Mar 09, 2012
The serious business of tree huggingBack
© Reuse this
This week, I was amusingly accused of being a tree hugger after I circulated a petition to save a forest in Northern Ireland known as the Prehen woodland.
By global standards, this forest is minuscule. The remaining tract of forest in Prehen, just outside Derry, covers 18.5 acres, compared to the 1.7-billion acres of the Amazon forest basin.
But this small forest is also unique. It is an ancient woodland with trees dating back to the 1600s and is one of the few ancient woodlands left on the island of Ireland. One of the last colonies of indigenous red squirrels lives in the forest and it offers local people a green area on the edge of the city.
Nonetheless, the local government and planners still allow continued encroachment on the forest, giving developers licence to chop down ageless trees to build luxury homes. The developers then have the gall to advertise the new homes as located in a forest setting.
The savagery the officials have allowed on this tiny forest over the years is disgraceful, but is also part of a bigger global problem.
Forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area. But deforestation continues at an alarming rate. Logging, mining, housing and the planting of crops for grazing, besides other practices, destroy 4 500 acres of forest worldwide every hour, according to the United Nations. It is estimated that 18-million acres of the world’s forests is lost each year.
Experts estimate that, within 40 years, the last remaining rainforests could be consumed. This will have a devastating effect on the global climate and the 1.6- billion people who rely on forest products for all or part of their livelihoods.
Yet those who fight to roll back this destruction, like veteran local Prehen campaigner George McLaughlin, are generally dismissed as troublemakers by the planning authorities while, globally, corporations and governments turn a blind eye for a quick buck or financial support for their next election campaign.
Given the gargantuan annihilation of trees around the planet, should I, or anyone for that matter, care about the Prehen woodland in Northern Ireland?
Of course, we should. We need to challenge the human delusions I have seen in relation to forest annihilation. When it comes to vast forests like the Amazon, we are tricked into thinking they are too big to be completely wiped out. When it comes to small forests like the Prehen woodland, we think they are too insignificant to matter.
However, not caring about the Prehen woodland, or any other, is like saying the extinction of a specific species of insect is not important because there are lots of other insects in the world. But, like an extinct species, once this ancient woodland is gone, you cannot grow it back.
Adams claims he likes hugging trees because he knows they will be there long after he is gone. Well, in this case, he might be wrong.
When will the authorities in Northern Ireland wake up to the reality staring them in the face? Or will they continue to sell their resources to the highest bidder for some short-term gain, just like many others worldwide?
Given the record of government and the planners in relation to the Prehen woodland and internationally, there is little prospect. But each day I hope, just as my financial adviser is prone to say, past performance is not always an indicator of future performance and, perhaps, someone with the power to stop the wanton destruction of forests like the Prehen woodland will stand up and have the courage to say: “No more.”
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Brandon Hamber News
Watching Felix Baumgartner free-fall from space and break the sound barrier was extraordinary. As he climbed out of his little balloon with the curve of the earth below him, I was in awe both at what he had decided to do and the sheer beauty of the earth below.
I am somewhat addicted to Twitter, and marginally hooked on Facebook. I find them useful in following multiple news sources, building a work profile and staying in contact with friends across the globe. That said, I think (and this is what all addicts say,...
I was 17 when I personally first encountered censorship. I produced a school play in the late 1980s which reached the finals of a play festival in Johannesburg.
TSX-listed Oando Energy Resources (OER) announced a $238-million prepayment of certain loan facilities, which it used for the $1.5-billion acquisition of the ConocoPhillips Nigerian Oil & Gas Business in July 2014. The company, which is focused on oil and gas...
More than half CEOs surveyed as part of the latest Merchantec CEO Confidence Index, said load-shedding was negatively impacting businesses, as it lowered productivity and raised costs. The index, released on Wednesday, showed that 76.2% of CEOs felt that...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
This Week's Magazine
Eqstra Holdings was going to reduce its exposure to contract mining, but it was not yet ready to sell the troubled business, said CEO Walter Hill on Tuesday. He said Eqstra would not sell its contract mining business in a “depressed market”. He said it would be...
Subscribe to Engineering News and Mining Weekly for two years, but only pay for the first year. The weekly editions of Engineering News and Mining Weekly will be posted to your preferred postal address and also gain access to:
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.