Noise and vibration from the trains that could one day inhabit the HS2 rail line are a major concern for the Woodland Trust. 34 ancient woods lie between 26-200m of the track’s centre line and remain at ‘indirect’ risk. By ‘risk’ we mean noise and disturbance – first from construction and later as high speed trains pass at speeds of up to 250mph several times a day.
My awareness for how people impact upon natural habitats was heightened further when I watched a recent talk by Bernie Krause. He has been recording ‘the voice of the natural world’ for many decades. He has gathered a huge amount of evidence on how people negatively impact upon some of our most valuable and irreplaceable habitats on earth – despite some well-meaning promises of low impact or compensation.
He records a forest called Lincoln Meadow near San Francisco, where a logging company developed a ‘selective logging’ approach that was declared environmentally responsible. With the permissions in place and the community on board the company set to work. Bernie was allowed to record the soundcapes (as he calls them) before and after logging. In the year before the work began an amazing dawn chorus greeted the world each day, but just one year on and the sound of the babbling brook is louder than the wildlife that once lived there. 15 years on….it still isn’t restored. Visually, this wood looks perfect! But your ears will tell you a very different story.
With Oaken Wood we were informed that the plans for woods that will replace the ancient woodland to be destroyed will bring a ‘better’ habitat in the future. On this point we will continue to disagree, despite recent decisions. And evidence like this presented by Bernie Krause simply convinces me more and more that our valuable havens cannot be recreated – no matter how well meaning the theories behind the mitigation or compensation proposals may be.
This is why we have produced a factsheet on noise and vibration for HS2.
And please, take just 10 minutes and listen for yourself to these magnificent soundscapes. In particular wait till the end and listen to the sounds of a beaver in mourning. If ever there was a story to break your heart and demonstrate the horrid ways in which people interfere with nature, this is it.