Trees – we just don’t know, so why say that we do?

It’s not what we know about trees and forests, but what we don’t know that we should be selling to the public.

Take the debate over the Defynnog Yew Vs. Fortingall Yew.

If we start accepting that subterranean or ‘non stem’ influences are in play when determining the age, size – the importance of a tree, we start to run into real problems with regards all current classification. What has been ‘sold’ so far no longer applies. This means that the tallest, (to include the root system – which we know little about!), biggest, oldest trees in Britain, Europe and the World are suddenly in question. However is this not a good thing? Can we not turn this to our advantage? Would this not stimulate a discussion which can only lead to better research and better definitions of all aspects of a tree? At a time when research into trees and soils is so important yet sidelined by almost everything else.

We would also have to accept that many ‘tools’ in the arboricultural practitoners kitbag are useless, worse than useless – quite possibly seriously damaging the tree’s rhizosphere – frankly this could only be a good thing. The ‘air spade’ for example, blasting away what we can’t see, what we don’t understand or know even exists because the research hasn’t been done yet but which we do know, or some of us at least, is incredibly important to trees and their value to us. And don’t get me started on leaf blowers.

The playground for new research with regards trees should be mainly in the peri-urban and urban landscapes. We can take more risks with the soils. As England rapidly proceeds to a state where most of its soils can be considered ‘Technosols’, mainly due to a lack of publicity over the lack of knowledge, we have to stimulate a debate in order to avoid continued destruction of the unknown. That the easiest place to discover a new species known to science is not in the Amazon or in a deep sea trench but in a teaspoon of soil from anyone’s back garden – an axiom that we can further use to revitalise a tired and dreadfully faded lack of interest in Trees and Soils – this is the new horizon.

In my career, sometimes on a day to day basis, I see incredible things which need research – it cannot be a coincidence that time and time and time again trees adapt to the most incredible situations. But it is too much and too easy to ridicule – and so practitioners and tree ‘owners’ have to forget what they observe as though they had seen a ghost or UFO.

However that silence allows pure nonsense to pass through instead. Biochar, Biodiversity Offsetting, Lunar influences etc.,
Which can amazingly be swallowed up by many quite sensible people as though it were barley sugar.

Therefore if we don’t start to open the flood gates a little the flood will always, as at present, come over the top.

This video ‘Underground Market‘ is a clever little animation highlighting rhizosphere interactions. In reality you can speed this up by X 1,000,000,000 as well as an extra X 1,000,000,000 pretty pulsating fairy lights and still be far off from what is actually going on.

Celebrate that and we may start to get somewhere.

The last frontier is not the deep ocean or space – it is the rhizosphere! And it was the first frontier also. But some silly buggers forgot to note their observations down in favour of chasing one king or even one god instead.

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1 Comment

Filed under Trees and Woodlands

One response to “Trees – we just don’t know, so why say that we do?

  1. We don’t know much about what happens in the canopy, either? But: yes, you are absolutely correct. We know bugger all about the rhizosphere, too.

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