From Mordor to eco-park: re-presenting forest in the wake of wildfire
Susann Baez Ullberg
Paper short abstract:
The 2014 wildfire in Sweden had devastating effects. To preserve and study the ecological consequences of the disaster, 8000 hectares were declared protected area. This making of a different forest is taken to discuss how disaster re-construction can be understood as a temporal process.
Paper long abstract:
In the summer of 2014 occurred the worst wildfire in modern times in Sweden. The fire raged for weeks and weeks in the province of Västmanland before it could be brought under control. Hundreds of people were evacuated during the height of the emergency. One man died, scores of houses were destroyed, and close to 13,000 hectares of forest burned down. Hundreds of small scale family producers and large-scale companies lost forest for a value of millions of Swedish kronor. Left was a black landscape that some people in the area compared to the apocalyptic landscapes of the saga Lord of the Rings. While much of this forest was cut down and replaced with new tree plants, more than half of the scorched forest has been declared a protected area due to its uniqueness in ecological terms. The natural reserve Hälleskogsbrännan and the eco-park Öjesjöbrännan were created to preserve and observe specific ecological processes set in motion by the wild fire to prepare for an uncertain climate future. Ambitious visitor sites and programmes have been arranged by involved public and private actors, as a means to generate a process of ecological, social and economic re-construction from the disaster. This paper draws on ethnography to analyse how re-construction of the scorched forest was planned and made by experts, political decision makers and local inhabitants to constitute a mnemonic object of the present and for the future.
Anthropology of re-construction: exploring and thinking the remaking of broken worlds [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network]