Tree Huggers Unite

tree huggers unite

By Bob Hanson

More than once, I have been called a “tree hugger.” Although I’m sure it wasn’t intended as a compliment, I am happy to admit I do love trees. Trees provide homes for wildlife and birds, food for our tables, lumber for our homes and shade for Mother Earth.

Growing up in the windswept flatlands of North Dakota, about the only conifer tree we ever saw was our yearly Christmas Tree. When my family moved to Enumclaw, Washington, suddenly I was in a forest wonderland, surrounded by Douglas Fir, cedar, hemlock and other giant trees. My friends and I made pocket money by going into the woods and stripping the bark off of cascara trees, which we dried and sold at the local feed store. When I went to college, I would have majored in forestry except for the fact that in 1949-50, forestry grads weren’t finding jobs. That changed three or four years later, but by then, I had gone a different direction.

These days, trees and forests are enjoying a wave of popularity. Most folks, except for our president, are concerned about climate change.  Forests are one of the best solutions for holding down the rising level of greenhouse gases – at least CO2.

Benefits of Trees
tree huggers unite
Trees help cool the earth, provide shade and help prevent flooding.

Trees store CO2 as they grow. Capturing carbon certainly isn’t the only solution to global warming – we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – but trees can be a part of the solution. There are two sides to this effort: preventing existing forests from being clear-cut or burned to clear the land for agriculture, and planting trees to establish new forests and replace trees lost to fire, logging and insect damage. A trillion trees planted could store up to 205 metric tons of carbon. That’s two-thirds of the amount humans have produced in the last 100 years.

There are several good nonprofit groups working to prevent deforestation: Save the Redwoods League, American Forests, the Rainforest Alliance, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, just to mention a few. Tree huggers unite: all of these groups deserve our support.

Reforestation Efforts

Researchers in Switzerland determined the planet can support nearly 3.5 million square miles in trees without affecting cities or agriculture. The United States, for example, has over 397,000 square miles available for planting.

Other groups are working on the “reforestation” side of the problem. The World Economic Forum leaders, for example, established a trillion trees campaign at the Davos conference. The United Nations and many other groups are working on the challenge.

tree huggers unite
Forests sequester CO2, protect watersheds and provide habitat for birds and animals.

One encouraging development was announced in December. A U.K. company, Dendra, plans on planting 500 billion trees by 2060 using artificial intelligence and drones. The drones can plant 120 seedpods per minute. The company estimates it would take just 400 teams of two drone operators, with 10 drones per team, to plant 10 billion trees per year. The cost is much less than planting by hand and makes it possible to plant in hard-to-reach places. The drones use pressurized air to fire the seeds into the ground. The seedpods penetrate the earth and start to grow, once activated by water. Wouldn’t this be a better use of our tax dollars than building more nuclear weapons and aircraft carriers?

Closer to home, perhaps the newest committee in Rossmoor is Sustainable Rossmoor’s Tree-Planting Committee. About 20 of us have banded together to see what we can contribute to this world-wide effort. If you would like to join us, send me an email and let me know.

Tree huggers unite! The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second-best time is today.

Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, April 29, 2020.  Email Bob Hanson at doctoroutdoors@comcast.net

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