Mikael leads, his limbs exaggerating every movement as he clambers through deep snow towards an uprooted tree. On his side against the slope looking up at the underside of the tree he begins while I fumble for my microphone. “When it doesn’t burn so much regeneration is not driven by fire disturbance, rather by gap dynamics, some trees die by storm or become infected with fungus or insects, creating these kinds of gaps in the forest where the new generation will come.”
In the quickly fading twilight Nina hesitantly opens the greenhouse doors announcing her presence. Large metal platforms filled with trays of potted pine are suspended in a mechanical frame. Dripping with moisture the miniature forest bakes under warm lights. As a jet of mist traverses a slow horizontal sweep across the platform Jeanette explains that these are only for experimentation; their real work is nestled for winter under the artificial snow covering the surrounding expanse.
Around the dinner table Lars flicks through the pages of a school atlas. “It’s very remote, that’s mainly why these ancient trees are still there”. “Pine can grow for up to 800 years, Spruce 400 and once dead they can stand for centuries more“. “The Swedish old-growth forests have been manipulated by man certainly for thousands of years, it’s just the nature of this use that has changed”. “Culturally Modified Trees give an insight into these practices”. “There are trees we’ve studied which were blazed and inscribed with dates and official juridical decisions, others retain the scars of inner bark harvesting, or markings and modifications acting like sign-posts”. “Some of the most spectacular have heads carved into them and were used for shamanistic practices”.
The rooms smells like pine sap, earthy yet sharp. Every flat surface is piled deep with polished ameba shaped slices of trunk, fixed to roughly cut chipboard. Bengt runs his finger across the smooth wood. “Its only the outer surface that’s actually living so as long as the fire damage doesn’t go all the way round, the tree will continue to live”.
Download Open House in PDF.