Forest is life

Walking through forests, I've come to realise how little I know about them. And I don't just mean the general facts, like recognising basic types of trees, mushrooms, animals, and so on. There's a general notion I guess most of us understand - things like trees and plants being important for the planet in general. The trouble is, once I started thinking about it, more questions than answers flooded my brain. What is a healthy forest? How did forests look a couple of hundred years ago? Is there a right way to harvest wood without destroying the ecosystem? How does animal control work? And how much have we ruined it? How much do we (as mankind) actually know about that ecosystem? And I can go on for a bit.

Given the fact more or less all central European forests look similar, there's a big question about how much we have changed them in the last centuries (maybe much, much longer). For all I know, it was heavy deforestation, preference for certain types of trees, increased monoculture plantations, and acid rain to start with. While the last 30 - 40 years might be trying to reverse all this, with the increasing sensitivity of the topic given climate change, it's only raising more questions. Any change we're going to make today will take effect in decades to come. In some cases, maybe centuries.

This brings me to the topic of tree lifespan. As far as I'm aware, the pine tree (at least locally) can be considered a champion. With a lifecycle that should be able to span hundreds of years, almost a thousand, it's something none of us can fully comprehend. The same goes for beech and spruce trees. While we tend to harvest trees usually around the age of one hundred years (unfortunately, often even sooner), which already makes it the topic of 2 - 3 human generations, that's almost nothing in forest terms.

And once you start thinking of the ecosystem in terms of decades, suddenly some things simply don't matter anymore. I believe one of those questions was raised in my head when I heard a botanist's view of forest fires - that they are not being understood as catastrophic events. Rather, they are a natural part of life, leading to nutrient recycling and a rejuvenation of the forest floor itself.

All this comes to the title of this post - Forest is life. Be it the complexity of the ecosystem, both seen and unseen, sustainability, photosynthesis, its role in the water cycle. Its complexity is only a mirror to the interconnectivity of all living things, and how much we (still) don't understand it.

For me personally, the forest is the exact opposite of things I'm not that keen on - like gardens. While the forest for me is a symbol of life, the regular house garden for me is a place of death, an ephemeral amusement. The death of a plant within a garden has little to no purpose.

While I can't answer most of my questions yet, I'm definitely keen to find out more. Or at least observe.