A beautiful gallery from the Guardian UK and the glorious ancient trees of England.
Living proof that we can still walk with giants, but for how much longer?
|Photograph: Paul Wakefield/NTPL|
"Hatfield is the only intact Royal Hunting Forest in Europe, dating back to the Norman kings ... Walking with ancient trees can give you a real sense of history and the things that they've seen through the centuries"National Trust website inviting the public to visit the places where these ancient forests/trees are located. That's not something you will see in America with the possible exception of the California Redwoods.
A Study in Contrasts
In America we have a bit less respect for trees and their vital link to biodiversity thanks to Big Timber and their appetite for destruction under the guise of bio fuels. Along with China, Belgium and a few other regions in the world, we're now encouraging the planting of genetically modified trees, especially in the South.
Policies supporting the use of "biomass" - wood, agriculture residues, waste, manure and more as "green" substitutes for petroleum are supported by big agribusiness, forestry and biotechnology industries. They envision a "bioeconomy" where massive refineries use risky "synthetic biology" to convert biomass into biofuels, bioenergy, bioplastics, chemicals and bioproducts. Others propose using charcoal (aka biochar) to "sequester carbon" in soils. These trends create massive new demands for land and are causing land grabs around the world.
Some groups are serious about putting an end to this before it grows bigger and have filed suit to stop this dangerous practice that we know far too little about to move ahead with. In typical big business fashion, corporations of paper and forestry combined have instituted "test plots" throughout the South through the ArborGen program despite the controversy.
GM trees are the latest development of scientific forestry. Invented in Europe around 200 years ago, scientific forestry aims to redesign forests to suit the needs of the timber industry. The vast monoculture industrial tree plantations marching across landscapes in the South are perhaps the most extreme application of this forestry science. In the process local people have seen their farmland and forests converted to industrial tree monocultures.
Research into GM trees will not help local people. Instead, forestry scientists are responding to their industrial masters' demands for more efficient plantations.
When faced with criticism of their research into GM trees, forestry scientists have a standard answer: The critic is not an expert and therefore is not really entitled to comment. The science behind GM research is fiendishly complicated. Scientific reports are often written in an technical, academic style which is simply incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't spent years wrapping their heads round the subject.
Yet when asked about their work, some forestry scientists seem strangely reluctant to explain what they are doing.
That was in in the early 2000s, since then they've gotten much more adept with their propaganda and claim they're doing this "in such small acreage plots that nothing can possibly go wrong."
How many times have we heard that line before?