Hairdressers and Re-Wilding

I have a love hate relationship with hairdressers.

Yesterday was my bi-monthly trip to the hairdressers, a chance for me to take off my sap splattered jeans and scruffy, slightly stretched, jumper that I normally wear and actually put on some clean smart clothes even a skirt! It is also a chance for me to feel part of ‘normal’ life. I don’t tell my hairdresser I have no running water and that I wash my hair with a bucket, nor that I don’t have a hairdryer. I spend an hour pretending I do normal things in the normal way. I enjoy how great my hair looks and feels even though two hours later I’ve shoved it inside a hat while I clean the chickens out!

I flirt with the idea of being part of mainstream culture. I question my lifestyle choice. I  love having healthy hair but hate that a trip to the hairdressers to achieve it makes me question how I live my life. But my trips to the hairdresser, like my visits to Costa for a de-caff cappuccino helps me feel connected.cappuccinomain_3330696b

Being connected, being engaged are, I think, vital parts of being a person. On the way home listening to Radio 2 (the car radio annoyingly wouldn’t tune in to Radio 4) I heard writer Bonnie Greer tell Jeremy Vine ‘What Makes Us Human’. Greer spoke about the need to be adaptable and flexible. It made me think about my need to connect. Which in turn made me think about the Re-Wilding movement.

In his book ‘Feral’ George Monbiot puts forward his vision of re-wilding, I haven’t done any research to see if his thoughts are shared by others in the movement, however, he talks about allowing certain areas of land to return to its natural wild state and the re-introduction of extinct species. Many of his arguments are compelling. But I feel he is missing one vital point.

As I understand it re-wilding it about allowing nature to look after itself so humans withdraw from managing it. In it’s place Monbiot proposes that we have “former farmers acting as wardens and guides, providing bed and breakfast, farm shops, clay-pigeon shooting, bicycle hire, horse riding, fishing lakes, falconry, archery and all the other services that now help rural communities to survive” On the Re-wilding Britain website one of the benefits of re-wilding it claims is

Experiencing the enchantment of wild nature reconnects people with the living planet. 

This improves health and wellbeing and builds a shared sense of humanity.”

What they mean by experiencing is open to interpretation but I think they mean ‘being’ in nature. I don’t think just being in nature is always enough. I don’t want to just be a passive receiver of nature, a spectator, I want to be actively involved. And judging from the hordes of volunteers for organisations like The Woodland Trust, National Trust, Conservation Volunteers I am not alone.

I believe there is something to be said for a less heavy handed approach to land and woodland management. At Courage Copse we are currently removing the larch from the lower section of the woodland, we are felling all the conifer, leaving the broadleaves that will remain standing and coppicing everything else. We employed this method in an adjacent area two years ago. And left nature to look after herself.

photo 2copy3Two years later the area is full of birch, hazel, oak, willow, a few prize wild cherry and ash. Despite having no protection, apart from our continuous presence, the saplings have experience minuscule deer damage. However, we will be back in 10 years time to coppice the area to provide material for our BBQ charcoal production.

If we are to move to a low carbon existence then to a certain extent our woodlands do need to be managed in order to provide us with the fuel and building materials we need. We need to build a relationship with the natural world and see that we too are part of the eco-system rather than having a Her and Us situation.

If we always see people as the enemy of nature we will never be part of the solution.