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  • Piotr

Just a Road

Updated: Jun 8, 2018


Even before the term "ecology" was coined, Alexander von Humboldt - brilliant naturalist and biologist warned humanity against deforestation, aggressive farming and pollution - in other words exploitation of nature. It was in early eighteen hundreds: before cars, before factories, before petroleum, before the Kardashians!


Today things are visibly worse than at the time of Herr Humboldt, but we are still downplaying the mayhem inflicted on nature in part because we are seldom aware of it’s extent and its many cases of collateral damage. We are not only a rhino in a China shop. We have additional strings we don’t even know about tied up to our limbs so that our every move breaks something that is seemingly out of our reach.


Today I was jogging on a dirt road in a forest. The road was built on a hill side so that to my left I saw a slight incline and to my right a slight decline.

Then I noticed that the trees to my left were intact and many of the ones to my right were fallen. “Just a random occurrence” I thought at first and then it hit me. It was the road that did this!



The colonies of trees in forests absorb moisture through their roots and hold the soil together firmly.

The root system controls the water so that the soil doesn’t become too moist and too soft. It is quite helpful especially on an uneven terrain. Water that sips down hill is evenly distributed but only if the tree colony is intact.

If there is an interruption in the root system (the road), a break in controlled moisture distribution is created and more water sips down the road towards the trees on the lower side of the road. The soil on that side becomes muddy and too soft to hold even the strongest trees and with the bonus wind tunnel, the trees just collapse.



Additional literature:


"The Hidden Life of Trees", by Peter Wohlleben


“The Invention of Nature”, by Andrea Wulf

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