventies and would just have been reaching maturity. As the Woodland Trust says, a red oak takes twenty years to flower and another twenty to produce a reasonable crop of acorns. So this is definitely one that was planted as a memorial for the Ramblers secretary.

I always thought the plantings should have been native oaks. But SRWT have been destroying native oaks and many others too and are unlikely to plant a native replacement.

The main group is a little distance away but size and age are about the same so no chance it could have seeded from them. But its non-native status was enough for the restless managers to condemn it. I had understood that the Ramblers wanted these to stay, but it's possible they changed their minds or made an exception for this one.

Together but Separate

I've said before, that the daily jackdaw commute from east to west is one of the great wildlife sights of the region. This is a good time of year to watch it. Its fascination, I think is that it illustrates the tension between the individuality of each bird and the flock's shared purpose.

Other birds flock in a more uniform way and each one is very much like the others. Jackdaws, like rooks, love to stick together in a companionable gang agreeing a similar purpose and destination, yet each keeps its separate identity. Note that in this picture each bird has its wings at a different angle. Togetherness should not mean conformity.

The spectacle is at its best in the morning with a strong wind coming from the west.

"I'm Waiting"

Those who regularly feed birds know that some individuals have a pronounced sense of entitlement.

Thursday, 21 January 2016


At a Green Spaces Forum last night the Director of Culture and Environment repeated his statement, made at a previous meeting, that ‘local people don’t always know best’.

It’s understandable that when he talks to such groups Paul is often to be heard bemoaning the government cuts as a reason why the council can’t do what the Friends of Parks groups want, this even stretching as far as an inability to conduct half-decent consultations.  The council’s position is certainly tricky but in more favourable times with less budget pressure some of us recall similar council failures and wonder if more money would really make the difference we would like to see. And a job advert in the Guardian for a new Head of Parks (actually ‘Environment and Countryside’) working under Paul quotes a salary of £65k.

The original question at the previous meeting had come from me, asking for local people’s wishes to be considered first when moneys did become available, rather than ‘pet projects’ favoured by managers. Hence the “local people don’t always know best”.

Well I referred to this in my question last night at a well attended meeting with over 20 groups represented: “Given that local people don’t always know best, how do we ensure that those with more influence – officers, directors etc.- don’t get things wrong with potentially more serious and expensive consequences?” The answer I was looking for was of course more scrutiny of decision making particularly public scrutiny. I would have said scrutiny by councillors but they have largely abandoned the role they should be taking of holding officers to account to give themselves more time electioneering and engaging in petty inter-party warfare.

Some of us who attended another event last week organised by Sheffield First  on the Devolution Deal listened to speeches from Council Leaders and others. Easily the most incisive contribution was from Prof. Matt Flinders from the University of Sheffield’s Crick Centre. He wanted more citizen engagement in the debate. He referred to what he called the Paternalistic Shadow, a culture to be found among politicians and within institutions like SCC and elsewhere that people prefer not to talk about. In brief it comes down to a presumption that “The public don’t know what’s good for them, so we’ll do it anyway and they’ll find out we’re right”.  

Bringing it back to parks and green spaces, what happens when the officers and managers are not overwhelmingly blessed with superior judgement?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Know Anyone Who Might Have Dropped This?

There's been a perfectly good walking boot in the car park for several weeks now, unclaimed.

Overnight someone left this - also unclaimed.

There's just a chance somebody reading this could recognise an item or two.


White patches dancing over the bracken on a dark morning. It can only be roe deer.

Sunday, 17 January 2016


The petition to parliament initiated by Mark Avery on driven grouse shooting and its catastrophic effect on the upland ecosystems has so far reached about 30,000 signatures. That far exceeds the number necessary to elicit a formal government response but still falls well short of the number necessary to set up a debate in parliament. There are only a few days left. A hope might be that this will prompt a sympathetic MP or group of MPs to take this up in members time.

It's interesting to note that the numbers signing in each constituency are recorded on the website. So far from Sheffield Hallam there have been 94 signatures, from High Peak, Derbyshire 139, from Derbyshire Dales 102. On the whole you can see fewest signatures in the south east. Conservative constituencies in the north where more grouse shooting goes on tend to get most support for the petition. Food for thought.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Democratic Deficit

Good management and good governance should be important across all public affairs and services.

The avoidance of poor management depends on proper systems of accountability being in place. Do we or do we not want people in their communities to be listened to, decisions taken on the basis of fairness and building of consensus in transparent processes in which all have the chance to participate?

Alternatively we can have opaque and impenetrable decision making where pushy sectional interests seek to gain an advantage that is not shared by all and that leads all too often to skewed priorities not subject to the light of scrutiny?

Scrutiny and accountability is resolutely avoided by those who don't want to be found out. We have elected representatives who should take their roles seriously in the interests of those who chose them. Why does that not happen? In Sheffield councillors are very poor at public engagement and at scrutinising policy and practice across local government, and that goes for all parties represented. They are most engaged in cheap party political point scoring against their rivals.

This year is unusual: in May we elect three councillors in each ward instead of just one as normal. Wait for masses of carefully spun literature through the letter box. A pity there's been so little attempt to discuss issues with the public before. For example there should have been at least three public ward meetings each year set up by councillors. Hardly a ward in Sheffield has seen this happen. They don't like listening and responding, preferring to sit on the fence waiting for a bandwagon to come along.

Thursday, 14 January 2016


In the uplands the richest wildlife is found where we have natural vegetation and that would be native woodland. And it's largely what we would get if the blight of management is removed. Conservation management gives to us a specific but very limited range of bird and mammal species. On this part of Blacka this means sheep grazing and no trees.

The sheep pasture on Blacka is about as shocking an example as you could find of the impoverishment that the conservation charities like, to their eternal shame. Anyone who doubts it should put aside all preconceptions and make a visit. You will come away utterly depressed.

I noticed that the mountain bike people - a determinedly obsessive group represented locally by Ride Sheffield has asked its members to keep off trails in Lady Canning's Plantation. They've not done the same for Blacka Moor despite the huge impact of the activity here. But they are not to blame. Those responsible are the landowners, in this case SRWT and SCC, caring nothing for the environmental and ecological damage caused.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Virtual Evangelism

I hope the elm tree in Sheffield is saved. But .....

If there is anyone who doesn't yet know how SRWT works and what its major priorities are, this tweet on their website will help.

Getting their name publicised in the digital arena comes well before any environmental and ecological goods they may perform in the real world, though that's the area in which they wish to claim some credibility.

Success comes when they launch a digital message into cyberspace and it gets taken up by others anxious to fill a vacant space in mainstream media. Points are scored in the office.

The way this one worked is: they get information that an elm tree is about to be felled on a road in Nether Edge. In the office they look up the supposed 'biodiversity value' of elm trees and discover that it's a preferred habitat for a particular species of butterfly. Then, without ascertaining that the said butterfly has actually lived in or ever visited the tree in question they post a tweet along with a press release claiming that felling the elm tree (already an emotional issue) is a threat to an endangered species.

All accomplished with no need to set foot outside the office or even look up from the screen. Mission successful when more people have heard of the organisation via national media. And local tree campaigners are also understandably grateful. Another step towards reaching their membership target.  This is also a characteristic of the other conservation charities.

Weather Event

The sun does actually shine. There was real evidence for it. The wildlife here could have been just as surprised but they may have more faith. And they were prepared, knowing that clear and sunny is usually accompanied by cold and breezy just as mild goes mostly with cloudy and wet. So the carefully chosen spot was a wooded place backing to windward which fortunately involved facing the sun.

One of them was the large stag and very welcome.

The following morning before sunrise he was still here with a small group of hinds. Admiration is deserved for any beast carrying that weight on his head. This year one might suggest a sabbatical and a baseball cap? Not, though, what Sherlock Holmes wears.

Monday, 11 January 2016


"We live in a shadowland, a dim, flattened relic of what once was, of what there could be again"
Embedded image permalink


You leave the paths in the dark and mingle with the trees at your peril.

It's tempting when everywhere is soggy underfoot to wander off into the woods. It may be drier but nowhere is free from danger. They're out to get you.

............ and you thought the worst that could happen was being tripped over by bramble and breaking an ankle.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

It's The Cows Wot Dun It

This is beyond entertainment. Another press release homes in on its intended audience.

There was a time before the routine self-serving press release, when charitable folk and do-gooders of various ilks just did what they felt was right without expecting any recognition. Then the managers/consultants/advisors came along telling us that it was no good being virtuous unless you let the world know about it. Get the message out was the message. The market is everything.  Before long the message became an end in itself, a weapon even in the war of self justification. The good deed, the wise move, the 'right decision' became only valuable if you could encapsulate it in a suitable press release especially if it distracted from less wholesome deeds that would not play well with the public - such as shooting wild animals which got no publicity at all. Did I miss the press release telling of the numbers of deer, and foxes shot?

I'm in no position to say this is all fiction though there's been enough of that over the years to recommend scepticism. My own subjective impression that I've seen fewer whinchats in recent years is not reliable, I admit. But I very much doubt this 'evidence' is independently verified.

The supporting 'twitterers' are mostly birders or fellow managers of one sort or another anxious to celebrate management, with the odd (very odd) malcontent intruding.

  1. Or they just hate sheep.

  1. But do they for predators and deer?

Friday, 8 January 2016


Those hoping to see deer on Blacka are not as fortunate as a few years ago. If we do see any it is more than likely to be this small group of three hinds and an immature stag. Before the managers, cullers and recreational killers got themselves organised  we might have hoped to come across a greater variety including larger stags.



This article in the press today tells us that the National Wildlife Crime Unit could fold up unless money is found to keep it going.

Some comments posted:

Cruelty to animals is a common precursor and reliable indicator of later violence towards defenceless humans. The authorities turn a blind eye at society's peril.... 
Lose respect for animals and respect for mankind diminishes
Yes it's just a roundabout way of bringing back hunting. If there's no police to investigate, there's no crime..
This is part of a much bigger problem. Whilst in theory it is illegal to kill and persecute birds of prey, to hunt Foxes, Deer and Hares with dogs, it not merely happens on a regular basis, but the police widely ignore it. In actual fact most police forces operate an unspoken policy of if possible never investigating wildlife crime perpetrated by wealthy landowners, or farmers.
The whole of the last comment quoted is interesting - see link:

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Open Letter

To Sheffield Council Party Leaders and Deputy Leaders

The increased flood risk makes it imperative that we should take a new look at the way our uplands are managed on the fringe of Sheffield. While much focus in the Sheffield media has recently been on city trees there has been a remarkable silence on the vital role that trees should play on the moors. At the time of writing Sheffield has been lucky to escape the worst of the floods mainly because rainfall has so far not equalled that experienced further north, nor the levels of 2007 in Sheffield. But flood warnings have been issued and conditions can change very quickly. If things take a turn for the worse only emergency and desperate measures can deal with any incidents.

Surely it would be irresponsible to ignore those calls for important long term measures that are gathering strength nationally. A consensus is developing on the action that needs to be taken. The greatest rainfall comes in the higher land around the city and here that is managed by the conservation charities constituting the Sheffield Moors Partnership who are committed to maintaining extensive and artificially open landscapes that remain essentially characteristic of grouse shooting estates; grassy areas are also managed to discourage woodland through grazing with sheep and cattle. Trees are generally very few and, astonishingly, in places mature native trees are being felled adjacent to watercourses. These trees can help to moderate rainfall run-off and do much to mitigate the effects of flooding.

Environmental and wildlife commentators are increasingly claiming that a more wooded character to our local uplands can have many benefits that go well beyond flood mitigation, bringing a more natural aspect to landscape and a greater range of wildlife. This issue is at least as important as the proper management of flood plains.

Sheffield Moors Partnership gains financially from farm subsidies and grants from DEFRA and elsewhere encouraging open treeless landscapes and 'good agricultural condition'. They will not voluntarily turn away from this money so will only change if there is political pressure.

Sheffield's Waterways Strategy makes mention of “change management of mooorlands” and “management of the upland catchment …. to improve stormwater retention” but with no practical measures suggested.

Will you help by calling for an open debate and re-evaluation of current policies as laid out in Sheffield Moors Partnership's flawed Master Plan?

Neil Fitzmaurice

Friends of Blacka Moor

some links:

Latest article.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Not Me Guv

"You can't blame me for what my predecessor did", is a sentiment that's encouraged in many organisations particularly those with multiple layers of management where those outside can't easily determine responsibility. Pass the Parcel and Musical Chairs are not just for kiddies' parties. They're useful tools for management.

Over the course of the 15 years of disastrous management of Blacka, we've seen numerous people coming and going. Decisions have been taken and post holders have walked away from them. New people have come in saying we can't hold them responsible for what occurred before they arrived. Just on Blacka we've seen several 'reserve managers' come and go and a Chief Executive. Part of the strategy designed to confuse is to change their job title and presumably job description periodically too. Controlled destabilisation is part of the game. Sheffield's Parks Department itself has gone through a number of changes of name and management, some of which has undoubtedly arisen from cutbacks and the need to amalgamate roles after job losses. Now a post is being advertised for a new Head of Environment and Countryside, salary about £65k, answerable to the Director, currently Paul Billington (not known how much longer). Chris Heeley, the departing Head, and Paul Billington were responsible for the Report to Cabinet I criticised in this post.

Anyone who thinks he/she may be a suitable candidate should read the following advertisement:

Amid the supporting information for this ('probably the best parks job in the UK' - nice one P.B.) can be found this - presumably 'customers' is referring to the public. I can't find any reference to a commitment to transparency anywhere.

Customer Focus
  • Undertake reviews of the service specification with key customers to ensure that service continues to meet business requirements
  • Contribute to the continuous improvement of the service using available data and service intelligence, contributing also to whole service improvement as strategic lead for the Parks and Countryside Service and also in the wider context of the Culture and Environment Senior Management Team
  • Review customer satisfaction and the strategic lead on service improvement
  • Ensure that the function is flexible to customer demand and that when new requirements are identified the service can respond quickly to meet the needs
Elsewhere we are told that :

" We are looking for someone with great leadership skills, energy and drive, outstanding people skills, positivity and an ability to deliver major change in public services."

.......but also that   "Experience in parks management is not essential."

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Worth Reading

A New Nature Blog by Miles King

Clinging On

2015's oak leaves.

On Its Way

It's to be hoped that there are people ready and able to deal with what happens when all this reaches lower levels. More often than not this is a gentle flow, even a trickle; and this is only one stream in the higher land surrounding the city.

The bog cannot contain it all and trees, essential as they are, won't solve every problem even though they will contribute a great deal.

Planting new trees will not have an immediate effect either, though the folly of destroying mature trees should be clear to all.

All this is on the move, most of it coming down from the bare land on Houndkirk Moor whence it has crossed Hathersage Road creating an aquaplaning risk for vehicles.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Soaking and Draining

Cowsick Bog was partially drained to improve its effectiveness as a grouse rearing site in the interests of the then landowner who was concerned only with what it offered for shooting game.The grips were dug to drain away the water. Blocking the grips in recent times was the right thing to do, though it was done with no care for appearance nor the convenience of the public. At the same time a perverse attempt was made to kill off trees near the bog by poisoning. This was only partly successful and also an ugly and insensitive operation leaving dead and half-dead trees standing. Now several of the surviving trees have been felled for no intelligent reason that can be detected beyond giving chain saw operators something to do.

Trees of course help the ground to retain some of the water that runs off towards Blacka Dyke.A lot of the water draining into Cowsick has come from over the road where there is a grassy sheep pasture on Houndkirk Moor.  Recently SRWT arranged to have an area here made bare which had originally been covered with a mix of heather, bracken and scrub. This is now waterlogged, not helped by the even more recent tree felling; oak, beech and birch and one hundred year old larch have gone. The spoils of this operation are scattered around some times tidily others not.

Water has always run through here on its way to the dyke; this will not make the run-off any slower. It seems that in their minds a bog must be some kind of pure human construct which does not allow trees near it however much nature insists on placing them there.

A sudden drop takes it over a rocky ledge on its way to join the River Sheaf which in turn joins the Don.

Mixed Messages

Some recent words from the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts

Our thoughts go out to all affected by recent floods. Nature-based solutions in catchments & floodplains must be part of plans for future.

SRWT is one of these trusts.  Here is another picture of one of SRWT's bare catchments.

Will things now change? Ah, "the future". No point in optimism. They calculated and manipulated to prevent any discussion of the issue and then tied themselves into 10 year agreements aimed to keep it all bare and compacted!! Most 'trust'worthy. Once again, it's all about money.


But messages are also coming from SRWT itself, another case of bandwagon jumping. Now we have a call for a tree strategy for Sheffield. I can hear the hollow laughter

I like "the personal value to people" and "full consideration". Priceless.

I've heard the assertion before with scepticism - that Sheffield is one of the "most wooded cities in Britain"; now Europe is quoted. I've not seen any evidence that there has been any reliable evaluation to back up the statement. What is beyond dispute is that in percentage terms Britain is one of the  least wooded countries in Europe and Sheffield has a high proportion of high land that should be wooded and is kept artificially treeless - and SRWT has some responsibility for that.