This is a picture of a wood.
It is a very special wood.
In this wood, vampire hunters and space marines have battled. In this wood, pirates and mystical warriors have hunted for treasure. There have been walks where the sun shines through the canopy making it glow like a green and gold palace, and walks in the rain, hopping over squelched up leaves and puddles, where the smell of the earth and of autumn are rich in the air.
In this wood live snuffly hedgehogs, darting dragonflies, hooting owls, flitting bats, slithery snakes, and more! It is a remnant of the great Forest of Arden, which you may have heard of as being the setting for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, a magical place full of history and discovery.
It is earmarked to be bulldozed to make way for houses.
Never again would people be able to walk through the carpet of bluebells in the spring, or see the sparkling frost clinging to bare branches. The birds would cease to sing, and the air would be full of the noise of traffic and construction.
This wood and the adjacent farmland had such an impact on me growing up; I would say that they are part of the reason I became a writer. How can you help not to have your imagination fired when you are running through fields watching Sparrowhawks drift on the clear blue sky, looking for mice in the golden stubble? Or trying to sneak up on lizards sunbathing in the grass, but only catching a glimpse before they scuttle away? Not surprisingly the novel that I am writing now does have the characters spending a fair amount of time in wood and farmland; and this is the place that inspired it.
I hope to save it.
How? I don’t know. I’ve done all the normal things; try to raise awareness locally, collected information about the proposal and the history of the place, found the form to fill in, and the consultation meeting time.
Even so, I’ve been feeling a bit hopeless. I just can’t imagine it gone. Never to be again. I’ve even had nightmares where the trees are already being torn up and concreted over.
Will the council listen? Will they see the beauty of the land and understand how important it is to protect it? Will they realise that it isn’t just a bunch of trees, but a part of me, and a part of so many others who have walked its paths? It is part of what makes it home.
This is a local fight, so I know that not everyone can help with this. However I do ask you to help where you can. Look around where you live. See the beauty. See how you can share your space with the local wildlife.
For those of you in the UK, please take a look at the Campaign to Protect Rural England; you don’t have to give any money, simply use their form to send a letter to your MP, or find out about how you can take action to save our countryside.
I hope that in the coming weeks I can make a post about how people coming together can make a difference… I suppose all I can do now is wait and hope.