Mar 13 2019

Why I Became a Threat Detector

I am very lucky. I look out of my living room window into an ancient woodland. It is a relatively small stand of around 4 hectares but has a wide variety of species, mainly broadleaf, but also a handful of old Scots Pine trees, tall and slender their heads poking above the rest of the canopy. I am lucky because very few people will have a view like this. Less than 2% of Scotland’s land is currently covered in ancient woodland and this is constantly under threat from new residential and industrial developments.


Mossy Oak by the River Leven

Scaly Bark of a Scots Pine


Despite the increased awareness of environmental issues and of the important role trees play in the global ecosystem, not everyone values trees. Recently it was announced that the council planned to clear a small conifer plantation that had been planted to screen a now disused industrial site. Although I was supportive of the idea to clear the conifers which were mainly sitka spruce and replant with native species, I had concerns over the proposal to clear fell. This was partly due to my concerns for the impact of the birds and other wildlife that inhabited this plantation but also of the potential for increasing the flooding risk as the woodland ran alongside the river. However, I was horrified to find that not only did most of my neighbours did not share my concerns but they also wanted the older broadleaf trees in the area removed. To them the trees were a nuisance, cutting out light and shedding needles and leaves on their cars and in their gutters.



I hope one day everyone will see the value of trees and love them as much as I do. However, until then I wanted to do something to help protect our ancient woodlands and the biodiversity they help support. That is why I became a Threat Detector.


Alison Stewart

Woods Under Threat Detector, Scotland

1 Comment
  • Sarah Edgar

    Education is key Alison! Understandable with regards to wanting lots of light in the garden, but frustrating when people buy a house in an area surrounded by trees and then complain later on down the line about their being a nuisance (bit like complaining about the noise when they move into the city!).
    I live 10 minutes out of the city centre of Liverpool, and the environment isn’t very high on the agenda for some of my neighbours. However, with gentle persuasion and encouragement, I have found them planting more wildflower seeds, kept a few dandelions, sending their weekly scraps to me, saved a large established apple tree, plant swap, food share and have been graciously tolerant on my very large polytunnel; little changes can and will make a huge difference.

    Keep up the good fight!

    Sarah (recently recruited Woods Under Threat Detector for Flintshire)

    June 5, 2019 at 11:15 am

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