One’s estates

Oh, gee, I thought Priss Choss was such a keen environmentalist.

The duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, two of the royal family’s largest portfolios of land, have snubbed tree campaigners who are calling for the royals to rewild their estates.

Well. You know. There’s The Environment, and then there’s One’s portfolio of land.

Rewilding advocates at the campaign group Wild Card have been meeting for months with the crown estate, which manages most of the royal land and pays the revenue into the Treasury. They say relations have been “really positive”.

However, the duchies are separate to the crown estate, and not subject to the same level of accountability. The two organisations – described by the land campaigner Guy Shrubsole as “medieval anachronisms” – manage more than 73,000 hectares (180,000 acres) of royal land between them, with all profit going directly to the royal purse.

That’s how it is when your ancestor was the successful mob boss.

Both estates have lower levels of tree cover than the national average. The duchy of Cornwall, run by Prince Charles, has only 6% tree cover, and the duchy of Lancaster has 13%. The average in the UK is 16%, while in Europe it is 38%.

Choss is a tree-hugger of other people’s trees.

The duchies have no intention of talking to any of these pesky rewilding people.

“The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster have categorically ruled out meeting with our campaign. This is an appallingly undemocratic affront to our futures,” said Emma Smart, campaigns manager for Wild Card, which has highlighted the lack of forest cover on royal land.

The group has delivered a 100,000-signature petition and emailed the duchies on nine occasions, but has had no response.

Wild Card is asking the royals to practise what they have preached during the Queen’s jubilee tree-planting scheme and allow more trees to grow on their own land.

The duchy of Lancaster owns about 2,020 hectares (5,000 acres) of grouse moors on the North York Moors and about 180 hectares (450 acres) of grouse moors in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. Campaigners have said much of this land lies on peat bogs*, which should be allowed to grow wild to sequester carbon instead of being used for grouse shooting.

There it is, it’s the grouse shooting again. What do the environmental benefits of trees matter compared to a handful of toffs shooting birds out of the sky for the mere sake of killing them?

*Updating: see Enzyme’s comment on peat bogs as much better carbon sinks than forests are.

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