After a winter of high winds and sodden ground many of our familiar woodland footpaths have become obstacle courses.
My short walk before work has become a scramble up banks and over multi-stemmed coppice stools slewed across the track. When you see the landscape that you know and love utterly changed and barely recognisable you begin to understand: this organism we call woodland has a time horizon completely different from ours. What to us is apparent devastation causes barely a ripple in the life of the wood. Alongside the bare soil root plates of windblow coppice stools from the recent wet and windy winter are stems uprooted by the ‘Great Storm’ in 1987. Over the years as the coppice stems have lain on their side lateral branches or dormant buds in the trunk have seized their chance, headed for the sky and formed substantial stems in their own right. Communities of moss and wood anemone are thriving on the upturned root plates which also provide warm sheltered banks of bare earth for solitary bees and wasps to nest in. The wood may never look the same in our life time but that doesn’t matter. The wood thrives in its new state. It hums with life. There is no ecological benefit to ‘tidying up’. Unless we want firewood it is a wasted effort: let it be.