IMAGINE, here in Somerset, an orchard of some 10 acres planted 50 to 60 years ago.

It may once have been ‘managed’, but certainly in recent years, it has been left to itself.

That means it is full of birdlife; casual observation from the adjacent lane through the winter revealed large numbers of redwings and fieldfares, members of the thrush family that come to the UK during the colder months from Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Courtesy of the various natural history programmes now available, we all know that closer examination of this wood would almost certainly have revealed a rich ecology – beetles, insects, fungi etc.

Like to see it for yourself? Well, it is located at Lower Stoford near Taunton, up a side lane between Ash Priors and Halse.

But sadly, you will now just have to imagine it.

Several weeks ago it was cut down, grubbed out and destroyed.

I understand that the wood had been sold and the new owner, perfectly within his/her legal rights, obviously decided it had to go.

No legal crime has been committed here. But, you don’t have to be a David Attenborough or a Chris Packham to know that the state of this country’s nature, bird life, insects and ecology in general is in a dire state.

Various reports, such as the ‘State of Nature Report’, testify to this and much is riding on the current Environment Bill.

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Yes, here in Somerset we do have some rich natural resources, such as the Avalon Marshes and Steart Marsh and various other pockets of land owned and managed by bodies such as Somerset Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust).

But like many parts of the UK, there are mile after mile of chemically-rich green/brown/yellow wildlife-empty farmland.

Let’s remind ourselves; someone recently chose to purchase this wood and then chose to destroy it.

Did no one in this very sad saga – seller/buyer/auctioneer – think to involve, say, the Somerset Wildlife Trust or the Woodland Trust?

Maybe they did. Maybe someone from the Wildlife Trust came out and walked through it and said “No, it’s not worth saving”.

If that is the case, then I stand to be corrected and, having written my first letter to the County Gazette after 41 years of living in Somerset, will return to reading other readers’ letters.

Bishops Lydeard