On Forest and Time

Gabrielė Grigorjeva

… earth, terra, tellus mean both the soil and the planet, two meanings and one. But to the Athsheans soil, ground, earth was not that to which dead return and by which the living live: the substance of their world was not earth, but forest. 

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World is Forest


It has been estimated that there are nearly 1,600 definitions of forest¹: from complex and generative ‘multinatures’² and social ‘superorganisms’³ to green deserts, and monoculture plantations, the forest occurs as a constellation of images, meanings, and architectures. Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction novel, The Word for World is Forest, written in 1968, contends that forest and world are ‘two meanings and one.’ Borrowing this notion from Le Guin, this short essay explores the forest as a multiplicity of relations, perspectives, and temporalities. The following paragraphs will touch on a number of perspectives and geographies: from the rainforest to the humble mountain pine forests waiting to be cut down in Neringa Forest, Lithuania. Rather than seek definitive answers, the purpose of this work is to explore and present the different entanglements, and at times discontinuities, at play when we consider what on earth is a forest. This forms part of my ongoing research developed during the Neringa Forest Architecture residency at Nida Art Colony. *


Written as a response to the geopolitical turmoil, and the ecocidal violence of the American war in Vietnam, Le Guin’s story describes a world in which the chauvinistic inhabitants of a deforested and naked Earth, colonize and enslave the non-violent population of a forest-abundant planet. It describes a struggle for justice and resistance amid the militarised plight for resource extraction and planetary dispossession. More than half a century later, the political imaginary of Le Guin’s science fiction seems ongoingly prescient.  

Last year saw the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is thought to be linked to the increasing fragmentation and degradation of tropical forests. In 2020, forest fires raged across state borders and continents, including Australia, Siberia and North America, with some of the worst fires recorded in the Amazon rainforest. Home to 33 million people and thousands of species of plants and animals, the Amazon is one of the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforests in the world. Under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has surged exponentially, as forests are systematically cleared to pave the way for the cultivation of soy and cattle, poaching and mining for minerals. Satellite data suggests that the number of fires in the Amazon has doubled in just one year.  

The Amazon is home to primary forests, which consist of trees that are hundreds and even thousands of years old. Old trees perform a pivotal role in the forest ecosystem: providing food and habitats for multiple species of plants and animals, regulating the climate and the hydrological cycles, sequestering carbon, and mitigating the effects of climate change. During respiration trees release a small part of the CO2 they absorb during photosynthesis into the atmosphere, while the rest of the CO2 is transformed into carbon to produce sugars required for their metabolism. The older and larger the tree, the more carbon it stores. During forest fires, carbon dioxide stored over hundreds of years gets released into the atmosphere. 

Unlike deforestation, the full extent of forest degradation is not visible from above but has a significant impact on the livelihoods of the indigenous communities, the wider ecosystem, and forest’s natural resilience to fires. In 2020, degraded forest areas in the Amazon were twice the size of the deforested areas, yet the statistics often occlude this data. Assessing the extent of forest degradation using satellite technology is not feasible, and in order to understand the full picture, data from the ground is required¹⁰. But the very people on the ground – the Amazon’s indigenous people – who have been at the forefront of environmental justice movements protecting the forest for centuries, are being systematically evicted, massacred, and dispossessed of their lands and knowledge. The ongoing and systematic colonization of the Amazon and its peoples is driven by the old rhetoric of the Amazon as terra nullius – implying that the forest is a wild, homogeneous space open to ‘civilisation’ and exploitation. At the root of this presumption is the illusion that the Amazon is a pristine ‘natural’ landscape, devoid of both humans and design – standing in direct opposition to the city. Paulo Tavares’ work on this enduring western binary is illuminating. He writes:  

 In the same way we read the city as a historical text produced by social forces coded into material form – layers on top of layers of ruins forming a living social fabric – the forest stands to be interpreted through the syntax of spatial designs. Yet these living ruins are neither fully or exclusively human, nor are they completely natural. Rather, they are the product of long-term and complex interactions between human collectives, environmental forces and the agency of other species, themselves actors in the historical process of ‘designing the forest.’¹¹

Deemed by the western imaginary as the last frontier of ‘pristine nature,’ the Amazon serves an important point of reference in this discussion. As the future of planetary health hinges on the prosperity of forest ecosystems, it is a prominent symbol of planetary-wide ecological and climatic turmoil. The following chapters will explore forest definitions, practices and politics, in the context of how forests are made and unmade, and the role the deep-rooted binary worldviews play in the many ways we care for and relate to forests.  



 So what exactly is a forest? 

Depending on the geography and species composition, it can take anything between 100 to 1000 years for a forest to establish itself: the process involves a succession of at least two generations of a given tree. Among the nearly 1,600 definitions of the forest, there are four dominant definitions adopted globally, yet none of which take the age of a forest into consideration.  

Definitions play a huge role in understanding the health of forests. According to the FAO, UNFCCC and UNCBD definitions, both the rainforest and a monoculture plantation have equal standing as ‘forests.’ This has a significant impact on the future of forests and forest-dependent communities, especially in the Global South, where the interests of the plantation industry have prevailed in wrecking the ecosystems and destroying livelihoods.¹² A major report exploring the role that definitions play in forest policy, claims that in order to ‘meet ambitious global restoration targets, policy makers, governments, scientists, and agencies need to adopt a richer concept of a forest than the dominant FAO definition that has governed [global] forest policy to date.’¹³ Rather than an overarching and thus largely reductive approach, the authors of the study call for an adoption of a diverse set of definitions that capture the abundance of concepts and perspectives on what makes a forest a forest, in all its spatiotemporal dimensions.  

Trees (and only trees) are at the centre of these definitions. While the tree is certainly one of the most dominant features in the forest, the forest is much more than a collection of trees. From the forest floor upward through the understory, extending all the way up to the crown of the tree, the forest is a turbulent and generative multinature: a community of soils, minerals, plants and animals. It both forms and is part of the atmospheric and hydrological cycles, and responds to environmental change in a complex web of relationships that bind us together.  

Arguably, it is the combination of intertemporal multi-species entanglements and interdependencies which make the forest a forest. For the forest ecologist Suzanne Simard an established forest resembles a complex and interconnected society:  

An old-growth forest is neither an assemblage of stoic organisms tolerating one another’s presence nor a merciless battle royale: it’s a vast, ancient and intricate society. There is conflict in a forest, but there is also negotiation, reciprocity and perhaps even selflessness. The trees, understory plants, fungi and microbes in a forest are so thoroughly connected, communicative and codependent that some scientists have described them as superorganisms.¹⁴

Despite the wealth of knowledge and research in this field, the age of forests is not the only crucial detail the FAO, UNFCCC and UN-CBD definitions omit. Critical information concerning the condition and species composition of the forest is left out: whether the trees are native or introduced; whether it is a monoculture or a mixed forest, whether it is undisturbed primary forest or a degraded forest, or a mixture of both. There is no indication of the health of the forest: is it healthy? Has it been subjected to diseases or pests? Has it suffered damage from drainage, clearing, fragmentation, isolation, species elimination, introduction of alien or invasive species? Has it been affected by fire, wind or air pollution?  

These globally-adopted definitions are based on the view from above, which reduces forests to quantifiable metrics: a minimum area of land covered by a minimum number of trees of a minimum height and canopy percentage. The same ‘God’s eye view’ informs forestry management practices, which divide forests into grids and ‘stands.’ Forest stands are units, which are generally standardised in terms of their species mix, age and other tree metrics, predicated on their efficiency and usefulness to humans (such as timber or carbon sequestration). This makes forest inventory and planning easier, but at the same time reduces the forest to a collection of trees to be measured, counted and controlled, often overlooking the wider ecosystem and relations in the process.  

Consequently, the very definitions that have been designated to protect forests, allow states and corporations alike to quantify virtually any land consisting of trees as forest, regardless of the species composition, or purpose: whether it is a national park or a timber plantation. Blurring this distinction is problematic. It sanctions the assumption that an old-growth forest and a plantation have equal standing, when in reality they are distinctly incommensurable entities. While the planted trees in a timber plantation are certainly alive, deprived of their multispecies relationships they stand still in both space and time. Emphasising the spatial characteristics of what constitutes a forest, the UN definitions overlook an integral part: that of time. Thus, a timber plantation is not only a spatial paradigm of land organisation, which has divided ‘unruly’ ecosystems into grids, but also a temporal one – organising the turbulent intertemporal cycles of the forest along the linear axis of industrial timescales. By restricting the species composition, age and other multi-species relations, the plantation model denies the forest its right to live and die according to its own temporal rhythms of ongoingness and demands to be distinguished as such.  

In her book Monocultures of the Mind, Vandana Shiva shows how the monoculture paradigm permeates the social and psychological realms too. In the Kolar district of Karnataka, India, small-scale agroforestry practices based on cultivation of multiple biodiverse species, grown both privately and in common ownership, were replaced with a centralised mega project of eucalyptus tree plantations, sponsored by the World Bank. In India’s ‘age-old’ approach to cultivation and maintaining food security in arid and semi-arid landscapes, ‘each rural home was a nursery, and each peasant a silviculturist:’  

 The honge, tamarind, jackfruit and mango, the jola, gobli, kagli and bamboo traditionally provided food and fodder, fertilizer and pesticide, fuel and small timber. […] The invisible, decentred agroforestry model was significant because the humblest of species and the smallest of people could participate in it, and with space for the small, everyone was involved in protecting and planting.  

 Masterminded in national and international capitals, the so-called ‘social forestry’ project of eucalyptus plantations was implemented by ‘people who could not know the purpose of the honge and the neem, and saw them as weeds,’ placing the ecosystems and communities that depend on them at risk.¹⁵ 

Trees, forests and silviculture practices all over the world are systematically transformed and eliminated to make way for the ‘scientific,’ rational forest of fast-growing, manageable and profitable species of tree. Definitions play an important role here. ‘The reductionist mind’¹⁶ not only impoverishes the forests’ biodiversity but eradicates the often invisible and dynamic human practices of forest management based on coexistence and codependence, placing both the ecosystems and our own survival at risk.  


 Forests embody dynamic dispositions of time: they are both timekeepers and timemakers. Simard’s work highlights that the ‘wood-wide-web’ – a network of tree roots and mycelia, which allows trees to cooperate and exchange resources – is organised around the ‘mother trees.’ These ancestral networks maintain the longevity and intactness of the forest ecosystem, as well as encourage biodiversity and genetic heterogeneity.¹⁷  

However, old-growth forests are increasingly scarce. An old-growth forest is a type of forest that has sustained two or more generations of trees, which are left to grow, mature, reproduce, fall, decay and regenerate, usually without human interference. Depending on the species of tree, this process can take hundreds and even thousands of years. Although it is still possible to find old-growth forests which span two hundred years or more in Lithuania, such forests are fragmented and scattered in small patches across younger forests. While Lithuania’s forests occupy 33.5% of total land cover, according to the Ancient Woods Foundation (Sengirės fondas), old-growth forests make up less than one percent or 0.009% of Lithuania’s territory, making old-growth forests a critically rare occurrence here.¹⁸  

The reasons why modern forest management practices tend to advocate the proliferation of young forests are too complex and diverse to be documented here in detail, but the way that forests are defined, perceived, managed and used, play an important part in how these practices (and thus forests) continue to be shaped. With the work of ecologists, such as Simard, we are beginning to understand that without the presence of old forests, many species of plants, animals, fungi, moss and lichen, face extinction. So too the forest, and ergo the human.  

During my research as part of the Neringa Forest Architecture residency at Nida Art Colony in Lithuania, I learnt about the peculiarities of forest governance in a multifaceted landscape comprising forest, sand and water. Neringa is a highly prised ‘cultural landscape’ holding the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status. The 98km sandy peninsula – the Curonian Spit – sits between Kuršių marios [the Curonian lagoon] and the Baltic Sea. The vast majority of forests we see here today were planted at the end of the nineteenth century as part of a huge afforestation effort to protect the peninsula from sea erosion, after a number of villages were swallowed up by sand. Due to widespread deforestation during the preceding century, forests covered as little as 10% of total land cover in Neringa. As a result, a species of mountain pine [Latin: Pinus mugo] was introduced from Denmark and has successfully adapted to the poor sandy soil of the Curonian Spit. Sometimes referred to as a ‘dwarf species,’ mountain pines are distinct for their low-lying shrubby impermeability. A little more than a hundred years on since their arrival, the ‘alien’ mountain pine forests have successfully proliferated supporting dynamic lichen, moss, fungi and soil ecosystems, and providing habitats, shelter and fodder for deer and many other critters. Despite this, the ‘unsightly,’ brushy and ‘impenetrable’ mountain pine forests are being cut down with impunity, because they have – reportedly – ‘outlived their purpose.’¹⁹ The Neringa forest recreation plans foresee that 1300 hectares of mountain pine forests will be cleared over the coming decade; of which 450ha will be replanted with the same species of mountain pine, and 850ha will be planted with a native species of pine.²⁰ Once cut-down, the timber is generally used for the production of biofuel or paper. Due to their proximity to the sea, the wood is not considered useful for other purposes. The governing bodies claim that clearings are crucial for fire prevention²¹, but activists and ecologists continue to question their motives.²²  

On top of its UNESCO status, Neringa belongs to the EU’s Natura 2000 protected area network; in addition some areas have national strict nature reserve status. Such areas of protected forest have the most potential to thrive and turn into old growth forests. However, the very same institutions that protect these landscapes, design and impose management strategies that undermine this possibility. 


What drives this need to erase and remake forests?  

 Once the saviour of the peninsula, the mountain pine has become the villain. In the current forest reconstruction plans, they are being cut down with complete disregard for their extended multi-species pluri-chronic entanglements. Donna Haraway’s description of the ‘chthonic ones’ fits the unruly mountain pine.²³ Some of the chthonic mountain-pine woods reach over 120 years, which deem them ecologically mature and therefore highly valuable to the ecosystem. Rather than implementing ecological strategies to enhance the ‘overgrown’ areas of the forest, the said plans involve clear-cutting vast areas. Here, the widely adopted aforementioned definitions of forest come into play. We can determine the density of tree cover in relation to land and its value (or lack thereof) through biomass, without any real sense of what goes on on the ground and beneath it. While the rest of forest relations and companions remain largely invisible, we perpetuate the colonising impulse to control and amalgamate.  

In the aforementioned forest reconstruction plans in Neringa, it is the age of the trees that seemingly justifies their demise. Rather than celebrating maturity, in forestry lexicon, the forest is considered ‘mature’ when it has reached peak timber capacity/ value and is ready to be cut down. While an ‘over-mature’ forest implies that the quality of timber is beginning to decline. According to forestry professionals, the mountain pine is considered mature and reaches its ‘peak’ at 50 years (though some biologists and ecologists believe that Pinus mugo can live up to ten times longer). Despite the multiple jurisdictions or claims to protection, at the ‘ripe’ age of 120, Neringa’s mountain pine forests are rendered futile. 

The death process itself performs important ecological processes. Many species of insects, fungus and plants depend on rotting wood, some of which are rare. Trees that are in the process of dying (which can take hundreds of years in some species) and dead (or fallen) trees perform critical ecological functions: from creating habitats to other species to enriching and recovering the soil:  

The function of dead trees in the ecosystem has rarely received the consideration that it deserves. At the time a tree dies, it has only partially fulfilled its potential ecological function. In its dead form, a tree continues to play numerous roles as it influences surrounding organisms. Of course, the impact of the individual tree gradually fades as it is decomposed and its resources dispersed, but the woody structure may remain for centuries and influence habitat conditions for millennia.²⁴

In fact, a tree is much more alive when it is considered dead: ‘some processes associated with dead trees begin while the tree is still alive…fungi are already at work rotting the woody material, and animals excavate the dead parts of living trees. In contrast, a dead tree or log in an advanced state of decay may include a considerable number of living cells, as much as 35% of the biomass may be live fungal cells alone (Swift 1973).’ This is demonstrated in Jerry F. Franklin, et al. ‘Tree Death as an Ecological Process’ study, which claims that ‘trees [might] have the potential to be immortal.’²⁵

Yet in addition to clear-cutting, which involves (quite literally) hoovering up the ground cover, forest management processes also involve selectively removing most (and in some cases all) decaying matter from the ground. Despite the well-documented evidence of the importance of old-growth multi-generational forests, strict nature reserves comprise only 1.1% of Lithuania’s forests, special-purpose forests (ecosystem protection and recreational forests) make up 12.0%, protected forests – 14.6%, while the remaining majority of forests comprise of commercial forests, where timber production is prioritised, encompassing 72.3% of forests.²⁶ As has been demonstrated in the planned clearings of the century-old mountain pine forests, the conservation status is not always enough to protect the forests’ right to old age and ongoingness. 

It seems inevitable that in a capitalist economy, forests become problematic because they cannot be made infinitely more efficient and productive in terms of capital value, unless they are managed in grids, as plantations. 

Other familiar attempts at capitalising forests include concepts such as ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘carbon credits,’ which further reduce natural processes to market-based humancentred concepts/values. It is no surprise then, that by rationalising the forest and reducing it to mathematical units we can only see the forest as such: a quantifiable resource to be measured, and then extracted. Forest management and conservation practices must not be governed by capitalist rhetoric which favours productivity over longevity, and in turn produces plantations. Forest practices and definitions necessitate a spatiotemporal politics that embraces multi-species entanglements and their divergent temporalities. 

If on the one hand, we want our forests to return to their pre-industrial state of ‘naturalness’ (whether this means planting new forests or transforming existing ones), then on the other, we try to put these dynamic ecosystems in step with human timescales and industrial rhythms. We are bound by the same binary. Given that humans have a long history of interdependence with the forest, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. The legacy of a forest greatly surpasses us as individuals and any future we can imagine, but that is not to say that humans and forests cannot co-exist. We can join the indigenous communities in the Amazon, and learn to relate to the forest in all its spatiotemporal dimensions: where the forest is a co-designed and collective political space that continues to thrive and provide support for its various companions and future generations: human and more-than-human alike. 



 What happens when we accept that we can never control and manage the totality of forests and their more-than-human entanglements, but can only strive to couple and co-evolve in radically openended ways? In her novel, Le Guin offers one possible starting point: 

 One way to stop seeing trees, or rivers, or hills, only as ‘natural resources,’ is to class them as fellow beings – kinfolk.



Research on forestry practices in Lithuania

Lithuania adopts the European Union definition of forest, which applies the FAO classification. Based on this definition, Lithuania’s forests occupy 33.5% of total land cover. Pine is the dominant tree species, covering more than a third of all forest land.²⁷ Nearly a third of all forests are protected under Natura 2000 (EU-wide network of protected habitats), and other national zoning initiatives.²⁸ However, less than 0.1% of Lithuania’s forests consist of primary or natural forests.²⁹  

In Lithuania and across Europe (including the Baltics, Scandinavia, France and Germany), forests and their governing institutions have undergone radical reforms, which resulted in the degradation of forests, and centralisation of forestry practices. Since the reforms were implemented in Lithuania in 2017, this has resulted in intensified forest management irrespective of the status of the forest (whether privately or government-owned, protected or otherwise). Natural forests (diverse in terms of age and species) are being cut down in the name of ‘climate change.’³⁰ In some cases, they are left to recover naturally, in others – where economic interests prevailed – they are replanted with productive timber plantations.  

As discussed above, timber forests are characterised by linear timeframes: evenly aged seedlings are planted and harvested at the same time. Contrary to ‘natural’ forests, plantation forests are ‘forever young.’ They grow quickly and, depending on the species and geography, could be harvested as soon as they reach as little as 10 years (and in some cases even less)³¹. Factors such as the species of tree, spatial organisation and imposed lifespan, are usually determined and adapted to fit the machinery used to harvest the timber. Non-native species or hybrids are imported and introduced for their capacity to grow on very poor (e.g., sandy) soils, and/or to grow faster and to produce more timber than native tree species. Some of the most popular ‘fast wood’ species globally are conifers and eucalyptus. The widespread precedence of fast-growing tree species reduces the genetic diversity of a forest and APPENDIX can cause extinction of the indigenous tree species (and other plant and animal species simultaneously).³² In the Baltic countries and Lithuania in particular – clear-cutting is the dominant method of forest management, often regardless of the status of the forest. It is the cheapest and deemed most efficient, but it is also the most destructive: using heavy machinery all pre-existing trees are cut at the same time, stripping most of the underbrush, and upturning the soil, causing it to be depleted quickly so biodiversity cannot be sustained. Without the support of older trees and their companion species, trees are prone to diseases, so fungicides and insecticides are required to sustain yields.  

Evenly aged monocultures pose a much higher risk of fires, because the lack of other vegetation, density and dry soil allows it to spread quickly. But for a growing number of forest managers and experts – these risks outweigh the benefits. This rational form of forestry represents a solution that responds to two seemingly incommensurable problems: the rising demand for timber and the need to tackle climate change.³³ In some countries, such as Germany, France or Sweden, this has formed a part of an established daily forestry ‘business’ for centuries.³⁴



The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO; 2000) defines the forest as follows:  

Land with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10% and area of more than 0.5ha. The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5m at maturity in situ. May consist either of closed forest formations where trees of various storeys and undergrowth cover a high proportion of the ground; or open forest formations with a continuous vegetation cover in which tree crown cover exceeds 10%. Young natural stands and all plantations established for forestry purposes which have yet to reach a crown density of 10% or tree height of 5m are included under forest, as are areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention or natural causes but which are expected to revert to forest.



The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; 2002) uses slightly different criteria:  

A minimum area of land of 0.05-1.0ha with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10-30% with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2-5m at maturity in situ. A forest may consist either of closed forest formations where trees of various storeys and undergrowth cover a high proportion of the ground or open forest. Young natural stands and all plantations which have yet to reach a crown cover of 10-30% or tree height of 2-5m are included under forest, as are areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention such as harvesting or natural causes but which are expected to revert to forest. 



United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN-CBD; 2010):  

A land area of more than 0.5ha, with a tree canopy cover of more than 10%, which is not primarily under agriculture or other specific non-forest land use. In the case of young forest or regions where tree growth is climatically suppressed, the trees should be capable of reaching a height of 5m in situ, and of meeting the canopy cover requirement. 



United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD; 2000):  

Dense canopy with multi-layered structure including large trees in the upper story

Gabrielė Grigorjeva is a London-based spatial practitioner and researcher working at the intersection of visual arts, architecture and environmental politics. In her research-led practice, she uses text, cartography and image-making to devise spatio-temporal approaches to complex territorial and geoecological disputes. Gabrielė holds a MA in Environmental Architecture at the Royal College of Art, where her work focused on the politics of resource extraction in the Atacama Desert, Chile. She is currently developing research on the concept of ‘Planetary Health’ in collaboration with Dr David Cross at the University of the Arts London. In 2021, Gabrielė was a resident researcher of theNeringa Forest Architecture programme at Nida Art Colony (NAC) of Vilnius Academy of Arts.

  1. As of March, 2013, Gyde Lund found 1597 forest definitions used globally. See: Gyde Lund, ‘What is a forest? Definitions do make a difference: An example from Turkey’, Eurasscience Journals, Avrasya Terim Dergisi, 2014, 2 (1), pp. 1–8.  
  2. Bruno Latour, ‘From Multiculturalism to Multinaturalism: What Rules of Method for the New Socio-Scientific Experiments?’ in Nature and Culture, 6(1), Spring 2011. © Berghahn Journals, pp. 1–17.  
  3. Suzanne Simmard, ‘The Mother Tree’ in Intercalations 4: The Word for World is Still Forest, Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin (eds.), K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, pp. 66–72.  
  4. John Vidal, ‘Tip of the iceberg: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?’, The Guardian, 18 March 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/ environment/2020/mar/18/tip-of-theiceberg-is-our-destruction-of-natureresponsible-for-covid-19-aoe, accessed 21 May 2021. Also Jeff Tollefson, ‘Why deforestation and extinctions make pandemics more likely’, Nature, 7 August 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02341-1, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  5.  According to the Global Witness report, 2019 was the year in which a record number of fires broke out across the Amazon. Satellite data showed an 84% increase compared to the same period in 2018. See: ‘Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders’, Global Witness Report, July 2020.  
  6. Jair Bolsonaro’s programme of persecution of indigenous people and climate denialism, deforestation rates in the Amazon have surged by 50%. Indigenous people along with human rights activists are taking President Bolsonaro to the International Criminal Court for crimes of ecocide. Silva Junior, C.H.L., Pessôa, A.C.M., Carvalho, N.S. et al, ‘The Brazilian Amazon deforestation rate in 2020 is the greatest of the decade’, Nature, Ecology & Evolution, 5, 2021, pp. 144–145. See: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-01368-x, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  7. According to preliminary satellite data from space research agency INPE. See: Camilla Costa, ‘Amazon under threat: Fires, loggers and now the virus’, BBC News, 21 May 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scienceenvironment-51300515, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  8. Ibid.  
  9. A record 212 land and environment activists were killed in 2019, with Colombia and the Philippines accounting for half of the 212 people. See: ‘Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders’, Global Witness Report, July 2020.  
  10. Ibid.  
  11. Paulo Tavares, ‘In the Forest Ruins’, e-flux, Superhumanity issue, 9 December 2016, https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/ superhumanity/68688/in-the-forest-ruins/, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  12. See the well-documented cases of environmental destruction as a result of the plantation industry here: https:// wrm.org.uy/browse-by-subject/treeplantations/, accessed 21 May 2021. The open letter, calling on the FAO to revise its definition was published by the World Rainforest Movement in 2017 and is available here: https://wrm.org.uy/actionsand-campaigns/how-does-the-fao-forestdefinition-harm-people-and-forests-anopen-letter-to-the-fao/, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  13. Robin L. Chazdon et al, ‘When is a forest a forest? Forest concepts and definitions in the era of forest and landscape restoration’, Ambio, Vol. 45,5 (2016), 538-50, https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4980317/ accessed 21 May 2021.  
  14. Susanne Simard in ‘The Social Life of Forests’, interview by Ferris Jabr, New York Times, 2 December 2020, https://www. nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/02/ magazine/tree-communicationmycorrhiza.html, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  15. Vandana Shiva, Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity, Natraj Publishers, 2011, pp. 29–30.  
  16. Vandana Shiva’s term.  
  17. Concept discussed in Suzanne Simard, ‘The Mother Tree’, The Word for World is Still Forest Intercalations 4, Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin (eds.), K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, pp. 66–72.  
  18. Ancient Woods Foundation: https://www. sengiresfondas.lt/en/  
  19. Disparaging language is often used to describe the mountain pines in the press, portraying them as ‘impenetrable’ and ‘unsightly’. 
  20. See: https://www.neringa.lt/index.php?1585649300
  21. Notable forest fires raged Neringa in 2006 and 2014, which were caused by anthropogenic activity.  
  22. This podcast gives a flavour of the ongoing debate. Translation: ‘Singleuse planet: why forests are being cut down in Neringa.’ See: https://www. lrt.lt/mediateka/irasas/2000143593/ vienkartine-planeta-kodel-kertamineringos-miskai accessed 21 May 2021.  
  23. ‘Chthonic ones are beings of the earth, both ancient and up-to-the-minute. […] Chthonic ones romp in multi critter humus but have no truck with sky-gazing Homo. Chthonic ones are monsters in the best sense; they demonstrate and perform the material meaningfulness of earth processes and critters. They also demonstrate and perform consequences. Chthonic ones are not safe; they have no truck with ideologues; they belong to noone; they writhe and luxuriate in manifold forms and manifold names in all the airs, waters, and places of earth. They make and unmake; they are made and unmade. They are who are.’ Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2016, pp. 1–2.  
  24. Jerry F. Franklin, H. H. Shugart and Mark E. Harmon, ‘Tree Death as an Ecological Process’, BioScience, September 1987, Vol. 37, Issue 8, p. 550.  
  25. Ibid. pp. 550–553.  
  26. These estimates are based on the 2019 study. See: Iveta VarnagirytėKabašinskienė, Diana Lukminė, Stasys Mizaras, Lina Beniušienė & Kęstutis Armolaitis, ‘Lithuanian forest biomass resources: legal, economic and ecological aspects of their use and potential’, Energy, Sustainability and Society, 9, 41 (2019), https://doi.org/10.1186/s13705-019-0229-9, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  27. Among 11 species of pine grown across Lithuania, only Pinus sylvestris is native to Lithuania. See the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report: http://www.fao.org/3/w3722e/w3722e22.htm, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  28. According to the Lithuanian State Forest Service [Lietuvos Miškų Tarnyba], Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania: As of 2017, forest land occupies 33.5% of the country’s territory. More than 32.5% of all Lithuanian forests are within the boundaries of protected areas or their buffer zones. According to the methodology used by the State Forest Service, all land that is legally designated as forest and land that is planned to be afforested are included within this assessment. This includes arable land or land overgrown with bushes, nonreplanted clear-cuts, nurseries, seed plantations, tracks, forest roads, quarters, etc. According to a 2019 study, forest land in Lithuania is divided into four protection classes: strict nature reserves (1.1%); ecologically significant (12%): protected (14.6%); and commercial (72.3%). In reserves all types of cuttings are prohibited. In national parks, clear cuttings are prohibited while thinnings and sanitary cuttings are allowed. Clear cutting is permitted, however, with certain restrictions, in protected forests; including thinnings. In commercial forests, there are almost no restrictions as to harvesting methods. See: Varnagirytė-Kabašinskienė, Lukminė, Mizaras, Beniušienė & Armolaitis, 2019.  
  29. According to the Ancient Woods Foundation [Sengirės fondas], although it is still possible to find old-growth forests that span an average lifetime of two hundred years, such forests are fragmented and make up 0.009% of Lithuania’s territory. See: https://www.sengiresfondas.lt/en/, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  30. To promote his campaign to ‘renew’ Lithuania’s old forests with young plantations, Lithuania’s environmental minister Simonas Gentvilas came under attack on social media due to his claim that old forests emit more carbon than they sequester, and that the solution to climate change is young forests. He has also expressed his support for use of timber in biofuel production.  
  31. Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/ UN) definition, the tree can be cut as soon as it reaches 5m.  
  32. Christian Cossalter and Charlie PyeSmith, Fast-Wood Forestry: Myths and Realities, 2003, http://www.fao.org/forestry/42658-0b8ddd1c5c20b4980467f2f 4724f445a7.pdf, accessed 21 May 2021.  
  33. Herein lies the paradox of the FAO/ UN definitions of the forest. When monoculture plantations used for timber production are defined as forests, governments and corporations can claim that ‘productive’ forests help fight climate change.  
  34. Robin L. Chazdon et al, 2016.  
This article appears in full in FOREST AS A JOURNAL, NO. 1.