Old growth forest
At the other end of the spectrum to clear cut forest areas are areas of ‘old growth forest’. These are areas that have survived the relentless chainsawing of modern times, by virtue of being inaccessible and therefore not worth the effort, or perhaps as a result of early legislation that designated them as protected areas. Either way, these areas are few and far between, yet remaining areas offer a glimpse into how the forest shapes and structures itself if left to grow over a very long period of time. These areas have always been used by humans, so it’s important to realise that humans are not inherently ‘bad’ for the forest ecosystem. Sami reindeer herders have made their shelters and harvested wood for many centuries—and they are still permitted to do so in many of these old remaining forests; Finland’s environmental legislation recognises the importance of the forest to these indigenous people and perhaps also the importance of people to the forest’s continued survival.
I wonder, can we all admit and rekindle our ancient love-affair with the forest and its many myriad life-forms? Perhaps the Sami have something to teach us all, as perhaps do all other indigenous peoples the world over—how to love the natural world. It’s a form of romanticism as activism, but one that, importantly, isn’t trying to re-create the past.
Here, in the wonderful surrounding depth of the old-growth forest, I pose a question to you: what decisions and dreams and actions would you take if you found yourself in love with that old ancient mistress of ours—the earth and her many moons?
We suggest to you that old growth forest is really a source for the imagination. Here you will find echoes and scent trails of the eternal night tangling through the forest. Certain qualities—a sense of continuity, diversity, a rootedness that seems to pull you down and up in equal measure are omnipresent here. It’s a place to be still and to listen. What happens when you suddenly realise just how much you have in common with the lives of other species, plant and animal both? Is there a language that exists beyond words; if there is, you’ll find it here.