If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise. Well, perhaps not. Dr Grumble did go down to his local woods today and he wasn't too surprised to see For Sale notices up. They are not real For Sale notices. They are notices posted by concerned local groups worried about the sale of our woodlands.
Dr Grumble's local wood is part of a forest that has been there for at least 7000 years. Wood has been taken from it to meet the needs of shipbuilders and for buildings. The rape of the forest has at times left it without much timber but its importance was recognised by the king and hundreds of years ago it was replanted following which it flourished unmolested for a century or more. Sadly, the exigencies of the Napoleonic Wars resulted in the forest becoming denuded yet again.
Much of the land that forms the Grumble wood was once common land. Locals could graze their livestock and harvest wood for much needed fuel. But, in 1812, land that had been for the use of commoners was enclosed under the Inclosures Act and along with this the red deer that had lived there for perhaps 11000 years were eradicated never to return. By this process rich people acquired the land and very poor people lost the use of what had once essentially belonged to them and been recognised as a common resource.
In the 1920s the Forestry Commission took over the Grumble woodlands. The reason for this would be very familiar with any doctor brought up with the Babcock Sentence:
One thing a nation must have to be rich and great is a large, secure supply of wood.Babcock, H. (1930) Arch. Psychol., N.Y. No. 117
It is a very odd thing that just as the Forestry Commission is restoring the Grumble woods to their former glory so that the common people can use them again, the ConDem government is hell-bent on taking the woods away from the common people and giving them to rich people so that they can become even richer. Isn't it strange how history repeats itself?