31 JANUARY 1970, Page 26

Let them plant trees

Sir: I was amused by Mr George Gale's article (17 Januaky) and to learn that he finds to his surprise the Automobile Associa- tion on the side of the do-gooders. All too often, it seems, we are accused of being on the side of the do-badders. At all events there is always a section of the public— no matter how small—which takes us to task for our views or activities on such motoring matters as speed limits, motor taxation, drink and driving and so on.

How welcome, then, to find ourselves numbered among the do-gooders at last! Even though I share Mr Gale's reservations about what do-gooders will ultimately do to the world it is nevertheless something of an accolade to find one of our activities. hailed as 'an idea which may be harmless'I

Our 'drive to plant a tree' campaign has in fact already taken place—in 1969; it had nothing to do with European Conservation Year in 1970. Strange as it may seem, it was an entirely original idea dreamed up and promoted in the first instance through the columns of the Association's magazine Drive. The thinking behind it sprang entirely from concern with our environment—which, as Mr Gale reminds us, is what we have around us.

Perhaps it would be true to say that our concern was with what we do not have

around us in sufficient quantity any more. In order to offset the increasing deforesta- tion of our land the Association made an effort to replace some of the trees which have disappeared in such increasing numbers over the last few decades.

The Association shares Mr Gale's view that what is wanted is more 'accidental- seeming copses'. We would not mind 'accidental-seeming spinneys' come to that, as we have never thought there was any difference between a -copse and a spinney. In order to ensure the creating of copses—or spinneys—in places where they are needed we therefore arranged with county councils all over the English and Scottish and Welsh countryside to designate not only the plant- ing sites but also to purchase the most ap- propriate trees for them with the money provided by members of the Automobile Association.

Last November those same members in surprisingly large numbers drove and, per- haps to Mr Gale's further surprise, finally walked to plant twelve thousand trees which their money had donated on sites all over the country. None of them—alas—planted cuttings from their favourite front-garden flowering cherry trees. But then, none of them had to because, with the help of the county councils, AA service once again pre- vailed.

Alec Dune Director General, The Automobile Associa- tion, Leicester Square, London wc2