April 29, 2020
This blog post will be a bit different from earlier ones as it comes from personal experiences of a wilding conifer researcher, in this case a post-graduate student, Joanna Green.
My name is Joanna Green and I am a PhD student at the University of Canterbury. I came to Canterbury from the United States about 2 years ago. I left Fairbanks, Alaska while winter was fading, snow still up to my knees, arriving in Christchurch at the end of summer as the weather began to chill.
This was one of many shifts in awareness I’ve handled since moving South. Reacting to change and coming to terms with a “new normal” is fundamental to many of our life experiences, and something many of us are struggling with now as we are adjusting to restrictions related to the ongoing pandemic.
I will not linger on coronavirus or anything related, only mentioning it as a potentially relevant experience of change. I’d like to return to the concept of change and awareness. Perhaps thinking of any time you’ve had your assumptions challenged.
For example: As a child, I was always playing outside; picking flowers, digging in the soil, climbing trees, etc. I remember looking at my fingers after washing them and realizing that the brown/black line under my nails wasn’t part of me. Now I laugh at my naivety, but at the time it was an epic discovery.
I try to maintain the belief that assumptions should be challenged and that my ego should be as my childhood self was; delighted at new knowledge, not upset that my previous notion was wrong. It becomes more of a chore the older I get, but I remind myself that we are all works in progress and that there is always room for improvement.
When I first read about the wilding conifer research, I was quite confused by the words; and I know much work has been done to poll the local community about word choices and awareness. Especially after viewing the presentation by Penny Turner from The Navigators at the Wilding Conifer Conference in Cromwell last year.
I fully admit while beginning my work, I often accidentally added an extra “L” into the term “wilding”. “WILDINGS not WILDLINGS”…the first is about a group of conifers, the second is about a group from Game of Thrones.
While in a way I suppose there is a similarity; the wildlings left normal society to live rough and on their own terms. Though, I will not attribute active thought to trees; wildings have left a plantation or homestead life to live without restrictions.
Regardless of what you call them, the wilding conifers have definitely been a source of change. In the next blog post I will talk about my research linking wilding conifers and plant communities, pre and post wilding and many levels in between. I will share preliminary findings of how current and past plant communities can change growth patterns of future communities even if those plants themselves are no longer there.