Rarely do ‘National # Days’, ‘International Year of #’ or other PR, media based campaigns to highlight a particular issue hold any interest for me. Indeed even previous such events with regards trees or woodlands have not had much impact on me.
But coinciding with a increasing fear for the future of our trees and woodlands, due to the increasing risks by way of diseases, pests and human ignorance to our arboreal heritage, I came across the ‘Tree Year 2011’, a small scale but international project to get people to look at a tree over the year as it changes and adapts to the seasons. As with many simple ideas it appealed greatly and I launched into writing this blog.
During this, the campaign opposing the proposed sales of public woodland in England exploded at a time when the rest of world were celebrating trees: The International Year of Forests, Teeb, Forest Europe and the blogosphere and social networks humming with tree and woodland related commentary.
It is still only February but it appears that this one year will firmly re establish our connection with trees that many were foolish to believe had disappeared.
Trees are not sentient, although many great minds have debated this. They do not wag their tail or run away from us, yet their omnipresence is certainly affixed in all of us, like the sea. It is this connection which is the holistic value.
What is a tree worth to a particular person, family or group? What is a tree worth in its local setting and regional setting? What is a trees value when it has been photographed, written about, analysised, or hugged?
My time spent on the valuation of these two trees equates to £2750.00. This is a real value. Whilst a normal tree valuation costs around £200 and will be based on one or two criteria at most, this does not alter this financial value. All those on the ‘Tree Year’ project are establishing real values on their chosen trees, values that are accountable.
In the UK, the Tree Preservation Order, (TPO) system actually allows for the public to send in a response to decisions with regards the future of that tree, thus the holistic value becomes not only real but one of the strongest tree value criteria. At present the British are awaiting the results of ‘streamlining’ TPO legislation which may well lessen this vital and important value – a result of the necessity to reduce the amount of time spent on processing paperwork simply disregards the holistic value, which is probably the most important value to any particular individual.
It is a bizarre paradox for many arborists that the fees for assessing a tree place a value on that tree, all too real to a client. Yet this value is not considered in a decision to remove the tree based on the assessment.
The tree that kills a person, is priceless to some and worthless to others. It is impossible to find an average value between these factors, but it is also impossible to ignore its value.
Marc Bolan’s tree.
For me, there are many trees in my life that I can recall from memory with ease:
The huge Horse Chestnut I spent many hours in as a boy; The Tamarisk on the shore near Falmouth, under which my son first encountered the outside world; The Rowan, whose roots enabled me to stop myself from falling into a deep crevice atop a mountain in Argyll, and many others.
If these trees were to die or more likely be removed by human hand, it will sadden me. What is the price of this emotion?
When the ‘Glastonbury Thorn’ was vandalised last year, the media attention was weak and centred on the spirituality of the tree affecting those that mainstream society often mock. If trees were capable of speech, attack or even simple movement the media would have recoiled in horror at this event.
But trees whilst inert, are the most intrinsically important fellow life forms on this planet to us. We cannot understand them wholly, their complete science eludes us. Yet our bond with trees is stronger than with our religions and because many cant understand this bond it allows for those without sense to abuse, as a minority of humans have habitually abused anything they simply cannot understand.
Total Value of the two Lime Trees, Stoke Gabriel, Devon = £334471.11