How forestry could help tackle our flooding issues
Many discoveries are made by accident.
Take, for example, the French classic, Tarte Tatin.
The most common story of how it came about concerns a lady named Stéphanie Tatin who, in the 1880s, ran a hotel south of Paris
One day Stéphanie was making a traditional apple pie when she left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish. She whipped up a simple pastry, draped it on top and popped it into the oven. Voilà, a classic was born.
In 1941, a Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral was on a hiking trip when he found burrs clinging to his pants and also his dog's fur. On inspection, he found the burrs had hooks which would cling to anything loop-shaped. The seeds were sown for Velcro, a combination of the words "velvet" and "crochet".
A few weeks back I attended a conference entitled Farming for a Resilient Landscape, which detailed a farmers' initiative in mid Wales named the Pontbren Project. The project began in 1997 when three neighbouring farmers came together because they realised their approach to farming wasn't working.
Like most of upland Wales, the structure of farming in Pontbren had changed during the 19th and 20th centuries. Since joining the EU, farmers had embraced various schemes which encouraged higher production, by increasing stock numbers and introducing continental breeds. Pastures were drained and reseeded and new buildings erected.
However, despite all the changes, these farmers concluded they were no better off. They were getting more for their stock but they were working harder while fertiliser and feed bills were growing. They were on a treadmill.