Lenzie Chainsaw Massacre

The area that has been the same scrub woodland for
over a century at the beginning of January 2015.
(Taken by chance when the man went missing.
I "went for a walk" and so came here and so admired
the way the sunlight came through the trees into
this small glade in the thicket that I happened
to take this picture)

Almost exactly the same area looking the same way
at the end of January 2015.
(At least the taller trees on the skyline are very similar,
but it's hard to tell because its so changed so much)


For any of those who have walked across the moss recently, you will no doubt be aware of the wholesale destruction of trees that has occurred in the name of "saving" the environment. What you will not know, is that this destruction was almost completely unjustified and is totally counter productive.

Lenzie Moss

Lenzie Moss is an area that with few exceptions has had the top layers of peat removed over several centuries ending with the WWII peatworks. The only areas which are likely to be at their original level are the strip of woodland beside the railway, the peat mound (an isolated area saved by it use in a rifle range) and perhaps a few of the higher extremities (shown by the trees).

Paradoxically, these trees which have just been cut down, are the closest to what we have left of the original landscape of the central bog area before human use, a landscape which peat cores shows was surrounded by woodland. A landscape that we used to have before this vandalism. A landscape with a central wet area where deer (or other) grazing kept most  trees at bay, a surrounding area of shrub land where open areas and trees were kept in balance by the balance between the grazing pressure of deer and around that thicker woodland.

So, by chance (as that is how nature works) and as a result of a lack of human intervention, the moss had reached a natural harmony by the turn of the millennium.

One of the scared deer taken soon after the tree felling (now mostly gone)

The Lessons from Yellowstone

In a small way, we had developed very much the same environment that came to pass after Yellowstone reintroduced wolves. The problem with Yellowstone (like much of highland Scotland) was that the Elk overgrazed the area. This killed the trees and no doubt with time Yellowstone would have been denuded of tree cover like Scotland.

What happened with the introduction of wolves, is that the Elk stopped grazing many open areas. These open areas then turned to woodland which in turn encouraged back the Elk, who then grazed these areas again. In other words, the joint pressures of grazing Elk and predators, created a natural balance.

Clearly Lenzie Moss doesn't have wolves, but we do have the next best thing: dog walkers. In the past, the number of people walking their dogs across the moss was enough to scare away the deer and keep the woodlands from turning to the wasteland seen over much of upland Scotland.

The problem with the Boardwalk

The problems started when a few years ago, the board walk was placed across the boggy area.

Almost immediately, and with no other cause except the boardwalk, the drier areas beside the boardwalk began to spring to life with young birch trees.

It doesn't take someone with an environmental degree to work out what was going on. The boardwalk, whilst a fantastic asset to the area, was by its very success bringing in more "Lenzie Wolves" aka dog walkers and these dog walkers were scaring away the deer from around the boardwalk. This is shown by the way the limit to the birch in the former WWII peat cuttings very closely matches the line of the boardwalk. So, not only did the birch first appear when the boardwalk was put in place, it closely matches the same line. From this it should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about the environment that the problem of the birch was caused by the boardwalk and the way the deer don't now graze within about 80m. Because the boardwalk was put in place this area now needs birch keeping in check (if we want to keep the open aspects across the Moss).

Quite paradoxically, by making the area more attractive the area to those who like the open aspects, we are in fact encouraging the area to turn to woodland. Because the more the deer were scared away, the more the birch trees that used to be kept in check will spring up.

So, the very success of Lenzie Moss was causing a problem. And yes, without intervention, the views of the open area would have soon been obscured by the birch. (Paradoxically, allowing the deer to graze much closer and keeping the birch down just beyond the eyesight of humans and dogs - and so like Yellowstone, we would have had a new balance between "predator" and grazer.

There was a very good justification for intervention to clear birch from these areas next to the boardwalk, because it was human intervention that had changed the balance of nature in this area and so I supposed the initial work clearing the birch in areas used heavily by walkers.


In the 1970s, third world development projects ran into problems. Money intended to boost these economies was actually damaging them. The reason was that projects such as developing land for farming, had unintended consequences and e.g. soil without the tree cover was being washed away. So not only was the land quickly unfit for farming, but the soil entered the rivers and killed fish stocks.

So, the idea developed of "sustainable development" of which the main theme was that development should not focus on one narrow aspect but should look at the wider impacts on society, environment as well as the economy.

Unfortunately, the extremists environmentalists, took this concept of "looking at the whole", threw out the need to consider the problem holistically, and turned it into a dogma that "sustainable" means "doing what is 'environmental'" and ignoring the needs of wider society or the economy.

So, in many regards, because of the extremists, we are now facing the same problems of the 1970s. But instead of focussing on the economic development and ignoring the environment or needs of society. We now have people who will zealously push their view of environmental "development" putting two fingers up to the needs of the local society or economy.


Unfortunately, letting nature do what it does best and just be natural, has become politically incorrect. Because we live in a period where there is a prevalent political culture that many (and me included) describe as "eco-fascism". This isn't environmentalism. It isn't letting nature get on with being nature. It isn't doing what good for local people. Instead it is imposing a prescribed view onto nature. It's literally unsustainable environmentalism. It's pursuing one aspect of the environment to the overall detriment of the overall environment but it's also pushing environmentalism in such a way that it harms society and the economy so as to undermine society's support for environmental issues or reduce the money we have available (because it's in poor countries where the environment is most at risk).

And of all the eco-fascist policies those trying to "reduce CO2" are the least sustainable and pursued by the worst zealots. We have 37,000 winter deaths each year and what do they do? They put up fuel bills. They put up bird-mincers that so destroy the scenery that visitors stop coming, people find other things to do than appreciate the wilderness and the needs to protect the environment are pushed down the political ladder. The economy suffers as industry, rather than stopping producing CO2, it instead moves to places like China where the pollution is much worse. And then because our economy suffers, we don't have the money to protect the environment at home.

And all this, when CO2 is a plant food and its increase is probably the best thing we could have done for the poor of the world as crop yields worldwide are increasing. Better still, there's been no sign of global warming in 18 years and the small level of warming that was seen in the 20th century is quite typical of the changes in temperature seen in the longest temperature series: The Central England Temperature series. And whilst Arctic ice has seen a decline, the increase in Antarctic ice has more than made up for it. Whilst academics predicted "no snow" and many other changes, none of them have actually occurred and neither has their predicted warming.

Those who espouse the doctrine of eco-fascism will quite happily obliterate nature far more zealously than any housing developer if nature gets in their way. Woodland can be turned into a stagnant industrial cesspit in the name of "capturing CO2". If they actually admitted what they were doing: creating industrial units, then they'd need planning permission to change from a nature reserve to this industrial use. But claim to be doing it for the environment and everyone lets them wreck nature. It's my opinion that these people espousing this eco-fascism doctrine really don't like the natural environment. They won't let nature find its own balance. They don't like the chaos in nature. Instead they want to get rid of the chaos inherent in nature and instead install a political correct view of nature imposing a man made ideal onto nature which they then define as "natural".

The result, is this mono-culture we now see on the Moss. Trees aren't allowed to grow because this area is now deemed by these eco-fascists as "Moss" or more accurately an industrial estate for carbon capture.

Unfortunately, we can now see the result of this extremism on Lenzie moss chainsaw massacre. Trees that I have known for around 20 years and photographed and admired have been cut down by heartless thugs. The intimate beauty of a bogland surrounded by trees that shielded the reserve from intrusion from the trains and roads, has now been changed to what something akin to a treeless munipal carpark with nothing to catch the eye except the surrounded by roads, housing and train track.

They have totally changed the natural "chaos" - the normal state of nature - in this case mixed woodland/bogland nature of Lenzie Moss and replaced it with a carbon copy of the kind of overgrazed wilderness that can be found in every area of upland Scotland.

In other words, replace a very special kind of environment: lowland balance between bog and woodland, with upland desolation caused by over-grazing. And like all eco-fascists, they dogmatically believe they are right and therefore will not tolerate descent ... even from nature itself!

But it's totally unsustainable - nature will win in the end!

The biggest irony, is that by removing the trees that used to provide cover for the deer, all that these vandals have done, is to scare away the deer that used to graze the moss and keep down the trees.

So, we are more or less guaranteed, that over the next few years, that we will see young birch trees springing up, but this time, not just the areas these idiots have just cleared, but over much of the other drier areas away from the paths and boardwalk.

And if my experience with eco-fascists is anything to go by: when the birch starts regrowing, unless I say something now, they will claim this as "yet more proof" that the birch needs totally irradicating so giving the whole of Lenzie Moss the feeling of one giant municipal carpark.

By Mike Haseler

(Written after I went for a walk on the Moss, saw that most of the deer had now left, saw the discarded carcasses of all these magnificent trees I knew so well, got as far as peat hill, saw the way the site just looks out on traffic and houses and realised that you can't walk around without seeing this appalling holocaust - so I turned around on the spot and went home to write this.)