I'm no Simon Cowell, but wouldn't now be a good time for Joni Mitchell to consider making a comeback? The lyrics to Big Yellow Taxi, written in 1970, have rarely seemed more relevant. Joni's line that, "They took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum", could be the historical footnote to David Cameron's coalition government, the one that promised us that it would be the greenest government ever. It is fascinating how everyone is on the side of the tree, thicket, copse, wood and forest. Forests seem to trigger something primal within us. I wish every case of potential environment loss would get everyone fired up so much.
The government consultation paper that emerged last week after much leaking and enormous speculation recognises the emotional pull of woodlands such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean, and calls them "heritage forests". Ministers are at pains to tell us that heritage forests won't be sold, although they might quite like to lease them out to appropriate NGOs or communities. So we can go off to sleep, slumped over our copies of The Wind in the Willows, secure in the knowledge that the Forest of Dean isn't going to be sold off and chopped down. That was never going to happen.