The Recorder – My Turn: It’s Time to Understand the Importance of Trees

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Posted: 1/10/2022 12:04:02 PM

Modified: 1/10/2022 12:03:14 PM

Perhaps this is the influence of Kim Stanley Robinson. I highly recommend his new novel, “The Ministry of the Future” – a true page turner, full of intrigue and insight into the next decade or two.

Perhaps these are all reports from COP 26, the international climate conference, highlighting progress towards recognizing the need to keep warming at 1.5 degrees C, while acknowledging the inadequacy of all commitments – just words? – made by governments. I am definitely influenced by the three weeks I spent last summer hiking in the Sierra Nevada, where my son is a ranger for the Forest Service. Majestic Jeffrey pines, western white pines, western junipers and cedars blanketed the slopes and encircled the lakes. In the West, I have also witnessed blackened mountain sides with charred trees – the relentless news of wildfires in the West, as well as in Australia and Greece bring a keen awareness of these. miraculous centuries – old anchors of our existence.

Trees are the best “technology” we have for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists like Bill Moomaw, who contributes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and environmentalists like Suzanne Simard, author of “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” are clear: Preserving old growth forests is our best bet for slowing the devastation. impacts of global warming. The benefits of these long-lived creatures are numerous. In addition to growing wood, nuts, and fruit from carbon dioxide and water, trees build rich soil filled with fungi and other microbes that also sequester carbon.

Trees are the backbone of many ecosystems, creating many layers of habitat for a decreasing number of species we share this planet with. Trees are the conduits that draw water from deep underground, through xylem tubes, then release steam through the millions of stomata on each leaf – the steam cools the surrounding area. Without trees to connect the earth and the sky, the landscapes become desert.

If you’ve seen aerial photos of the Amazon rainforests cleared for planting oil palm plantations – a suddenly needed ingredient in junk food – you know it’s high time to rethink our actions for the next hundred years, not the next business cycle. Planting new trees is a good thing, but not as a solution to reducing fossil fuel emissions or slowing the average global temperature. The mature forests that exist today have a far greater impact than the most diverse imitation we can attempt to recreate.

As we put the ornaments away and put the dried conifer on the sidewalk – or maybe take it to a goat farm – bow down. Smell the needles and give thanks. Consider that perhaps those briefly appreciated branches that we place decorations on would serve us better if kept alive. Consider a new, reusable sculpture to hang ornaments on – twisted vines on the back or a cone-shaped frame laced with ropes. … Perhaps the shortage of imported fir trees this year is an opportunity to send a message to the northern boreal forests: let the forests live!

Consider doing what my heart asked me to do and pay a local arborist to grow a tree. Next year, when I get my Christmas card reminder, I will pay this tree planter again and again not to destroy this vital organism. Can we extend this ‘adopt a tree’ system to protect other vulnerable forests here in West Mass?

At the 2022 Convention on Biological Diversity, governments around the world will be called on to commit to conserving 30% of critical lands and oceans by 2030, to slow spiraling extinction rates. If our planet wants to protect 30% of existing natural spaces by 2030, let’s start here in our own backyard.

Laurie Boosahda lives in South Deerfield.

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