Clint Eastwood believed they were not listening when he ‘talked to the trees’ (Paint Your Wagon) but he may have been wrong.
French scientists have discovered trees do talk – well, at least they make noises when they are running out of water.
The scientists at Grenoble University, France, used slivers of dead pine trees soaked in a gel to simulate a living tree, then created an artificially dry environment and listened to the noises which are ultrasonic pops, 100 times faster than what a human ear can hear.
When a tree is trying to suck moisture out of dry ground, tiny air bubbles are formed and the majority of sounds recorded during the research came from these bubbles.
Imagine what else we could discover about tree noises as our scientists, aided by advances in technology, work to uncover more secrets.
This is just a hint that is the magic of trees.
THE MAGIC OF TREES
How about trees that walk?
In a remote part of Ecuador, the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, there are palm trees that walk.
As the soil erodes, the trees put out new roots seeking more solid ground and better sunlight. The trees bend towards these roots and the old roots eventually lift into the air. It can take a couple of years, but the trees can move up to 20 metres.
So easily taken for granted, trees are the ‘lungs of the planet’ and we would be doomed without them.
They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen – that’s pretty magical.
They absorb odours and gasses such and ammonia and sulphur dioxide. The leaves and bark trap particulates in the air – filtering it.
These beautiful life givers ask nothing in return for giving us air, shade, shelter, and food.
They provide a home for millions of creatures.
Trees help prevent soil erosion, act as windbreaks and help with noise pollution.
They reduce temperatures by shading buildings and streets and this, in turn, conserves energy.
They reduce the amount of debris that goes into stormwater drains. Mulch filters the water by acting like a sponge and trapping pollutants before they get into the ocean.
More than that, they can actually help people heal. Research has shown that a view of trees can help sick people heal faster and aid concentration by reducing mental fatigue.
The Needy Trees – The Nature of Happiness report, commissioned by Planet Ark, found that spending time in nature influences our subjective well-being.
The report showed that spending time in nature had direct effects on our brains and hormone secretion.
People who spent time in nature had improved social skills, being 17 percent more likely to have five or more close friends, according to the report.
CAN’T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE SCREENS
However, Australians are spending less time outdoors than ever before.
The report stated that just over 1 in 4 children (27%) have never climbed a tree, 28% have never planted or cared for a vegetable garden, and nearly 1 in 3 (31%) have never planted or cared for trees or shrubs.
To quote the report, “we can’t see the forest for the screens”.
This makes my post 7 Reasons You Need to be Gardening With Kids all the more relevant.
These statistics are particularly sad seeing as we are losing precious forests.
The fires that raged in Tasmania earlier this year killed trees that had lived for more than a millennium.
Eucalypt forests regenerate after fires, but the plants killed in this remote, World Heritage wilderness, will not.
Scientists say the fires are linked to climate change, according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald.
If you read my post, Deadly Decision – the day of the surgeon, you’ll know how much I mourn their loss.
HOW ABOUT TREES THAT WRITE?
My heart is glad, my heart is high
With sudden ecstasy:
I have given back, before I die
Some thanks for every lovely tree
That dead men grew for me
On a happier note, trees may not be actually talking (or maybe they are and we just can’t hear) but they are emailing people.
OK, well the trees are not actually writing, but council workers for the City of Melbourne have been replying to thousands of love letters written by Melbournians to some of the 70,000 trees that line the streets and parks of the city.
Melbourne initiated an urban forest strategy in 2007 that includes an urban forest map showing the trees and giving each their own identification number.
This was in response to a 10-year drought that was killing many of the trees and the idea was that people could send an email with the trees identification number to address issues regarding the tree’s health.
No one predicted the response of thousands of love letters to the trees expressing gratitude for their beauty and shade.
AUSTRALIA SET TO PLANT MORE THAN 1 MILLION TREES
Friday (July 29) is Schools Tree Day when around 3000 preschools, kindies, primary and high school will take part in a massive planting program.
On Sunday Australians celebrate National Tree Day when thousands of people will help plant over one million native trees, shrubs, grasses and edible plants.
These events, organised by Planet Ark, combine to make Australia’s largest tree planting and nature care event.
Planet Ark’s National Tree Day campaign is in its 20th year and so far more than 3.8 million people have planted more than 22.3 trees and plants.
To make the event even more accessible, Planet Ark has organised a way to become involved from home. All you need to do is decide where and what you are going to plant and then register your activities with them here.
Happy planting, and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.