CHRISTMAS is established, now, as the resting place for dormant movies. 

Good movie that Jurassic Park, wasn’t it? Using genetic engineering to bring back lost species is a rare example of how technology might make the world a better place when it is repopulated with animals long-since fossilised. But you will also remember that the Tyrannosauri and the Velociraptors all behaved just as they should. It was the humans that cocked it all up.

Better at the festive period to stick to watching The Great Escape. For there is mounting evidence that human society still harbours prehistoric behaviour and attitudes. 

Could there one day be pterodactyls gliding over forests of tree ferns, planted, no doubt, by the successors of today’s Cotswold farmers (no names, Editor, as promised) in a misguided experiment to reverse the process of creating anthracite out of primeval jungle? It could be done, but a small drawback is the time it all takes. 

The Lottery Fund might be good for the first 20 million years, but after that it looks like Bitcoins are the only possibility.

Butare we now, perhaps, at a crossroads? National TV news hails the successful breeding of re-introduced beavers in the same breath as announcing a scheme to plant trees by schoolchildren. The kids are going to have to get their skates on, because the beavers’ only lifestyle hobby involves – do you remember? – building dams made out of cleverly felled trees. Just what you want next door to your re-wilded farmland! But it will all lock up minute quantities of CO2 . And somehow reduce flood risks. So that’s okay, isn’t it?

You can add beavers to the list then, top of which is the grey squirrel, followed by wild boar, then polecats, then muntjacs, and now – fanfare of trumpets – European bison. No doubt displaced from their natural habitat, in Belowitza forest in Poland, by border guards beating up human immigrants, they are, we learn from last month’s issue of FJ, finding their way to Kent. Most of the immigrants arrive in Kent in small boats, so a couple of tonnes of beef must have presented some new problems.

Equally contentious is the true origin of the highly acclaimed bison. Are they genuine?

Did they really roam the British native hardwood forests of yesteryear? Perhaps they were buffalos. That reminds me. How do you tell a buffalo from a bison? Easy. You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.

Seriously though, I read recent reports of new grants to farmers with mounting alarm.

First, can we really afford, in a country that imports timber on a scale second only to China, to set aside land to grow pussy willows and birch trees when we could, if new pests and diseases allow, grow good-quality economically attractive conifers? Look, we just haven’t got time to mess about with beavers and boar. A few benighted animals in a wood in Kent, biodiversity uber alles, land use being allocated on the presence of butterflies – yes, we can do all these things, but now, this minute, we have to turn out attention to weightier objectives.

Growing more productive trees should be priority number one. Shovelling millions into fiddly projects and clinging to nonsense about native species reflects yesterday’s thinking. And silly grant schemes to replace the CAP – well, we tried it before and farmers are not going to buy it. Replacing hedges and hedgerow trees will not halt climate change. Realistically, nothing will, in the time span available.

Well, good luck to the Kentish beasts. We read that commercial plantations will be felled to allow stomping and dust-bathing.

Forestry Journal: William HagueWilliam Hague

It would all be so much fun if we had a couple of centuries to play games, but we don’t. We need a strong sense of urgency, which, as yet, post Glasgow, is still to emerge.

Perhaps William Hague, recently enthusing about his trees in The Times, will set a new tone. 

We have the target for new planting. But don’t bet on it.