Wednesday, January 12, 2011

International Year of the Forest

The Gardener's Corner
In the 1950s the global surface was thirty percent covered with forests and by 2005, it was in the range of only five percent.
The United Nations General Assembly (comprised of 192 nations) has declared 2011 as the ‘International Year of the Forest’. It is hoped this designation will raise awareness of sustainable management and development, as well as conservation of all types of forests.
Many trees are steeped in the history of medicinal powers while others have food sources used by our ancestors that are long forgotten. The elderberry is one of extraordinary powers having been used in ancient Egypt for the rejuvenation and revitalization of the skin and the flowers used as an infusion for an eye lotion.
The Seneca aboriginals used elderberry on their premature and newborn babies. The little ones were washed in warm water that was previously soaked with dried elderberry flowers. The warm water contained capillary-protective biochemicals that were a gentle tonic to the new skin.
Even our avian friends benefit from this tree for the black fruit contains a specific sugar complex that increases the efficiency of their eye metabolism zones from light to darkness.
All trees of a forest produce sap and many have a sweeter sap than others which are closely monitored by squirrels. They will remove the bark down to the cambium layer where the tissues secrete a sugar solution that in cold air turns to slush. After the squirrel eats its fill, winter birds like chickadees will drink the liquid. As the season warms, morning cloak butterflies will feed and ants will find what is left. By this time the wound calluses over and rather than causing long term damage, this bark removal encourages the tree to bear more fruit. I’ve seen this stripping of the bark by squirrels on our dwarf crabapple tree in winter and although it is alarming at first, the tree has not suffered.
Forests provide for the creatures in their care with food and shelter. Fish in water near walnut stands are looked after too for in fall these trees drop juglone sedatives into the water. This affects the dormancy of fish and other water creatures by helping to stabilize and maintain their lowered metabolic rate.
Over the past two hundred years as North American forests have been cut down, they’re milled in an area that is near large bodies of water which provides transport and storage. It would be safe to say that the healthiest trees were cut with most great producers of seed. This seed would contain large amounts of hormones which are water soluble. Plant hormones from the forest have been found in drinking water and in the bodies of all mammals, including us as a new molecular pollution.
The silent sound of a forest known as infrasound is produced by many elements of nature such as volcanoes, hurricanes and thunderstorms. Every tree in a forest produces a fingerprint of sound as individual as our own fingerprint. The pattern of a trunk and the canopy of leaves produces audible and inaudible sounds which could be a means of communication between trees. When the great rain forests of British Columbia were being cut down, the elders of the aboriginal people described the sound as “the weeping of the trees...”
With files from The Global Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.


  1. It is so sad to drive along some of the Island roads and see the clear cutting that still takes place. We live in a rural community that takes great care of the forest in which we live. It's a constant battle.

  2. “the weeping of the trees...”


  3. Judith, This is sobering. It's a very insightful and informative article. Thanks for sharing this, Judith.

  4. Informative and sad. A different kind of "Ode to Trees" that everyone should read.

  5. Hi Judith: You could put me in the camp of tree huggers. Trees are so important to the environment and to our well being. Great post.

  6. Hi Judith,
    A very nice article! I never knew that so many creatures enjoyed the sap and that the tree didn't mind it either:-) Sadly I live in the foothills of Mount Rainer and see a lot of local logging, not pretty.

  7. Great post Judith, did not know that about the fish. Thanks for sharing the information. I love trees, of course you know that. Take care, Jen.

  8. What a great post full of wonderful information! I'm all for saving our forests... I hate to see the natural beauty of the world disappear.
    Have a great day!
    ~ Jo :)

  9. Judith, this is so fascinating. I truly had no idea, even though I live in one of the most forested areas of the States. I'm really stunned by this information and would love to learn more. Thank you for this. – g


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