Tuesday, 27 September 2011

In Defence of Home Logging

A confession: We are home loggers. We are fortunate to live on the very edge of civilisation, beyond which the land stretches as far as the eye can see without human habitation. Although that wild area is classified by the local authorities as forest, it is not exactly what ordinarily comes to mind when people hear the word "forest". For the most part it is filled not with tall trees but with a sort of bush - the prickly-leaved pournaria that abound in Greece. Generally, they don't grow to much over head height, but in the hollows where the richer soil allows, there are a good few thickets within easy walking range where the pournaria manage to develop into trees over three metres tall.

Well before winter sets in we hike over to those thickets with a rucksac, a hand saw (because although we have a chainsaw, we prefer to keep a low profile in the forest) and a pair of thick gloves (because those pournaria are damn prickly). Now we don't fell thoughtlessly. For a start off, we always leave the tallest trees. Of the less tall trees we choose which are the best to cut so that the remaining trees have space to grow unhindered. What gets felled is cut into lengths about a metre long, packed into the rucksac about 30kg at a time and carried back to the cottage. In my opinion the practice is utterly sustainable.

In today's local newspaper there is a headline on the front page calling on the authorities to clamp down on the "thieves" operating in the forest. I read on and I see that the paper is actually repeating a call issued by a local ecological group. Now, in general we are very sympathetic to the ecologists, but we object to this blanket characterisation of home loggers as thieves. Am I a thief? Whose property have I stolen? If it is the case that other home loggers are cutting trees indiscriminately or if there are places on the mountain where people are filling large trucks with logs, rather than carrying them home on their backs, then I agree steps have to be taken to protect the forest, but let's not start a discourse calling anyone who cuts wood to keep his shivering family warm in the winter a thief, especially in these times of crisis when some families may have no other option.

If we are thieves, here is a photo of our loot.

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