“I wonder about the trees,” Robert Frost wrote. Monumental in size, alive but inert, they inhabit a different temporality than ours. Some species’ life spans can be measured in human generations. We wake to find that a tree’s leaves have turned, or register, come spring, its sturdier trunk. But such changes are always perceived after the fact. We’ll never see them unfold, with our own eyes, in human time.
Walt Whitman saw in trees the wisest of teachers and Hermann Hesse found in them a joyous antidote to the sorrow of our own ephemerality, notes Maria Popova, who also points to the inspirational work of Wangari Maathai, the the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for her triumph of promoting “ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development” by founding the Green Belt Movement, and responsible for planting 30 million trees and empowering women to partake in social change.
There is even a Green Man-like "Thinking Tree" in Puglia, Italy.
No one has been able to capture this 3,200-year-old tree in one image before – until now.
- Scientists proposed 10 golden rules for tree-planting, which they say must be a top priority for all nations in the 2020s. Tree planting is a brilliant solution to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity, but the wrong tree in the wrong place can do more harm than good, said experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The rules include protecting existing forests first and involving locals.
- There is growing interest in growing trees and maintaining woodlands, to the point where the likes of Brewdog have pledged to grow their own forest as a way to invest in carbon sequestration.
- Further reading:
- Underneath forests, fungal links create a network that connects trees to one another, even ones from different species, and allows them to share information. Ferris Jabrs’ account in the New York Times analysed how trees stay in touch - and what they share with one another.
- After visiting a two-thousand-year-old linden tree in England, William Bryant Logan explored the nearly forgotten practices of coppicing and pollarding, or cutting back a tree to stimulate growth, and discovered a symbiotic relationship between humans and trees.
- The writer Maria Popova says that trees are unworded thoughts, periscopes of perspective. They are both less alive than we think and more sentient than we thought. In them, we see what we are and see what we can be. From them, we draw our best metaphors for love, for art, for happiness.
- In an extended meditation on the relationship between place and intimacy, the body and the word, Carl Phillips walked among trees to explore what can and cannot be known.
- Over the next decade, Salesforce plans to conserve and restore 100 million trees. Mastercard plans to reach the same number in five years. Timberland is also planting trees: 50 million of them. Clif Bar is adding 750,000. Microsoft, which plans to invest in reforestation as one piece of a strategy to become carbon negative, is developing technology for conservation organisations. The companies are among 26 businesses, organisations, and cities that make up the new U.S. chapter of 1t.org, the movement to plant and conserve a trillion trees globally. The new group is coordinating pro-forest efforts that have grown quickly over the last few years. It’s designed to accelerate work to protect and plant trees, but also to make sure it happens strategically, reported Fast Company.
- Further reading:
- Ancient woodlands are more vital than ever - Notes from Hear and Far
- Campfire destroys ancient Whiteleaved Oak revered by pagans
- Forest Service Recommends Hugging Trees While You Can’t Hug Others
- Monumental trees worldwide
- Shorter lifespan of faster-growing trees will add to climate crisis
- The church forests of Ethiopia - Emergence Magazine
- The Social Life of Forests - New York Times
- Walking app helps tree lovers know their sycamores from their maples - The Guardian
- What if everyone in the world planted a tree? - BBC
2019 and earlier
- Challenging us to travel to spend time with memorable trees, Salon argued that "our species doesn't have a great track record with trees. Even a cursory look into the oldest, most interesting trees in recorded history reveals stories of thousand-year-old trees getting turned into picnic tables, a solitary tree in the middle of the Sahara getting run over by a drunk truck driver, and virgin European forests being decimated by the Romans for firewood and building materials."
- See more:
- 11 of Britain's most legendary trees - BBC
- A Day in the Life of Trees - The New Yorker
- Lumberjacks sell bigleaf maple trunks on the black market for a handsome fee
- Never Underestimate the Intelligence of Trees - Nautilus
- On how plants "talk" with one another
- On the consolations and lessons of nature
- On passion, wildness and disorder
- On making life from death
- On the life and death of trees
- On how human bodies can become trees
- On why trees are good for our health
- On the secret life of trees
- Planting trees alone will not stop global warming - Financial Times
- Should this tree have the same rights as you? - Robert Macfarlane
- The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated - Brain Pickings
- Thimmamma Marrimanu: The world’s largest single tree canopy - BBC
- Time to Take Up: Forest Bathing - eventbrite