Why Are There Trees?
Trees Shape and condition our World
Land is comprised of different types of terrain mainly by the condition of the soil, rocks and the trees. It can be as forest (pictured), as mountainous or alpine, as desert or rolling plains.
But land without trees, such as the Nullabor (no trees) plains in Australia, is barren except for salt bushes, some native flora and fauna, as well as being dry, hot, unproductive and undesirable. Land with lots of trees is productive, cool, wet, attractive and very much alive. So if we remove the trees from this type of land what are we doing to the earth?
We cannot survive without trees and the less trees there are the less there will be in the future. This lens explains why we should stop killing off the forests. It talks about protecting the trees we have and about planting them at every opportunity. It pleads with the world to stop the murder of our future and to hopefully reverse climate change.
The Balance of Nature
How it used to be
Some say the world is 3 billion years old, others say 6 billion, but whose counting? What matters is that it took a very long time for the earth to get to the hospitable state that it is now, or was, until recently. That is fit for human habitation and long term survival.
It was once completely out of the question for warm-blooded animals to survive in the heat and conditions that prevailed during, say, the Dinosaur Age. More people can relate to that description better than to the Miocene or Pleistocene Eras. These times are geologically determined by fossils of mollusk and things which don't have much bearing on this story.
But they do in a way because mollusks are sea dwelling creatures and where they are found is in areas once covered by sea which either rose up to form mountains or the sea levels dropped leaving the land exposed. But these were also times without trees. What is found are more primitive plant life like ferns, algae and such. The climate was vastly different to that of today, or what we have experienced in our lifetime and which is now changing.
It appears that the first trees may have been a type of fern that developed into a primitive palm tree with a trunk. The first known trees evolved around 450 million years ago, well before the first vertebrates or warm blooded creatures emerged. The first trees with leaves and roots evolved some 100 million years later, so it was a slow process. All the while the conditions were also changing.
If we look at this as a great master plan with the ultimate goal of making a habitable planet for humans then think about what needed to be done to create that environment. The food we eat, the plants we depend on, the medicines we need and the houses to shelter us. The only thing from which these provisions could be derived was the earth, But the conditioning factor, at least in recent times, has been the trees
Do You Consider Trees as Valuable Assets? - Or are they just nuisance value?
I love trees and value their presence in the landscape
Big men with Their Toys - No one can stop them
Innovation or a Master Planner?
It all happened over time
Roots were an important part of tree evolution, as are seeds and the means to disperse them far and wide. Wind comes to mind for this job but the real heroes of seeds are birds, reptiles and insects. We know there were plant eating dinosaurs and early birds as well as other species that could do the job and obviously insects were around at that time to pollinate and bury the seeds in the ground.
But birds, insects and animals that dwell in and around trees also evolved with them. Reptiles took flight when jumping from tree to tree and wings developed from their arm limbs. Bird eating insects jumped around and flying was the next stage in their development. Once in flight berries and fruit ingested resulted in seeds being egested. On dropping to the ground with other waste material they sprouted into new plants or trees.
This was helped along by the deposits of manure from animals and birds that came to feed on the seeds and then on the flowers that evolved to attract them. Then earthworms evolved to condition and fertilize the land further.
Other insects played their part by ingesting the rotten material of both plants and animals and taking that down to mix with the composting soil until it reached a stage where new types of seeds development lead to new species of plants, animals and birds.It was a balancing act whereby all was in harmony.
Land once covered by sea was extremely salty and only salt tolerant plants, such as mangroves, could adapt until the rotting material built up the compost and other plants evolved and adapted. Slowly the ground built in height with soil deposits rather than sand. But the salt remains underneath the soil in most areas and if conditions change, such as through the logging of trees, the water table can rise and the salt is brought back to the surface.
This is how and why there is a major march of desert conditions across many continents, including Asia where north western regions of China are losing incredible amounts of agriculture land. Here the desert is racing toward the sea and the cost is heavy.
The millions of years all this took to happen is being wiped out in a few decades of selfish, ignorant and unnecessary land clearing and the death of forests. It is like the billionaires who are doing it and the misguided governments allowing it to happen expect that everything will return to normal in a short while. They are sadly mistaken and humanity and all life on earth is already paying the price.
Gobi Desert in China is on the Move
Do You Think We Can Stop Forest Devastation? - Or is it just too difficult
Should forests be logged, even if it preserves jobs?
You Can't Stop This Devastation - Its for the economy and progress
The Facts About Deforestation
Look at the cost
Trees greatly influence the environment in that they moderate the climate and shade the land. Through transpiration of gasses, that is removing CO2 from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen into the air they improve air quality. They also store water and carbon dioxide in their trunks and roots and draw water from deep underground to release it into the atmosphere and so deliver moisture which is then sucked up and falls as rain.
This happens because of a capillary action within the trunk and the expiration of moisture through the leaves. As it evaporates and enters the atmosphere more moisture is drawn in through the roots, rather like air through a ventilation shaft. It is this function that keeps the water table low and allows the soil under the tree to remain fresh and for plants and animals to live there. If the water table rises, as it has in many areas in Australia where massive tree clearing has taken place, the soil sours and salt rises to destroy it. Once this happens the land is no longer good for plant growth unless it is salt tolerant plants that move in.
One can see in this function the wonderful way the climate and plants act together to make the world habitable. But man is changing that. By massive reduction of forests, such as in the Amazon where something like the area of several football fields are cleared every 10 seconds or so, the climate of the earth and the quality of the atmosphere is being severely altered.
Trees harbor wildlife and many animals and birds, as well as insects and invertebrates, make their homes in their trunks or in the deadwood and leaves they shed. They moderate the climate by lessening the effects of sun, wind, and rain. Their evolution is almost like it is part of a master plan to prepare the earth for warm blooded animals that could not survive without them, including humans. But with the loss of habitat animals are fast becoming extinct and humans are suffering the effects as well.
The leaves of trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) which it uses, along with water and sunlight, to form chlorophyll, the substance the leaves manufacture through photosynthesis. The water is drawn up from the roots and the CO2 is taken in from the air. The water is split into hydrogen and oxygen molecules by the energy from the light. The hydrogen combines with the CO2 in the cell to form a simple sugar The oxygen (O2) is then expelled from the leaves through the same little holes underneath the leaves called stomata that the CO2 used to enter. There is a lot of complicated detail available to understand this process fully but for now that will have to do.
Trees evolved in association with the CO2 in the atmosphere and the process of photosynthesis provides food for the plant but also for many animal species that live off it. including humans. The sugar manufactured in the leaves is stored in fruit, nuts, flowers and seeds available to all. Fallen fruit is eaten by ground dwellers, such as mammals, that would otherwise not be able to reach it.
Trees also produce chemicals which humans and animals have learned to use to their benefit. Among them are the many types of medicines for healing and poisons for protection of certain tree dwellers. The Australian koala is a case in point. It has adapted to the toxins in the eucalyptus leaves which is its only food. Other animals will not climb these trees to gather the leaves or disturb the koalas which also have poor eyesight and are very slow movers.
Right now there is a fight on to try to stop logging of a section of forest housing a very rare group of these beautiful animals. Japanese interests were given the rights to log here and the trees are chipped for various uses in Japan. Australia gets little benefit from this. The stupid government thinking behind this is hard to figure.
You Can't Stop This Either - Its Economy and Progress
Trees Fit Together with all Forest Dwellers
remover them and the balance is destroyed
Trees prevent flooding when forests are left intact. But by clearing them and building houses in floodplains or where land slips may occur people fall victim to the environment.
Humans fail to comprehend the need to preserve the things we depend on for life. Remove the trees and you take away the lungs of the earth. Nothing else, aside from the ocean, can absorb carbon dioxide and exchange it for oxygen. Nothing else can manufacture food from it and feed everything around it. Nothing else can give the shade, the protection, the water vapor required for rain, and nothing else can live as long.
The roots of trees stabilise the land and stop soil erosion and slippage. Hillsides depend on trees to maintain their cover. Without them the earth becomes unstable and will move under the right conditions, such as heavy rain, flash floods, earth tremors, snow build up and so on. The result can be devastating as we have seen recently with the heavy loss of life as numerous villages and towns have been swallowed up by mud slides after severe logging has taken place. Such devastation mainly happens because of logging in forests but there are other causes, such as building on unstable hillsides and normal land clearing for such buildings.
Trees have been dated to well over 2,000 years. During that time they have developed huge established roots and are storing unimaginable amounts of CO2. The longer a tree lives the more prized is its timber and yet in Tasmania trees that are up to that age are being felled for wood chips. The stumps and plants ripped out along with the trees are burnt and the CO2 is poured back into the atmosphere. Its little wonder that Australia is suffering huge droughts.
The south eastern area of the continent has experienced a ten year long drought and water storage and river levels are at an all time low. This is also having a devastating impact on the environment with super fires now breaking out in the region.
A recent example happened on February 7th 2009 when such a fire saw several villages wiped out and over 400 homes burnt to the ground. Almost two hundred people (175 plus) lost their lives and millions of acres of land was devastated. The number of animals killed was enormous. In Western Australia, Perth, the Capital city, has not seen a drop of rain for six months, with none in sight. The area surrounding this city was a major agricultural area.
You Can't Stop This Any More Than The Other Examples - A Billionaire named Gunn is behind this devastation
What can we do to stop our world being destroyed? - Do You have any ideas?
Would you take up the cause to stop this?
For The Love of Trees
Why can't we think beyond our needs?
God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~John Muir
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
~Joyce Kilmer, "Trees," 1914
Will urban sprawl spread so far that most people lose all touch with nature? Will the day come when the only bird a typical American child ever sees is a canary in a pet shop window? When the only wild animal he knows is a rat - glimpsed on a night drive through some city slum? When the only tree he touches is the cleverly fabricated plastic evergreen that shades his gifts on Christmas morning? ~Frank N. Ikard, North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Houston, March 1968
Still images from Dreamstime - click here
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© 2009 norma-holt