The Softest Power
Trees in Combat
Harvard Design Magazine
Fionn Byrne, "The Softest Power: trees in combat" in Jennifer Sigler (ed) Harvard Design Magazine No.45: Into the Woods (Spring/Summer 2018) 153.
Contrary to media portrayals, Afghanistan comprises fertile, formerly forested lands. Years of conflict, however, have left it with one of the lowest percentages of forest coverage in the world. The destruction of vegetation is attributable to war both directly, as trees within the blast radius of munitions are often destroyed, and indirectly, as a destabilization of government services and infrastructure and limited economic opportunities have driven many Afghans to fell trees for firewood and sale. The United States Armed Forces’ ongoing Operation Freedom’s Sentinel presents a strategic opportunity for both the military and landscape architects to recognize this environmental transformation and explore revegetation tactics that address multiple mission objectives.