Recently, I had the misfortune of coming across a poorly informed, shockingly ignorant and frankly irresponsible piece of writing. More disappointingly, it was penned by a Scottish ecologist and published in a national newspaper. I felt that I should write something to address some of the points and claims made by its author.
The article focussed on the Scottish government’s policy on increasing tree cover -condemning it as a waste of money and damaging to our “Scottishness.” Firstly, if we’re speaking in monetary terms (as so often is necessary these days) forests are exceeding valuable to us for mitigating flood damage, reducing soil erosion, providing employment, increasing ecotourism and purifying our air. And surely fighting the war on climate change is a price we should be more than willing to pay? Additionally, I have far more pride in my country striding forth with its environmental values than I do for its “bleak, windswept moors.”
As an experienced ecologist, the author is almost certainly aware of Scotland’s rich ecological history. Therefore, claims that we are simply trying to “copy” our more heavily forested european cousins seem wildly absurd. Until relatively recently our uplands were swathed in thick caledonian forest, supporting a vast array of species. The degraded hillsides we see today support but a mere fraction of the life they once did; and are quite frankly little more than green deserts. Planting trees is not only good economic value; it is a moral obligation to restore the landscapes we have so carelessly deteriorated. There’s a good reason why our neighbours aren’t striving to replicate our ways.
However, what has annoyed me most about this article is the thoughtless way it threatens our progress. As conservationists, much of our work is spent inspiring the public to develop a love and respect for their environment. This is no easy task and is made all the harder by articles such as this. We devote our time and passion in engaging with others, all to safeguard the future of our environment. So be wise and careful with your words, for they will surely reach further than you think (particularly when published in the Scotsman…)
I can think of no sound reason why an ecologist would oppose increased levels of biodiversity, but I suspect there are hidden agendas at play. If you would like to read the article and express to the Scotsman that you would like it removed, please follow this link.