Trees have great ecological value and provide us with many benefits. Some of the quantitative benefits trees provide are:
- Oxygen Production– an essential element for life on earth, both for humans and other living things.
- Air Purification– trees serve as filters and naturally control the temperatures on Earth. A tree can absorb and retain an average of 13 to 15 pounds (depending on the species) of carbon dioxide (CO2). This gas is one of the “greenhouse gases” which promotes global temperature increase through a natural process called the “greenhouse effect”. Trees absorb the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere caused by excessive fumes generated by certain industrial activities. Through their leaves, bark, and roots, trees also absorb or capture pollutants from the atmosphere such as dust, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, fluorides, among others.
- Trees provide shade– Not only to sun intolerant tree and understory species, but to fish and other aquatic life that are temperature sensitive.
- Trees provide habitat for wildlife– They provide proper and useful environment for diverse life forms: fauna and flora. Microbes to frogs to bears…trees give food and shelter. Complete food chains inhabit trees.
- Trees add beauty to the landscape– They have aesthetic value; they provide beauty with their shapes, sizes, and blooming patterns.
- Trees help save energy– They cool the environment: a tree can perspire up to 150 gallons of water a day, producing the effect of five air conditioners.
- Trees provide food and other products– They provide, among other things, fruits, wood, charcoal, raw material for paper and housing.
- Trees isolate noise– They are a natural barrier against noise; they absorb sound waves produced by vehicles, airplanes…
- Trees protect against erosion– They protect the soil from erosion caused by water and wind, bringing cohesion to the ground where its root system is. In addition, treetops catch raindrops, divert them, and reduce their speed, which prevents their impact on the ground. Snow is also sublimated from branches and needles as evaporation takes place before moisture even hits the ground.
- Trees serve as windbreak– They lessen wind speed, which protects resources, agricultural crops, and coasts during storms and hurricanes. They prevent soil loss.
- Trees alleviate floods– Wetlands, including those with arborous species (for example, tamarack/black spruce swamps) work as sponges, storing flood waters to be released later. Through their root system, trees also retain surface runoff which allows them to be absorbed by the subsoil and thus prolong the time it takes for them to flow into channels and riverbeds.
- Trees are an important link in the hydrologic cycle– The surface runoff is absorbed by the roots and then transpired through the leaves, which favors the formation of rain clouds.
- Trees help conserve bodies of water– Trees create fissures in the soil through which rainwater infiltrates and goes into underground aquifers.
- Trees regenerate by themselves – Some trees fertilize themselves; others need spores from another of the same species. Either way, trees don’t require human influence to subsist.
Trees use all of these qualities to enhance the landscape and provide life for all living beings. The beauty that trees offer is endless. There is no dollar amount we should put on a tree.
While we adore and appreciate trees and all that they do for us, we have the opportunity to manage the forest in a way that benefits the 7th generation. That is the premise that I base Forest Management on.
If forests are left to become “old growth” stands, regeneration doesn’t happen. Parks and other areas that have old growth are beautiful, but when those trees die of old age, there will be another 200 or 300 year wait before the next batch of trees become old growth.
There are many areas of Bad River Reservation that timber harvest is not allowed. These “Conservation Areas” will allow for old growth. They are the riverbanks and other areas that are very vulnerable to erosion. These trees will die from pests, disease, and old age. They may also be blown over by the wind or destroyed by beaver. In their place, new trees will eventually grow. In areas that are designated for timber management, we encourage regeneration (new trees) by harvesting trees. The trees we choose to harvest are chosen carefully, one at a time. Trees that are deformed or do not appear to be thriving are chosen to be taken so that young, healthy trees can take their place. This improves the health and value of the whole forest.
Mashkiiziibii Forestry is not about “cutting trees”. It’s about making the forest better for our future generations. As we harvest, we will make sure that our supply of firewood doesn’t run out. If anyone would like to discuss anything related to forestry, please do not hesitate to call, email, or stop by my office.
I pledge allegiance to the Creator and to the Bad River Band of Ojibwe People forever. And to the Resources which give us life, I vow to honor and protect. For this people, the Ancestors, and the seventh generation to come.