Summer, vacation, slow life, and election year here in Sweden. It can make one (me anyway) think. Thinking is not always a good thing to do. Especially when you should have a vacation and don´t think at all. The theme that triggers me is the ever-ongoing discussion about what we shall do with the forest.

The forest comes back

The range of suggestions is wide. From “don’t touch a tree” to “cut it all down” and everything in between. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I wrote an article about this a while ago where the conclusion was that it doesn’t matter what we do in the forest. Someone will always knock us down for it. “Someone”, probably likes wooden houses, and buys newspapers, and products packed in cardboard. It’s annoying.

This is the kind of thing I tend to think about when I have too little to do.

A tour in history

I was working in Germany operating a harvester in 1990 – 91, after a few terrible storms there. I will never forget the sights when driving around in this area back then. The highway or smaller roads didn’t matter. Everywhere trees were lying, large forest areas were gone. It was a horrible sight.

In 2004 I was back in that area for another job (making a forestry fair). I spent a day driving around to see the sites where I had been working 14 years earlier. Some of the sites were close to main roads and easy to find. When I came there, I almost couldn’t see any trace of the storms. The sites were covered with young and vital forest. Even though I know the forest comes back, that’s basic, I was surprised.

It struck me a few days ago that I started my career in the forest in 1978. That’s a long time ago. It means that the sites where I worked in the early 80s must have changed. So, I went for a tour where it started. Also here I had to settle for sites close to roads to be able to find them. I found two.

One thinning and one clear-cut

I remember one thinning specifically as it is in a crossroads that I have passed many times and still do. We were three loggers doing the thinning with chainsaws. It must have been a second thinning. I recall that we did quite a lot of sawlogs there.

Now, it’s a young forest, approx. 10 years old, or a little less.

The forest comes back

Here I made a manual thinning in 1982 or -83. It’s coming back!

Another site that was easy to find as I pass it several times per year was one of my first clear-cuts as a machine operator in 1985. It was a Rottne Snoken two-grip processor. I will never forget this site. I made a few beginner’s errors. I got stuck in the mud with the machine and I hit a tree that fell over the road. The latter was a problem because I had neither a felling head nor a chainsaw. I had to pull the tree with the roots to clear the road. However, no cars came during those nervous minutes.

Now, here is a young pine forest that must be 35 years+.

The forest comes back

One of my first clear-cuts made in 1985. Time to thin perhaps?

Why can’t everyone understand that the forest comes back?

Photos: Per Jonsson