Sunday, 13 September 2009
I was disappointed to see, when I made my visit to the forest above our village, that there has been a lot of tree felling. Swathes of forest have been felled and some of my favourite spots for mushrooms disturbed in the process. Then I noticed these strange boxes on poles.
They are cause for concern, they are bark beetle traps. The bark beetle has been responsible for major damage in the Sumava National Park, sometimes called the Green Roof of Europe. Opinion is divided between those who wish to fell and dispose of infected trees and those who see the beetle's damage as part of a natural process. Direct action has happened with protesters literally hugging trees.
I am normally in the conservationists' side on issues such as this, but find myself in a quandary. I am sufficiently old to remember the destruction wrought by the dutch elm disease in Britain. I have a vivid memory of a fine line of old elms that stood on the top bank of a local field, one of which housed a rope down which the local boy scouts would slide. And I remember running and catching the leaves as the sick trees suddenly let them fall. For a few years the barren corpses of the elms stood until unsound they too fell. England lost a major natural feature, its elm trees, in a matter of months and they have not come back properly. All because of a bark beetle and the fungus that it carried. I would hate to watch the same happen here.