The Truth about Trees
Please read the following statements about trees and mark them True or False:
_____Older trees nourish young trees who can’t get enough sun, so when older trees die, the younger trees are ready to spring up and take their place.
_____Healthy trees can help trees who are sick.
_____Trees can tell other trees that an attack of animals or insects is on the way, so the other trees can release chemicals into their leaves to make them inedible.
_____Trees keep soil from eroding; the cooler temperature in their shade helps preserve moisture in the soil and sustain the creatures who kept the soil healthy.
_____Trees return water to the atmosphere.
_____Trees feed and shelter hundreds of species of animals, bugs, and birds.
_____Trees give us oxygen to breathe.
_____Trees clapped their hands with joy, because they were so happy that the people of Israel were able to return to their homeland after having lived as refugees in Babylon.
If you marked every one of these statements as True, you have had a True knowledge of the treemendous contributions trees make to our well-being, the well-being of all creatures, and the planet Earth itself.
Since you probably suspected a newsletter cover written about trees was written by the Tree-Hugging Pastor, you probably also suspected you were supposed to mark all these Amazing Statements about trees as True.
You were right. All these statements about trees are True.
Since summer is the time for heading up to the Northwoods, it’s a good time to
1. hug a tree,
2. consider the health of the trees in the areas you visit. If there’s a forest being clear cut, try to find out why. Who owns the land? Who is buying the timber? Is the forest being restored or not? If you can’t find these things out, you should wonder why.
● Sometimes, for example, foresters claim that cutting trees allows younger trees to provide better habitat for creatures. This is the reason the DNR uses for the near-clear cuts out at the Navarino Wildlife Area.
● Sometimes trees cut on private lands aren’t subject to any rules or laws for restoring the forest, though the companies buying the wood may be part of a certification group abiding by certain principles when it comes to providing/selling wood products.
The first set of these principles was worked out by an organization called the Forest Service Council (FSC) in 1993. Among these principles are:
● harvesting trees at a sustainable/replace-able rate,
● avoiding harvesting “old growth” trees or trees in environmentally sensitive contexts,
● avoiding the use of mono-culture forests,
● caring for forest soil and watersheds,
● protecting forests along rivers,
● properly disposing waste and chemicals,
● respecting laws, indigenous people, and forest workers.
People Actually Do Care about Trees
If you were running a company selling wood products, you would, of course, consider these principles a big pain in the neck. Besides being a big pain in the neck, it is, however, good business. In a study conducted in two Home Depot stores in Oregon, FSC certified wood was sold alongside un-certified wood at the same price. People bought the certified wood on average twice as often as the un-certified wood. In the “liberal” university town, people bought the certified wood 6 times more often than the uncertified wood. When the price of the certified wood was raised by 2%, most customers preferred the cheaper product, though 37% still bought the certified product. Though for 63% of buyers, their bottom lines come first, people actually do care about trees,
Which is a good thing. The information above is from a book written by a Pulitzer Prize winning geography professor Jared Diamond. In his book Collapse, he painstakingly researched and tracked the demise of at least four civilizations and in each case, one of the contributing factors with the most wide-ranging effects on these civilizations was deforestation. Professor Diamond does not say deforestation will destroy the planet. But if we do destroy the planet, deforestation will be part of the reason.
Because the first thing God called the Earth to create for us was trees. Their purpose was to provide for us, for other creatures, and for the health of the planet’s earth itself. Trees have no conscious memories (that we know of), so with no thought for themselves, they are steadfast in their love. Which makes trees ideal Christians. They live to give.
(Some great books about trees: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and The Overstory by Richard Powers.)