Imagine these islands with large forests, small woods and a countryside dotted with trees, covering about a third of the land. Some of these forests are hard- working and productive, supplying timber for building, carpentry and heating our homes; other forests might emerge from the return of wild nature and native trees; others might be small community woods gently managed for wildlife and people, or planted to hold back flood waters; exhausted farmland could relax and welcome back its protective mantle of trees and scrub; each wood will make our land that bit more resilient to a turbulent world. All these woods and forests are stitched together by hedgerow corridors, wildflower meadows, floodplains and marshes, which encourage locally distinctive species and new natives. Are we just dreaming? Is this sort of joined-up thinking possible, nationwide, county by county, region by region?
We need to restore the web of life – the plants, trees and animals and our place among them. This will require ambition and commitment: to call a truce in our conquest of nature, to restore where we can, to allow nature to lead the way. We need an ‘NHS for nature’ providing support and emergency treatment for the natural world. Trees and woods are an important part of that and can help rebuild our wider relationship with nature.