Once synonymous with the pastoral landscapes painted by artists such as Gainsborough or Constable, for example, Elms rapidly disappeared from our countryside from the late 1960s due to a fungal disease called 'Dutch Elm Disease'.
At least 25million of these spendid, upright, stately trees, which could grow up to a height of 45m, were destroyed by the fungus which is carried by various species of bark beetle.
Phyto-epidemiologists have traced the introduction of the bark beetle into Europe to two particular shipments of Canadian timber destined for the boat-building industry.
Recent introductions of Ash Die-Back Disease makes one wonder how else our landscape will change over the next forty years or so.
Angels of Hope
Oozing from nature’s raped and torn-out soul,
Seeps the black blood of borrowed time.
Like termites, we eat into these hills,
Hastening our terminal decline.
Where once the grass was pure, the skylark sang,
Sheep grazed and Yates’ dropping peace fell,
This lust for riches, stolen from the earth,
Has bought a glimpse of Dante’s hell.
That, which once was hewn by bleeding hands, with
Empty bellies, and early graves;
Chanceless lives enriching the few;
Is now torn out with lifeless slaves.
Their wheels like watermills’, engines that roar,
With giant mouths and steely claws -
They do in a day a human year’s work,
But nothing for the righteous cause.
Now there’s fewer men - but still as removed
From the shadowed, faceless vampires
Of greed: Nature and humanity, thrown -
Onto the capitalists’ pyres.
But as the dusk hails the end of this age,
The leeches of wealth, gone elsewhere,
Upon the horizon, spreading their wings -
Angels of hope, harvest the air.
OPEN CAST MINING
Being rich in coal and metallic ores meant that for much of the last 300 years, heavy industry dominated large tracts of the Welsh landscape. In their pursuit of riches, industrialists and politicians gave the environment little consideration and parts of Wales became some of the most polluted places on the planet. The era has left a powerful legacy of toxicity and waste.
In this painting of the last remaining open-cast mine at Fros y Fran near Merthyr, the slurry-like coal waste of the fossil-fuel age contrasts against the renewable wind turbines in the distance - but perhaps poses the question of whether they are also a form of pollution - their presence certainly being contentious.