“I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues, and I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs!” -Dr. Seuss.
Has anyone, besides me, noticed how forests in southern, lower Michigan, are fast becoming a scarcity? Some farmers have been cutting down at a very rapid pace, tree-lined fence rows and bulldozing woodlots, all in the effort to maximize crop profits. Why might trees be important in the grand scheme of crop production, you might ask? The answer is BEES!!!
Trees, bees… what in the name of progress and profit sharing do these have to do with growing crops?! After all, everyone knows that bees make honey, which is yummy and sweet and good for the tummy. What else are they good for? They are a necessary part of growing food, that’s what! Pollinating farmers’ crops and gardeners’ flowers, vegetables, fruit and nut trees are what bees, certain flies, wasps, moths, butterflies, and beetles are created to do. Without these important insects to provide the service of pollination, these plants and trees will not produce the food needed to feed the masses, nor provide the greenbacks needed to support the farmers’ livelihood.
OK, so we know now why pollinators such as the above-mentioned insects are crucial to the farming industry. What do trees have to do with pollinators? Many pollinators use trees, even dead, hollow trees, to build their nests in. Without nesting sites for these wasps, bees, beetles, etc., the pollinators simply won’t be there to spread pollination to the various crops, plants, fruit and nut trees.
No trees equal no bees, which sums up a big fat ZERO in food production. Isn’t it time that farmers realize their livelihoods and the very future of their children and grandchildren depends on the proper stewardship of “their” land?? Those good stewards of the land, the farmers who have kept the trees, therefore providing nesting places for the insects, birds, and other animals so dependent on their protection, are to be commended!
Trees also help to clean the soil of toxic chemicals that most farmers use such as pesticides and herbicides, which contaminate the food we eat, and clean the air of cancer causing toxins which pollute the air we breathe. Top soil runoff and erosion are problems that many farmers face on a yearly basis. The tree-lined fence rows that were once common in the not-so-distant past provided the windbreaks and the ground sustaining foundation needed to protect our precious top soils. Doesn’t it make sense to place a value on trees, not only as a source of income in the form of lumber, but even more importantly as a valuable protector of crops, animals, and human beings?
My hope in writing this blog is that farmers will think twice about clear cutting woodlots and bulldozing the trees that stand between fields. Trees will be seen as valuable… as living, breathing, defenders of clean air and clean food, givers of life in a very literal sense. If we do not save the trees for our future generations, who will?
As the wisdom of the Native American proverb teaches, “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.” Don’t wait for Arbor Day to plant a tree. It’s up to us… all of us to do our part in bringing our planet back to good health, and in doing so, helping ourselves.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing will get better… no, it will not.” Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.