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The Status of Britain's Ancient Woodlands

"News Currents," May 18, makes the following misleading reference: "Britain is losing its ancient woodlands faster than the rainforest is being felled in Brazil," and then quotes from figures produced by English Nature (the state body responsible for nature and conservation in England and Wales) that 45 percent of Britain's ancient woodlands have been destroyed in the last 50 years.

Until about 10 years ago, this may well have been the case, with woodlands being lost to agriculture, and ancient woodlands (defined as those being continuously wooded - i.e. never clearfelled - since at least 1600) being felled and replanted with fast-growing, nonnative conifer species. However, there has been a revolution in thinking with regard to forestry policy in Britain in the last five to 10 years, and the above situation has been reversed.

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The Forestry Commission, Britain's forest service, has now switched its emphasis from producing commercial timber crops to managing and promoting the forest resource in order to encourage wildlife and public access. Recently split off from its commercial, timber-growing side, the new Forestry Authority controls and regulates all felling, thinning, and planting of trees in Britain's woods, and would not consent to any felling of broadleaved - and especially ancient - woodlands unless a corresponding area was restocked with site-native species.

The principal remaining threat to Britain's ancient woods comes from government road-building schemes, which are exempt from felling control. Jonathan Webb, Kent, England, Forestry/Woodlands Officer, The National Trust Economic conditions aided Hitler

In the Opinion page article "Russia Viewed as Weimar," June 10, the author uses invented facts in order to attack the constructive policy of helping Russia.

In fact, Hitler's rise to power was very much a product of the vindictive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I. Postwar democratic Germany, the Weimar Republic, was made to pay for the sins of the departed Kaiser by paying "war reparations" and by agreeing to an intrusive degree of allied supervision of Germany. Both served to prepare the way for Hitler.

The reparations payments created hyperinflation. My father vividly recalled how, when he was a young vice consul in Cologne in 1925, people brought wheelbarrows full of devalued currency to make simple purchases. This desperation, along with resentment at the disarmament and dismemberment of Germany by the allies, gave Hitler the opportunity to rise to power by fanning and exploiting fear and hatred. Peter Salmon, Henryville, Pa.

Most historians believe Hitler could not have attained power had economic conditions been normal. The German economy totally collapsed in 1923, which was when Hitler staged his Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. Although conditions improved by 1930, there was still widespread unemployment and no real confidence in Germany that the Weimar Republic could succeed. Joseph Tiede, Raleigh, N.C.

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