Posted by: thaaad
Posted by: syncro
Posted by: Bull_Dozer
Why is a 2 foot wide path in the woods such a bad thing?
There’s a real answer for that.
I'm completely ignorant of why that is, can you shed some light on that?
Well to start with all things are relative. And of course even if we're living off the land and forgoing all manufactured goods, we're still having an impact on the environment. However in that case there would be far less humans on the planet so our net impact would be negligible.
But consider that your theoretical 2ft wide path is rarely 2ft wide and will change over time due to erosion, particularly so depending on the nature of the trail. As that path degrades and the organic layer wears away it begins to channel water and hasten the erosion effect. As that happens a tree's roots become exposed, damaged and eventually destroyed, harming the health of the tree. The more 2ft paths there are the more forest that is impacts. Wildlife is also impacted, as humans encroach on an area with significant activity wildlife retreats from the area, possibly losing access to food and water resources. Now of course most healthy trees are able to withstand some damage and it's estimated that once you're outside of the tree's canopy you could eliminate the roots to one side of the tree which would be about 25% and it would not kill or irreparably harm the tree. So realistically most mature trees are not going to be significantly harmed by the theoretical 2ft path.
A choice I've made recently is to try and have as little negative effect on the forest floor as possible with my trail building. I think that 25% marker is too much, and aim to keep it down to less than half of that. This means extra work for me - but I'm ok with that.
There's been research lately that shows the forest is an organism, and that trees communicate with each other via the organic layers and their root systems. Here's a fascinating article if you're interested: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084/ . So that 2ft path, or more correctly multiple 2ft paths running in all manner of directions, are a bad thing. Now in the big picture, between natural forest fires,and wind storms that kill trees, our 2ft paths don't have a lot of impact. But you could probably think of our impact like getting a new paper cut every few days. It surely won't kill you, but it's not overly pleasant. Compare that to clear cut logging that ravages the surface of the earth and that old growth trees are the most important, and then to the blockades at Fairy creek, and suddenly those efforts to save the last tiny percentage (less than 1% in my estimate from here: https://nsmb.com/forum/forum/nbr-not-biking-related-9/topic/old-growth-logging-132060/ ) of South Coast rain forest from the rape and pillage of the last 150 years seems pretty fucking heroic if you ask me. But I digress. Yeah our 2ft paths matter. But so does everything else we do, unfortunately on a much larger scale.
So that 2ft path matters. It may help in getting people out into nature to appreciate what we have, but my perception is that it actually leads to false impressions where people think we have way more nature than we do. And they take what we have close by for granted which blinds them to what's happening on a global scale. On that global scale, the amount of habitat destruction since the Industrial Revolution is massive, and I think that 2ft path deludes a lot of people into thinking things are A-Ok. It's easy to be wasteful when one has the impression of an endless supply of things. News flash, we don't.
TLDR - that 2ft path in a way represents everything wrong with the way modern society views the planet - as a resource simply to be consumed. This is part of why I'm shifting more to an Indigenous way of thinking. While Indigenous peoples across the globe are not a monolith, they have a very different view of nature and how to interact with it than modern society does.
Edit: kind of a weird divergence for a covid thread.