Trees do not often make it into the news. They do not have feet or paws. They tend to stay in one place and grow slowly. Even so, trees are important to our world. They take in carbon dioxide, and give off oxygen. Planting trees is one way that industrial companies can “trade” their carbon footprint. Trees provide shade, shelter for furred and feathered creatures, bring up minerals from deep in the earth, and sometimes even store moisture that is shared with other plants and animals around them.
Reasons Trees Make the News
Trees can make the news. This can happen when they fall and cause damage, bloom beautifully and cause traffic obstruction, need to be moved from a construction site, are dying for unknown reasons, burn in devastating forest fires, or are part of a planting project. Individual trees can be notable as a landmark and can become news when they require maintenance, removal or are part of a celebration.
Trees, like buildings and people, are often victims of bad weather. When trees fall on buildings or people, the scenario can be devastation. In June of 2021, areas in Melbourne, Australia experienced the results of when wind, trees, and storms combine with human habitations. Trees fell on homes, downed power lines, and even sent some people to emergency health services. This kind of even underscores the need to think about where you are planting a tree and how tall it will become. Trees that will grow to immense heights and size need to be planted away from human habitations; by the same token, consider carefully where you are building houses or roads.
Making Way for Progress
While many people can agree that a good highway or a new industrial establishment can provide benefits to communities, not everyone agrees about where those “improvements” should be located. If construction collides with memorable or even sacred trees, this can cause quite a lot of news and news coverage. When the Gija Jumulu, a giant boab bottle tree, was moved from Telegraph Creek to Kings Park, its more than 3000-mile journey was a story with a happy ending. This is not always true when trees and development clash. One tree was cut because it dropped giant seed cones on passersby, while another was simply “not on the list” of protected trees.
Dying for Unknown Reasons
Environments change, and when they do plants and animals, as well as people, are affected. While environmental science has advanced a great deal in the last century or so, humankind still has much to learn about the world we live in. Baobab trees can be seen from space, but their huge size is not enough to protect them. Although many theories have been advanced as to the cause, no one is completely sure why these iconic giants are slowly dying off with very few young baobabs to replace the aged trees.
Forest fires make news no matter where they are. In addition to the pandemic, the year 2020 saw record numbers of wildfires, making it a year of true terror. While California and Australia might be the areas many people associate with forest fires, they are certainly not the only places to experience these panic inducing events. A map published by Aljazeera (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/19/mapping-wildfires-around-the-world-interactive) reveals hot spots for forest fires around the world. Siberia and the Amazon are two places where acres of forest have burned, but there are many more places where these devastating events have occurred.
What Can You Do?
As an individual, you might feel powerless in the face of the installation of highways, shopping malls, careless campers, and environmental change. But you can make a difference.
- Plant a Tree. The first, and most obvious, is to plant a tree. Maybe you can only afford to plant one tree, or maybe your tree has to live in a pot for a while. Or you might have to join an organization that volunteers to plant trees and to care for them. The goal is simple: replace the trees that are used, burned, die of age, or removed so that no matter what, there will be enough trees in the world to replenish the air, used to make beautiful things, and to generally be part of our ecosystems.
- Fund a Tree. Perhaps you do not have a place to plant a tree. In that case, donate to an organization that is engaged in reforestation. Amazingly enough, those big tree planting projects can devour an amazing amount of money. Planting trees is hard work. The land needs to be prepared, the seed or seedlings purchased after researching the best tree for the area, seedlings might need to spend a year or two in a nursery before being planted in the wild. Workers need wages. Planting trees is hard work that involves digging, lifting, hauling, bending, and walking. Some projects might get by on volunteers, but if you are planning to plant hundreds of acres with thousands of trees, it is going to be slow going if your workers have to spend at several hours a week at their day job. Paying tree planters not only help get those seedling trees into the ground quicker, it also helps local economies.
- Buy from Places that Promise to Plant a Tree. While it is probably true that many companies that say they are going to plant trees do not truly follow through, many of them do. Whether you are purchasing from a company that promises to plant a tree for everyone used in their industry or one that promises to plant a tree for every pair of shoes, or socks, or whatever, that is a move in the right direction.
- Plant Mindfully. When you plant, be mindful of where you are placing that tree. Is it close to a major metropolis? Is it near a power line? How close is it to your home? Do you have room to create a firebreak should your area experience a major fire of any sort? By thinking carefully about where a tree is planted you increase its chance of living a long, healthy life. If you are not sure if you are selecting the best sort of place for a tree, or the best tree for the spot, ask and expert. Our tree guy, Tony, got his start rescuing endangered dragon trees. He would be the perfect person to ask, and we have all sorts of trees from which you can choose.
As you might guess, we like trees. And we hope to see a lot more of them in the news.