As a long-time hiker who appreciates forests, I can understand why people would want to describe some of them as pristine and undisturbed, unspoiled and unsullied, unpolluted and untouched. It’s a no-brainer that we would want to protect them from too much (or, in some cases, any) human intrusion. I get that.

But we are fooling ourselves if we believe there are pristine and undisturbed forests anywhere on the planet. And yet we keep telling ourselves, and hoping, that there are.

Nature proves otherwise. Nature is busy 24/7 in all her unbridled savagery and glory. Not just with the dramatic physical stuff (volcanoes, floods, droughts, wind storms, and fires). No, we have live action from insects, beetles, plants, and animals as well. All interacting in one big interlinked dance of death and renewal.

And this is a dance that’s been going on for thousands of years. Forests across Canada, for example, have been disturbed by Nature and regrown maybe 100 times since the last Ice Age. Parts of Canada’s Boreal Forest experience stand-replacing fires every 80 to 100 years. It’s an ongoing, cyclical process.

So, let’s not fool ourselves. Nature exists and impacts our forests whether humans are around or not (something to bear in mind in my next blogs on how much primary forest Canada has, and the big fight over what forest degradation means).