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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Centenary Tree

 

Centenary Pine Tree of Mazagon

Centenary Pine Tree of Mazagon

When you want to create an edible landscape you start with an edible kern, which you seed instead of eat.
During this festive season we eat plenty of edible nuts inclusief the Pine-nut.
In Europe and the middle east the most used pine nuts come from the Stone Pine also called Umbrella Pine. Some of the old tribes used to plant these trees for their edible nuts.

Stone pine

Crown

The above two photos are from the same tree found in Donana National Park in South West of Spain.
It shows you how a little pine nut can grow. One of the most spectacle trees around in this park,  yet the trunk is only 50 centimetres tall but the crown is 23 metres in diameter. The way this beauty grows prove some courage worth celebrating.
Sadly this beautiful area had a heatwave fuelling a big fire, consuming many edible seeds. The trees are known to have adapted for fire by creating a thick bark protecting the living centre of the trunk.
The fire might create a new spurge of life in this area, time will tell.

ice in the sunset

icicle

The time seems right to think about them trees we took inside to celebrate, what to do with them. A cut tree can only provide a short moment of pleasure, the best option than is to put it in a wood chipper to be used as ground cover.
Them trees in pots can be planted but many of them will not survive due to the wrong procedure.
They need to be harden of to get used to the cold outdoor again before we plant them.

xmas tree planting

hardening of

Just put them outdoors during the day and indoors in a cool room during the night. You can also put them on a balcony or even in an open window.
Next to this you need to keep them moist with a plant-sprayer filled with soft water.
After a few days you can repot it in a larger pot which you put outside or dig in partly in your garden, this way you don’t need to water it.
Next year you can dig it out again to celebrate again, after few years you should plant the tree in soil and let it grow big and strong.
When you replant it carefully loosen the roots all around so they can grow again. A very pot grown tree can’t be repotted but should be planted direct in the soil.

After this order some seeds of the Stone Pine so the next generation of Centenary Trees can start, year after year again.
Many seeds will create a forest.
Here you find some tips how to grow them.
Next year, i will visit this Centenary Tree in the hope it survived the fire and with me come some baby trees to be planted.

tear dream

deal

 

 

SEEING trees

treestrefin

Perhaps not

The hardest thing for this blog is to choose the photos to show here, there are just so many.
A tree as art is nothing new and so many trees show that they are capable of doing just that.
The question stays are we ready to see trees and other plants for what they are?

Charles Darwin showed us already long time ago that trees and plants are much more than passive ground covering.
People were not ready to hear or see it in them days but can we see it now, not so sure.

tree growing in old factory wall

growing where ?

 

Yet, many of my photos show that Darwin stood only at the beginning of things and  many scientists have developed his theories further.
While walking you can see the power of plants where ever you walk and when you stand still to look you see even more. Trees made me scratch behind my ears with ‘how is this possible’ growing against all the rules?

Are we ready now to see it, or will our vision stay hidden.

Vision ball

vision

Our way of seeing is influenced by so many things and for such a long time we see the natural environment divided.
One way we see it as some ‘fairytale’ making it almost holy and the other way we see it as something to be owned and used or at least controlled.
Many believe nature is there for us humans only.

VISION
reflection
on the eye,
rejected by
culture
influenced by
time
you or me

tree on the rocks

on the rocks

A book written by Peter Wohlleben makes us see trees from a different perspective and according to the sales of the book many of us do agree.
At times the book still go towards the dreamy reflection, at other time he shows the scientific prove.
Talking to people you hear it makes them uncomfortable, some say: so what can we eat now when plants are seen as intelligent.
People forget that plants have been eaten for as long as they exist and so has animals. We don’t need to feel guilty about eating nature, plant or animal as that is nature.

woven willow growing on

why not

In a human made landscape nature still survives, when we alter nature it carries on while we look the other direction.
One site destroyed nature in fast moving actions, the other site creates nature while we read, write, talk.
We all can create nature no matter where, no matter the size, no matter with who, no matter with what.
Perhaps the time has come, we can go behind the rules laid upon us and see past them rules and regulations.

tiny creeping willow

small foot print

So many different species of trees we hardly see as they grow natural so tiny long before we humans invented Bonsai. Who made them rules again?
Winter solstice stands before the door once again a time to plant a tree no matter how small.

tree planting a christmas tree

celebrate

Planting a tree to celebrate the returning of the light in the northern part of the world and the return of the dark in the southern part of the world.
Even when we all plant the same kind of tree in all different environment, under all different circumstances, with whatever climate it will grow.

look at this

See you next year wishing you all the best for these festive days no matter how you celebrate.

 

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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