27 JANUARY 1939, Page 18


A Preserved Forest

It is good news that Savernake Forest is not to be dragooned or thrust into an alien uniform. It has escaped the fate of part of the New Forest and the hillsides of Westmorland, and the fringes of Breckland. It is to be enlarged and regen- erated by English oak and ash, and beech and sycamore. But it is not to be supposed that the Forestry Commis- sioners in yielding to the Preservers of Rural England have sacrificed in any way national needs. Never in history were ash and sycamore in greater demand, though the oak has fallen from its summit. It must be acknowledged that our scenery has always, and rightly, been affected by national economic demands. Since the days of bows and arrows the yew, alas, has fallen out of favour to become a mere hedge plant, where it is generally ruined even for that lowly purpose by too close planting. As soon as the aeroplane became of greater moment than the " wooden walls " of unarmoured ships, parts of New Forest scenery were greatly altered by planta- tions of ash in place of self-sown oak. Sycamore, so easily dealt with by wedge or saw or axe, has been rediscovered as a hard and enduring wood for panels and domestic uses. Three, at any rate, of our best writers on the country as such, have especially rejoiced in the natural beauty of Wiltshire and its forest; Cobbett, Hudson and Jefferies. The concession of the Commissioners to plant only broad-leaved English trees in lieu of their favourite narrow-leaved firs and pines may be regarded as a tribute to the memory of these writers. How Cobbett would have flamed out at the introduction of alien firs, though he might have abused the Commission for not planting acacia.

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