Reflections for the New Year

Photo by Biel Morrow, Unsplash

By Ian Baker, Small Woods CEO

The connectedness of trees and our wider landscapes was brought home on a recent walk across sodden autumnal fields. Walking alongside a grassland that was managed to provide seed for overwintering birds; a great flock of finches, buntings and sparrows took to the sky, wary at my presence. They all settled in a single oak tree, which became a cloud of fluttering wings and twittering vocalisations, as they nervously waited for me to pass.

It struck me that without the sanctuary provided by this single tree, the birds may not have felt safe enough to have foraged in the field at all, rendering all the good intentions of the conservation body irrelevant. I don’t know if the conservation group factored this into their thinking, and they certainly haven’t planted any more trees to maintain the continued or wider availability of safe perches. However, we as woodland owners and managers can feel safe in the knowledge that what we are doing is providing the diversity our landscape needs, particularly for our fauna and flora. A recent report by Plantlife has highlighted concerns about the rush to plant ever more trees, which, whilst understandable, also carries the danger that important open areas could be lost due to competition between good intentions.

So, as we go into a new year, hopefully we will all continue to live with the benefits of messy, diverse and interconnected landscapes, and I hope the image of the oak tree crowned with wings and bird song is one that warms you as we go through the darkest days of winter.

Happy New Year!

Ian Baker, Small Woods CEO

Photo by Biel Morrow, Unsplash