A Memory Of Trees
Enya's song "The Memory Of Trees" comes to mind, trees being tightly
held in the celtic tradition. But I am only remotely related to the
celtic line so that cannot be the reason for my love of trees. I
also worked with forestry as a pilot for a while and one of my
grandfathers was a cartwright whom my brother and I watched for
hours on end as he made things from wood, but these are not
why I love trees either. And long before all that two of my
ancestors were forestland owners and although the lumber industry in
those days didn't even resemble today's total-destruction
for profit it's not the reason either. It isn't because sawdust ran
in my veins that I became a tree activist, that would come only as
the direct result of having witnessed the atrocity that humanity has
done to our forest worlds.
Much like my maternal cartright grandfather my wife's paternal
grandfather was also in his prime at the turn of the last century.
He would tell us stories about rural Quebec life in those days, in
Gaspesie more precisely, where snow clearance was unheard of and
where the roads were practically forgotten for the duration of
winter when horse drawn sleighs would fly on
snow-roads "under the branches of pine trees that took two
or three people to embrace i.e. put their arms around".
These stories got me thinking, well aware that today trees are
harvested as soon as a 2 by 4 can be sawed from them and as far as
Quebec is concerned 2x12's are now imported from British Columbia
because there are simply no more foot-diameter trees left standing
here, much less five and six footers.
My father-in-law (above) was among those trying to harness
technology in the fight against phenomenal snow-falls. The snow-roads
of old had become obsolete with the arrival of automobiles, only a
few remained in service by 1950 and those only in the most remote
regions. The winter forests were being abandoned in a sense albeit
not in the minds of the lumber industry. Although still rather
unnoticed it was the dawn of mechanized clear-cutting. There
were still plenty of big trees to be felled but a difference is
already palpable in or between photographs taken then or fifty years
So I began to pay attention to data, all kinds of data about trees
and forests. Some statements to the effect that there were as many
trees today as ever didn't go unnoticed, except that the two
generations of trees were evidently not of the same size at all.
Then I went visiting in Hungary where this slice in a museum showed
the rings of a tree born there in the time of Jesus. The slice was
around 16 feet in diameter, I could not get it all into one picture,
unfortunately the digital image fails to show its rings.
The earliest identified year is marked as 453 A.D. and the last
1956. Then, while researching on the great pines (while planning to
plant 200 myself) I stumbled upon pictures of diameters between that
of the above Jesus tree and the 5-footers that my wife's grandfather
had known and talked about.
....or others I've lost the source of
There are accounts in Nouvelle-France of "fields of 40 meter
great white pines as far as the eye can see"
but soon after, because the Royal-Navy had use for straight trees to
make ship masts on the east coast as well as the west coast, the
apocalypse of these trees would also begin. As we move ahead
in time, by 1950 as seen in the reference video below the tree
diameters are mostly below 1 meter, certainly so in eastern Canada.
About the only places where trees of substance, those that once
filled entire vistas, can be found now are in protected parks and
In 10,000 years we have consumed 3/4 of the
trees since coming out of the last ice age, going from some 30
trillion huge trees to 15 trillion toothpicks good only to cut
2x4's! This gives some sense of the dioxide absorbing greenery
and capacity-destruction but if we look for the actual amount of
wood and branches then we find 4 and 6 inch trunks where 4
FOOTERS once were! I suspect that in terms of board-feet or
foliage we have destroyed over 80%. No need to look at Brazil
for examples of the devastation, see here
for an idea of what north American forests were like before our
race of locusts robbed it from the care of first-nations.
Harvesting on public (crown i.e. people's) land should maybe
require a % of very large trunk sizes, effectively limiting the
cut when those have been over-rarified. In addition every human
being should be charged with the planting of 1 tree per month
throughout his or her life, such being the TRUE SCOPE of what we
have allowed bean-counters and money-changers to do to our