Recently I have sadly been the witness to a good many trees being felled. These trees were not diseased or getting in the way of development or undermining existing housing. They were trees which had stood for a good many years, approximately 60-80 years in some cases, in the same place with the same housing and gardens around them. They provided many things, interest to an otherwise boring boundary, shade in the summer, screening, scenic and seasonal variety (as a number of them were indigenous deciduous species). However, they were all in that bracket of “oh it’s just a tree”. It’s just an ash, it’s just a poplar, it’s just a beech, it’s just a pine, it’s just a willow. Or in the bracket of “Ooooh you don’t want to encourage them, they are likely to take over.” Frankly as we are talking about mature trees they had already “taken over”, they had done their territorial conquering and been enjoyed by many for a good many season.
Some of them provided boundary screening, some of them provided shoring up of banks, some of them provided water absorbency. All of them provided oxygen, all of them provided homes to birds, insects, mosses and other ecologies, all of them helped ground stability and water management.
A couple of years ago there was a huge protest to a local development which involved a number of mature and valued trees being felled and disruption to what had been long standing park and pond areas. Just recently with the heavy rainfall gardens which have never been known to flood are now flooding. All because these ancient and valued species didn’t fit with the bottom of the developer’s balance sheet.
The loss of these seemingly “ordinary” species becomes even more sad when one delves deeper into what trees are about and realise what mighty living beings they truly are, what they do for us, the ecology and how much we need them to keep our environment in balance. Yet there still seems to be a casualty to removing them, cutting them down. To me trees are like friends. I truely understand that sometimes they need and even thrive by being coppiced or having professional surgery carried out. Sometimes they are simply too old, too big, too dangerous, too diseased to stay. After all we all come to the end of our lives, we all have our season.
What I don’t get is that too often there is an automatic default to, cut it out, get rid of it, it’s in the way.
They take time to grow, and fast growing replacements, often don’t have the same ecological or esthetical value, so you can’t replace as fast as it’s been removed.
Then there is a deeper level of the value of the tree, the medicinal one, even spiritual one. Every tree has it’s own medicine, be it from bark, leaf, nut or blossom – they all carry their own medicine, in the form of tincture, oil, pulse or even active ingredients for a modern drug medication.
They are known to have a profound effect on our psyches, enabling better relaxation, destressing, grounding and even ideal space for meditation. They have been the muses for poets, writers and artists. For those who are sensitive enough to access the plant consciousness world they are truly living beings with their own spirits and guardians. In many indigenous traditions they are our elders and teachers. In Native American traditions they were the Standing People, with their roots deep in the ground, trunk bodies and limbs high into the skies, they form the connection between earth and sky and are in many ways our living breathing oxygen tent.
In our world of wastage, toxins and diseases, they are the true teachers in 0 waste product cycle. They form their own seeds, support eco systems while alive, and return to the ground as mulch or fire wood at the end. There service from sapling to mulch is faultless.
With this millennia of service, surely they can expect and should receive significantly more respect and care from us humans, than they generally appear to get in our day to day life.