Conflict or Consciousness

My sensible and logical mind refuses to use the word ‘vs’ in my blog title, as I think that sets too much of an aggressive tone. If there is any fighting it will only be in our minds.

Through my life I’ve been quite conscious of how my mind works. Though it may struggle at times, I’m reassured by the fact that – considering my small build – the physical distance between my heart and brain isn’t too far away. With that naive thought I would like to move on to reasoning.

My love for trees is overwhelming sometimes. When Nature sings out to me in that moment, I literally spring forward to hug a tree, feel its ‘pulse’ and connect to it. Personally this connection brings about a scientific understanding of an extraordinary ecosystem, which then leads me to see the bigger picture.

You may ask, “If you love trees so much, why do you cut a tree down? Do you not feel its pain?” I felt this conflict too at first.

As I gain more knowledge of woodland management and how our predecessors planted these trees in the first place, I begin to reconcile with the fact that we can’t just leave trees by themselves to see their days out, in case of a woodland perishing. Most ancient woodlands (since at least 1600AD and include semi-natural woodlands and plantations) have had some form of human intervention, and though I agree that in an ideal landscape we should leave them undisturbed, we are not given a choice sometimes.

Ancient woodland has been around for so long it has developed special communities of plants and animals not found elsewhere.
It’s an important habitat and in sore need of protection.

Woodland Trust

A long time ago when humans started to harvest from our woods and forests, we changed their composition and features forever. Now as the present generation of custodians, it has never been more important for us to restore woodlands back to their truly natural state. As they evolve, they face more threats than ever before: Non-native conifers planted on a large scale in place of native broadleaved trees, exotic plants and trees brought in which have become invasive, pests and diseases that have piggy-backed on these exotic species and of course climate change, which tips the balance by affecting growing conditions.

It’s like when you tell a lie and get questioned; you formulate another lie to cover up that first lie, and so on and so forth. And if you don’t manage the situation, it can all get out of hand. In the perfect scenario, perhaps you shouldn’t have lied in the first place. But because we are human, we adapt and survive, so just like that first lie we have done potentially irreversible things to our landscape which has set the course for change.

Through my forestry training, I’ve developed a consciousness of why we have to manage a woodland; by thinning and letting light through an otherwise thick canopy, we give saplings the opportunity to grow amongst their shady compatriots and increase woodland biodiversity. By leaving fallen dead wood on the ground we create more habitat for saproxylic invertebrates which will then break down matter and enrich the soil. I also understand why we need to remove invasive species like Rhododendron, or else they will completely suffocate the forest floor with their relentless growth. And when these actions we carry out can be put back into a sustainable cycle and utilised for a traceable purpose – like extracting timber from woodland thinning for biomass heating – it gives the management work so much more credit than it deserves.

Within me the ripples of conflict and consciousness have now settled into a calm, clear surface. Every person has the right to make choices. As long as you know the reasons why you do something and have the courage to take responsibility for your actions, you are staying true to what you believe in that space and time.

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