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The environment, a fruitful idea: a common stock, branches and complex ties
Tom Berryman has been studying environmental issues since the mid-1970s. After taking his B.Sc. in biology, he went on to complete a master’s degree and a doctorate in education. He is currently engaged in post-doctoral research into the practice of life story or environmental autobiographies in education to explore the ecological aspects of identity. Walking in the woods helps him think about the variety of approaches to the environment.

Our many relationships with trees represent excellent examples of the various ways in which we are linked to our environment.

Let’s think about the essence of trees. Close your eyes and let the word ‘tree’ fill your mind.

What do you see? One or several trees? A forest or a wooded landscape? Are you alone, with your family, among friends? Do work, free time or studies come into the picture? Social or ecological issues?

The pictures that spring up in your mind may relate to trees in your own life story: a tree planted to celebrate your birth, a swing hanging from a bough, a log cabin or tree house, climbing a tree branch by branch, playing in the fallen leaves in autumn, the cool shade under the trees in high summer, the trunk you leaned against for a rest, the breeze rustling through the leaves, a walk in the woods, outdoor exercise, collecting dead wood for kindling – which is one thing for a camper in North America and quite another for a woman in the Sahel, who must walk for miles to find the vital fuel to cook what little food she has.

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See film excerpts
Windbreaks on the Prairies
 
Excerpt  (1:45) 1943, production : Evelyn Cherry
 
 
The rapid transformation of the prairie environment by European homesteaders into wheat monoculture contributed to the great "dust bowl" of the 1930s. The environment is presented here in utilitarian language - its value measured in terms of utility and economic worth. Notably absent is any mention of Indigenous populations who inhabited the Prairies prior to European settlement.