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Rewilding: naturally or helped along the path?

Do we march on through here or take another way around? That little bend in the photograph entices you forward. If it was a straight long path I know for a fact I’d get fed up walking, never mind how bonnie the whins were or how delicious the smell from these yellow blooms. Then again I know what lies beyond these bushes; thankfully not a direct unbending line. So choosing a path may not be as simple as that. I know that a meandering track is what suits me best. Whether it is an actual route or a thought process. My reflections often start off as one thing, that then leads to another outcome that perhaps I hadn’t originally considered when I first sat down. This time is no different. Yet I knew I wanted to include some elements. I had the perfect excuse to include one of my main topics, trees. Ok a few have squeezed into the top of the photo but there is no way they are the dominate feature.

I got a present of a few trees recently. Well not for me personally, more for the planet or more precisely for planting in Dundreggan, a flag ship in the ‘Trees for Life’ project down on the A887 Invermoriston to Skye road. They have been rewilding the forest there since the 1980’s. In 2022 they hope to open a rewilding centre with a focus on Gaelic as well: two of my favourite subjects with roots in the soil, connected and moving forward. And then I considered my photograph again. Taken at a disused quarry, I have seen it go from what looked like a barren stony landscape devoid of much wildlife; to an area now teeming with butterflies and dragon flies, deer and foxes, frogs and newts, and plants and trees of many varieties. A lesson to us all in what species come first. You don’t need to look in books or online to see that the rowan and silver birch were one of the first trees to re-establish themselves, you could see that as each year passed. No one helped this quarry to reinvent itself. No one planted one tree or one flower and strived to make this wondrous place alive with life. Nature did it all by itself. So why do we need such organisations like ‘Trees for Life ‘I hear you ask? Well nature unlike humans takes far longer to establish itself and seconds to destroy. This quarry that has taken so long to teem with life will soon be devastated, torn, ripped apart and dug up, by machines and the economy, both driven by humans. Ironically, in this instance to make way for holiday homes that give people the opportunity to experience Scotland’s natural world first hand. That would be the natural world that will have been just killed off to allow this ‘opportunity’. In a time when we are told we need more trees planted, we are going to destroy a living young forest for profit. It is never a straight path, there are always bends in the road. We know what lies beyond if we don’t combine nature with so called progress. So which path forward should we really choose?

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