WHAT COULD BE STILL DONE?
Who can ever forget the thrilling beauty of “Lord of the rings” trilogy with all its amazing and enchanting moments? This book will forever be the part of my spirit, soul and heart and not because of timeless fairy tale but because of so many comparing situations with reality. You can always find parallels between our and their world, between now and then, in some metaphysical time dimension.
Not all of us who wander, and wonder are actually lost and Tolkien knew that very well, especially when he created the figure of Radagast, funny brown wizard who was a friend of woods and animals. He was so involved in forest life that he easily noticed that something is wrong there and that seemed to be some dark force on rise in the woods that is slowly getting sick and dying. His concern was about the Greenwood that was hit my sick vegetation and animals that are passing away, without some concrete reason. The odd wizard warned Gandalf that dangerous witchcraft is eating good woods and turning into Mirkwood, full of evil and shadows.
In our modern time, we don’t have any Greenwood and Mirkwood but we do have something that is simply not as it should be in our forests. Our beautiful trees are getting sick and dye and we event don’t have idea why.
The dying woods are not the problem of one, certain area but the worldwide problem on rise, due to the climate change and environmental aggressive politics. Some researchers are worried that this trend could be dangerous to the global ecosystem: „Estimates suggest that forests have absorbed up to 30% of anthropogenic carbon emissions in the past few decades. Though the overall effects of tree loss on the carbon cycle are complex because old trees and the young ones that replace them take up carbon at different rates, rising mortality appears to be affecting forests’ ability to lock up carbon. The researchers in the new study think that higher mortality rates may begin to outweigh the capacity of remaining and new trees to maintain that uptake at the same level – and potentially lead to an overall reduction of canopy cover and biomass.”
How will we start to cure the disease when we even don’t know what is a disease and the main cause of the death of trees across the globe? Based on some statistics and the Project TreeMort, about 12% of tree mortality is caused by wildfires, strong winds, harvesting and pest outbreaks. Its not only about the increasing of the temperature of our Planet and global warming outcome but there is also the risk of army of pests that is conquering our forests, with no mercy. The tress are experiencing the drought stress for years and their immune system is weak and easily to be attacked by invasive species. The U.S. has a severe problem with dying woods, in almost every state. Especially is visible in the northern lowland areas of Michigan, where spruce budworm is doing its terrible job. The spruce budworm is a typical pest for North America, pretty much active in Michigan, where this native defoliator can feed itself on balsam fir of Michigan woods. The illness that is an outcome is the main tree mortality we are facing with and could be known as Beech bark disease, oak wilt and emerald ash borer.
There are many other indicators of wood silent death and one of them is a human anti-environmental logic and attitude. This is not only happening in Michigan or USA but in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa…all over, the brainless approach with no end. The people are driven by greed and since there is no industrial ethic, the corporations build new roads, rails, steel network, water irrigation system that is against natural rules. We impact the complete ecosystem and each of our activities is, like a butterfly effect, causing the pain and death to someone or something else. The alluring woods are the victims of our lack of sustainable development and responsible Eco policy.
I find the project “Eyes on the Forest” launched by MSU´s Department of Entomology one of the best solutions in this situation. Why? The program focuses on the observation of the wood through the volunteering research team, where each of those volunteers’ explorers pick up the certain tree and adopt it, monitoring it and reporting any changes or abnormality. This is very difficult individual work that requires a lot of responsibility and sensibility, but it is not impossible.
We must learn how to recognize snag in the wood. The forest ecology defines snag as dead or dying tree and I believe this is very crucial to notice in the age we live in, because trees are life itself. The woods are the lungs of our Planet and if they are gone, for this or that reason, we will experience the hell on the Earth. Not all snag or dead woods are negative because, above all, we need to remember that Nature has rehabilitated itself all the time, with or without us. As living organisms, the trees have their life span. After all, their death turns them, in life circle, into the useful natural components and habitat for other living creatures. The whole process is benign if people don’t interfere themselves, with industrial formulas that are against natural common sense and order. I will not deny the ecological value of dead trees, but I would like only to accent that the invasive species and their attack on healthy woods should be our concern. Nevertheless, I am opened for all other perspectives regarding this issue. It is interesting to compare the managed forests on the West with wild woods and unmanaged areas. What is the difference? Some experts even say that natural system of woods with snag is even healthier as clean and optimized western wood. Why is that? First, we can’t replace the touch of nature and its role in disponing the components among all earthlings. In pure intact ecosystem, the nature knows what to do with dead woods and how to expose it to those in needs, that get their habitat. In our world, snag is used for our own interests and removed from nature as the bad make up. We think we manage it but, at the end, we make it worse for the whole flora and fauna.
The invasive species are attacking our woods due to our unlimited industrial and chemical activity. They do make our trees sick and cause their death, but this must be addressed through the serious revision of Environmental Policy. On the other side, the snag must be accepted as natural process and it must have place in the perfect collage of our forests. It is not always nice to see death among life but if it means home for those who and that still live, it must be respected. Since we start deciding for nature, everything is wrong. Even the death of woods is wrong in the wrong way.
Next time when you are in wood, try to understand that you are a visitor and protector at the same time. Make sure you observe and take care. If you can help and save, do not hesitate….if it is late, let the dead be still alive among those that have no another home but the snag, we find ugly and decayed and never learn that home is always the most beautiful thing, wherever it is.