Sarah, the Duchess of York, is campaigning to save more than 80 historic trees around her childhood home in Dummer. Not only does the Duchess have memories of these trees from her childhood, but they also inspired her book, The Enchanted Oak Tree.
Writing exclusively in The Gazette this week, the 61-year-old shared personal memories of growing up on the farm near Basingstoke.
“I remember my father telling me always to recognise and be grateful for the beauty of our surroundings, a lesson I have carried into adulthood and passed on to my own daughters. One lesson he taught me, in particular, was to admire trees: to look up and drink in their magnificence and to feel a sense of awe at their importance in the landscape.”
The Duchess went on to add: “To me, they are always to be respected and nurtured. We need to be deeply grateful for how they support Mother Nature.”
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have approved a massive, 220,000 square metre warehouse which is rumoured to be occupied by Amazon. The proposal will destroy 67 mature oaks and three mature bench trees, as well as a further 13 oak trees. According to wildlife experts, some of these trees are 130 years old, and each one supports up to 2,300 species of wildlife, including important bird and insect species, as well as bats.
If the development proceeds, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust say, the development will block the movement of wildlife across the site, which is located just next to two Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation – Ganderdown Copse and Peak Copse.
“The wooded avenue that I remember so well is, therefore, a stepping stone for wildlife, something that is supposed to be recognised in local and national planning policy,” said the Duchess. “Species using networks of ancient woodland for migration, dispersion or movement to adapt to climate change will be badly disrupted.”
Up to 1,750 houses have been built next to the warehouse site, and there will be an extra 1,600 HGV movements every day coming out of the warehouse. Without the trees, it will be difficult to combat CO2 and NO2 gases from existing traffic. A petition has been started to save the trees and has gained more than 95,000 signatures.