Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case

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Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland ’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards. Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity. The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years. The law caught up with 61-year-old Jones on Friday, when a Cork circuit criminal court convicted her of stealing logs worth €500. Sentencing was adjourned until October. The judge, Seán Ó Donnabháin, directed the jury to find Jones not guilty of the more serious charge of criminal damage to 500 Sitka spruce trees. Jones declared vindication. “Citizens have a duty to protect the environment and biodiversity,” she told the Guardian. “I was managing that site for biodiversity. It […]

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