My heart goes out to the people of France. The image of the burning cross taken from the air above the enflamed cathedral of Notre Dame is shattering. Its ruination, though, is causing immediate redemption. People all over France are pledging sums of money for the repair of this beautiful building. While they cannot replace what time has wrought, they can give life to a phoenix. I have no doubt that the Paris of the future will remain hall-marked by its most revered edifice.
It is perfectly acceptable to describe our wild places as “cathedrals of wildlife”. Such a distinction seems more likely to inspire veneration than the bureaucratic tongue-twister of the Site of Special Scientific Interest. The destruction of Notre Dame has an even sadder parallel in Nature. In the same paper (Daily Telegraph, April 16, 2019) showing the above picture came two other stories. In the pristine wilderness of the Pyrenees researchers from the University of Strathclyde have discovered the pollution of micro-plastics, counting an average of 365 pieces of plastic per square metre. Further on in the paper, Chinese authorities have announced the death of the last known Yangtze Giant soft-shelled Turtle. Each of these sad tales are as individual flames in the conflagration that is consuming the Earths’ natural jewels.