Trees have so incredibly much inherent value, both intrinsically and materially. Society, in the large part, began to focus solely only them for their material value, especially those in positions of power. However, there is a growing trend of those recognizing both at the same time, that trees have material value and their mere existence, their lives, have great value. By that I mean more people are hugging trees. So not only must we replant forests, we must steward those already existing. And we need to do that whilst meeting some of the current demands, create new demands through altered purchasing, and create value for forests beyond just whacking them down. In the end, yes #letsplantsometreesyo and give back to these beings which have historically given so much to humanity. 13 tips below of how to make trees great again.
1. #letsplantsometreesyo: indeed reforestation is key to the continued existence of civilization. Both utility and native species must be considered. Trees help to build soil, regulate the hydrological cycle, create a more harmonious climate, create oxygen, and habitat for biodiversity. Their association with fungi, both when alive and dead, are vast cleaners, which is vital in this vastly polluted world we live in.
examining the tree planting terrace, a small scale earthwork in Slovakia, photo by Leigh Vukov
A screen shot of my web browser
2. Switch from google to Ecosia: we do web searches not “google it” as the cultural phrase dictates. By switching to the tree planting search engine Ecosia, we redistribute surplus away from a behemoth company to one that funnels resources into reforestation programs. They have unlocked a clever trick to plant trees, will you?
3. Edible landscaping: human beings across the world love to care for land. Many are blessed to have small plots of land in the suburbs or villages. Vast amount of resources are pumped into this yet beyond sights and smells not much return happens. Instead plant edible trees, shrubs, and bushes that give that extra functionality.
4. Incorporate tree planting for feeding livestock: the reason animals are so detrimental to the environment is actually the system of feeding annual grains to them indoors in a materialistic way that only modern man could manifest. Instead bring the extra feed they need in the form of the abundance of trees like acorns, carob bean pods, or black locust leaves.
5. Buy organically grown fruits, nuts and bean pods: trees can’t be great if they are sprayed with chemicals and fertilized synthetically. Only when they work in conjunction with nature are they great again. Honor those who do this, commit your purchasing power to employing these farmers not the ones who rely on chemicals.
organic apples, New Zealand, 2007
Organic Avocado, New Zealand, 2007
Organic Chestnuts, New Zealand, 2007
Organic Macadamia, New Zealand, 2007
maple syrup made at Treasure lake by Annie Woods, winter 2018
6. Get your sugars from trees not beets: yes most of the sugar one consumes is from sugar beets, not even sugar cane these days. Consequently buy expensive maple syrup, coconut sugar, or even fruit pulp like american persimmon for sugars. And if you eat less sugar you will be healthier so buying expensive sugar and seeing it as a luxury is a great overall approach.
7. Hug a tree: building relationships with trees is vital for the mutual existence of both humans and forests. Go to the forest and listen to the trees and let them feel you. Nature deficit disorder is well documented and take those who can’t go to the forest so easily, inner city children and elderly for example, to the forest so they also can connect.
Rocket Mass Heater at Strawbale Studio in Michigan, USA
pizza from the cob oven at Treasure Lake
Firewood from felled ash trees, note the holes in the tree from the emerald ash borer
Hard to hug this one, Shumard Oak, Treasure Lake, KY
8. Heat or cook with wood or solar, efficiently: when you have to heat or cook with wood you build an intimate relationship with trees. You have to harvest, cure it, learn to light it, manage the fires temperature, etc. When relying on other sources these external inputs have no story. If you choose to take this on make sure your stoves are efficient so wood, the life of a tree, is not wasted. Maybe even better is to spare the life of the tree through a solar stove like the GoSun or passively orientate your house so more heat is gained in the winter.
9. Keep a beehive: when you start beekeeping, you have a much more in tune rhythm with trees because of how much they give to the bees. You will be less likely to cut trees and you will want to plant more. Flowers and shade have a whole new meaning.
10. Tourism in trees: stay in a treehouse, take a canopy tour, or go on an eco holiday where you learn about trees and biodiversity of the local area. Camp on properties where people steward trees and are committed to planting more or caring for their already existing one, chemical free.
11. Curb your consumption: monoculture forestry supplies the ridiculous appetite of societies need for building material, toilet paper, and the like. Find ways around these things through natural building construction with earth or the wash instead of wipe method of hygiene. Also if you use wood, timber frame or buy wood locally so you connect with the ecosystem where they were cut.
12. Graze animals, particularly goats, in fire prone zones: catastrophic forest fires are becoming the norm. Because colonialism ruined the old growth forest, we have the opportunity to help forest with shepherded goats or even small mountain cows. This controls ladder fuels and allows fires to be normal not so violent and frankly deadly.
13. Forage and cultivate non-timber forest products: Foraging the abundance of forest products such as medicinal herbs and wild mushrooms really makes you grateful that forests exist. To further that, instead of cutting the forest, see what you can grow there like cultivated medicinal herbs, mushrooms, maple syrup, native fruits and nuts, all the while creating fish and wildlife habitat. Paw Paw, had to say it.
turning maple thinnings into mushroom logs, Treasure Lake, KY
Black Walnut and paw paw on ground for foraging, Treasure Lake, KY
Spicebush with red berry hanging on, great spice to forage, Treasure Lake, KY
burr oak, great eating acorn, Treasure Lake, KY
chicken of the woods foraged at Treasure Lake, KY
Abby enjoying the first paw paw harvested in 2018 at Treasure Lake, KY
In the end we must return to the woods not only for purely viewing pleasure, but also to be stewards. Parks have given us opportunities to be and observe, but besides the park workers, not to interact. Interacting and playing the symphony of life within the biodiverse interconnections that thrive amongst the forest dwellers, well thats how we make trees great again.