Good for Germaine Greer. I never thought I’d say that. In fact, she annoyed me so much a few years ago by saying that she couldn’t stand to see daffodils in roadside verges because they looked so drab once they’d gone over, that I thought I’d never bother to read anything by her again. But all is forgiven after her peach of an article about the failings of the Forestry Commission. She writes first of all about her experience of planting a wood on the flinty soil of a barren part of Eastern England. After several false starts she managed to establish a wood of sorts, but now recognises that growing trees was not suited to that terrain and that she had missed the opportunity to restore a chalk grassland, one of the rarest and most diverse habitats there is. Germaine Greer draws a parallel with the Forestry Commission’s policy of planting millions upon millions of Scots Pines on vast tracts of unsuitable land in England and Scotland, creating a dreary monoculture.
She acknowledges that she made a mistake with her little wood, but she can’t undo it, because the trees are protected under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The sensible solution to the Forestry Commission’s ghastly mistakes would be to clear-fell the pine plantations and return the land to its original bio-diversity. The government made a brave attempt to achieve this, but a crass and ill-informed campaign forced them to change their mind. Bravo to Germaine Greer for daring to state the obvious.