Instant celebrity. Fame without effort. Being given everything rather than having to work for it. Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. I am quite glad I am not growing up in such a World. There is dichotomy – many young people are concerned about “the environment” and think us old folk should “do more”, but are unwilling to comprehend a world without instant gratification and every modern convenience, or think that somehow by putting plastic bottles into the weekly recycling they are doing all that is required to save the planet.
Our “do more” are our woods. Just a little wood a mile from our home, only 11 acres, but a wonderful, peaceful place. There is no instant gratification with trees or any wildlife project. Trees measure their progress in centuries. Our wood was a wood when William the Conqueror came to Britain, and was given along with other local land to local aristocracy when King Henry VIII siezed the priory lands. Our trees have been there since Napoleon was rampaging across Europe. It slows you down. It makes you think.
In two years we have achieved a lot, and yet little has changed. We now have a building (on an existing base) for our equipment. We have made inroads into the bramble that was choking the wood and diminishing bio-diversity. We have created access paths. We have made the site safe for visitors and volunteers. We have put up nest boxes. We have dug 5 ponds (we now have 6 in total). We are working to ensure that future generations can still enjoy beautiful oak trees, and the complex webs of wildlife that exist within. Little changes are happening – there are more dragonflies, the ponds are coming to life with new plants, insects, frogs, toads and other wildlife. Bats swoop low over the ponds in the evening to enjoy the abundant insects attracted by the ponds. Slow and subtle changes in a complex web of wildlife.
The peace of woodland is not something for you if you enjoy instant gratification, or want to see instant results for your effort. We will not be around when many of the new oak saplings emerging from the cleared bramble are mature. The World will be very different. But there is something much more gratifying if you have to wait for those changes.
We are trying to “do more” in our small way. We won’t save the planet, but we hope that in 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, the children of Tamworth and North Warwickshire will have a little haven of wildlife with connections to the deep past that they can visit and enjoy.
Alvecote Wood is beautiful. It is peaceful. It is a cure for instant gratification. We are very privileged to own it.