Is Tree Planting Always Eco Friendly?
It is often assumed that planting trees is ecologically beneficial and Eco-friendly. Yet, even though I am normally very enthusiastic about planting trees, I must admit that it is not always the answer. It is not always ecological beneficial to plant more trees.
The recent upsurge in interest in tree planting is mostly to the good and to be applauded. However, it can also create ecological havoc. When large organizations and governments get behind something it can become about “the numbers”. “We planted X millions trees!”, they proclaim. But if all these trees are the same species in the same area that can be an ecological disaster. It might not look like an ecological disaster to the inexperienced eye, or the uninformed observer, but is can be a disaster in the making nonetheless.
For example. planting a highly concentrated mass of pine trees can, some years later, change the natural environment so much that nothing else can live or grow there. We have many fake forests are Frankenstein forests in Scotland. They look like a forest, from a distance, but when you get closer, you notice something. It is eerily quiet. There is not the sound of a bird, or much sign of any kind of animal life. Those are cash crop tree plantations, not forests. Most other types of life cannot survive there. There is nothing really genuinely “forest” about those places. They are a bunch of trees hiding an otherwise lifeless desert.
A forest is not just a lot of trees growing in one area, it is a whole ecology which includes non-tree plants, and animal life too. The animals are an essential part of a forest and help to maintain or even spread it (where this is possible).
Yet, we are in danger of creating a lot more fake forests, globally, if we get too carried away with planting too many trees of the same kind in the same place.
Part of the answer to this is to use a Rewilding Stick. With a Rewilding Stick multiple types of seeds can be carried and either planted in a pattern or at random. The disadvantage is there the is no “proof” (at least not for a while) that the planting has taken place. But where it lacks in photo opportunities (it will be a year or two before there any photos of small trees emerging in the area) this method more than makes up for in ecological opportunities. Using a Rewilding Stick makes it easy to plant a wide variety of plant species right from the start. Also, it is such a cheap and efficient means of planting that concerns that local animals might “damage” the crop are greatly reduced. In fact, local animals can be seen as an ally as later the will help spread the seeds of the emerging trees and help maintain the ecology of the area. If in the meantime some things get consumed or damaged by animals, no problem. The animals will more than make up for it later. This is a much more attractive way at looking a the local animal species than seeing them as a “problem” (when really it is us humans that are usually the problem as we destroyed their habitat).
William Fergus Martin, Founder: The Global Rewilding Initiative.
& The Global Forgiveness Initiative.