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Friday, April 24, 2015

ARBOR DAY 2015: TREES ENDURE, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD BENEFITS


I give great credit to local efforts at tree planting. My friend, Katherine Barnes Pawson, posted information on tree planting in Farmington, Washington. The volunteer crews had fun and put in place a great legacy for the community          .      Others, anywhere and everywhere, can do well to follow Farmington's example.


Arbor Day is celebrated around the world on various dates depending on the particular nation. In the United States, the date is the fourth Friday in April (April 24, 2015,the day of publication of this article.) Germany, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe, multiple countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America celebrate. Tree planting has definitely caught on.

Interestingly, the first Arbor Day on earth occurred in a Spanish village in 1805. While Napoleon was ravaging Europe, the priest of Villanueva de la Sierra thought to raise consciousness about trees as a source of health and happiness. He arranged a Mass, a tree planting party, and a village dance. The event was a success and spread from there because it made so much sense. (Much of my information, including this vignette, is from Wikipedia.)

The U.S. case is interesting. The first American tree planting day was held in Nebraska in April, 1872. Volunteers planted an estimated one million trees on that day!

But it wasn't until 1907 that President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation of Arbor Day. He directed his message to school children in particular, but the idea caught on among the population in general. Gifford Pinchot, conservationist, was one of the public figures that encouraged Roosevelt to act. Currently, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April in every state. For Nebraska, it's a civic holiday.

President Roosevelt was concerned with the slashing of forests in the U.S., as we should be today. 

State and private forests in Oregon, where I live and observe, are simply "mowed" as if living trees were dead cornstocks. Although replanting is a public legal requirement in Oregon, it's absolutely unclear to me as an observer that trees can grow quickly enough to replace in reasonable time frame the vast tracks of clear-cutting. If that's happening in Oregon, I imagine it's occurring elsewhere. I know that rampant logging and forest clearing occurs in West Africa and I've read about cutting of the tropical forest in Brazil. We need more Roosevelts and Pinchots on a global scale.


                     


Copy the good folks of Farmington! Plant a tree. If you don't have enough space for a tree, plant a perennial bush.

Cheers for Arbor Day activism everywhere.

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