Snapshot; If you're of a nervous, tree-loving disposition...

>> Wednesday, 1 May 2013

... look away, now.

This is not a beautiful photograph.  It is not even a very good photograph; it was snapped from the window of a moving car on my mobile phone last weekend, when we traveled outside Moscow for 24 hours or so.  I've cropped it, messed about with it, changed the brightness and contrast a little.  It still looks awful - mainly because it is.

Russia is home to part of the largest forest in the world, did you know that?  The Taiga (fans of David Attenborough will know this already) girdles much of the northern hemisphere and in Russia it stretches across 8 time zones, from Karelia in the west to the Pacific ocean in the east.  It's made up of spruce, birch, pine and larch trees, and it's vast.  Forget the Amazon rainforest - THIS is where you'll find the real lungs of the world.  If you watch tv in Russia many of the local programmes seem to consist of cops and robbers endlessly hunting each other through interminable stretches of forest and there's a reason for that; much of the countryside outside the cities is swallowed up by trees, far more so than in tamed and manicured western Europe. I feel sorry for the producers of these tv programmes - there simply aren't that many alternatives to the quiet gloom of the woods to film in.

Because there's so much of it, many of the locals appear to treat the forest with contempt.  Whilst most Russians purport to love nature, there's no getting away from the fact that on our trips outside Moscow we've grown used to seeing clearings filled with rubbish, and picnic tables surrounded by debris such as empty beer cans, plastic bags and god knows what else.  But this weekend, we saw something else. We were struck dumb by what I could only describe as the wanton destruction of huge areas of the forest.  Acres on acres of land appeared to have been clear-cut, the timber piled up in heaps like giant matchsticks.

There may well be some kind of plan in place that I know nothing about.  I really hope that there is.  But right now, thinking back on the devastation we saw, I am mainly reminded of what my younger son said as we drove past these mutliple wastelands.

"I think these were battlefields, mummy."


Iota 1 May 2013 at 22:32  

I wonder what's going on.

I have, as you instructed me, forgotten the Amazon. That is liberating, and I can now do all manner of un-eco-friendly things!

Clare Taylor 3 May 2013 at 07:29  

Iota - well, that wasn't *quite* what I meant...

Melissa - yes, indeed

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