Trees and People, People and Trees

It will not matter if you view the “beginning” as a serpent convincing Eve to eat the fruit from a tree or early man taking shelter and building fire to protect himself with trees. From the beginning, trees and forests have been intertwined with man, and man has been dependent upon them. Even the building of our country here in the U.S. has been greatly influenced, if not wholly leveraged, by the resources of forests and trees, because shelter, fuel, paper, furniture, and building materials are so crucial to civilization-building. Entire books have been written about the movement of civilizations revolving around trees as a resource. You the reader realize that some of the pulp used to make this Almanac was taken from trees. 

Considering their ubiquity, do you ever stop and think about your relationship with trees or even a single tree?  They serve as backdrops and alternatives to indoor spaces. I have held classes, been to weddings, eaten picnics, found shade and shelter, and just marveled at the roots of trees. I especially enjoy taking a moment with someone that is young and bringing their focus to a tree. Often, I know what variety of tree it is. And so just mentioning the tree can bring about an attitude of gratitude at that moment. “Do you know this tree is older than me? Did you know its a native and grew here all on its own? Did you know there is a whole forest not far from here?”

The fact is there are more trees in the U.S. than there were 100 years ago.  We are deforesting at 40% slower than the forest is growing, at least in our country. Thanks to industrialization, we now grow trees precisely to be cut down and turned into materials. We have forests around the globe, planted to help produce supplies and products that enrich and simplify our lives. However, the impact of climate change and the disruption of ecosystems is a growing global problem.

The Nature Conservancy has a goal to plant a billion trees to fight climate change. We are one generation away from losing the progress we have made to get back on track with forest. So we need to be proactive and make forestation part of our culture. After all, the old growth forests are the real keepers of wildlife. I believe having an Arbor day is a great start, but only if we genuinely observe the idea and practice what we learn. So what can we do? 

Here are a few thoughts that may work for you. We all have our strengths, and if we use them, we can enjoy the trees and forest while we take measures to help our planet. 

  • Learn what trees are native to your area, what their ideal conditions are, and how they help the environment. Here is a website you can use to find natives and other neat facts to help you: 
  • Share the knowledge and become a treespert.  
  • Look for ways to bring the climate to your home. Can you plant some natives? Will it help with your homes water and power usage long term? 
  • Start to practice love it and leave it soil health.  Can you trim and leave the branches and leaves for the soil to reclaim? If you have to remove a tree, can you leave the stump to feed the soil and maybe the next tree you bring in? What under/top tree conditions encourages wildlife to use the tree? Long grass, fallen debris, a water source?
  • Most of all, become someone that teaches and protects the trees and forest. Leave a legacy of education, and the trees most likely will outlive you.
  •  Using native trees, grow your own forest even if the people that come after you will be the max benefactor.  Active steps are necessary to move forward to benefit generations to come.   

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