Burnett: Have fun and respect our woodlands at the same time

I think some education is needed so folk can still have fun and respect the environment at the same time.

I did something I have rarely done in my working career; I took some time on the May holiday Monday to go up in our beautiful mountains and fly fish with my daughter Lynsy.

Usually I don’t do this until well into June and sometimes July and by that time things are pretty dry up there and the fishing is not nearly as decent. I could spend days up there just looking at all the plants that are thriving in the damp conditions and comparing them to their counterparts in our gardens.

I was fascinated to see an abundance of hazelnut shrubs especially near the creeks. These provide a source of storable food for squirrels and chipmunks and were a good source of protein for indigenous people over the centuries.

It was interesting how the plant species change very quickly as it gets further from the water. In a matter of 20 meters it went from ferns, creeping dogwood, moss, willow birch and cedar to juniper, fescue, pine, fir and Kinnikinick.

It was also evident the balance between harmful insects and those which control them was in place with no sign of massive infestation of any kind.

The forest litter was plentiful in all areas other than where we humans have disturbed it. Forest litter is the accumulation of materials dropped from the trees and shrubs left to decompose on the ground. This is probably the most important aspect of plant health in the wild and it is generally the opposite of what we do in our domestic gardens.

We humans just love to clean all that litter up and send it away. At one time that all went into the landfill but now with our Ogogrow program we turn it into compost which we can apply to our garden beds. In fact I just finished putting a two-inch layer of Natures Gold Premium Mulch on all my beds.

Actually, my daughter Elisa did it for me, bless her heart. It looks good, retains moisture, adds organic content to the soil and is loaded with nutrients just like the natural forest litter in the bush.

On a less than pleasant note I just have to say we humans are still putting what I feel is undue pressure on our ecosystem and natural beauty in the forests in the name of recreation. In particular we now have so many ATV enthusiasts plying the woods with ever-more powerful and sophisticated machines.

There is no problem if these would stay on the established forestry roads and many side paths and roadways but the evidence of mud-bogging in very sensitive areas is quite visible. It is very concerning when walking down a path to find a wet area all churned up with obvious dead or dying fauna and flora.

I think some education is needed so folk can still have fun and respect the environment at the same time.

We are so blessed to be able to, in a matter of less than an hour, enjoy Nature’s Garden. For some it is being able to race around on a dirt bike or ATV. For some it is backpacking with horses or just on foot. For others like me it is to wonder at the diversity and harmony of the natural biological processes constantly taking place out there.

It is all in the eye of the beholder and it is up to us to honour each other’s interests and especially to honour nature.