The Lorax said “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” Though the story is comprised of imaginary characters and a great deal of whimsy, the message transcends fiction, ages, and times. As the Lorax is a fictional character, and we are the highest evolved animals on Earth WE are the ones who speak for the trees. Our voices differ, our agendas differ, we are not one single Lorax. How can we all come together to support and understand what the trees need?
Although the Lorax was a fury little creature, he seemed to be quite old and wise. Without the connection to nature our ancestors had, we turn to books and lessons-learned to understand the wilderness. Forest management takes a great deal of study and even then, it’s not an exact science. There are still many differing ideas and opinions which are visible in different agencies and those behind the major decisions (National Park Service, National Forest Service, state departments, county departments…).
On a smaller scale, what can we as individual landowners and citizens of this broad world do? Step outside of yourself for a bit–as the alpha mammal, humans often make near-sighted decisions that affect themselves right now. We are here for a short time. The Earth is here for the long run, and most trees in our backyard will outlive us and some will even outlive our grandchildren. This may mean very little to many people. So, what can trees do for us? The list is really endless so I’ll just hit on a few:
- Lower energy costs: provide shade to lessen the need for artificial air in the summer; slow/dissipate winds in winter months to improve heat retention
- Increase property values
- Improve the water quality of your groundwater and the water of lakes, streams, and rivers
- Decrease sedimentation, chemical run-off, and soil erosion
- Stress recovery: studies show spending time in a forested area can improve your mood, lower tension, improve mental health and creativity as described in an article cited in Unplug to Recharge
Trees/forests are essential for the wildlife (and plants too) with which we share our space. Certain tree species are essential for some animals. In Michigan, the Kirtland’s Warbler depends on Jack Pine for their breeding habitat. Standing dead trees and downed trees both provide important cover, nesting space, and food sources for mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and the lot. Between the personal benefits and the indirect ecological benefits, we should be able to find at least one reason to speak for the trees. Check out this amazing video of a man who speaks through his actions:
“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees” —Theodore Roosevelt