Going the distance – how my Dad’s advice has stood the test of time

07.02.2013

Hayley Baines-Buffery, Head of Sustainable Business

As I cycled home last night, I was infuriated by the number of drivers that continued to overtake me, only to then sit in traffic at a red light a few metres ahead. I’m then faced with the dilemma of sitting in a queue of traffic myself, or carefully squeezing myself through narrow gaps to the front of the queue. In these moments, I often recall some sound rules-of-the-road advice I was given by my Dad years ago, which stemmed from his 30 years+ in the Met Police: “Always look ahead”.

This got me thinking about my work, and that how we use the roads is a metonym for sustainability. Yes, there are some quick wins, but to achieve the systemic shift we all need to thrive on our one planet, we have to invest our time, money and wisdom in developing solutions that will stand the test of time. And I wondered in what ways the projects I’m working on are helping to deliver this long-term vision of sustainability.

Our new working woodlands project with B&Q represents a long-term investment in improving Britain’s own woodland economy as well the environment. Ultimately, we’d love to get more British wood and wood products onto the shelves thereby giving strong incentives to revive and protect neglected woodlands. But by its very nature, we can’t generate the supply of timber overnight. So we need to  develop long term plans to improve the management of British woodlands, for the benefit of biodiversity, the people who own and work in the woodlands and to ensure a sustainable supply of wood for years to come.

If we can find some great products to bring to market in the short term, to help bring this project to life, then all the better, but long term management is how we’ll deliver the biggest change. If we continue to think only in the short term, we’ll all find ourselves stuck at a red light. If we look ahead, plan our route and think about what we’re doing, we’ll make the steady progress we’re all after.

Photo taken by Tejvan Pettinger under the Creative Commons license