For the last little while, I’ve been watching an interesting show: Tales from the Wild Wood.
It’s a six-part series presented by Rob Penn. Here he is hanging out next to a chainsaw:
In this show, he’s taken over 50 acres of woodland, very Britishly named Strawberry Cottage Wood, trying to turn it into a viable economic enterprise.
He’s brought in pigs to clear the land, thinned the wood to allow new trees to grow, sold some lumber to a few artisans, and trapped squirrels (they kill trees). All in all, pretty entertaining. It’s enlightening watching someone learn from scratch about the history of the place.
One highlight for me was when the psychological value of the woodland becomes clear. Robb had recently lost his father, and he finds sitting and reflecting in the land he’s managing as part of a healing process. He speaks to someone who’s trying to restore a forest to its original condition who finds the same healing quality in his work.
The other highlight is when Rob goes to examine a plantation that is very forward-looking. In a sense, all tree plantations have to think decades in advance – trees don’t grow in one fiscal quarter. The experimental plantation plants new species of trees in British soil, to see how they do while the climate changes. A worker mentions that Britain will experience a climate similar to southern France by 2080. Rob mentions how he finds comfort in the idea of someone walking through the wood he’s restoring in a hundred years.
It’s not often you see anybody try to learn such a complex thing from scratch. This is a great series. Comment and I’ll see if I can’t arrange for you to find an episode or two.