“Pine Plantations Dishearten God”

Seems like everywhere I look when driving recently, I have seen the wanton rape and destruction of trees by landowners who evidently need to plow up to the nth degree of the property to get one more bushel of grain. Now I respect farmers a lot, even married into a farm family, but I weep for the senseless destruction of these trees. Are they really going to gain that much income by doing this? They really can’t be getting enough income from the lumber cut as these trees are usually scrub trees or the wonderful hedge trees that are being destroyed.

I received a book from ROC for Christmas. It is Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest by Joan Maloof. She is my new favorite author. This book is outstanding and I can’t wait to read another book of hers, this time received from my brother-in-law for Christmas.

I wish biology teachers were required to teach this in high school. Better yet, grade school science teachers should read this to their students and discuss it.

This book alternately made me laugh, cry, be intrigued to learn more and get angry and sad. I learned a lot about life cycles and interaction of species from reading the book.

One section especially touched my heart in light of all the downed trees I have seen in the past six weeks. In the section entitled “Beech” she says:

The state of Maryland, and probably our state, too, hires foresters with tax dollars. One semester I took my ecology students out to see the local ‘demonstration forest’ run by the state forestry department. The purpose of the forest was to show landowners different forestry methods, but all I could see were pine trees, most of them very young. I asked if there was a natural forest that I could see for comparison. ‘No, sorry.’ was the answer. ‘There is a little corner of the property, I think, but it’s too hard to get to, too muddy.’ I guess natural forests were not supposed to be demonstrated, The foresters did teach my students how to estimate the dollar value of the trees where we were standing, but that was not exactly the lesson I had in mind for an ecology class. I asked him if private landowners ever requested advice from him. He said, yes, it was an important part of his job. I asked what he would advise someone who owned a forest full of big old beech trees. He said that if they wanted an economic return on their land, he would advise them to clear-cut the beech trees and plant pine.

I wiped the dust from my feet as I left that place.

‘God doesn’t like clear cut,’ Janisse Ray explains in her book Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. “You’d better be pretty sure that they cut is absolutely necessary and be at peace with it, so you can explain it to God, for it’s fairly certain He’s going to question your motives, want to know if your children are hungry, and your older boy needs asthma medicine – whether you deserve forgiveness or if you’re being greedy and heartless… Pine plantations dishearten God.’

Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest, Joan Maloof, The University of Georga Press, Athens and London, 2007, p33-34.

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