Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Replanting after fire

The contrast between healthy growth and bleakness is merely glimpsed in this photograph
Last July a swathe of Crowthorne forest was destroyed by fire. It's almost certain it was deliberately set but the swift arrival of several fire appliances extinguished it though the smell of burning was in the air long after the flames were doused. The Scots Pines looked very sad, blackened and burnt. These trees have a very high resin content which means that once alight they burn fiercely.
A few days after the fire Nature has not yet asserted her dominance but the sterility, though shocking, will be transitory.
At ground level green soon reappeared though the trees remained blackened skeletons as reminders of someone's folly.
Young saplings in the foreground, 5 or 6-year-old trees in the midground and mature pines in the background. 
However, the forest is a working concern managed by the Forestry Commission and in February the burnt area was cleared and replanted with Scots Pine. In just seven or eight years these saplings will be approaching 6' in height. For the present they are spikes of green hopefulness.
Newly-turned and planted soil offers enticing scents.
Crowthorne Forest is one of three local Sites of Special Scientific importance, areas which are selected and monitored by English Nature because of their particular flora, fauna, geological or physical features. Reputed to have been a tract of Henry VIII's hunting forest it is also part of the internationally important Thames Basin Special Protection Area. Three rare European ground or low shrub-nesting birds breed here - the nightjar, Dartford warbler and woodlark. It is also one of the most important sites in the country for dragonflies and damselflies. 24 of the 38 species in the UK breed here.


  1. This is not an unusual sight here in Australia, Janice. We have our share of bush fires.

    I'm always amazed at how quickly the forests recover. Sadly people who've lost homes and loved ones do not recover so quickly. For them the grief goes on for years, sometimes even forever.

  2. I know the fires in Australia are truly devastating and occur quite regularly. I believe some of them are started by arsonists - I hope the police managed to track down some of them last year. I can only begin to imagine the effect of losing everything to fire. I read some amazing accounts recently - small communities hugely reduced, life-long friends killed, family members lost forever.


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