Sticks, Trees, Forests

Performance, camera: Jakub Jasiukiewicz
Video you can watch HERE.

Sticks, Trees, Forests

I am sitting among the furniture-to-be. In a commercial forest. The pines are tall and straight, and so will be the pine planks in the future. I scrape a dry stick with a knife, not just one, but one by one, from one end to another, with no specific purpose. The shavings fall densely under my feet. What I do with a stick, we humans do with trees and entire forests on a global scale.

Huge stretches of planted forests create paranatural single-species forest systems cut and exploited with the use of aggressive technology. Forest management today unfortunately is just about planting and cutting. A day of the work of logging harvester is able to replace one month’s worth of manual labor. It cuts 150-200 cubic meters of wood within 10 hours of operation. Cubic meters of harvested wood are what counts the most. More than 50 percent of the Earth’s natural forests have already been cut. Such deforestation is a threat because it consists in long-term clearing of large areas of forest for meadows and crops, as well as a growing industry, and increasingly obtaining natural resources until they are completely erased with no chance for regeneration. Harvesting becomes a plunder with irreparable loss to the environment. A natural forest cannot be planted, its growth in a spontaneous process that does not require human adjustments. This is the only way to create a diverse forest ecosystem. 30-50 percent of the planet’s terrestrial ecosystems need to be left alone to balance exploitation and improve the condition of nature.

I am sitting on a cut and fallen tree trunk. The manual operation of sharpening the stick becomes more and more automatic. The hand remembers the movement, the knife is sharp, the scraping becomes more and more skilled, the focused mind has taught the hand to use the tool. A moment of slowing down and calming down during a long process allows you to think freely: is it possible to develop a space in the city for a stretch of wild, unmowed meadow; could we let the city parks go wild, leave dead trees blown over by the wind, which will get covered with moss and lichen over time, and their inner part will turn into decay with the work of time, moisture and a worm.

Michał Smandek

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