Guardians of the Forest


Excerpt from a Legal document from the Kinnairds (Pressmennan’s owners) which perfectly describes Pressmennan.


“An ancient woodland would be typically composed of mosaic open ground wet, flushes and dry knolls covered with a complete range of age classes of shrubs ( holly, and hazel and ivy, hawthorn and bird-cherry) and trees (oak, ash, elm, birch, rowan, gean, aspen and lime).


If a large tree (possibly 400 years old) blew down creating a gap in the canopy a succession of species would typically pioneer the site. Commencing with lighter seeded species (e.g. birch) which over many decades (or centuries) would slowly develop to climax vegetation (mature oak, ash and elm), depending on the soil type. Despite being a highly complex ecosystem these woodlands are relatively stable and balanced between species, age classes and structured composition.”


As it is clearly stated (although it is an insult to nature that anyone thinks that it needs to be) in the work of Peterken and the papers of European Law, non-intervention is the standard approach for the conservation of ancient woods. They’ve managed for 13 thousand years. Why would they need humans interfering and disrupting their form, spacing, regeneration and patterns? Trees are far wiser and more adept than humans, yet foresters see fit to impose their egos, usually feigning care to cover financial motivations.


The campaign to protect Pressmenan was lost on several occasions due to a combination of State sabotage tactics. Geoff Colquhoon got a civil interdict put out on me (being campaign spokesperson I was seen as guilty by association with his inflammatory remarks to the press) which prevented me from attending a vital regional advisory committee where Fred Last unempowered the council who were trying to organise a precedential compulsory purchase order of Pressmenan Woods North. Fred Last was supposed to be their representative but backed-down leaving the council liable to pay compensation to the landowners - The Kinnairds. He was accused of impropriety in The Scotsman newspaper.


The Forestry Association (FA) withheld our report from Peterkin when he was called in to write this. Our report and conservation strategy was supported by six local community associations and the FA is supposed to work for the general public, not just the landowners who they see as their client base. Our report included information relating to botanical interest, geological value, historical value and legal requirements. Being a rare fragment of remnant wildwood, Pressmenan should have been respected as an important fragile eco-system and seen as a vital core for conserving local biodiversity. The postcard campaign presented to the Secretary of State (Michael Forsyth), the 2000 signatories to our petition, weekly coverage in the local newspaper and all my articles were also kept secret from Peterken by the FA. In fact we were nastily misrepresented by them yet still Peterkin made a fair report.


There are two habitat types in Pressmenan which are required by European Law to be classed as special areas of conservation and managed accordingly (A full, if somewhat complex, account of the fairly rigid criteria upon which the F.A must base their judgements can be viewed at the Joint Nature Conservancy Commission's web site). They are old oakwoods with ilex and blechum, and tilio acerion ravine forests. The Kinnairds and their representatives failed to mention this in their plans. Scottish Natural Heritage, the body responsible for the enforcement of conservation laws, completely ignored the Habitats Directive when they were consulted. It is illegal to fell a single tree in Pressmennan simply because it is the roosting site and feeding area for pipistrelles, baubentin and long-eared bats


The Costed Habitat Action Plan (C.H.A.P) for upland oakwoods requires that small ancient forests on slopes is managed on a minimum intervention basis, in Pressmenan, that would simply entail fencing-in open areas that already exist and possibly a bit of scarification to encourage natural regeneration, protected from grazing deer.


I discovered that Pressmenan was one of hundreds of woods that were to be felled to provide timber for the rebuilding of Windsor Castle after its 1992 fire. Windsor was completely rebuilt out of illegally felled timber (oak is slow growing and can only be generally found in ancient forests) the inventories of ancient, ancient semi-natural and long established woodlands were used to locate the best sources of timber. These inventories were originally created (including by Peterken) to facilitate the proper conservation of our endangered natural habitat but are being exploited for commercial reasons. “We view all woods as crops,” said Jim Affleck, the only amiable forestry commissioner I have met to date. The FA aim to funnel as much money to the rich as possible via grants and timber sales. David Bills (Corporate Watch) the head of the FA has shares in Britain’s main timber extraction companies including A&J Scot who carry-out east-coast felling operations.


Consciously connecting with the form of wild forests opens your soul up, reconnecting you with the rest yourself. In Britain it is natural for humans to be connected with lush vegetation - being our original natural surroundings. As Nature’s energy connects with you, you get increased understanding and heightened perceptions, also blocks created by society are discharged leaving you more healthy and balanced and vital. Ancient forests are the doors to our universe – The sacred Temple of Isis manifest, not a disposable commodity. Once you have attuned with Nature you will have natural psychic abilities and will find your unique creative centre.


Anyone can read the standard Forestry textbooks and a whole lot more – The Habitats Directive is available from The Stationer’s Office If interested, you can understand all the forest management theories and can easily tear apart government propaganda. The concept of sustainability is banded about the forestry scene – felling for regeneration. This is a scam and is dependent on the ignorance of the general public of the independence of natural woodland. Certainly, you would have to counteract negative human influence but felling native trees and wildwood is illegal and never necessary. Gentle, rotational felling in man-made plantations is entirely acceptable and fruitful but ancient forests are more than material.


“Wilderness is essential for the psychological health of the people, perhaps more than we can ever prove.” Peterken


You cannot get more evolved, intricate, diverse or generous than an ancient wood. We cannot develop spiritual awareness of any depth independently from nature. The Mystic Way involves healing until we enjoy the ancient state of being at one with Nature’s evolution, simultaneously being connected to many dimensions – sensitive, responsible, motivated and capable of manifesting the soul energy for which you are now a channel. Originally the aim of the Masons (Sons of the Mother) was manifestation of soul.












Marina Llewellyn.

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