Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Trees fall over all the time and when they do it’s surprising to see how shallow their root systems are. Big trees have enormous buttress or ariel roots to support the trunk which is usually amazingly thick at the bottom and tapers to a narrow top before widening out to form the canopy. I wonder if the canopy indicates how far the roots are spread. It rains here a lot, trees don’t need deep tap roots to find water.
When a tree falls it rots – quite quickly – and the rotting wood turns into the most beautiful soil full of mycelium and organisms. It gives back everything it took from the earth, air and sun.
When a tree is cut and cleared it gives back nothing – no new soil is made, the forest is robbed of the nutrients and matter it had saved up in the tree.
When a tree is cut and cleared there is nothing to protect the leaf litter below. First it is compacted and damaged by the men and machinery which remove the tree and then it is left at the mercy of hard direct rain and wind: it dissipates quickly.
The leaf litter and mulch is the only source of new soil, only source of ground nutrients in a rainforest. It’s very obvious. When we cut and remove trees we are not only destroying the natural process of growth, decay and regeneration, not only removing necessary habitat for other plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. We are actually destroying the very base on which all life on the rainforest depends – the earth itself.