Edit: Yes, the indigenous peoples also cut down trees for agricultural purposes, and even practiced forestry-by-fire. They did so at a radically different scale, however, and it wasn't the loggers' wanton "cut it down and move on to the next patch".
To wit: "Timber production soared from one billion board feet in 1840 to 46 billion board feet in 1904... By 1880, lumber had overtaken agriculture as the most important driver of deforestation. By 1920, more than two-thirds of American forests had been leveled at least once, including the vast majority of eastern forests. Timber companies simply harvested the forest and moved on, from the Great Lakes to the South and across the West, leaving behind stumps, fire prone slash and dead or dying lumber towns. Finally, they were stopped by the Pacific Ocean and forced to begin replanting practices." 
Contrast that with, e.g., "the Cahokia people in Illinois (800-700 BP) cut one million trees to house 25,000 people. They also surrounded the village with a two-mile-long stockade composed of 15,000 oak and hickory logs 21 feet tall. Add all the trees they cut for fuel, and it wasn’t long before the Cahokia had leveled the forest within nine miles of their village." [ibid]
There is no reasonable comparison between the strictly localized activities of tribal peoples and industrial logging.
It is so friggen' obvious what happens when we don't project the environment, I can't figure out why people are so naive.
Or they need to learn how to attract investment rather than feel-good NGOs who exacerbate the issue of corruption and dependence on foreign aid.
Our economy is stagnating, and as our growth stagnates, politics becomes a zero sum game. Our radical environmentalism is creating a world that no longer accepts change in the world outside of bits.
If you're concerned about economic growth you would be better looking at inequality. Of course Peter Thiel is not going to mention that.
Poachers kill protected predators such as L. Lynx purely out of pride†, and as soon as wolves come anywhere near possibly even remotely like rumoured to be coming around people go up in arms OMG-please-people-think-of-the-children-and-sheep-we-have-to-obliterate-the-thing-out-of-existence.
† Lynx can kill comparatively sizeable prey (up to 5x their weight!), so they typically leave the carcass in place and come back some days later, so all the poachers have to do is spot a carcass in the woods, stay downwind, gun down the poor unsuspecting fella from a distance, and brag about their awsum top-of-the-food-chain I'm-a-super-predator-killing-a-definitely-terrifying-predator†† leet skillz.
†† Seriously, it's a beautiful, easily frightened cat that is a real ninja and scared as hell of humans. Zero threat, and zero pride to be taken in mowing down a sitting duck.
Still thank you for your answer, I didn't know about the quotas.
If you don't know how Australia and Scotland went from heavily forested to... not, I have bad news about indigenous peoples.
It's not like they abstained from doing it on moral grounds or based on superior wisdom.
Many also weren't, of course, but it's silly to make a blanket proclamation that because they were primitive, they were also stupid.
A lifestyle that does not easily accommodate mass deforestation has a lot of benefits, intentional or otherwise. I'm not arguing that we should all strive to be hunter-gatherers, but there are a lot of ways modern life could go really wrong in the next thousand years and it would be good to be mindful of those pitfalls.
Why is it less fun? At least on The east coast forests are making a comeback. The Moors are still as bald as they have been for 3000 years
I also sleep much better despite the insect noise than here in the city. Will take cicadas and crickets over helicopters, fire engines, etc. any day.
Where I'm from (Northern Ireland) is historically forest, but exploitation over the last 1000 years has turned it bare and mostly into agricultural land.
There's a tiny patch of jaw-droppingly beautiful forest on the Beara Peninsula. The last time I was there I saw sheep had gotten loose and were grazing inside it. If that continues it will be the death of it :-(.
There are large parts of the arc from South East London to South West London that have large areas with tree lined roads and woodland areas everywhere.
Hipster Britain: we were Brazil before it was mainstream.
Replanting some evergreen trees is a way to help the forest kickstart recovery on old strip mine wreckage.
There was a hard layer half a meter or so beneath the top soil
so with deep plow or in many cases back-breaking work, the land was made fertile again. And yes, pulverized chalk is one of the methods used to raise the pH.
It's not high-quality farming land, often too much sand and too little peat.
Nowadays the little heath left in Denmark is usually protected. It'll usually turn to forest if left alone with no grazing.
Not to be confused with erinaceous (pertaining to hedgehogs) plants.
Cacti, perhaps? English vocabulary can be weird.
tldr - forest was cleared by about 2000-1500BC primarily for grazing although some evidence of cereal being grown. However, by 1000-1BC the climate deteriorated and spread of peat led to abandonment of higher moor.
Climatic improvement in early medieval times led to re-occupation, but by mid-1300's the population had moved again to better land. Black Death reduced Devon's population by 2/3 and meant that if you survived you went and farmed better land.
Farming is still hard on Dartmoor, driven by soil and weather. For example Princetown is 23Km and 400 metres away from Plymouth, but rainfall doubles from about 1000mm to 2000mm per annum.
The estates that owned them called them waste as nothing would grow there. Generally they are used for very low density livestock farming and most is common land.
I've come to the conclusion that New Zealand is beautiful in large part because a) it has a low population density and b) it hasn't had a sufficiently high population density for long enough to ruin it. Not so much because of broad public support for conservation. Luckily, I think some good basic protections exist (national parks), and are mostly respected.
In the UK, there's so little wilderness remaining that it commands a considerable respect, and considerable conservation effort and public support. Noticeably more so, I believe, than I witnessed in NZ.
NZ is not perfect, and the relatively good state of the environment is definitely helped by the fact that population density is low, espeacialy in the bottom 2/3rds of the country, but there is a strong desire to improve the situation by most, even most farmers are committed to improving the waterways and providing more green area.
And yes, I have relatively (to the previous government) high conservation hopes for the new government. Fingers crossed. (I should give some credit for the Kermadec Islands marine reserve here!)
Just to clarify though, my comment was about public sentiment. My anecdotal experience is that Brits are more concerned about conservation than New Zealanders. Which I was quite surprised to discover. And largely I wanted to commiserate with the parent of my comment.
Everyone I know recycles, uses eco and environmentally friendly products where they can, etc. People who I know who fish always fish within the allowed limits and quotas. My grandmother told me over Christmas that she was never going to use another plastic bag.
So, in my opinion, the country is very eco minded, but that sample is skewed because it's only my friends and family. I did meet someone at a party a few years ago who said she just threw her rubbish over the fence onto a council reserve because she was too busy and lived a too important life to bother with dealing with it. There are also people who regularly get caught taking too much paua, or catching underage fish, etc. So obviously they're out there, how prevalent people with disregard to the environment are I don't know, as I said I live in my own bubble.
It could be that people in the UK are more environmentally minded than here, but that wasn't my experience when living there. It could be that they're not but the people that you've met in both countries have simply given that impression.
Someone has probably done a study somewhere.
(First was Yellowstone and second was Royal National Park in Sydney, don't know about the third).
I think you probably meant concerted effort. e.g. That there has been a combined community effort where everyone works together.
Conceited effort means an extremely self-interested effort, which is a plausible meaning, but I suspect it is not what you meant.
Woodlands currently occupy 12.6% of the UK land area which is almost double the urban area.
As an explanation for anyone else reading: conservation in NZ and the UK are very different. In many areas of the UK, conservation consists partly of maintaining farming practices in the manner they've been practised in these places for hundreds (sometimes tens of hundreds) of years. Which, for a New Zealander, is totally bizarre. In New Zealand, there are gigantic swathes of somewhat-pristine forest (missing mostly birds, and some insects) we can look to as a model for conservation. Farmland and conservation are pretty much mutually exclusive.
So, in the UK you might use the term wilderness for a large, very lightly farmed, very lightly populated area. Where in NZ you mightn't use the term wilderness until you'd walked for half a day from civilisation.
The cities and towns are better designed than those of new world countries which sprawl.
if anything it's too successful
I understand this is much, much less than people typically think, which isn't just an interesting fact; people base their opinions on development on the unchecked feeling that the UK is 50% concrete.
We're not exactly past this, sadly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagos_Marine_Protected_Area#W...
Reading histories can really change perspectives. Reading it I discovered that much of the rhetoric in the 1930s was similar to today: For example, from the right that regulation would crush business and welfare programs were unaffordable, etc. A big difference was that from the left, Roosevelt responded aggressively and communicated persuasively, while today's Democrats do neither - consider Obama, for example. (Whatever you think of the issues and politicians, I think that's a non-partisan factual observation.)
Many national forests are larger than this project, we haven't managed to deforest the country (they have been logged and continue to be logged, but modern extraction is not especially aggressive(NIMBYs), and absent fires logging isn't all bad).
Good video to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI
Often lots of discarded, felled, cut wood in Forestry Commission forests. Find a forest here: http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/.
In a way we’re much better off than countries like Brazil which have immense natural forests in good condition. There the general public has very restricted visiting rights — sometimes just to a waterfall and picnic area — the rest is for permitted researchers only. Add to that the fact that in the tropics the disturbed vegetation around dwellings is less biologically interesting than comparable areas in Europe.
And finally, in the UK we have footpath access, whereas Americans are only allowed into their natural landscape if it is a state/federal park, or if they own it.
Edit: found this - https://nearlywildcamping.org/
No lack of wild places in Scotland, thankfully (although more trees would be nice!).
Here the central and local governments have been slowly restricting the rights of people to camp. This is because the Freedom Campers, as they're called, generally don't respect the places that they're staying - destroying the environment and leaving rubbish and human waste behind.
Sometimes when people go to another country they don't behave like guests should and it's the sad case of a few ruining it for everyone else.
Scotland also has a fantastic network of "bothies" which are houses in wildnerness areas that are free for anyone to stay in as long as you act sensibly, which most people do:
The sad thing is they're looking to reduce them because some of them are quite old and the cost of maintenance is high and 1,000 odd buildings which are in very remote locations are no doubt a PITA to manage.
But people are constantly getting caught in the wilderness by a sudden change of weather and the hut network saves lives.
Some of the abandoned ones have been adopted. You might appreciate this: http://remotehuts.co.nz/
As far as I can tell doc seems to be engaging in more commercial activity, buying remote properties that are cheap (because they're remote), and renting them out Airbnb-style. My guess is they may actually make money from this activity. And they may need to because of years of reduction in government funding, in real terms. You may know more about this than I do.
You can still camp anywhere on DOC land, which is about 30% of New Zealand.
Otherwise, I love the idea of returning even just this small corridor to the forest it once was.
Interesting, though, to see The National Forest mentioned. It is odd to drive down the A38 and see the road signs welcoming you to the forest but no actual trees.
> Current threats are numerous, including the endangering of 35 ancient forest tracts destined to be damaged by the construction of England’s new high-speed rail link, because tunneling or diversion has been deemed too expensive and inconvenient. Already, some critics are protesting that the Northern Forest project is a fig leaf—albeit a vast one—intended to mask neglect and abuse of woodlands elsewhere
And even if it is included in their budget, are they accurately valuing an old-growth forest, or treating an acre of old-growth forest as equivalent to an acre of reforested area? I suspect if they put an accurate value on their old-growth forests and the ecosystems they support, then diverting the railway would look like the less expesive option.
It also seems that your logic would allow attacking any project that is generally perceived positively: "Yes, they are doing something good. But they're motivated by the sinister motive to be liked, and therefore the project is bad".
That, quite obviously, follows the hollow logic of "virtue signalling", a cynical attempt to discount everyone publicly lobbying for something they perceive as a moral good, not by engaging with their argument, but by implicitly accepting it and going for the ad hominem instead.
It went into a lot of really interesting detail about symbiosis between different species and how many life forms and aspects of nature are interrelated and interdependent.
They might be planting "local, mainly broadleaf tree species", but the principle is still wrong. Why attempt to second guess what will work, when nature will do it better than we ever possibly could, saving a lot of labour, too. I'm sure the resulting woodland would be far more interesting.
Additionally the land may still have a purpose, such as for flood defense down stream, in which case engineering the habitat should absolutely take place.
Frankly the lack of trees in some areas of the UK (even rural areas, such as large parts of the Yorkshire dales/moors where I am from) would mean that forest regeneration would take far longer (100's of years longer, as we would have to wait multiple times for trees to mature before spreading seeds in the local area.
Another thing to take into account is the local wildlife. Due to having a very unhealthy amount of predators tree growth is hampered by large numbers of deer, rabbits and in many areas sheep, which roam in un-enclosed fashion. Mature trees do very well, but saplings just get grazed to oblivion.
So yes, please plant trees on this scale, but they do need to take their time, and do it right.
Re wildlife, yes they would need to be controlled if trees are to take root. Sheep and trees aren't natural bed fellows. I'm not a making a man vs nature argument here; support is necessary in all manner of ways, in some it means taking a hands-off approach.
As for lack of trees in some areas, that might be for a good reason. Not every bit of land is suitable for woodland. Where it doesn't take root, it's a hint. And where it takes root, I would ask how you come up with a figure of hundreds of years.
It will do the very opposite.
> Let's remember that plants migrate slowly!
You initially get lots of 'green stuff' if you plant it yourself. However, weeds are not as slow to take root as you might expect. If you've ever maintained a garden lawn without pesticides, you'll know that.
This plan smacks of "quick, quick lets make this work, to hell with the consequences of not thinking it through". Which is very much the mantra of today's world.
Haste makes waste.
“Helping nature” to make things move faster is a normal thing there. Other examples are reintroducing wolves in Yellowstone, and sinking old ships to help reefs develop. Would you be opposed to those, too?
> In densely populated areas, there is no nature; everything that happens or doesn’t happen gets decided by man.
Nonsense, and besides the point. In the densest of cities there is plenty of nature (beside us). And in any case this planned forest isn't being planted through the middle of manchester and leeds.
Even then, if an acre of urban land is left idle by man it will sprout all manner of weeds and, not before long, trees. Many a distopian sci-fi film will show this.
Nice last paragraph of the article:
"Ultimately, while the story is perhaps apocryphal, the idea of replacing and managing resources for the future, and the lesson in long term thinking is not."
Also interesting is that it is:
"In conjunction with the Long Now Foundation. Modified from original video and text by Stewart Brand at the Long Now Blog."
My uncle had brought over a copy of The Whole Earth Catalog from the US when I was a teenager, it was a fantastic read, and partly the cause (although I was interested in such things from earlier) for my interest in nature, hiking, appropriate technology, organic gardening, woodworking and other crafts, etc. Done things in some of those areas, and hope to do more in the future.
Prehistoric lions in what would much later be known as England aren't the source of that.
Hmm. This sounds like the new "garden bridge".
The garden bridge was a terrible idea and in the wrong place. This is really quite a good idea and in a place that is at least defensible.
The article does mention the way the National Forest came into being. Perhaps that would be the model here too. This is another difference to the garden bridge: the luckless inhabitants of Lambeth were going to have to pony up for a bridge they would have to pay again to use...
(This is the part where, hopefully, some ultra-knowledgeable HN reader posts a link to how I should actually be doing it.)
Part of my family were Appalachian farmers that owned sizable amounts of relatively low-value farm land. The land is difficult to work, almost nothing is flat or ideal. The soil is ok, but only for a select few things. The climate is mediocre for farming in many parts of the greater region.
As US farming industrialized, it concentrated, moved toward far superior farming land regions. If you were a small farmer in much of New England, you lost that economic battle.
If you remove a piece of common land then it must be replaced with something of an equal size. It also requires Secretary of State approval for lots of things relating to commons.