Woods kindle new ways of being and urge our minds differently
It was in the twentieth century that the deepwood came to its true end. During its course, forests were depleted at unprecedented speed across the western hemisphere. In Britain and Ireland, the two wars led to almost unregulated clear-felling. Half a million acres of broadleaf forest were felled in the years 1914 to 1918 to meet war needs. Techniques of woodsmanship and forest husbandry - regular cutting, coppicing and pollarding - that had been developed over centuries lapsed from practice. In the thirty years after 1945, the 'locust years', nearly half of the remaining ancient semi-natural forest remained was lost to plantation, development and the plough.
The deepwood is vanished in these islands - much, indeed, had vanished before history began - but we are still haunted by the idea of it. The deepwood flourishes in our architecture, art and above all in our literature. Unnumbered quests and voyages have taken place through and over the deepwood, and fairy tales and dream-plays have been staged in its glades and copses. Woods have always been a place of inbetweenness, somewhere one might slip from one world to another, or one time to a former: in Kipling's story 'Puck of Pook's Hill', it is by right of 'Oak and Ash and Thorn' that the children are granted their ability to voyage back into English history.
There is no mystery in this association of woods and otherworlds, for as anyone who has walked in woods knows, they are places of correspondence, of call and answer. Visual affinities of colour, relief and texture abound. A fallen branch echoes the deltoid form of the streambed into which it has come to rest. Chrome yellow autumn elm leaves find their colour rhyme in the eye-ring of a blackbird. Different aspects of the forest link unexpectedly with each other, and so it is that within the stories of forests, different times and worlds can be joined. Woods and forests have been essential to the imagination of these islands, and of countries throughout the world, for centuries. It is for this reason that when woods are felled, when they are suppressed by tarmac and concrete and asphalt, it is not only unique species and habitats that disappear, but also unique memories, unique forms of thought. Woods, like other wild places, can kindle new ways of being or cognition in people, can urge their minds differently.
Mariners had painstakingly mapped the coastlines of the continents. Geographers had translated these findings into charts and globes. Photographs of ...
It's the idea that people living close to nature tend to be noble. It's seeing all those sunsets that does it. You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee. Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health.
But we can easily extend this hypothesis [that nature has beneficial effects on the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of individuals] to the conservation of biodiversity. [Ecologists] refer to the extinction of the experience of nature, which they have mainly applied in urban areas. The idea is as follows: from generation to generation, young people live less and less in contact with nature (because there are fewer of them and because their lifestyles limit such contact), at the very moment they are building their identity. The part of their identity that integrates their intimate relationships with their natural environment would therefore diminish from generation to generation. Not because of a lack of education, but mainly because of a decline in opportunities and desires to experience nature without constraint, freely and in their own personal way.
The consequences of this decrease appear in adulthood: with a weaker environmental identity, they are less in demand for nature in their daily lives, they integrate it less in their actions. (...) But if we do not collectively take biodiversity into consideration in our lifestyles, then we will suffer.
Source : Mobilizing against the extinction of nature experience (french), july 2015, Espaces naturels
An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it.