By NaturalMommy Founder, Siobhan Bonisteel
“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” The Lorax by Dr. Suess
I have always been in a sort of awe of trees. They seem like they know something, yet they are still and silent. There is something ancient and wise about them. They help us to be calm and feel connected to our natural surroundings. I often notice my young son and his friends looking up at a tree blowing in the breeze, just mesmerized. They all seem to possess an innate attraction to trees, even as infants.
I recently read a piece by Nicole Dufraine published on thegreenstudent.ca. The piece is titled The Human-Tree Connection and explores data that illustrates how the loss of a significant amount of trees drastically affected those who lived near them, so much so that the data collected suggests that, “the loss of trees across 15 states in the study area contributed to an additional 6113 deaths related to respiratory illness and 15,080 deaths related to cardiovascular diseases…loss of trees resulted in increased mortality rates among local residents suffering from cardiovascular and lower respiratory system diseases across the United States.”
It is not new information that we survive because of plants, yet seeing data such as that presented by Dufraine confirms how much we really do rely on nature for our own survival. Not only do we eat plants, they also convert the air we breathe out (carbon dioxide) into the oxygen we breath in. Our relationship with plants is a true synergy. The oxygen we breathe comes from all plants on land and in water. If this is not enough of a reason to protect them, I’m not sure what is.
The data collected by Dufraine examined specific rises in death rates and illness post tree loss. It does not, understandably, include date about other effects associated with the loss of trees – mainly, I suspect because it is not easily quantifiable. Depression or stress and other such emotional reactions from the loss of the nature that surrounds us are hard to quantify, however it is still very real.
Many of us are quite worried about the loss of nature and deeply understand our connection with the natural world – without it there is no ‘us’, we become extinct like many of the species already lost due to our wasteful ways.
Trees represent one link (albeit a very important one) in the chain of life. Biodiversity is essential to the survival of all nature and by extension ourselves. We need many different types of trees, plants, animals, bacteria and other life forms to make up the delicate balance of life on earth. We rely on each other for survival and for connection. Monocropping, deforestation and other such destructive agricultural practices are threatening the biodiversity that is essential to life on earth.
Sometimes we forget about the importance of nature and biodiversity, especially when we live in cities that are removed from nature. Yet, it is this biodiversity that makes living in cities possible. It is the nature that we don’t see that sustains us.
Often times people debate what is more important, the economy or the environment. This debate is a silly distraction. Without the earth, there is no economy. There is no place to exist to do our business or even express our creativity. No place to laugh or raise our children; no place for us to live.
In the below video from the David Suzuki foundation we see the importance of biodiversity and we hear that our most important role is to protect the earth and the biodiversity is the basis for all life.
So, on Earth week let’s examine what is important and perhaps how we can increase our awareness and our actions towards protecting biodiversity and honouring our silent tree friends.