Forests and their Communities: Of Sound, Story, and Natural Rights.
I shared these via #FY4003 but wanted to share here, too. #FY4003 is a hashtag I use to track news and information related to a senior undergraduate “Forests & Society” course I’ve co-taught for the past three fall semesters at Unity College, in Maine, USA.
For class, we read the Understory chapter from Robert Macfarlane’s wonderful book Underland. Just today, The Guardian newspaper published Should This Tree Have the Same Rights As You? by Macfarlane, evaluating various Rights of Nature (or Natural Rights) cases from recent years. Reading it, we can pull on the threads of discourse to follow a “radical re-storying” of our relationship with ecosystems, from big to small, macro to micro, global to personal... and back again.
Likewise, The Sounds of Biodiversity focuses on one University of Wisconsin (UW) researcher, Zuzana Burivalova, and her bioacoustics research and fieldwork in Borneo and Paupa New Guinea. This short piece was published by the UW’s College of Ag. & Life Sciences magazine GROW and Burivalova is a faculty member in UW-Madison’s Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology. Bioacoustics and “sound studies” align with other readings we’ve discussed in Forests & Society this semester, including selections from David George Haskell’s beautiful and evocative book The Songs of Trees.
My co-teacher for FY4003 is silviculturalist Dylan Dillaway. Dylan and I both have significant professional affiliations with UW’s forestry department, past and present.
Speaking of UW’s Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology… The first chair of that department was Aldo Leopold. Leopold wrote a very influential book called A Sand County Almanac. Published 70 years ago this fall, the Almanac demonstrates how Leopold was thinking and writing ahead of his time.
One statement from the Foreword of Leopold’s Almanac could easily have been written by David George Haskell (The Songs of Trees) or Robert Macfarlane (Underland, Landmarks, The Old Ways) or Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass) today: “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Seeing land as a community offers a perspectival shift, from viewing the world as a set of objects to seeing the world as a set of mutualilstic subjects, within which we are a part.
As such, Five Things Everyone Should Know About… A Sand County Almanac, was also published in the Fall 2019 edition of GROW magazine.