PRIMEVAL FOREST

 

River Edge

Primeval Forest on our planet is perhaps not existing anymore as we humans have touched every bit of forest.
Yet, new primeval forest starts to appear there where humans leave nature alone.
A wonderful example is Broadbalk Field by Rothamsted Experimental Station, South England.
In 1882 the farmer left a winter wheat field, not even harvested the wheat, alone. The field had to look after itself without any help from humans. Four years later the wheat plants, except for 4, made room for other plants, 40 different plants had moved in, 21 years later 57 ‘wild’ plants were counted.
This experiment shows us how nature moves into an area which is just 0.2 hectare. The field had been farmed since 1664 and perhaps even longer and all around are agricultural fields.

regenerate

In 1915 a grove had developed on the land with mainly Oaks, Hazels and Brambles, slowly but certainly the land converted to forest. It became an example for many other areas. Close to where i live, there is a small new primeval river forest. The area has been left alone, meaning has not been managed, people walk and talk here all the time. It is right along the shores of one of the most busy rivers called ‘De Lek’ one of the main routes from the big harbours from Rotterdam to Germany.
The forest takes no notice of all the passing boats and just moves in while writing this.

rooting in

It is a damp place to be and all trees need to deal with wet feet, they grow amidst Reed and other water-edge plants.
The young trees are all self-seeded and some fall over or are eaten to feed the rest of the trees who still stand.
Only a very few trees are old trees all the rest moved in on their own, it is not an ancient forest. Most old forest was gone by 1300 in the Netherlands only a few bits were spared, mainly along the rivers or places harder to make into farmland.

dead feeding the living

Now at many places we turn back time as we move towards an other future by leaving areas to defend for themselves.

It  shows how nature can recover even after a long time of cultivation. Most of the rivers here were almost dead rivers due to pollution coming not only from own ground but also flowing down stream from Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland and further afield.
The environmentalists made a great difference and the rivers are recovering from the pollution for centuries. There are now strict environmental laws in place preventing pollution as much as it can.

making ways

We can give back to nature what we once took away.
We can speed up the time it takes to recover by playing wind and bird by spreading seeds and planting sticks.
All it takes is time and patience.

oeps what is this

It is wonderful to experience them little surprises.

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nEw ways to sEE nature

seeing drops

new discoveries while on your knees

 

Many people say to me; my photos made them look differently to nature, they now see things closer. When you take your time and sit down, you will see something different no matter where you are.
Our eyes have their limitation and our brains fill in the rest, but who tells our brain what to see. The manipulated photo of what we want to see, according to who ……?
Is it the artist, fashion, media or our surroundings?

novel ecosystem

down the beaten track

 

As a land artist you need to know your material just like any other artist does. A painter knows her paint, the brushes, the underground, the sculptor knows their wood, stone, iron. A land artist find their art-material in the landscape,  where ever that landscape is you will find nature there.
It is often said that land artists have a dialoge with nature, using no words or signs. They alter the landscape with material found in the landscape. At times these alteration last just minutes at other times they last years.

planted landscape

created landscape

 

In a way they create a connection between culture and nature, which is not always appreciated.
Some artists travel large distance to find them special ‘wild’ places to create their art, to spread their wings in unknown territories. Sometimes their inspiration comes from nature herself, many times it comes from who pay their travel expenses.
All of them make us look at nature in a different way.

Pink Rocks

natural sculpture

 

We always intervene in nature, humans have been changing their environment since they walk on 2 legs. Out of them interventions come new ecological systems, creative driven ecosystems. (Novel Ecosystems)
How do we divine nature? Them landscape which has not been touched by humans? We have changed the chemistry of the air, the chemistry of water all over this planet.

human made wilderness

wild or tame?

 

One destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things (Henry Miller).
In Europe we altered the landscape for many many years and them altered landscapes are now natural wonders in their own rights.

grandPA

planted giant

 

We actually can give something back to nature, we can create with nature new ecosystems with a new way of looking at nature. Areas which were once planted by humans and than neglected become very unusual but beautiful places to reconnect with that nature.
Nature doesn’t care about nationalities, the wind seeds them plants no matter where and no matter where the mother plants come from.

water buffalo

an allien

 

Perhaps this WaterBuffalo in Pembrokeshire should not be or perhaps it always has been but just went for a long holiday.
The non natives often help to create that environment the natives need to survive, lets call it natural balance.

Snowdon

created landscape

 

The above photo shows a landscape made by mining and sheep farming, is it therefor no good? Is what we see here no nature?
It is now a national park where they try to keep it in the way it is. Perhaps the national park should let nature decide what it wants to do with this new landscape.

Land art can certainly create new landscapes by working together with nature.

Novel land art

how old farmland became new

In the next blog i will show you more about this piece of land in Pembrokeshire.

It stands model for the new to create Forest Vision

 

 

 

 

Bies Forest

You can find the beginning of the ‘Land Art Forest’ in the ‘BiesBosch’, which means the forest of Bies (common club-rush).
This area stands central for the land art, first as an example how we can give back and how we can recover nature. Second as this is the breeding ground for a lot of my thinking.

How it used to be

The changing of this area over the years has been to say the least, dramatic. The area was created by St. Elizabeth’s flood of 1421. Due to war and the rush for profits the dykes were neglected therefor on 18 November 1421 the water broke through and the area became an inland sea/delta.
Nature used the rivers to create land again with silt, bit by bit water became sandbank, sandbank became silt plate, silt plate became swamp with reed and rush and finally meadow.

The BiesBosch became an important fishing area, in 1910 thousands of salmon were caught in a year, yet 23 years later the salmon fishery was finished due to overfishing. The same goes for the ‘Steur’ (sea Sturgeon) a big fish which was used for the caviar. In 1900 438 Steur were caught in the BiesBosch and in 1925 just 3.
The land was used for hunting, there were several Duck decoys used to shoot Ducks in large numbers. This came also to an end and the income of the landowners came from the harvest of Willows and Rush, and cattle from the meadows.

Willows are used to make clogs

Even it was cultivated land it was rich in wildlife due to the swampy character and the dangers due to the tidal difference of 2 metres. A knowledge about the area was needed to wander around.
The best way to visit was by canoe all them small creeks with growth all over it due to neglect as the market for Willow and Rush had dropped thanks to the cheap plastic, which is still today cheaper than Willow.
It looked like a jungle in my childhood memories with lots of birds and filled with adventures.

water reservoir

no comment

All this came to an abrupt end when the Haringvliet was closed to protect Holland from the sea and to stop flooding from happening again.
A flood once created the BiesBosch now flood-prevention killed the BiesBosch.
There was only 20 centimetre difference between low and high water, the water became still and dead. Botulism moved in and many birds and fish died and several people were infected.
Straight after the dam came the reservoirs for water, 3 big concrete basins to store water. Not that we didn’t have enough rain but because the rivers became too polluted to give safe drinking water for the big city of Rotterdam.
A nature area of a total of 693 hectares (1712 acres) of land came under concrete basins filled with water in 1973.
3 Years later biologist from the TU Delft gave a public speech about how it should be different this was for me the turning point perhaps better a starting point that we can and should do it different.

Nature and culture can go together, you don’t need to make a choice. While i spread my wings to discover the world and study, the fight for the BiesBosch went on.
The result is fantastic. In the seventies a big turning point was created by them environmentalist which many of us have forgotten. GreenPeace and the Friends of the Earth made a big impact on decisions and companies had to stop pumping their poison into the rivers. Slowly the rivers became cleaner, we still have a long way to go but progress is made.
Clean rivers bring better water quality to the BiesBosch and better land management created new nature.

BiesBosch back to life

life back into the BiesBosch

It didn’t stop there, people started to care more and more, so the politics started to change according very slowly, as politics always do moves slowly.
The people at the BieBosch however didn’t sit still and waited, they worked hard to create changes to reintroduce wildlife back into the area.
The BiesBosch became a National Park in 1994 many land parcels were given back to nature. It is back to a delta were rivers can overflow preventing floods elsewhere, showing how nature can help.
Climate change brings more and heavier rain to our land, don’t forget around two/thirds of the land in the Netherlands is under sea level.
Once they wanted to get rid of the Willows now they are a respected part of the landscape.

Land Art in the BiesBosch

Land Art is a part of this nature regeneration where culture meets nature and shakes hands. The Moon Spiral  made by land artist Paul de Kort, a brilliant piece to walk and enter nature, proves this.
There are more plans to give land back to nature to change agriculture land into nature. It doesn’t even stop there, the dam at the Haringvliet will be opened permanently to let the fish back in. It took politics 14 years to finally realise that this is a good idea. In the meantime the Sea Sturgeon has been reintroduced into the rivers after more than 65 years  they swim perhaps back into the BiesBosch.

It just shows so clearly, that we can make a difference and that a long fight do give results, we can give back to nature and enjoying it. When we help nature we help ourselves.
On the moment the Land Art Forest is just in her baby shoes, not much more than a creative idea.
It will be a hard battle to see how a group of people can own it and how we can prevent it from being sold ever.

For now I am looking for people who like to be involved and who want to help. In the next series of blocks you can read about the lessons learned from other Land Art projects i did. The Land Art Forest will benefit from all them lessons.
The blog will be written in English next to this a book will be written in Dutch. The idea is that people can use this to create their own Land Art Forest where ever they are in the world.
For now the focus is on a Land Art Forest in Portugal and in Holland. Both forests will have to deal with extreme weathers and both will be used to regenerate nature by people themselves.

In the end the blog will share lots of information about products that will help, together with which trees can be planted best.

trees feed

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