Trees and humankind have a long, rich and complicated relationship. In evolutionary theories the separation of human species from other primates involved a move away from time spent in the trees. In modern human history, farming and the building of cities has required deforestation. The forest has come to symbolise a wilder, more pristine space; a place of danger even.
Yet trees have constantly inspired awe and respect,lifting human spirits with their majesty and beauty. Towering over the human form, their longevity and their capacity for re-generation has caused trees to be revered spiritually. In the holy scriptures shared by Jews and Christians, trees are metaphors of the blessings of life,health and prosperity;signs of the dependable presence of the divine in the world. Modern research has revealed that time amongst trees and green plants decreases measures of bodily stress and increases feelings of well-being in urban residents.
On the other hand,trees have been and continue to be vital for humanity’s existence in practical ways; source of food and medicine, material for building and industry; and for fuel. Still today millions of people in rural communities across the world are dependent upon daily access to firewood for domestic use. As well as demand for tree products, the demand for more land for extensive farming is driving the destruction of tropical rain forests at an alarming rate; destroying irreplaceable habitats which contain many unique and, no doubt, as yet undiscovered species of all kinds.
There is a growing public awareness, though still not strong enough, that trees and forests need to be preserved and protected; not only for the enjoyment and refreshment of the human spirit, but to prevent irreversible loss of biodiversity, and to sustain the balance of the global climate. Burning of forests worldwide is one of the main human activities contributing to global warming; but planting more trees can combat climate change. In the United Kingdom The Forestry Commission has made climate change a major focus of its policy; and the leading woodland conservation charity The Woodland Trust is committed to creating thousand of new native woodlands across the country.
Today’s photograph is a beech tree seen from the ground; captured in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson.