Land Diagram 3

First response by OWAIN JONES of the Countryside and Community Research Institute, co-author of Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place (2002); second response by PETER LARKIN, New forest-born essayist, philosophy librarian, and poet (Three Forest Conformities, 1997) whose work is most extensively collected in Terrain Seed Scarcity (2001) and Leaves of Field (2006).


OWAIN JONES: Step 3. Major hollows identified

What is this terrain? If a forest, what kind, and where located?  Is this the terrain under the living canopy? What we have is a density of patterning. Contours – which have that alluring graphic characteristic of being almost parallel,  aping the line each side, but swelling or diverging in places, step by step, to show a swelling bluff, or beginnings of rill growing to gully. Steepness by closeness, twisting ridges and valleys: there is not much flat ground here. Tempting to think of this as the shape below the forest and its canopy – but of course the two are one really. Systems of systems of interdependencies.

Water follows inclines, making its own route-ways over time. I assume the arrows show water flow in order to indicate hollows and the complexity of the catchment areas in what is an obviously mountainous terrain. We have a topographical pattern of the contours – (two mountains? mid bottom left, mid top right) and a series of interconnecting ridges and valleys. The flow diagrams are more directional (obviously – the arrow heads) so speak of temporality, of cascade, a pattern on a pattern. It is a beautiful image, a sort of moiré effect of process across process (running in differing temporal registers), an ecology of time and pattern. This speaks of how complexly ground is patterned (Harrison et al 2004) once it is attended to closely. It also speaks to rhythm, in the flows that follow the terrain in seasonal patterns. Together we have what I have termed rhythmpattern (Jones 2011), in which the rhythmic patterning of time needs to be conjoined with the patterning rhythms of space to produce ongoing processes of place.

This could almost be animal pelt (but not quite): the print of nature echoing and echoing through forms and scales and processes. I doubt it is wilderness (Cronon, 1996). But it will be alive with the agencies of nature and the geographic adventures of a host of non-human personhood.

Some of the flow lines traverse the image like a route-way. Is this the way one would walk, or ride, through this terrain, along the valleys and streams? Some flow-lines seemingly interconnect, almost whole catchments that link by one filament; others do form discrete isolated networks/catchments (mid top left), private places for human and non-human alike.

This is a place to get lost in. Either scarily so – as in the forests of the fairy tales and fantasies (think Stevie Smith’s poem Fairy Story), or in backwoods horror (think Deliverance). Or as a retreat from modernity (Thoreau 1972); as escape from state authority to the English greenwood (Schama 1995); as a place of entrenched resistance, a death trap for ill-advised military ventures; or as a place for experimental living (The Republic of Trees by Sam Taylor).

The enigmatic drawing speaks of detailed, fieldwork based science, where close observation on the ground is used to build up detailed diagrammatic narratives of landscape and processes therein. But it also speaks of passion and love of place – topophilia (Tuan 1974); perhaps obsessive belonging through study. Often such approaches are held in opposition, and sometimes rightly, but in many other instances, science, fieldwork and love of place come together most productively. See, for example, Bernd Heinrich’s The Tree in My Forest. Here the ground is paid the closest attention, as in the counting of 80 tiny tree saplings per square foot (Hemlock, Balsam Fir, Red Spruce, Birch, Spruce, Red Maple). A grass of infant trees out of which, through best adaptability to that particular micro space and time, one would eventually flourish. A diversity of trees and biodiversity depending on the orientations and angle of slope, exposure to wind and light, grazing animals, the salts in the soil.

This could be the basis of a deep map (Heat-Moon 1991) – it should be. We need more deep maps. Is it old growth forest – tropical, temperate? It looks too rugged to be plantation. Has it been logged, or does it grow over derelict military infrastructure or ancient temples? (Kaza 1993). I hope, and feel, it was created by an “attentive heart” (Kaza again), but maybe it was made with a colonial eye, or commercial, or military. Has it been clear felled to leave the slopes open to erosion and the community life of the canopy and forest floor displaced? Or is it the territory of Buck and the wolf pack he joins (Jack London The Call of the Wild), which has its ghost wolf in the sacred forest space the Indian tribe steer clear of? Whichever, it will be a place of narratives, both human and non-human, local as can be, but woven out of and into the processes of the forested landscape.


Cronon W (ed) (1996) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. Norton, New York.

Harrison R P (1992) Forests: The Shadow of Civilisation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Heinrich B (1997) The Trees in My Forest. HarperCollins, New York.

Heat-Moon W L (1991) Prairy Earth: a deep map. Andre Duutch, London.

Jones O., (2011) Lunar-solar ryhthmpatterns: towards the material cultures of tides, Environment and Planning A, 43, 2285-2303.

Kaza, S. (1993) The Attentive Heart: Conservations with Trees, Boston: Shambhala.

Schama S (1995) Landscape and Memory. HarperCollins, London.

Smith S (2001) Fairy Story, in M. Sweeny (ed) The New Faber Book of Children’s Poetry, London Faber and Faber, p 254.

Thoreau D H (1972) In the Maine Woods (ed. J.J. Moldenhauer). Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Tuan Y F (1974) Topophilia: a study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

© 2012 Owain Jones


PETER LARKIN: landform analysis of hollows in a forest, with intermeshing hierarchies of ridges and concavities


arrows greening-in among the valleys but won’t expunge weak sifts from scape-contour to tree, tokens of complex but unflickering topography, the beak of direction free for its flinch

a dome may be all the concavity there is to align where signed valleys reticulate across the grain

old-growth forest is a web vested in recessive equations, this is analytic density side-stepping diagrammatic renewal     the mimic footings of natural disturbance cycles

here certification must no longer mean prone but lie up with the vertical pinnacles

enveloping signs scarped from within existing flaws     forest codes have no separate fields other than penetration by abstract fits of a dynamic becoming insatiable until it root onto a rock of distraction/inter-repletion

total chance plan for areas of unlogged harvest, the yarding distances are recorded really among stocks of prevention

where local correction (beside, around, in despite of) replaces rummaging for embedded grudges

hyperzoning of forest limits in pieces apart from direct dereliction, deep unsharable holes through any scenic viewshed     there are rules switched to adjacency where forest curbs amass onto disallowing contours but such filaments can be read for their found fissure trails

scale relations move into sown pattern at a tempo of felling, backfire across the oncoming stubble of broad brush

which are to be gauging stations available to redeploy sediment or how any site clamour begins from it remaining drained from the crowns

damage insinuates counter-tension as a lesser confluence of bare pathways according to broadly recoverable bays of scour

forest traps are wise to remain over-mapped     non-erect trees should also be the recorded cover for every gauzed thing that will encapsulate or veil a stasis of deformation

a chart of unknowing around the given growth of sticks, dendritic navigation an attached key to futures of its condition, as arrows of emphasis are to pinnacles of trees     taper its guise of information at the self-sown groves, within-unit retained opponents

lines of force infer from combed spines of resource, come downwind all the array to a disparate planter of technique

we are as easily tossed into forest because we see trees X, Y and Z as unique stances of a singular tree living its timber repetition through sieves of hollowness     in incompleteness living out for another’s unachieved with a demeanour of props resinously alongside

how the top thrash attempts a side mesh, that the radial plies dendritic borrowings, complies with terrain for slender assiduities of elation

what is obstructive is the forest’s non-rivenness, how the circulation of annual rings is a thronging only weakly attuned to place, a chapter of ridges along foreshortened zones of the ripening abstractive     this is close standing neighbourhood to any hollow reserve of finding it accorded, wholly reducible to scarcities beyond crop

nature keenly intimate prods climates of schematically received nature, the giving onto and subsequent grids of blockage (response) fare between racks of texture while stocks of sacral induction last

explanation as feasible participation in poverty also follows the hiddenness (by sheer branch pressure of relation) of any reclamation     invisible surplus of surface over which recaps of order subsist but may no longer (serially) insist

if you observe on too tall a scale you won’t find a field of forest stalking the incline     if you preserve off too short a reel you will sense intimations of forest rodding forward of your abridgements of ward

such proximity between woodland matrix and the primitive spring of things, the last indurated bed to which it clings a wealth of inscription     that is what gives the hollow to be an opening to the rind of its retrieval, fewness of knotted branches which trans-inhabit it

the minute diagram of growing into a site of no proxies, the envelope-phenomenon between close-grown clemencies now deep among the squalls of a surge in forest gradation

sweep to zone, bearing from the cones in bud, deferential pleas of forest conjunction or an inter-taxing of what is t/ruly as ferent, this re-leaf order at a transverse invariant

what measures instill a landscape feeder to sustain forest values?     earth is most parts given of its uncovering

frontiers skinned by a forest’s regimed extent, its abrupt assuagement of contour at an edge diagramming shelter     so leaf-flake counts radials go hollow at dendritic horizon

© 2012 Peter Larkin


About amycutler

PhD student: Literature and Cultural Geography

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