A Memory Of Trees
Edited 2021-03-07

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 earlier.

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.

http://www.ameriquefrancaise.org/media-858/55_1_diametre_pin.jpg  ....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 arboretae.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0RQzlb7zkU   and   https://patlbr.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/alaska-yellow-cedar-Jim-and-Brad-1.jpg

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 spaceship home.