Wild Design: Nature’s Architects

Dit boek is een bron van inspiratie. Het is geschreven en samengesteld door Kimberly Ridley is uitgegeven door Princeton Architectural Press. Het geeft op zeer beknopte wijze aan welke universele patronen in de natuur kunnen worden aangetroffen en welke taal de natuur spreekt. Het moedigt aan naar buiten te gaan en de wereld te ontdekken.

Wild Design onthult de wonderen van de natuurlijke wereld zoals nooit eerder gezien, door middel van de prachtige, buitengewone en functionele vormen gemaakt door dieren, planten en andere organismen overal om ons heen.

Kunst en wetenschap lopen mooi in elkaar over in deze fascinerende verkenning van structuren en vormen die in de natuur voorkomen, verteld door middel van levendige essays en meesterlijke vintage illustraties. Verlies jezelf in de betoverende microscopische “glazen” omhulsels van juweelachtige diatomeeën. Ga op in de mysterieuze ondergrondse schimmelnetwerken die het grote ontwerp van bossen vormgeven. Ontdek de verrassend ingewikkelde en gevarieerde nesten van vogels. Wild Design herinnert ons eraan dat opmerkelijke fenomenen overal om ons heen voorkomen – we moeten alleen weten hoe we ze kunnen vinden.

Fascinerend leven

Dit boek is geeft een bijzonder overzicht van de verschillende denkwijzen en opvattingen hoe tegen ecosystemen aan te kijken. Het verrijkt de inzichten die passen bij de missie van de stichting. Het is geschreven en samengesteld door Johan van Braeckman* en Linda van Van Speybroeck* en wordt uitgegeven door Academia Press.

Het geeft op zeer gedegen wijze aan welke opvattingen en inzichten inzake natuur en haar wetenschappen doorheen de jaren er zijn geweest en bundelt perspectieven op behoud en ontwikkeling van natuurlijke ecosystemen. Het voedt de gedachten over integrale publieke sturing.

De voorbije decennia is de aandacht voor biologie, zowel in de wijsbegeerte, de geschiedenis als in andere disciplines, sterk gestegen. De biologie wordt nu al de wetenschap van de 21ste eeuw genoemd. De filosofie van de biologie werd een volwaardige wijsgerige discipline en belangrijke biologen en wetenschapshistorici gaven de geschiedenis van de biologie de plaats die ze verdient.

Fascinerend leven: Een geschiedenis van de biologie bundelt 22 teksten over telkens één of meerdere kernfiguren: van Aristoteles en Galenus tot Charles Darwin en Francis Crick; van René Descartes en Gregor Mendel tot Niko Tinbergen en Rachel Carson. Aandacht gaat uit naar de ontwikkeling van hun natuurwetenschappelijk denken en hoe zich dit verhoudt ten opzichte van de toen heersende denkbeelden. Vier wetenschappers reflecteren tot slot over het heden en de toekomst van de biologie.

*De samenstellers van dit boek delen een gemeenschappelijke belangstelling voor zowel de wetenschappelijke, filosofische als historische aspecten van de biologie. Lien Van Speybroeck behaalde een doctoraat aan de Universiteit Gent met een proefschrift over de filosofische aspecten van de epigenetica. Johan Braeckman specialiseerde zich in Charles Darwin en de evolutietheorie, en doceert onder meer geschiedenis van de biologie aan de Universiteit Gent. Ω

De bril van systeemdenken

Het belang van systeemdenken bij het vinden van oplossingen van voorliggende vraagstukken is groot. Het blijft een uitdaging, omdat dit bovenal complex is en begrepen dient te worden door de onderdelen van het systeem. Het leren van natuurlijke ecosystemen is voor de hand liggend.

Dr. Frank J. Dietz (2018, p.3) van het Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, poogt in zijn Oldeman lezing een brug te slaan. Quote:

“In een eerste verkenning probeer ik zicht te geven op wat een circulaire economie is en voor welke problemen – of zo u wilt voor welke maatschappelijke uitdagingen – een circulaire economie oplossingen biedt. Dat vraagt om een analyse van de samenleving waarvoor ik de bril van het systeemdenken opzet.

Dat biedt de mogelijkheid om op een vergelijkbare manier als waarop Roelof A.A. Oldeman het functioneren van bossen heeft bestudeerd, het functioneren van de menselijke samenleving te analyseren. Ik beoog daarmee op een wetenschappelijk gefundeerde manier de uitdagingen die toenemende milieuvervuiling, klimaatverandering en afnemende biodiversiteit stellen, te begrijpen. Daarin worden verschijnselen niet (alleen) op basis van min of meer geïsoleerde oorzaak-gevolgketens verklaard, maar als een samenspel van op elkaar reagerende elementen en deelsystemen waarin terugkoppelingen een belangrijke rol spelen. En met een beter begrip van de uitdagingen en de manier waarop de samenleving daarmee tot op heden omgaat, verwacht ik vervolgens aanzetten voor oplossingen voor deze vraagstukken te kunnen aanreiken.”

– Frank J. Dietz


Biografie

Dietz, F.J. (2018). Duurzame ontwikkeling en circulaire economie: Een pleidooi voor systeemdenken in het openbaar bestuur. Breda/Den Haag: Stichting Civitas Naturalis en PRIMO.

Foto: © Michelle Kruf (2016) Het spel van de wind.

L’ architecture de la forêt guyanaise

This work was the subject of a thesis defended on 16 December 1972 at the University of Sciences and Techniques of Languedoc by ir. Roelof A.A. Oldeman, to obtain the grade of Doctor of Natural Sciences. He received it, this with highest honours (summa cum laude). Top scientist George Mangenot expressed his honour as follows.

“The main thing in Oldeman’s work is that he created a methodology made up of a whole set of perfectly articulated morphogenetic, ecological and physiological concepts allowing the structural analysis of the populations of trees, mostly dicots, in all regions of the world. A recent, unpublished essay by the author on a Massachusetts forest showed that it is possible, by the methods tried in Guyana, to explain it and to understand the profound differences distinguishing it from equatorial forests. The flexible and adaptable character of the oldemanian system is thus highlighted. This work, which testifies to a very imaginative and creative spirit, is called to a great resonance.”
 
Profile of a patch of forest of about 30 X 40 m in the Saül region, at an altitude of 285 m. Thick line: trees of the whole of the present; dotted and shaded: trees of the future set; thin line: standing or fallen trees from the past as a whole; thick dotted line: trees outside the plot. Structural sets at about 15 m, 40 m and 55 m Oldeman (1974).

Oldeman summarises on p.78 one of his core conclusions after years of research: “The forest is characterized by its trees. In the first part, we examined the rules to which tree growth obeys, expressed in an architecture peculiar to each species, but whose principle can be identified in relation to some twenty tree models. These criteria make it possible to distinguish three sets of forest trees:

    • The whole of the future includes young trees, who, conforming to the initial model, often regenerated, will give structure to the future forest.
    • The whole of the present brings together the trees having reached, by an abundant reiteration and growth in thickness, their maximum biomass and which determine the current architecture of the forest; the whole present is subdivided into structural sets at different heights. Forest architecture is stratified; the relative density of the trees in each set determines the good or bad visibility of “strata.”
    • Lastly, the whole of the past includes trees in the process of being eliminated, traces of previous structures more or less blurring the architecture of the present.

It is worth remembering that seeds and active meristems are the exclusive producers of forest biomass; they form the entire infrastructure of the forest

A fourth forest complex is clearly visible in the windfall. It brings together the seeds and active meristems, in contrast with forest layers where these organs are mostly latent. It is worth remembering that seeds and active meristems are the exclusive producers of forest biomass; they form the entire infrastructure of the forest.”

Oldeman explains his way of working on p.81: “The survey of a profile and a plan of a forest plot in the described biotope was carried out without taking into account the undergrowth, in a layer less than ten meters, because we are studying the framework of the architecture forestry. This is why the parcel was chosen in a place where the undergrowth had been recently removed for the entomological mission. The area of ​​the plot was approximately 30 X 40 meters, more than sufficient for an architectural study of the forest, the structural continuity of which outside the plot was easy to verify by direct observation. It goes without saying that this method cannot be applied during an inventory targeting another aspect of the forest, such as phytosociology, floristics or forest size.

The plot plan was established by locating the topographical position of the trunks of all the trees and estimating the extent of the projection of their tops on the ground. The diameters of the trunks and the dimensions of any buttresses were measured at the same time and entered on the blank. The heights – total height, free trunk – were then determined using a Blume-Leiss dendrometer. Finally, sketches of the architecture of each tree were made in the field; their perspective deformations were corrected, using height measurements, on the final profile).” Ω


Bibliografie

Oldeman, R.A.A. (1974a, 2nd ed.). L’architecture de la forêt guyanaise. Mémoires ORSTOM, 73.

Download L’architecture de la forêt guyanaise (french)

It is this dissertation Oldeman invented, in fact designed an advanced, innovative and integrated approach of diagnosing the forest. The reinvention of  these geometrical transects are groundbreaking. They supply us with insights in the dynamics of the forest. The factor ’time’ has been brought in. The strength of the transect was underlined by the strong visual recognition of these forest maps by the local indigenous people. They were able to exactly pinpoint the habitats and niches for numerous specious living in the forest. Remarkable.

And into the forest I go

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.John Muir, Naturalist

 

John Muir (1838 – 1914) is counted among the greatest naturalists. He – born in Dunbar, East-Lothian, Scotland – was an early advocate of the preservation of wilderness.

Picture: Ivan Shishkin (1898) Mast tree grove [oil on canvas]. St. Petersburg, Russia: The State Russian Museum.

La révélation de leur harmonie (forêts)

Je tâchais de découvrir, dans les bruits des forêts et des flots, des mots que les autres hommes n’entendaient point, et j’ouvrais l’oreille pour écouter la révélation de leur harmonie.Gustave Flaubert (1842)

I tried to discover, in the sounds of the forests and the waves, words that other men did not hear, and I opened my ear to hear the revelation of their harmony.Gustave Flaubert (1842)


Bibliography

Flaubert, G. (1842) Novembre. Online on 21 July 2020: https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Novembre_(Flaubert)

Flaubert, G. (2000, ed. Arvensa Editions and Fb Editions). Novembre. Paris: Librairie Générale Française. 123 p.

Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in the Haute-Normandie Region of France.

50 ans d’explorations et d’études botaniques en forêt tropicale

Cet ouvrage de Francis Hallé offre enfin à chacun la découverte de la diversité de son approche du dessin. Les botanistes connaissent les dessins schématiques très formels des modèles architecturaux, qui ont fait la gloire de Francis et de Roelof Oldeman depuis 1970.

Dans ces dessins, on reconnaît la position des méristèmes, des feuilles, des fleurs, l’orientation des branches mais pour chacun des modèles, on ne peut reconnaître une espèce d’arbre ni même un quelconque arbre vivant. Et pourtant, chaque botaniste est capable, en observant un jeune arbre vivant, de déduire à quel modèle architectural il se rattache, tel que défini par ces dessins schématiques.

Cet ouvrage est un hymne à la plante.” – Patrick Blanc

C’est là la grande force de ces dessins qui restituent le vivant sous une forme intellectuellement interprétée. C’est utile, nécessaire, souvent beau mais implacablement froid. Mais dans cet ouvrage, nous retrouvons toute la sensibilité de Francis : les arbres ne sont plus des objets exprimant leur devoir génétique mais ils deviennent des objets animés sous lesquels on voudrait se protéger ou dans lesquels un singe sauterait de branche en branche. Soudain, l’arbre dessiné devient un arbre vivant, avec tous ses accidents, ses branches cassées, ses réactions opportunistes face à la lumière.

Là, dans ses dessins, Francis se libère d’une rigidité dogmatique pour garder sa rigueur scientifique tout en nous immergeant dans la poésie. On retrouve la forêt tropicale et ses arbres, telle qu’elle dut être du temps de l’Eden. Francis aime les arbres, la forêt et les habitants de cette forêt, hommes, oiseaux, insectes, grenouilles, singes… Ω


Hallé, F. (2016). 50 ans d’explorations et d’études botaniques en forêt tropicale. Plaissan, Languedoc-Roussillon: MUSEO. p.368.

A survivor of vast forgotten woods

As they listened, they began to understand the lives of the Forest, apart from themselves, indeed to feel themselves as the strangers where all other things were at home. […] Tom’s words laid bare the hearts of trees and their thoughts, which were dark and strange, and filled with a hatred of things that go free upon the earth, gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning: destroyers and usurpers. It was not called the Old Forest without reason, for it was indeed ancient, a survivor of vast forgotten woods; and in there lived yet, ageing no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords. The countless years had filled them with pride and rooted wisdom, and with malice.Tolkien (1954)


Bibliography

Tolkien, J. (2014) The Fellowship of the Ring [The Lord of the Rings, part 1, ed. 60]. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Forest Components

Oldeman, R.A.A. , Schmidt, P. and Arnolds, E.J.M. (1990)

Per 1986, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries approved the five-year financial protection of a research theme ‘conservation and use of forest components’. This system of protected funding was meant to improve the quality of University research, in particular by stimulating researchers in related fields but from different University Departments to work on a common theme of their choice. Existing scientific lines of these researchers were thought to gain plus-value by intensifying contacts with others, by exposing them to discussions yielding new view points, and finally to allow them to adjust their research more closely to a common goal.

All those who know the busy University schedules and the growing restrictions on effective researchtime, i.e. time not limited to isolated half hours between teaching and meetings, understood that the implementation of these splendid aims of oriented cooperation would cost time and go slowly. One of the ways in which Universities can correct this is the choice of appropriate subjects for graduate studies, and this has been systematically promoted for ‘Forest Components’ since years before the official programme was started.

Oldeman et al. (1990): “The group that was responsible for the forest components theme decided to accelerate the process by starting an ambitious project, the writing of a common book. There is no way in which cooperation can be stimulated better, but this way has to be learned and practised too. The result is now before you.

The book is not yet ideal in our opinion because it still contains too many traces of the old University tradition of researchers working, each apart, on such narrow subjects as they know best.

This way of executing the research of course is necessary to reach sufficient depth. But it carries the risk of loss of vision of the whole system, parts of which are studied. Still a little bit unbalanced, but on its way to improve along lines that are more clear now, this presentation in a pluridisciplinary way is a first step, however, to overcome both the limits of individual researchers and the shallowness of groups.

We trust, however, that it is exactly this wrestling with integration of broad views versus the deepening of restricted views that may be as interesting to the reader as the facts, figures, conclusions and hypotheses on forests and their components which are presented in the following pages. On the brink of the last decennium of this century, it is hoped that this book may find its way to both specialists and generalists, and that most of its contents may also be of significance for the European forest managers.”

Oldeman et al. (1990, p.8): “It is therefore proposed to reserve the notion of ‘pattern’ or in any case ‘architecture’ (Hallé & Oldeman, 1970) of systems to properties that can be directly seen and mapped, being linked to objects occupying a three-dimensional volume. Even if mapping or plotting are automatic, potential visibility by eye is a good criterion to end confusion. Architectural patterns, according to Hallé et al. (1978) are instant pictures. Their change may be indicated as dynamics (Hallé et al., 1978; Fanta, 1986). Dynamics are not processes, if the notion of process is reserved for underlying, organized movements at hierarchical levels deep within the system considered, such as energy and matter processing in photosynthesis or maintenance respiration (cf. Mohren, 1987).”

Bibliography
Fanta, J. (ed.) (1986). Forest dynamics research in Western and Central Europe. Wageningen: Pudoc, p.320.

Hallé, F. and Oldeman, R. (1970). Essai sur l’architecture et la dynamique de croissance des arbres tropicaux. Paris: Masson & Cie, p.178.

Hallé, F., Oldeman, R. and Tomlinson P. (1978). Tropical trees and forests: an architectural analysis. Heidelberg: Springer, p.441.

Mohren, G. (1987). Simulation of forest growth, applied to douglas fir stands in The Netherlands. D.Sc. thesis, AUW Theor. Prod. Ecology/Silvic. & For. Ecology, Wageningen, p.183.

Oldeman, R., Schmidt, P. and Arnolds, E. (1990). Forest components. Wageningen: Wageningen Agricultural University Papers, ISSN0169-345X; 90-6, 111 pp. https://edepot.wur.nl/282842.