No, this is not about dogs. It is a short treatise about trees. Short, because there is so much more that could be said. About trees, because they are so important and, generally, so under
Long before dogs or any other domesticated animal, the earliest of humans depended on trees for shelter, for tools and weapons and then, once fire was discovered, for heat and cooked
food. During the hunter-gatherer period of human development, trees and shrubs provided much of the food supply as well.
A little later, as the thousands of years passed by, humans also depended on wood from treesfor means of transportation, be that by dug-out canoe, wagon, chariot or ships. Later still, as
paper from trees came along, Mr. Gutenberg and others were supplied with the means to educate and publicize. In fact, until coal and petroleum products appeared (relatively recently),
trees were the essential supplier of the various needs of the human species.
European expansion into Africa, Asia and the Americas were not just dictated by fish, spices, silver and gold. The hunger for lumber also resulted in voyages of exploration, leading to the
colonization of virgin territories and founding of lumber-related settlements.
Even if it seems that petroleum-derived products have replaced wood to a large extent, lumber and the processing of wood fibre is still a very important to the world's economy and our daily
needs and wants. So much so that it is justified to claim that too many of the world’s trees are being cut down. According to some studies only about half of the ancient world's trees exist
today. Deforestation to clear trees for other uses, agriculture and horticulture chiefly, decimate the forestry resources of such countries as Brazil and Indonesia. It is claimed that thousands of acres of trees disappear from the face of the earth every single day. Such continues the hunger of the human species.
And then there is climate change. With all the blame that is placed on human-caused factors, not enough is said about deforestation. The reduction of trees on the planet is indeed a most
significant factor in the climate change challenge. Trees are miracle workers and we need more of them to fight or equalize all other man-made negative environmental impacts.
In short, trees fight pollution. Trees constantly take in carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, noxious dust and other pollutants in the air. And they breathe out oxygen. One acre of mature forest can absorb six tons of carbon dioxide and put out four tons of oxygen.
Carbon dioxide is the stuff some industries produce, cars and trucks produce, and what we all produce by living our modern way of life. Trees get rid of it. To put it another way, that one acre
of trees absorbs in one year the same amount of carbon dioxide as the average car produces that is driven for 26,000 miles, or about 40,000 km. At the same time, that same amount of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 humans - for a whole year.
The conclusions are obvious. While we cannot stop some countries from using their forestry resources as they see fit, we can and should counter-act their impact by planting more trees.
China is a major polluter, but it also plants millions of trees every year.
Canada's global pollution contribution is minimal. Furthermore, we have lots of trees. Nonetheless, we have the opportunity, nay the duty, to plant more trees, many more. I am not a
"Treehugger." We need a healthy forest industry. At the same time I maintain that there should not be any kind of harvesting or clear-cutting policy in Nova Scotia or anywhere in Canada
which does not mandate replanting. There is so much unused farm land in Nova Scotia , which cries out for a government-led program to plant trees, not only for future economic benefits, but also to improve the oxygen-carbon dioxide imbalance.
Trees have many values and benefits, on a smaller and more private level. They moderate the impact of the sun, wind and rain. Trees properly placed reduce the need for air conditioning by 30% and can save 20-40% of heating costs. Some trees are not only beautiful, they also provide us with delicious fruit. Appropriate tree placements can increase the value of a
residence by six to seven per cent. A community full of trees creates a lasting positive impression for visitors, tourists and anyone contemplating a move.
Two years ago, the president of Rotary International promoted the planting of trees among the
35000 clubs around the world. As a result, millions of trees were planted. The Amherst Rotary Club is planning to celebrate its 85th anniversary in 2020 by donating and planting 85 trees,
some at the Rotary Park, some at Camp Tidnish and the rest in Town, wherever the Town officials designate.
We should all plant more trees! We need the oxygen!
Morris Haugg is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.