“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”, “they took all the trees and put them in a tree museum” and “You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone” are lines from a great song, Big Yellow Taxi, from the incomparable Joni Mitchell. Depletion of nature and biodiversity loss has occurred in many places around the world, and in the UK we have, for a variety of historic reasons, one of the most nature depleted landscapes in the world. Which may seem odd given the people’s apparent love of the countryside and the number of nature conservation organisations here.
Long Lands Common is a project close to my heart. It emerged from Nidd Gorge Community Action, who were largely responsible for stopping the planned relief road on the north side of Harrogate, and would have cut through the fields that will be Long Lands Common community woodland. I am on its board, and very much want to guide its development over the years. A primary aim of LLC is nature recovery, and from that core aim much benefit will arise for our local communities. People who have pledged to buy shares, for the capital to acquire the site for the Long Lands Common community benefit society, have been asked what has motivated them to pledge their financial support. Here are my reasons.
What is it about Long Lands Common that is important to you and/or your family?
There are so many things that make the Long Lands Common project important to me. It is an opportunity, to demonstrate by example, how a nature depleted landscape can be brought back to a better state of health. It will help to re-connect people with nature, help them to understand that we, humanity, are a part of Earth’s ecosystems. That we cannot keep taking from nature, endlessly, we have also to give something back, nurturing our landscape and environment, or we will be affected in bad ways. A community project that contributes to well-being, as the Long Lands Common project will, is a step in the right direction, a future where there is private sufficiency, and public luxury.
Why are you pledging your support for Long Lands Common? For example, perhaps you want to join with others to build a community woodland that is protected forever, maybe you want to leave a legacy for future generations or there is someone special you want to remember by planting a tree? Perhaps there is more than one reason. We all have a different story to tell and we thank you for sharing yours.
This country, and the world, are at a crossroad. Climate breakdown is a symptom of a deeper malaise, humanity’s relationship with our home, and between our nations, is not a balanced one. Do we want a future with the continuing prospect of organised human society? If so, then we need to do something to make that future possible, and do it urgently. The effects of decisions and actions taken now, good or bad, will echo through the coming decades and generations. Crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, a fragmented, atomised society, Brexit, COVID-19, these are all symptoms of a deeper problem, the ways politics and economics have been conducted here, and elsewhere, neoliberalism, a political ideology that has created, through its adherents over the past 40 years, the mess we are in now. For me Long Lands Common is an example of the “politics of belonging” as described by George Monbiot in his book Out of the Wreckage. As a community based environmental project it has the potential to demonstrate that a different future is possible, a circular economy, in service to life, all life, not endless growth. The choice is ours.