Earth Day, The Canopy Project and Rewilding
Earth Day is probably the biggest co-ordinated expression of support for the environment in the world. Events are co-ordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 190 countries. According to Wikipedia, it has become ”the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year”. That is an astonishing achievement.
The year 2020 was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and celebrations included a variety of activities such as the Great Global CleanUp, Citizen Science, Advocacy, Education, and art. Due to the pandemic many of these activities moved online and they included three-day livestream event, Earth Day Live, organized by coalition of youth activists, which focused on; citizen science, volunteering, community engagement, education, and the role of art in furthering the cause.
Of course, the planting of trees is a major aspect of the Earth Day and the movement includes The Canopy Project which has already planted millions of trees. This is a truly innovative project which “works closely with on-the-ground community groups that are trained and committed to nurturing these trees to maturation for life spans that often reach 100 years or more.” Therefore the project is about the laudable goal of building community as much at it is about planting trees. It is only when there is harmony between the local human population and nature sustainability goals can be achieved. Therefore, The Canopy Project’s methods are as splendid as their goals.
Earth Day is a truly wonderful movement and The Canopy Project it a well conceived and truly innovative. To date they work by training local people in creating tree nurseries and planting out and maintaining the emerging trees. This a superb method and more power to them. However, I believe that they are missing a trick.
The could also train the locals in planting by using a Rewilding Stick and in some situations this would be more effective and efficient. I am in no way suggesting they ought to do this in every situation. They have found a method which works superbly and should stay with that as their core method. However they could trial using Rewilding Sticks as an alternative method where suitable – such as where there is:
+ an abundance of seeds
+ the consumption of the emerging plants would help support the re-emergence of the local indigenous wildlife.
+ suitable ground cover to ‘hide’ the emerging plants from predators
+ little in the way of potential predators of the plants.
When trees are grown in nurseries it is tempting to see things too much from the perspective of the needs of the trees, and the needs of the people, rather than the needs of the local wildlife. The local wildlife may damage or consume emerging trees and can be seen as a problem. However, the local animals are only a “problem” owing to previous human intervention in destroying their habitat. For example, a forest is comprised of not only trees, and other plants, but also the animals which sustain the forest. The local animals sustain the forest, and other environments, by consuming the plants (to keep them in check) and spreading their seeds as they go about their activities. As they forage and burrow the animals bury the seeds from the forest plants helping it to regenerate. There cannot be a healthy environment without a healthy population of indigenous animals.
The Earth Day’s Canopy Project is entirely laudable and deserves to grow and flourish. However, it seems to me that they could give over at least a part of their tree planting activities to Reseeding by using Rewilding Sticks, even if this means a percentage of trees gets ‘lost’ to the needs of the local animals. Later those local animals will pay back this investment in good measure when they spread and ‘plant’ the seeds of the emerging trees.
Using a Rewilding Stick is not about ‘spreading’ seeds as this is often a very inefficient way of planting. The Rewilding Stick is used to put seeds directly into the ground in-situ, where they are intended to grow. This greatly increases the chances that the tree, or other plant, will at least get a chance to germinate. Using Rewilding Sticks can also be an excellent way of building up the under-story, comprised of the various plants which can grow around the trees, and in this way help restore the forest. Therefore the result becomes a genuine forest, which supports humans, animals and a wide variety of plants, and not just a plantation of trees which is being claimed to be a ‘forest’.
It is easy enough to carry different types of seeds and switch between them at intervals or even every time a seed is planted. Therefore even in a single planting session a Rewilding Stick can be used to plant multiple types of seeds.
Most organizations engaged in tree planting only evaluate themselves, and are evaluated by others, in terms of how many trees they have planted and the survival rates of those trees. Yet, we need to look at the bigger picture and allow for the fact that some of what gets planted may be better sacrificed to the needs of the local animal population. The restoration of the local animal population would allow for a better environment and will even contribute to the ‘planting’ process as they forage and burrow and spread and, more importantly, bury the seeds. Where things are already to out of balance, owing to human intervention, this may not be practical. However, it is always worth considering.
Perhaps we need to move away from the obsession of the numbers of trees planted and too look to the bigger picture of how many acres of forest, or other local landscape, is being restored.
For more about the Rewilding Stick and how it can revolutionize tree planting, how to make them and how to use them, please check out the videos linked on this page.