Looping twine around trunks. Marking the spruce to be felled before Spring. A pair of nuthatches dart along an old orchard apple, hiding seeds inside its crooked bark. I hear the heavily spaced wing flaps of a woodpecker as it glides above. I look up past the half-dead fruit tree into the evergreen canopy, gauging which trees I feel comfortable taking and which have already grown too large.
Forestry with axe and saw is a dangerous business.
Over time we plan to remove about 70% of the spruce from our corner of the forest. This is an important step in re-establishing the mixed woodland that once characterised this region. A balance of deciduous and broad-leaved species erased by the forestry industry, which over the last Century has transformed the landscape into a predominantly spruce based monoculture. Although a native species and a typical Northern European sight, the coast-to-coast spruce forest is a recent arrival, replacing diverse habitats with a dense sprawl of logging plantation.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, the spruce forest retains traces of the past. The understory remains seeded with an abundance of struggling saplings, persevering despite the devastating changes wrought around them. The forest continues to support a range of animal, insect and plant-life, with visible evidence of surviving underground systems of fungi and roots. Sadly, each round of logging and replanting further depletes this threatened ecosystem, making potential restoration an increasingly difficult proposition.
Our efforts can have little to no impact on the crises facing the Swedish — and wider European — landscape, but perhaps we can demonstrate the fleeting potential of small-scale works. Helping in some way to support the local habitat as it is pushed ever closer to the limits of its tolerance. Resisting, in an intimate, personal way, the short-sighted expansion of agro industry.