25 May 2012

Pristine Forests

Ya gotta wonder about those travel and tourist articles about "pristine" forests here and there.  I suspect that those travel writers wouldn't know "pristine" even if it killed them.  Most, if not all, of the forests in these articles have been, in fact, highly disturbed and under active forest management. 

I suppose that when your frame of reference is limited to the concrete jungle of an urban area, or the tailored landscape of suburbia, then anything that's green and unmowed must appear pristine.  The vapid ignorance of this perspective is irksome to those of us that recognize the not-so-subtle differences in wildland landscapes. 

The mere fact of a major highway running through the forest contradicts the pristine notion.  Where ever there is a road, there has been disturbance.  And there are few regions fo the lower 48 that are not riddled with roads. 

What are these travel writers thinking of?  Certainly nothing having to do with science or ecology.  Fantasies, perhaps.

Sure, these forested regions are pretty, but "pretty" is a far cry from pristine.  And, if the writers would move beyond windshield exploration, they'll find all the evidence of disturbance and management they need.  They will also find people living there . . . junk yards, trash, ATV riddled places, and other obvious signs of human use and abuse.

Of course, these travel writers are incapable of understanding the ecological variation and differences in qualities.  Such cognitions are too far beyond the experience city dwellers (and most rural dwellers, too).  Put a lake and few trees together, and these writers have a spasmodic fit of joy. 

Richard Louv only touched the surface of modern disconnect from natural things.  Ignorance kills.  And it's killing our forest lands in any number of ways. 

Instead of looking at our forest lands as playgrounds, how can we help people understand the thrill of managed landscapes?  Or, the fact that such management is essential to our survival as a species? 

To pass judgement of forests as pristine is as insulting as looking at a Holstein and marveling at the beauty of wildlife. 


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