A WOMAN rings me, upset that, on the route of one of my Walks around Horbury, 50
sycamores* have just been felled and the trunks used to block access (as I understand
it) to an old railway to prevent lads with motorbikes getting up there.
Could we stage a protest and call in the local paper? Could we get a tree preservation
order drawn up and take it to the planning department?
Well, yes, we could do both of those and it might make us feel as if we were doing
something but it probably wouldn’t save a single tree. You can’t preserve every tree
and sometimes when landowners are served with tree preservation orders on particular
trees they make sure that every tree not covered is removed before it too grows to
the dimensions at which it would qualify for legal protection. I guess that here
in densely wooded Coxley Valley there isn’t a single T.P.O. in place.
Besides, from a brief description of what’s going on, I can see both sides. The men
who’ve done the felling have restored some once derelict buildings associated with
an old woollen mill and you can imagine how they feel, moving somewhere for the peace
and quiet when the local lads on motorbikes use the old railway adjacent as a race
Like the woman who phoned me, I hate the sound of chainsaws. I think ‘which of my
favourite ashes, birches, willows or sycamores is going this time?’ Oaks rarely seem
to get the chainsaw treatment as they’re not so invasive (or, as I’d prefer to put
it, they’re not primary colonisers).
I try to reassure her by telling her of the large willows and sycamores in a delightful
little corner alongside Smithy Brook below the old grey railway viaduct. I was heartbroken
to see them felled but now, only a year or two later, that little corner looks better
than ever with ground flora returning and vigorous new growth springing from around
the old stumps. Even the Himalayan balsam can’t compete. A spot of felling, provided
it’s not followed by bulldozing of the stumps, can rejuvenate a small patch of ‘unofficial’
When I was a school boy bananas were my favourite fruit; ‘Are you eating another?!’
exclaimed my mum, ‘They don’t grow on trees, you know!’
* I’ve since been told that they were silver birches.