Fake, plastic, trees

lollipop treeDevelopers are destroying any chance for children to engage with the natural world by their insistence on ripping up our native, wild trees and planting fake lollipop trees in their place.

Beaulieu Park, in Rainham, Kent is the latest in a long line of ugly housing developments by McCulloch homes. Once this land was alive with goldfinches and nightingales nesting in the hedgerows now it is a sea of mud with some tired, twisted trees at the entrance.

Nature has been squashed, nature is not wanted in such places. Nature is only acceptable when controlled.

George Monbiot, in his book Feral, laments the Nature Deficit Disorder inflicting our children. “Children confined to their homes become estranged from each other and nature. Obesity, rickets, asthma, myopia, the decline in heart and lung function all appear to be associated with sedentary indoor life.”

He goes on to hope that “Every new housing development include some self-willed land in which children can play.”

Fat chance, when developers, such as McCulloch, are intent on destroying every inch of the natural world on the land they purchase.

If McCulloch homes had left just a little of the botanical richness that this site once contained they could have provided a window into the natural world for the children that came to live there.

A fringe of hawthorn trees, a small meadow of the orchids which once bloomed here, a patch of teasel for the goldfinches to feed on. Instead they chose to rip every living thing out of this site and replace it with their vision of nature. Pathetic, hot housed, subject to the will of man.

Like so many developments blotting our country, these buildings say nothing about their locality, give no nod to a sense of place. They impose their will over nature and trap our children in their homes unable to even imagine the wild that once bloomed here.

 

Loyalty is not always a good thing.

nightingale

nightingale copyright Petra Karstedt https://www.flickr.com/photos/insecta62/

Last night on BBC’s Springwatch I learnt why loyalty is not always such a good thing. A nightingale, it turns out, flies from Africa in the spring back to exactly the same bush in England it left from the previous year. No wonder nightingales in our country are doing so badly.

The nightingale currently breeding in the scrub at Bakersfield at the end of my road will be one of the losers next spring. He will fly back to his favourite spot to find that it has been turned into a building site. So, I fear, will many others.

In the current rush to throw up as many houses as possible, in the current rush to sweep away planning restrictions, in the current rush to destroy all brownfield sites many of our countries nightingales will lose their territories.

In this country we have tree preservation orders, protection for trees which are special. Why can’t we have the same thing for the places that are so important for one of our most iconic birds? Why can’t we have nightingale territory preservation orders? Extra protection for the trees which are important to them.

It will never happen of course because we fail to see beyond our anthropocentric world view. Tree preservation orders protect trees which are important to us because they are beautiful to our eye or important for our history. Our first national parks protected landscapes considered to be attractive by the people choosing them.

But what’s good for wildlife is not always what is good for our eye. Scrub is often not beautiful, wet grassland is not beautiful, brownfield is not beautiful. If only we could shift our thinking to protect not just the pretty but the pretty damn important then our countries wildlife and in turn our own lives, would be richer for it.

A nightingale sang and then was destroyed.

Last night I sat in my garden with a friend. We built a fire, watched a shooting star fall overhead and listened to a nightingale sing. It made me unbelievably sad. These moments are what makes life precious and we are destroying them.

The scrub that the nightingale sang in is being ripped up to make way for a inappropriate and unnecessary housing development. Houses sit empty all over this country and we are destroying the places that bring beauty and joy into our lives to make way for developments which only enrich the lives of the, already rich men who champion them.

I will no longer step out of my door in the morning and hear cuckoos. I will no longer sit in my garden at 1am and hear a nightingale sing and this destruction erodes the very things that make life worth living.

I am supposed to follow the party line that the wants of humans have far more value than the needs of the other creatures that live on the planet. I just can’t subscribe to this point of view. Humans are two a penny, nightingales are rare and getting ever rarer as they make way for profit and I care passionately about this and cannot rouse myself to care if people don’t have a mortgage.

This morning I tidy the remains of the fire away and take some comfort in the fact that the blue tits eggs have successfully hatched in my nest box. I can do this. I can make homes for blue tits but all I can do for the nightingale is rage, rage against its destruction.

Listen to a nightingale sing here.