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T – is for tree, explains Justin Loretz

| Blog, What Mountain Bike | 23/11/2010 17:20pm

Have a think about your favourite ride, now have think about your favourite corner on your favourite ride. Chances are on the inside of that corner is a tree. Trees make up more than fifty per cent of the reasons for corners. See, trees are popular in the countryside cropping up, or should I say copsing up all over the place? you can’t just plot a straight line and gas it – not in the woods. These leafy bark covered beauties define the terrain we ride. That is, until they’re not there anymore.

As the economy continues to falter more and more people are trying to cut their bills. Right near the top of the pile of red ones is heating bill. As those prices rise more and more people are switching off the gas and ‘leccy and switching to ‘cheaper’ alternatives with the most romantic being the burning of wood. The rising demand for wood (logs to you sir) is rising exponentially. Demand is beginning to stretch supply, and once more price for the raw material is on the up. This is causing logging companies to drive around the countryside looking for densely wooded bits of land, contact the land owner and sell them the concept of making a few fast bucks from their untapped ‘green’ gold mine. With times hard even for the landed gentry, many are taking up the offer. Don’t believe us? It’s happening all over in the West Country, probably the same where you live.

Keep your eyes on your trees: you may not see them for much longer

The responsible thing to do

Replanting, the ying to the woodcutters’ yang, is the natural answer to ensure that we don’t permanently denude the UK and it has – in times of prosperity – worked well. It seems as though as purse strings are tightened, so the lure of the quick buck grows stronger and is causing many landowners to make plans for replanting without actually actioning it.

No new green shoots, no saplings, nada
Some are asking what happens next winter? The mercury drops in the face of Christmas 2011 the demand for logs picks up after the summer slump, but there are none. The woods that were thinned out for cash in 2010 are still bare and even replanted it’ll be forty years or more before any further cash  can be cropped. What then?

The grey area
Thing is, righty or wrongly, legally or not, many of us use these bits of wooded land to ride on, either as venues themselves or as sneaky link ups between other stretches of singletrack. When the trees go, so does the character of the land. Of course we’re all for a bit of considered thinning out, but proper husbandry, not wanton stripping of assets just for some short term financial easing.

You could say, what right have we got to complain especially if you technically shouldn’t be riding on the land in the first place. Fair enough, though technically trespassing with every turn of the cranks, many of us love and care for the places we ride, as much, or more, than the people who actually own them. We have no say – we simply have to sit it out. Let the chainsaws and caterpillar tracked logging vehicles tear up the trails.

Maybe it’ll all work out for the best, with clearer woodland, more light and clarity in the remaining terrain. Perhaps when the woods fall quiet again after the workmen have left and the sawdust has mulched it’ll all have been a ‘good thing’. I know I’m waiting with crossed fingers about my trails which are being ‘cleansed’ as we speak.

Come next spring it could be a bright new dawn, ripe with opportunity for new singletrack – or it could just be the fist day of my very own Somme.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 at 5:20 pm and is filed under Blog, What Mountain Bike. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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