“if a man loses one-third of his skin he dies; if a tree loses one third of its bark, it too dies. If the Earth is a ‘sentient being’, would it not be reasonable to expect that if it loses one third of its trees and vegetable covering, it will also die?” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker
Can you imagine what would happen if trees were to come alive, as did the Ents and Huorns in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. “You must understand,… it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say. … ‘Beneath the roof of sleeping… leaves and dreams of trees untold, When woodland halls are… green… and cool, and the wind is in the west, Come back to me… Come… back… to me, And say my land is… best.’ ” sayeth Treebeard, Ent.
Ulmus americana, American elm will live with prime conditions between 200 – 300 years if it does not succumb to Dutch Elm Disease. The American Elm will produce seeds after the age of 15, and becomes fully mature in about 150 years. Dutch elm disease has shortened the life of elm trees. In contemporary times, it is very,very hard to locate an American Elm over 100 years old.
Ulmus pumila, the Siberian elm, rarely reaches a lifespan in temperate climates of around 50- 60 years of age, but in its native environment may live to between 100 and 150 years and has been known to live over 250 years.
Populus balsamifera, commonly called balsam poplar, on exception some trees can be found as old as 200 years. In native woodlands, the Balsam poplar may be the dominant species for about 50 years, giving way to perhaps White Spruce or other tree species.
Populus tremuloides or quaking aspen, trembling aspen, American aspen is a species which grows in “clonal colonies”, the oldest living poplar bluff is over 80,000 years old. This is a curious tree, as one stem may only “live” 50-60 years, however as the quaking aspen is part of a poplar bluff, the root system may live tens of thousands of years!
Pinus sylvestris L. or the Scots pine has a lifespan usually between 150–300 years, however has been recorded at over 760 years in age.
Picea pungens Colorado Blue Spruce has a usual life span as a windbreak or horticultural tree of about 40 – 60 years. After this age, the tree starts to deteriorate. The Blue Spruce has been known to live over 200 years.
These, then are the main trees which make up the native and planted trees in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area. A few Green Ash, and Willows rather round out the forest along with bushes, shrubs and undergrowth. Planted in 1972, this makes the age of the forest 45 years old. What would these trees have to say, if they were Ents? What will they say in the future of their time spent living in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area?
Could you imagine the Scots pine giggling as the squirrels run up and down the length of its trunk and branches.
Can you just see the Balsam Poplar, regal and sedate holding the tadasana yoga post for the Great Blue Heron Ardea Herodias as it roosts safely in the crook of its arms. Not only would the Great Blue Heron desire such a safe roosting site, but so would the Black Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax ).
And the butterflies, it is wonderful to speak to the Monarch Butterfly and efforts to preserve this endangered species. Did you know that the Balsam Poplar is a treat for the Admiral butterfly caterpillars, and Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. The Trembling Aspen, similarly also is delicious for these same caterpillars, as well as the Mourning Cloak caterpillar. So can you imagine the Trembling Aspen, the aspen bluff being one large organism growing as a clonal colony from a single root, awakening in the spring, and sending messages over to the butterfly larva to get a move on, and come out of the chyrsalis as it will soon be time for the poplar to trees to pollinate.
Can you just see the Colorado Blue Spruce calling out to the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) and the Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) when the temperatures in the winter get a little chilly, offering these little birds shelter from the winter winds? And though the Bohemian Waxwing takes shelter in the boughs of the Colorado Blue Spruce, its cousin the Cedar Waxwing, enjoys flying around in large flocks over the summer breeding months in the afforestation area.
What would the Ents say about the neighbouring human civilization? Would the trees say of humans, as they say of orcs, “They come with fire, they come with axes… gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning! Destroyers and usurpers, curse them!”…or of Saruman! the wizard .”There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery”. ~Treebeard, Ent.
The trees, if they were alive as Ents, would be able to relate and regale us with stories and tales, of the harmony between woodlands and wildlife. On March 3, World Wildlife Day, and every day, consider how to preserve and conserve the environment and its rich biodiversity.
Consider a donation to the SOS Elms Coalition, Nature Conservancy Saskatchewan, Partners in Flight, Saskatoon Nature Society, Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, National Audobon Society or write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. .
“What do the forests bear? Soil, water and pure air–soil, water and pure air are the basis of life.”~ Richard St. Barbe Baker the Chipko Andolan slogan
Naturescapes for Educators. Butterfly Gardening. Welcoming Butterflies
Into your Schoolyard
“when the trees go, the rain goes, the climate deteriorates, the water table sinks, the land erodes and desert conditions soon appear.~Richard St. Barbe Baker
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker