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Circle of Life in a Forest: Workshop by Reniscience Education

March 10, 2015 • Posted in: News, Workshops

While we go on obliviously about our daily musings and chores, the world around us is teeming with life. It may not be at a macro level us primates are used to observing, but it happens at ground level, by a pond or under the canopy of a tree.

Coupled with a lovely illustration, writes Julia Rothman in her delightful book ‘Nature Anatomy’, a little on how even a rotting log, though dead itself, is the source of much life. “A dead tree on the forest floor may not look like much, but the decomposing odd hosts a party of plant and animal life. Many kinds of insect larvae burrow into decaying wood to take shelter from the winter. Snail and snugs delight in the debris and fungi growing from rotting logs. Earthworms digest vast quantities of rotting or organic matter, leaving behind nutrient rich casts. Moist decomposing wood is a perfect nutrient nursery from which leeches, mosses, flowers, and even other trees can set root and thrive.” Such are the designs of nature and such is the unique circle of life.

The forest looks still but teems with life.

The forest looks still but teems with life.

If this is the case of just a rotting log, what must the case of a prime deciduous forest be? This is exactly what our students found out in this workshop with Reniscience Education.

Sangita Kapadia and Purvi Vora dwelled on the ecosystem that surrounds a lone tree to an entire forest. Beginning with a simple exercise of classifying what is living, non- living, and what is dead around a tree, the students wrote down their findings depending on the state of the subjects of observation.

Outside the E-Base, the students observe the tree and its surroundings.

Outside the E-Base, the students observe the tree and its surroundings.

Next, the students made connections between the living, non- living and dead subjects. Two living things, a tree and bird are connected as the bird uses a branch to perch itself on. Similarly, the students noticed dead leaves slowly becoming a part of the mud around the tree.

Once the students noted down these interactions, it was time for fun! Crayons, felt pens, colour pencils galore, the students got to draw their observations of their little examination of the tree on their worksheets.

A student's worksheet showing the interactions between various living, non-living and dead things.

A student’s worksheet showing the interactions between various living, non-living and dead things.

The students understood the meaning of a ‘community’ in more natural terms. It is this symbiotic, mututalistic or parasitic relations that in totality make up a thriving community in the natural world. Every organism is either producing, consuming, decomposing and sometimes, doing more than just one thing. Put together countless more trees like the one the students studied, and voila, we’ve made our forest (just like the one in their very backyards).

To end, the students watched a video on how the circle of life functions in forests like Pench. One of the most important learnings was that it is a CIRCLE of life; there is no waste in nature’s design, something we believe we must take inspiration from. This design is so unique that we have found it hard to replicate, good reason for us to preserve it in its pristine form, we say.

This amazing system, that has existed for millions of years, was unravelled for our students through this wonderful workshop. We’ve given the students a lot of food for thought for this week!

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