Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tree Lover? Yes - Tree Hugger? Definitely Not

I really love trees. But I love my Husqvarna 353 chainsaw almost as much on a given day. So I really have no qualms about pulling it out and turning a deserving tree into a quarter cord of firewood if necessary. And yes, it is necessary sometimes. There is a school of thought (to which I do not subscribe) that because trees are good and beneficial for the environment, then more of them are better. Ummmmm. No, not at all, actually.

In nature, trees are born, grow, and a lucky few survive and thrive. The rest lose the competition to reach the sky, and they diminish, and die out far before their alotted time. Even those that survive eventually die off, to make way for new trees joining the race to reach the sky.

Occasionally I drive by woodlots, where the 'land manager' has never seen fit to go in and cull the necessary quantity of trees to keep the forest healthy. What ends up (examples can be seen in woodlots of reforested pine) is essentially a forest of standing posts of firewood and tinder, with the majority of these 'trees' on the verge of death, or dead already. Could somebody just get out a chainsaw, do the right thing and selectively cut out a bunch of trees, for the good of the forest, preferably before the lot starts into an irreversible decline? I just can't understand people who think trees are capable of growing to a healthy maturity standing 5 feet apart from one another!

In native forests, there are many natural things that selectively thin out trees: Beaver, deer, elk and other animals remove bark and kill young trees, forest fires allow select species to grow in quickly afterwards, and the natural occurrence of varieties of trees such as birch, which take up room and quickly die off so as to provide nutrients for those trees which continue to live and grow after. So with trees in a garden or a planted woodlot, without any of these constraints, it is necessary to have humans intervene, and select those trees which will live, and those which will be felled and removed for the good of the remaining living trees. If this is not undertaken, the health of all the trees is potentially at risk.

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