And now for the good news!
England may be letting woods and trees down this month but we have a couple of good news stories from other countries, about a famous line of trees in Northern Ireland and chalet plans in Scotland.
If you watch the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones you might recognise the tunnel of tall silver trees with thick twisting trunks on the Kings Road. These wonderful trees crowd over heroine Arya Stark and the dead king’s secret progeny Gendry, as they make their escape from King's Landing. This atmospheric scene was filmed at what is known as the Dark Hedges, an historic avenue of stunning ancient beeches on Bregagh Road, near Armoy. They were already well-loved, but their starring role has since brought them international fame, with tourists and fans travelling from all over to admire these stunning, fantastical trees.
However, this international acclaim has put the Dark Hedges at risk, due to high levels of traffic and footfall. The Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland had supported the call to close the road so the trees, a victim of their own success, can be protected. Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure has now brought in a ban on cars using the road in County Antrim. We’re thrilled to hear these glorious trees are now safe for future generations (and Game of Thrones fans) to continue to enjoy.
Meanwhile, beyond the Wall (Hadrian’s Wall that is) up in the Cairngorms, an ancient woodland has been saved from proposals to build holiday chalets within the wood. Ancient woodlands, as fragile and diverse ecosystems that have developed on centuries-old soils, are not appropriate places for holiday chalets due to loss, damage and ongoing impacts from human recreation. At planning committee councillors voted 8 to 5 for the motion to reject the application. These councillors have opted to prevent the destruction of this irreplaceable habitat. A huge thank you to them for having the foresight and care to look out for ancient woods and everything they support!
How you can help
The cases we fight every day happen because planning policy and enforcement is failing these irreplaceable habitats. The government is on the brink of bringing stronger protection to ancient woods and ancient trees. In the recent Housing White Paper, they recognised that ancient woods need better protection, and pledged to address this. Alongside more than 15,000 Trust supporters, we asked for a simple amendment to the wording in planning policy to make this a reality. We must keep the pressure on our ministers to make the right decision for our ancient woods and trees. Please help us pile on the pressure today.