stump counting

Just spent a luscious morning wandering around this bit of hill. 140 hazel, oak and rowan trees protected here with around the same amount of birch and willow unprotected, toughing it out on their own against the deer. Some have been planted by jay, squirrel, wind blown seed and some by us.

My main concern is the nurturing of a healthy and diverse ecosystem across the whole croft, and yet as I go up I find myself counting – more of that in a bit. Before us this land was a sitka plantation, before that sheep were kept here. The land was improved with lime and shale and most likely a great deal of care and sweat. Because of this care we have inherited some lovely brown soil full of worms. And in fact maps as far back as 1700’s show dwellings here. There’s the remains of a stone dyke at the top of the rise that tell me people have been in relationship with this hill for a long time. And now I’m in relationship with this hill and working out where to put my care.

This morning one of the birch was playing host to a gaggle of small birds – wren, willow tit, blue tit and tree creeper. Small birds hang out together at this time of the year. The minutes I stand listening and watching weave me deeper into relationship. Moving up the hill, clearing grass from around the guarded trees uncovers a world of small beasties, including a pill millipede under the leaves of a young hazel. I love finding these, they remind me the giant ohm in the post apocalyptic anime Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

And so on up and so the tree counting continues. Scottish forestry tell us that a successfully replanted woodland consists of x amount of trees per hectare. As I walk I calculate, how many stumps showing what trees once stood here, how many have regenerated themselves, how many do we need to plant and more importantly what type of tree is gonna be happy here. It’s clear from the size of many of the sitka stumps that they weren’t very happy here. Mostly I’m brought out of this frenzy by the life around me – an animal track, dung beetle at the top of a reed stalk or downpour of rain reminding me of the bigger picture. A woodland isn’t just a stand of trees, especially the kind of woodland we’re caring for. Its a dance between all the plants and animals and weather that create all the layers, including us.

#workwithnature # valuediversity #connectionpractice #cycling # valuebiologicalresources #efficientenergyplanning #designfrompatterntodetail

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