Disturbance – the secret of dynamic nature

Forests, rivers, mountains, and deserts are examples of elements of nature that surrounds us. To fully understand these elements we have to first of all understand the rules and principles of nature’s dynamics. This enables us to understand how nature functions.
However to fully comprehend this is difficult.  Dynamic nature is a complex field and there are only few who study and work in this area. Our belief is often that nature should be as it were when we were younger, and that is not always correct. The human lifespan is significantly shorter the time span of some dynamic natural processes.
Disturbance is a fundamental aspect of spontaneous natural dynamics. Nature uses disturbance as a tool of progress. For example a forest smashed by an avalanche opens opportunities and niches for many new species of plants and animals. These species would most likely disappear if the forest had continued to grow for several decades without the impact of avalanches.

Principles of dynamic nature

The fundamental principle of dynamic nature is simple – nature is a dynamic complex. It is constantly changing in a span of time. These changes can happen in a matter of minutes, for example an ancient forest hit by a windstorm or a flood that  can change a river bed. But there are also changes that can be nearly invisible to the human eye, for example the process of succession in a mountain forest, or the vegetation at a river bank.
Fire is also an important element of forest dynamics. Fire can be sparked by lightning. In a matter of days or sometimes weeks, forest and all vegetation can disappear. The burnt forest will revive, but very slowly. It can take decades, even centuries, to recreate the dynamic of old-growth forests. In this case, the time scale is much longer a human lifespan, which is what leads to the difficulties of people being able to understand dynamic in nature. It is simply beyond our imagination!
Many of us do not have the opportunity to experience real natural disturbances such as windstorms, floods and fire. Even if these disturbances occur close to civilisations, we do not live in a society where nature is allowed to recover spontaneously.  Nature and the impact of natural disturbances need time and time is a very spare element in human life.

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