Heritage of Ash Trees

I wrote an extra project paper which was evaluated by my Head of Studies and received a B.

Problem:

In recent years, Ash trees have been infected with a fungus (H. pseudoalbidus), which threatens to kill most of the Ash trees in Europe. The Ash is a bearer of much culture – it is the Tree of Life in Norse mythology, is not unimportant to Celts either and sustains high biodiversity. How can we preserve this heritage when we lose most of the trees?

What I did:

I talked to a biologist about the efforts underway to find resistant trees to cultivate and clone and looked into reports from the UK about the expected impact there. I investigated the importance of the tree with regards to biodiversity and the implications of bioinvasion. I conducted a small survey to find out whether people liked diverse forests more, and why.

I spoke to the Danish Forn Sidr, the Norse religious society and asked them what the Ash tree meant to them, culturally and religiously. I tried to get hold of similar societies in the UK, but those did not want to play, sadly.

Initiatives:

I proposed an event called “Ragnaroots” where young people could reenact history and engage with the heritage on different levels. The event would be started off with an invitation in the form of a cartoon using the mythological story of Rattatoskr to illustrate the problem, and would ask the youngsters to solve problems relating to climate change, traditions, invasive species and political agendas over a week of living in a viking setting.

The other proposal was a geocaching trail called “Cache the Ash – before it’s too late” where upon finding different caches you would be told the story of the specific (Ash) tree that the cache was located near. This way, even though the tree would die, its story would at least have been told. This is a new way to do geocaching as far as I know.

I tried to project the effects of events like these using a model for effect measuring in the experience economy and thought a little about the significance of the fungal infection in Ash – especially whether it would be relevant to people who don’t normally care about trees, which is why the information is communicated indirectly.

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