Objavil/a: Janez Božič | 04/06/2012


Vir: http://lazymf-lazymf.blogspot.com/2011/11/tarzan-saves-us-from.htmlWhen, in 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs began to write stories about Tarzan, he probably did not consider that he would be creating a picture which would represent a concept of virgin forest for generations to come. For many people virgin forest is a community of many different giant tropical trees, interlaced with countless lianas, rich undergrowth and the ubiquitous sounds of wild animals. This is a common picture of what it means to be jungle. In 1996, Vladimir Megre presented a different virgin forest: sparsely distributed stands of spruce, birch and a few other tree species with modest undergrowth, crossing with grasslands and lakes. This is a picture of taiga (sometimes known as boreal forest). Both writers describe a virgin forest, and yet these two images seem to be completely different.

What do they have in common? Firstly, we can see the absence of human influence. And indeed, by the criteria of the average modern man indigenous tribes are not ‘population’. In the novels I mentioned, there are Tarzan, Anastasia, her two children, grandpa and occasional visitors, such as Jane or Megre, but they live in harmony with nature. And each of them reflects the period in which they were written: Tarzan is a king and Anastasia is a humble student. Of course real virgin forest is inhabited by people and yes, they are population and indeed, they live in harmony with nature.

Source: http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com/denali-fall-foliage-taiga-1393-pictures.htmUnfortunately, these people are not the only carriers of human impact on virgin forests. Part of the so-called globalization in fact refers to the distribution of gaseous and liquid products of our civilization across the planet. Acid rain is falling in Trieste just like it is falling on Snežnik mountain in the heart of the largest continuous complex of forests in the Balkan peninsula. Disorders in the population of wild animals, which are mainly caused by hunters, and sometimes destruction of habitats, are also ubiquitous. Hypertrophied European population of deer and roe eat young trees in Slovenian virgin forests just like in managed forests. And, of course there is not a single corner of our planet unknown to the tread of tourists.

Vir: http://everydaybipolar.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/welcome-to-the-jungle/Furthermore, jungle and taiga have much in common. Both types of forest have grown their natural way with the presence – or in case of taiga absence – of humans. They grow under the dominant influence of climate. Forests that have evolved in this way are called ‘climax forest’. Of course, forest is not the only ecosystem which can reach the climax state, also grasslands and even deserts – in short, all ecosystems can reach a climax state.

Climax forests are indicated by tree species that would exist there in a natural way. So if you manage tree by tree or at least work with small area, if you do not plant exotic tree species (in Slovenia for example spruce), rely on the natural young pool and moderate strength of timber (say half of the increment), a managed forest keeps many properties of a virgin forest. In short, it will still remain a climax forest. This way of management is called close-to-nature forest management.

Of course, in nature sometime disasters happen, when a flood, a men or storm deletes large stands. On such areas trees are coming back in succession stages, formed by pioneer tree species. In central Europe, these are poplar, birch, spruce or various pines. The world is unfortunately dominated by clear-cutting systems in which stands are removed and replaced with plantations of forest trees. Since this method mimics the action of a natural catastrophe, it is called catastrophic forest management.

Where, therefore, are we to observe and learn of sustainable management, if not in a virgin forest? Having that vision, Slovenian foresters already a hundred years ago began to protect the best-preserved stands. In Slovenia the first forests were excluded from management in 1891, when Czech forester Leopold Hufnagel wrote in the forest management plan: “Let there remain virgin forest.” And it remained. Rajhenavski pragozd remains a virgin forest and it has retained its virgin forest character despite the fact that it is very close to the biggest timber factory around. Well the factory went a long time ago, but the virgin forest still remains. A remarkable expansion of the protection of forest reserves happened between 1950 and 1990, when foresters all around Slovenia looked after appropriate forest stands. Some of these reserves did in fact contain stands of virgin forest, and some others included stands with the characteristics of a virgin forest. And through the years of protection some of them actually developed virgin forest characteristics throughout.

As we know, one of the sources of permacultural knowledge is also Tasmanian virgin forest – so can we learn something from Slovenian virgin forests? I think the answer is yes. For example, if we have a goal to design a close-to-nature forest garden, can we use extraterritorial invasive species? Is black locust the right solution in each forest garden? Or can we have some other nitrogen fixing trees? After all, the bean family, to which black locust belongs, has several thousand species, and some of them are native. For example, there are the alders, which are far less invasive.

For example, how many layers can we establish in a given area in a temperate climate forest garden? This depends on many factors, but definitely less than in a tropical climate. This is something we should take care about, not only when we design or plant a forest garden, but also when we teach other people about it.

This would apply if we wanted to create a forest garden in an area which just started recovering from conventional farming catastrophe. In many cases of which I know, nature has already started with pioneer species. And some of these are trees with edible fruits. In my forest garden there are a lot of nut trees which maybe do not have so big nuts as a cultivated variety, but they are already there and preserving them means preserving natural genetical variation. Just do some tending, remove Traveller’s Joy or similar and observe what happens. Plants seeded by nature are different from plants seeded by man or even imported and planted. We must know that we are talking about millions of seeds, and we also can expect that nature “knows” where the best place for those seeds is, and which is the right moment to start their growth. In Slovenia for example it is understood, not in general but among informed people, that apricots would not grow anywhere. Some people even look for a right place with a dowser. And what about the time? I never see a nut tree start growing in autumn and biodynamics has made a science about best times for sowing seed. The Moon in constellation with a right planet and similar indicators can be beneficial, but nature unaided knows best. This is something we can observe in our gardens every year when the plant that grows from a seed lost in the corner of the garden overgrows each of the plants grown from the seeds we planted so carefully.

Yes, we should observe nature around us, see what is happening and work on the pattern shown by nature. And when we are ready, there are some virgin forests to visit. But do not visit them as a king, come as an apprentice.


  1. […] you want to see an oak virgin forest, you may whistle for it! It no longer exists. The best approximation in Slovenia is a small forest […]

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  3. Very good forum post. Really Great. – Marceline

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