Readers respond to George Monbiot’s call to restore damaged ecosystems, make a case for tree planting, and say ‘tokenistic’ efforts to reduce carbon footprints should not be scoffed at
George Monbiot (Rewilding will make Britain a rainforest nation again, Journal, 25 September) makes a timely call to reforest large areas of Britain. However, he is rather dismissive of tree-planting schemes which, based on our experience in Devon, do not have to be as he describes. Instead he wants to allow natural regeneration.
Leaving aside the fact that it is slower than planting trees (and for the climate’s sake we need some speed here), there are also problems with promoting regeneration. As shown by the excellent work of Jed Kaplan and others, deforestation in northern Europe, including Britain, started as long as 3,000 years ago. By the time of the Norman Conquest, different areas of southern Britain had between 0% and 40% of the original cover. Many of the deforested areas in Britain today are not under agriculture or grazing, nor kept bare for shooting. Undoubtedly woodland or forest would be the climax vegetation in these areas, but they are still not wooded. One of the main reasons is wild grazing animals that are part of the current ecosystem. If we really want to reforest by “natural” means then we will need to deal with this in some way.