These are pictures from my recent walking holiday in north of Majorca. As an ex forester I was blown away by the shear number of ancient trees.
|These first few were tiny compared to the really ancient ones I saw later on. They look dead but they are not.|
|nice to see these old trees are valued, roads, gardens, buildings are all made to go around the ancient trees.|
|the olives grow half way up the hills you can see them in the middle ground of this photo, higher up is holm oak woodland and lower on the plains is cereals, hay and almond trees.|
|almond trees with flower rich meadow|
|we saw a lot of these trees, they grew both amongst the almonds and with the olives they had big pea like pods, we found out later they are carob used for making a chocolate like confection.|
|low down in the few damp river valleys plane trees grew and they went up as straight and clean without branches as I have ever seen.|
|a charcoal burners camp|
High in the mountains above the olives are almost pure holm oak woodlands and every few hundred yards you come across one of these charcoal burners camps. Up to the 1930’s everyone in Majorca cooked on charcoal and it was made here. The circualr flat area is where the wood was piled in a dome then covered over with sifted earth. The fire would burn for days before it was all turned to charcoal. The charcoal burners lived on site alongside each circular hearth is a small circular hut and quite often a bread oven. The woodlands would be cut in rotation and keep regrowing, true sustainable energy. From the ring counts I did it seemed to me that the last cutting of all the woodlands happened in the 1940’s presumably during the war, whether they burnt for charcoal then I do not know, it would certainly make extracting the produce easier.
|charcoal hearth in goat grazed woodland|
The interesting thing here to me as a forester is to see the effect of high goat population on a woodland. I have seen high deer population but this is incredible. There is barely a leaf showing below my head height, no grown flora whatsoever, no regeneration of your trees from seed, the trees are not old yet so this woodland is OK for another 50-100 years but at some stage it would benefit a lot from having all the goats removed for 10 years.
|this pair of ancient olives were simply huge, mind-blowing to think how many generations have come and pruned these trees and gathered and pressed the oil.|
Here we saw how they manage the olives, it was of particular interest to me since I used to work managing ancient pollards for the National Trust. No one knew if the old oaks hornbeams, beech etc were cut in one go or a few branches cut at a time, it was simply never recorded. With these olives the practice is clearly to remove a few branches every few years leaving a few branches on, the thickest any branch is allowed to grow to before being cut is around the thickness of a mans leg.
and lets finish with the biggest of the lot what an incredible living organism.