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Monday, April 21, 2014

Bureaucrats vs. Trees

First, Trees don't exist in order to be "versus" anything. Depending upon your philosophical and/or spiritual views, trees are a living part of the earth's biodiversity and they’ve come to represent life-giving and life-sustaining natural wonder. 

Humans tend to apply the word “usefulness” to all things of the Earth – and, other than water, trees are probably one of the most useful of natural things. 

A school child can readily list things we get from trees – houses, musical instruments, fire wood, tables and chairs, etc.. Their parents can add to that list – baseball bats, tool handles, barns, briquettes, paper, chemicals for a variety of products ... and, of course, Parks With Trees! 

Today, universities have scores of courses related to forest science, management, conservation and ecology. And, a day doesn't go by without reference to the downside of deforestation or the upside of trees reducing atmospheric carbon or intercepting storm water.

In earlier times before there was much thought given to where trees were in the cycle of all living things... trees as timber were staggeringly important to nations and states.  It was upon wooden ships humans explored beyond local shores and then circumnavigated the globe. It was with their wooden fleets that nations traded with, fought and conquered distant people. 

In fact, a case can be made, the almost unbroken forests discovered along the East Coast of the U.S. was a major reason for colonizing America. Britain and France had been warring for such a long time replacing war and supply ships was a priority and since they’d almost depleted their own forests, American forests were a bonanza. Imagine, hundreds of miles of dense forests of giant first-growth trees along America’s Atlantic shoreline … almost immediately these trees were cut and shipped to Europe giving foreign navies new vitality.

Regarding the spiritual essence of trees, most people have read about Druids and their beliefs concerning trees. But almost every culture and world religion incorporates trees, in some manner, within their value system – ethereal spiritual elements are believed to reside within trees or the tree is a significant symbol, often of something very important.  The most obvious symbol is the Christian cross - the wood crucifix.

I’ve spent a good deal of my life hand-making furniture and during those years I’ve also studied the history of wood, craftsmanship and the cultural relationships of wood, tools and human beliefs regarding these things.

Whether it’s Early American or the guilds of pre-World War II Great Britain and Japan – certain words or phrases are common – “The Soul of a Tree” and “A Reverence for Wood” are just two of many.

And there are quotes:

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and it has made a difference.”
– Robert Frost

 “As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.” – Anonymous

“Cannot see the wood for the trees.” – Anonymous

“A chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up.” – Brigham Young

“An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from.” – Timothy Dexter

The last quote brings this blog full circle to the part about Bureaucrats vs. Trees …

The following is from here.

Top 22 Benefits of Trees
Here are 22 of the best reasons to plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing: 

Trees combat the greenhouse effect

Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases, causing global temperatures to rise. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles. 

Trees clean the air

Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. 

Trees provide oxygen

In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people. 

Trees cool the streets and the city

Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 6°F in the last 50 years as tree coverage has declined and the number of heat-absorbing roads and buildings has increased. Trees cool the city by up to 10°F, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves. 

Trees conserve energy

Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants. 

Trees save water

Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture. 

Trees help prevent water pollution

Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies. 

Trees help prevent soil erosion

On hillsides or stream slopes, trees slow runoff and hold soil in place. 

Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors. 

Trees provide food

An apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot. Aside from fruit for humans, trees provide food for birds and wildlife. 

Trees heal

Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue. 

Trees reduce violence

Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear. 

Trees mark the seasons

Is it winter, spring, summer or fall? Look at the trees. 

Trees create economic opportunities

Fruit harvested from community orchards can be sold, thus providing income. Small business opportunities in green waste management and landscaping arise when cities value mulching and its water-saving qualities. Vocational training for youth interested in green jobs is also a great way to develop economic opportunities from trees. 

Trees are teachers and playmates

Whether as houses for children or creative and spiritual inspiration for adults, trees have provided the space for human retreat throughout the ages.  

Trees bring diverse groups of people together

Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community involvement and empowerment that improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. All cultures, ages, and genders have an important role to play at a tree planting or tree care event. 

Trees add unity

Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride. 

Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife

Sycamore and oak are among the many urban species that provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels. 

Trees block things

Trees can mask concrete walls or parking lots, and unsightly views. They muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, and create an eye-soothing canopy of green. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare. 

Trees provide wood

In suburban and rural areas, trees can be selectively harvested for fuel and craft wood. 

Trees increase property values

The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent. 

Trees increase business traffic

Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in. A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the store fronts instead of whizzing by.

Alas, I could find no list of positive values associated with "Bureaucrats".

photo and thoughts,
Bill Stankus
April 2014

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