The photo on the cover of my recent issue of American Tree magazine depicts the frightening devastation of the pine forests of Colorado caused by the mountain pine beetle. The outbreak of this tiny insect has already killed billions of trees from British Columbia to the southern Rockies in the U.S. This is a resource we cannot afford to lose.
For decades, we have taken trees for granted, but the devastation and loss of the ash tree population in Michigan due to the emerald ash borer has helped focus our attention on the role they play in our lives.
Trees provide beauty by adding color and texture to the landscape. Trees soften and hide the hard edges created by man. Trees provide food and a haven for wildlife. Trees provide wood to build our homes.
Trees give us the fruits and nuts that help us thrive. Trees provide medicinal products to treat pestilence and disease. Trees give shade and cool the earth in summer. And most importantly, trees clean the air of contaminates and carbon dioxide, and in return, manufacture life-giving oxygen. Without trees, man could not exist.
Through the ages, trees have also provided man a spiritual connection. Anthropologist Deborah Gangloff, who is Executive Director of American Trees, wrote in her editorial in the autumn edition of American Tree magazine ( http://www.americantree.org), “Trees put human life into perspective. They were here long before us and will outlive us. Trees are our living connections to the past and the future.
We plant trees to commemorate special events, including births and deaths. With the coming of the Christmas holiday, the evergreen tree will take center stage in millions of household across the nation and around the world.
Replacing the trees that have been lost due to pests, disease and the human sprawl must become a priority for all of us. Thanks to a grant from the Jon Cotton family, and sponsorship by Health Plan of Michigan, The Greening of Detroit launched a major initiative to restore the essential tree canopy along East Jefferson Avenue. Reforestation efforts will include the planting of 540 trees. At 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Erma Henderson Park on East Jefferson Avenue near Burns Street, Greening of Detroit volunteers, the Cotton family, and representatives from Health Plan of Michigan will commemorate this historic event with a tree dedication followed by an organized tree planting.
Volunteers are still needed. If you or your group are interested in helping plant this legacy of trees, contact Anthony Todd, Volunteer Coordinator, at (313) 237-8733 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A third planting is scheduled for Nov.21.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit free-lance writer. E-mail her at Szerlag @earthlink.net. You can read her previous columns at .