In Oregon, many of the nurse stumps in our forests are connected to both Human History and Natural History.
Glance into the woods here to see what I mean. Can you spot those rather bizarre root structures at the base of the trees? That is the result of human activity that started a process in the early 1900’s when Spruce trees were logged. Prior to the mechanized cutting methods used today, loggers left behind very tall stumps. As those stumps started to decompose, they trapped water and supplied nutrients that new tree saplings needed to grow… thus becoming a nurse stump.
As new conifer trees grew in the nurse stumps and matured, they pushed their roots through the rotting wood and down into the soil. Eventually, the nurse stump fully decomposed and the roots of the new tree were exposed. Bark formed as protection and the twisted roots formed the base of the new tree.
In the foreground, nurse stumps suckle newer plant growth while moisture and nutrients are slowly released as the tree rots. Natural history repeats itself as new saplings take root.
Over decades, the carbon collected by the nurse stump tree decomposes. In nature’s time, another tree is soon to stand in this spot… connected to earth by its own roots.
These have longer to wait.
In the meantime, the nurse stump will provide habitat for numerous animal species, and play an important role in nutrient recycling. All the while… rotting… so that one day three trees may also have a chance to stand connected with the forest floor.
Retention of nurse stumps, nurse logs, snags and dead wood in forests is a practice that is an essential component in wildlife conservation…
a concept that must not be forgotten in forest management plans as Human History and Natural History go forward- connected.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Connected.”