People Power: English Forests Saved… for now

A call for celebration. The campaign to stop the government from selling off the English forests has surprised the coalition with its depth of support and they have announced that the program has been scrapped.

Some of the responses from campaigners are below, and as is pointed out “the government is still allowed to sell-off 15% of forest and woodland every 4 years…. if you thin about it, that could be 45% after 12 years!”

Below are some of the responses to the success of the campaign on the 38degrees Facebook page

Eileen Nicholson:  A large percentage of woodland workers have already been given their notice.

The next thing is, the ‘powers that would be’ will say the woodland aren’t being mantained well enough and will us that as an excuse to take over. Are there any woodland workers out there prepared to share their story with us?  Horse’s mouth and al…

David Clarke:  I don’t think they believe they got it wrong… this was just to test the water and we must not be complacent as the government is still allowed to sell-off 15% of forest and woodland every 4 years…. if you think about it, that could be 45% after 12 years!

Vanessa Mordin:  Not so fast with all the congratulations!!! There are changes due with the planning laws which will make it possible for local authorities to allow woodland to be built on. Please go to the Woodland Trust website for more information and sign up to that campaign.

Victoria Taylor:  Knew they would find a way to do it……together we have to stop them. They are using a psychological method that they used when they were trying to close the coal mines, tell the miners that they were going to close 8 pits, debate it and then only close 3…..the miners thought they were victorious, but really the government had only ever intended to close 3 pits. This is the same kind of psychological warfare that they are using with our woodlands.

Neil Hughes:  What fantastic news. This policy, as in the case of the NHS reforms and cuts in welfare services, was driven by pure ideological hatred of either public or common (despite the big society rhetoric) alternatives to private property.

It’s exactly the same struggle as is being waged by indigenous groups in the Amazon rain…forest against state attempts to undermine their collective property rights and privatise their land. Thanks to 38 degrees for organising the campaign and congratulations on its success. Looking forward to the next one!!!!

Mickey Modern:  This is the way the UK Britain should be run. By the people for the people! After the fuss has died down, shouldn’t 38 Degree appoint a ‘green’ Lawyer to go through any new Government ruling on this issue?

Dean Bromley:  The problem is this doesn’t stop governments selling our forests and woods they will just sell them off bit by bit as they have been doing for many years, before we know it in 10-20 years time we will find out they have sold them all off behind our backs, what we need to do is make sure they cannot sell any more forest…

Flangela Pangela:   If you want evidence of what our forests would be turned into, if they were leased out or sold off to private companies, take a look at Parkhurst Forest on the Isle of Wight. This ancient forest HAS been leased out to European logging firm “Euroforest” and it is being unsympathetically ripped up at an alarming rate.

Where once there was dense forest, there is now torn up waste land. I understand it is the commercially grown pine that is being logged, but there is a lot of damage to the native trees and the rate at which the forest is disappearing is worrying. I have also seen no evidence of replanting.

The Isle of Wight is well known as one of the last havens for red squirrels in Britain and Parkhurst forest was the largest habitat they had. It is so upsetting to see this happening here on our beloved Isle, but it is heartening to hear that people’s voices have put a stop to this happening elsewhere.

Emily Parry:   I don’t trust any of them – not one bit. I feel almost ashamed I voted at all, as I voted LibDem, but I also feel ashamed that I voted at all, as all of them have been involved in this except perhaps the greens or a few independents.

How dare they even think of this sell off of forests?! I looked at the stakeholders list – there were housing developers on it. It was disgraceful – the stakeholders should not have included them, because the forest should have at least have been assured legal protection against having housing put over them!

Can anyone tell me – is there a way to have a “vote of no confidence” in our current political system?

Julia Neesham:  Overwhelmed with a sense of being part of this monumental movement towards protecting our environment, power to the people and trees!!!!

Shane Beaver:  Proof that people out there really do care about the environment of the UK, and are determined to do something about. Another defeat for greed! That can’t be bad!

Patricia Rutt:   So pleased, we helped plant a wood in our village for the Millenium and it is looking lovely now so great. Our MP was all for the sell off ( tory ) and is now sending out emails saying how pleased he is we have won, how hypocypical. Have signed the coast guard petition, lets get that one going and remember folks they …are going to try and bring fox hunting back !! Please keep an eye on that one. We are now going out of our way to look for any just causes that we can sign for.

David Clarke:  I don’t understand why they have to waste millions on feasibility studies BEFORE they’ve actually asked the public what they think….

Joanna Newbold:  FANTASTIC…..hip hip hooray to everyone who stuck up for their rights.People Power does work and so does the support of M.P’s fighting for the same cause. Thank you 38 Degrees team, your efforts and attention have been tireless. Inspiring outcome BUT we must make sure the Government does not blind side this decision and be vigilant, as a National Team we know we can make it work, it has up till now!

Kathleen Basiewicz:  People power emerges, what is next for us to conquer

Julia Neesham:  Overwhelmed with a sense of being part of this monumental movement towards protecting our environment, power to the people and trees!!!!

Andy Plummer:  Was becoming very cynical about trying to object to things that seem beyond our control. This result has gone part way to reinstate belief in POWER TO THE PEOPLE. Good old Wolfie :)

Peter Wallace: It’s great to feel heard! Long may it continue! Thanks 38 degrees for making it possible……….

Sylvia Barham:  great!!! about time we the people had our say.

Ed Hooper :  Well done everyone it would seem that people power can make a difference. Now can we please have our country back?

Joanna Newbold:  Too damn’s time we let our combined voices/thoughts heard..fed up with being a ‘sheep’ herded round and penned up. Time to make a change and put right the massive wrong in our system.

Helen George:  How fantastic that we actually got somewhere with the government! This was the only time I have ever written to my MP about anything so I am thrilled that it worked. Thanks for bringing such an important campaign to my and everyone else’s attention. I think without your campaign, this proposal could very well have slipped under the radar. God forbid!

Evelyn Corney:  Forests can never be rightfully “owned” – instead, we all share a joint responsibility to keep them and preserve them so that everyone can enjoy them! Thank God that sanity prevailed on this occasion.

Anne Bell:  Like it I love it. I didn’t spend Sundays with Brownies and Guides planting trees to have someone tell me I can’t stand next to them. a wonderfully well done everyone who bothered to speak out.

Jake Rigby:  internet = real democracy

Ronnie McInnes:  Superb news – I’m based in Scotland but was dead opposed to this happening anywhere in UK. I also used 38 Degrees great pages to get access to my local MP to find out why he had abstained. More than a week later I’m still waiting for his promised return call… Guess who’s vote he and his LIBDEM party will be losing at next election :)

Mary Woodfield:  Absolutely brilliant news. I feel really proud to have been part of the campaign. Congratulations 38 degrees.

Ray Riley:  Just a thought, when people in previous governments got things as wrong as this they resigned. Usually stating it was the honourable thing to do. Does this ramshackle ConDem bunch of miscreants know anything about honour or decency or fairnes or ……

Wendi Jarrett:  Seriously excellent news. We the people CAN make our voices heard. all over the world ORDINARY PEOPLE are STANDING UP AND SPEAKING OUT… and democratically changing things. Excellent … Walk good x

Krystyna Boswell:   So delighted over the success of the forest campaign. In dark times it is hard to imagine we, the people, can have an effect on government policy. But we did. Next battle…..

Wikileaks Christmas Song

Dan and Dan again… filling up the infogaps that the papers didn’t cover before Christmas.


Extinct Animals of the 20th Century

Things we don’t have to be proud of as humans…

Don’t always believe people if they tell you big business or commercial interests won’t harm the environment or wildlife, they just might not be right. And next time you consider buying items not sourced from environmentally friendly sources, maybe give it a second thought and vote for a better world with your purchasing power.

If a Picture Paints 1000 Words…

This is a video compilation from You Tube called “When Graphic Artists Get Bored”, using images from the website:

Yinka Shonibare “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” – Trafalgar Square

Anglo-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s artwork “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” was unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, by Mayor Boris Johnson on Monday 24th May 2010.

It is the first of the Fourth Plinth commissioned artworks to make specific reference to Lord Nelson, whose column dominates Trafalgar Square and to artistically explore the symbols associated with the square which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar. It is also the first commissioned artwork by a black British artist to appear on the Fourth Plinth.

The sculpture is a scale replica (1/30) of HMS Victory, in a bottle measuring 4.7m long and 2.8m diameter. Its 37 fully rigged hand-stitched canvas sails are set as they were at the Battle of Trafalgar. The ship is minutely detailed, modelled in oak, hardwood and brass with miniature lifeboats and even 80 tiny cannon.

The artistic difference here is Shonibare’s use of traditional African print textiles instead of plain canvas. African print textile have been a key material in Shonibare’s work which explores Colonialism, Post-Colonialism, Globalization and the ambiguity inherent in British history and its national identity.

These fabrics, versions of which are seen widely across Africa were inspired by traditional Indonesian batik designs which the Dutch East Indial Company discovered, mass-produced and sold to the colonies in West Africa.

‘The cloth is worn in Africa and bought in Brixton, but it’s actually Dutch Wax, made in Holland. The prints on the sails are mine, however, I had to redesign them in order to avoid any copyright issues by adding anchors and changing the pattern in small ways.’

Yinka Shonibare was nominated for the 2004 Turner Prize, and has a studio and gallery near London Fields.

“Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” by Yinka Shonibare is on view on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square from May 24 2010 until the end of summer 2011.

Yinka Shonibar MBE: “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” – Trafalgar Square
an exclusive interview with Art21

“I want people to enter a secret world, a fantasy world. For me that’s what art means, it’s that world that you can enter that’s different from your everyday world.

All artists are kind of transgressive in a way. My job is to kind of make, or challenge if you like the Status Quo. Some people call it “thinking outside the box.”

My identity will always be central to how I am perceived and so that’s in a sense why I chose to sort of just look at it head on. When I came to Britain I learnt that being black meant that you were supposed to be somewhat inferior. I didn’t quite understand that concept at all.

But of course now I understand it better and the concept of colonialism and slavery. My work is a way of somehow thinking about that and thinking why… why has Africa been so held back, and also why are the people of African origin in Europe and America… why do they have such a raw deal?”

(Choosing materials for the sails):
“I certainly would like something like this… contrasted with something like that.”
“I want the formal strategy to be part of meaning of the work, so from using the textiles, the fabric, and what that actually means… You know they’re not just textiles they’re the sort of historical content there.

It then becomes difficult to separate what something looks like and what it expresses.

Art-making is a form of Alchemy in a way because you are trying to turn the mundane into gold. You’re really trying to make gold from nothing. I think that when it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extra-ordinary, and that’s what keeps me doing art, because I keep chasing that, seeing how I could turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The Atlantic Forests – Brazil

Once stretching 330 million acres, an area twice the size of Texas, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil is one of the world’s most extraordinary forests. And yet today, after hundreds of years of deforestation, only seven percent of this biological treasure remains.

Home to jaguars, tamarins and hundreds of bird species found nowhere else on Earth, the Atlantic Forest also provides important economic and health benefits to surrounding communities and cities, including the mega-cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

This video is from the Nature Conservancy who work on projects across the world for nature conservation. See more detail on their website:

Leonardo Baa Vinci and the Sheepish Smile

The hills of Wales are covered with fluffy white sheep, but next time you travel through there see if you can spot this lot…

The Tree Lady: Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Wangari Maathai

Environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai was born in Ihithe, a village in the Central Highlands of Kenya in 1940, where she began her education. She later studied as a boarder at the Mathari Catholic Mission in Nyeri, becoming fluent in English. Completing her education there with the highest grades in her class, she was granted admission to the only Catholic high school for girls in Kenya, Loreto Girls’ High School in Limuru.

She was one of about three hundred Kenyans chosen to study at American Universities, in September 1960 under a program funded by the then United States Senator, John F. Kennedy through the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. This initiative was to become known as the Kennedy Airlift or Airlift Africa.

She studied in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, where she first experienced environmental restoration as environmentalists in the city were pushing to end the city’s air pollution.

Having completed her studies in America, she returned to Kenya to a job as research assistant to a professor of zoology at University College of Nairobi.

She arrived to find her post had been given to somebody else, something she believes was because of gender and tribal bias.

After a job search of two months, Professor Reinhold Hofmann, from the University of Giessen in Germany, offered her a job as a research assistant in the micro anatomy section at University College of Nairobi.

In 1967, Hofmann encouraged her to study further in Germany, in pursuit of her doctorate. She studied both at the University of Giessen and the University of Munich


In 1971 when she was granted a Doctorate of Anatomy at the University College of Nairobe, she became the first East African woman to receive a Ph.D.

During the 70s she became involved in various civic organizations including the Kenya Red Cross Society, the Kenya Association of University Women, the Environment Liaison Centre and the National Council of Women of Kenya. Through her experience with these various voluntary organizations she realized that the root of most of Kenya’s problems was environmental degradation.


On June 5, Maathai led a procession of the National Council of Women in Kenya (NCWK) from Kenyatta International Conference Center in downtown Nairobe to Kamukunji Park on the outskirts of the city where they planted seven trees in honour of community leaders. This was the first “Green Belt” of what was to become the “Green Belt Movement”, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights.


In 2004 she became the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for: “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced:
“Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression – nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation.”

Read it in the Daily Mail

If you are a performer and want to work successfully with somebody else, it can make all the difference if you choose your colleague/s partner/s well.

I may have taken a while to get used to listening to Ant and Dec’s version of the Geordie lilt before I stopped cringing (I normally like Geordie but perhaps it doesn’t improve with exaggeration) but I think as far as teamwork go, the duo – Dan and Dan on You Tube do really well. And it’s easier to tell them apart than Ant and Dec.

Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi released!!!

Sometimes, as we were reminded with the Miners in the Chile Mining disaster – Sometimes There is Good News. Today the announcement and images of the release of the Pro-Democracy campaigner in Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi was one such piece of good news.

Whatever the reasons may be – an exercise in Public Relations etc it is still very encouraging news to see.