Trees for life

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 17, 2019 - 12:00am

How we treat trees is an indication of how we value life. Recently, or even in the past, trees have been cut down in the name of the perennial reason of progress. This reason is as if trees are not part of an encompassing development.

In other countries, China for instance, century-old trees have been preserved. They have been labeled with some notations for the information of the present and future generation. Even those casualties of calamities, their remains are still being preserved. Each tree has a story to tell. A story of resilience and survival. And the story is part of the history of the community.   

Surprisingly, a tree is interested to keep its neighbors because together they create a special climate, which is cool, which is humid, and where every tree feels comfortable.

In our forests, for instance, the first aim should be to keep a healthy forest for the next generations. The forest is much more than timber, it is responsible to contain animal species, and when you clear-cut it and replace it, then most of those species will be run out and replaced by species which are not common to a region.

We always have to think that there has to be more than just timber within trees. Trees, which can get very old, store carbon at the same time, that's clear. But in the moment, all I see is the fast profits and in line with the myopic view of human development. There are no thoughts about the future and the next generations.

It’s a pity situation when local governments are so quick to surrender the shared responsibility of taking care of the environment by saying that they don’t have budget for it when in fact there is in their environment-related programs. When cutting down centuries-old trees seems the only easy and feasible way to do than rerouting or considering additional alternate routes or even making an underground passage as what other countries do, which we don’t have even one. 

A big part of our work is to convincee people about the benefits of being proactive. Planning ahead is much cheaper than reacting to catastrophes.

I am not morally troubled by the consumption of trees. Or of animals, for that matter, as long as they are all treated with respect, in a way appropriate to their species, including allowing some to grow old with dignity and die a natural death. I’ve tried to show how animal- and even human-like trees are, to feel them empathetically.

Trees are crucial in making our world the kind of place where we want to live. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. And the second best time is now. A community that does not sustain trees will soon live in a world that will not sustain people.

The imagery and the substantive centrality of planting a tree have universal power in every culture and society. It is a path for us to participate in finding solutions for the environmental crisis.

Let’s consider a tree as our best friend. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on earth.

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