December 16, 2019

Scottish Forestry: Has profit trumped biodiversity?

Harmony Bury

Sitka pine cones, nylon thread.Hectare Upon Hectare, 2019

Scotland’s indigenous forests have diminished radically over centuries, leaving one main species in their wake; the non-native Sitka Spruce. Profit has trumped biodiversity, with around 70% of Scotland’s tree cover in the form of commercial plantations. This installation is a representation of a Sitka plantation, where no light penetrates to the floor and no flowers grow. Geometric lines and dark, impenetrable blocks smother the landscape, often resulting in a monoculture leaving a barren landscape devoid of wildlife. Following satellite imagery, the piece was created with linear plantations in mind. Straight boundaries, angular fire breaks and narrow gaps between trees. The only natural flow comes from the topography mimicking the land the plantations are grown on. When hung low to the ground the sitka cones created shadows, like linear drawings. The cones swayed with the passing movement of the viewer, reminiscent of trees swaying in the breeze. Ultimately this piece recreates the heavily commercial Scottish landscape I grew up in. In a time of climate crisis, I question whether there is another way to manage timber production that takes ecology and the land’s inhabitants into consideration rather than just money.