What a wonderful mess!

The forest is habitat of an enormous number of plants, animals and fungi. These countless species maintain a dense network of (inter-)relations. Each species consists of unique individuals. And each individual contributes to the genetic diversity. Although we cannot visually perceive it, this is vital for the forest as a whole: this diversity enables the adaption to changes in the environment. Particularly deadwood in all its decomposition stages plays a crucial part for the cycle of a forest: every fourth species is directly dependent of it - just imagine how many other species they have interrelations with. Insects, fungi, mosses, lichen and even vertebrates like owls, daws or even dormice call deadwood their habitat. For all that, in most swiss forests there’s a shortage of deadwood - due to the historic intense forest management, we are simply too used to “tidy” and human-controlled forests.


Luckily though, this has been changing over the recent years. For the forest it is vital that it can develop in its natural way. Even today we don’t know and understand all of the processes and interrelations between the species that occur inside the forest. But one thing we know for sure: the network is highly complex. In order to learn more about the “wood-wide web” and explore its aesthetics I visitied the “Riserva forestale dell’Onsernone”, a forest reserve of an area of 7,81 km², where there hasn’t been any human interference for more than twenty years.


I would like to thank Dr. Roberto Buffi, who was the initiator of the forest reserve. He showed me around and gave me a new perspective of what a forest really is: a place of pureness and vitality, awe and mysticism, that we ought to treat with respect.