Do trees feel pain?
My heart sank the other day when I passed by an open space in my city. Where a few days earlier there had been around twenty majestic Maple trees, now there were hacked stumps and scattered branches, each of them broken and butchered while still in bud and anticipating Spring. Cut down in their prime to make way for a multi storey car park of all things. Nothing less than murder really and certainly very short sighted of the local council.
In spite of dubiously enforced 'protection' orders, such sights are increasingly common not just in city centres but also in residential areas where one might have thought that home-owners would value the fact that house prices generally increase by 15% in neighbourhoods which are blessed with tree-lined streets and well planted gardens. In my own neighbourhood there were many mature trees at one time but they have been systematically destroyed in the two years since I’ve lived here. Those that have not been felled completely have unceremoniously had their tops hacked off and their graceful lines defaced. Our Holly (Ilex aquifolium), at a modest twenty feet tall, now stands out as one of the few trees surviving in the whole road. It is a haven for the dwindling number of remaining birds. The small population of squirrels has gone now, moved on to who knows where.
There appears to be a dogged determination by many local home-owners to fell any tree that happens to be considered 'in the way'. These misguided people have decided that trees are messy or spoil the clean lines of their artificially 'astro' turfed gardens.
As American columnist Bill Vaughan once wryly noted: "Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them."
It breaks my heart, trees are wonderful for so many reasons. Here's a short list of why we should do everything we can to preserve them - and to protest when we see any plan to kill and remove them:-
*Trees absorb carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen back into the air.
*So they clean and filter our air, absorbing pollutants in the process.
*Neighbourhoods without trees have a higher level of social violence and those neighbourhoods often also have decreased house prices.
*In hospitals where patients have views of trees from their windows, those patients will heal faster.
*Trees provide a haven for all kinds of diverse species of wildlife from insects to birds and mammals. Without trees many of these insects, birds and animals will disappear, upsetting the fine ecological balance on which we all, including humans, rely.
*They are the longest living organism on the earth......given the chance to live of course.
*Just because you can't hear a tree crying, it doesn't mean that it isn't......some studies have shown that trees and plants feel and react to pain.
Treat trees with respect – or pay the consequences. We rely on them far more than many people realise.
I think I'll leave the last word to John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist who even a hundred years ago was warning about the perils of man's destruction of our environment....
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
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