The breakfast is the only missing link and that is due to habit. I should have taken my own pineapples with me but I manage. Today was an information overload, back into the forests of Val Camonica.
After a stop off at the forestry office where we met Jovanna, a doctor of forestry, we headed off to another tree place. Conservation is a key to this area and the wood ant is the main focus in this forest. I ask lots of stupid questions, my excuse being I am a fisherman in a forest but no one seems to mind. The ant is a really good indicator of the health of the forest and also tells us how the air pollution is affecting the trees. Basically if it is ok for the ants it is ok for us.
Were taken to various sites throughout the forest and some interesting operations and management that will not take place at home, although we will give it a go. Brash is piled up in neat bundles and left to rot with the goodness going back into the ground, that is confirmation of things I knew.
Although Ruariadh says that replanting can be quite dangerous where the machines have been in, with brash and splinters left lying around. The hunting season is in full swing and shots echo across the valley. Up on an misty Alpine meadow there are a group of Scots and Italians talking about wood ants milking aphids, happens all the time but not with me involved.
We then wandered down through the mist to the hunter’s tower where we were told the practice of the hunters……..only banned in the eighties. Firstly they kept birds in cages through the summer and then took the clothes of so they thought it was spring and they started singing. Then they laid berries on the surrounding branches. The trap finally set by scaring the settled birds that had stopped by on their migratory route into the nets already in place. Then into the pot. Little discussion afterwards about me doing the same at sea, pause for thought.
Both coming out of Breno and again coming down from the mountain we came across some of the Alpine traditional farming ways.
Back to the forests after a two hour lunch of various foods I have never eaten and most wonderful. Their forestry methods are so far advanced to what I have seen at home over the last thirty years. There is no clearing felling but they do not have to deal with the neglect of wind blow. They take what they call coups out which are selected strips of trees and then there is a natural regeneration growth to fill in the gaps. There is a general move to replace the spruce with hardwoods. I asked about the house prices and they are very cheap to rent, about 200/300euros a month. The big drawback is there is no employment. The work is down on the valley floor and the journey down is too far and expensive, diesel is more expensive than Applecros. There also is the problem of little or no services….same problems, different place. The local group is trying to show that to welcome people in is good. You do not have to sell out your heritage and culture by attracting more young people to live in the area but they find it as hard as we that in persuading older, settled in their ways people to accept that the community life can change without it affecting their life style.
After the magnificent lunch it was back into another forest, this time included was a bit of archeology, very early and similar to the Celtic runes of Scotland. Again the themes of replacing the spruce with hardwoods such as beech. Also the traditions of coppicing are to be changed to allow the trees to grow tall which they seem to do very well around here. They are also looking at entering the tourism market and feel they are twenty years behind the game line. Walking, cycling and archeology are main themes to be pushed. Yesterday fished off with another fine meal at a little restaurant ,exquisite ravioli. I like the way they start taking out the starters when you sit down, bread, meats and sticks, then you get tucked into the mains. Then without asking the sweets come out . A good day.