Real Chronicles of a Tree Hugger
T-minus: 43 days
Trees are simply wonderful. (And just to get this out of the way – yes, I have hugged a tree before. No shame.)
Trees provide shade to keep us cool, beauty to make every season of the year magical, and oxygen to allow us to ya know, stay alive.
However, to many, trees are seen more as a dollar sign. It’s no surprise that many trees are being chopped down to support the paper, furniture, palm oil, and agricultural industries. We hear about deforestation all the time. Similar to global warming however, many people have heard about it so much that they are almost desensitized to how scary many of the facts surrounding deforestation really are:
Like the fact that 20 football fields worth of forest are lost every minute.
Or that 82% of the world’s forest have already been destroyed.
Not to mention that 80% of the world’s documented species live in the rainforest, and if we continue at current rates, these rainforest will be gone in 100 years.
Sometimes it takes a good slap in the face to really have the facts sink in. Whether it’s seeing lumber trucks full of big, huge, beautiful, and now dead trees driving down the road ever more constantly, or the announcement of some jackass planning to knock down 42 acres of forest behind your house to build 7 story buildings – a sign will eventually hit you in face and scare the f**k out of you about how screwed all the trees really are.
So, what can we do to stop this? Short of chaining ourselves to a tree and standing in front of the bulldozers ready to chop them down, it almost seems hopeless considering most of us aren’t the one’s actually doing the act of removing the trees. Believe it or not though, your day to day habits could be promoting deforestation without you even knowing it.
Most of us are avid hikers and nature lovers, so integrating some of these habits into our daily routines can help not only save the trees, but preserve the areas of forest that we use for recreation:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
This familiar saying doesn’t only apply to plastic. Write down your shopping list on your phone instead of a notepad. Use both sides of a piece of paper, and always be sure to place your old paper products in recycling.
Supporting organizations that strive to protect areas of forest doesn’t always mean giving a monetary donation – share their tweets and social media posts to get the word out, sign petitions, and actively get involved with the group.
Limit Your Use of Palm Oil
Admittedly, this one is MUCH easier said than done since this oil has snuck its way into almost everything we use. This link provides a lot of information on exactly which of your products use palm oil, and how you can avoid it.
Shop Where You See Seals
Finding seals from organizations such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) guarantees that you are buying both wood products and food that was prepared in a way that causes the least amount of impact to deforestation.
Plant a Tree!
The best way to stop deforestation? Actively fight it by planting a tree for yourself! If you need to take a tree down for safety reasons, make sure that another one is planted somewhere else!
I am still finding a way to balance my lifestyle while making as minimal of an impact to deforestation (and the environment in general) as possible. There is no one check solution that works for everyone. So, do whatever you can! Even if it’s something small, your contribution could help save a tree!
Happy Hiking (and Tree Hugging)!
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Also, volunteer to help out at Gordon Natural Area on South Campus. They have many tree planting events.
There is a great article in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Appalachia journal entitled “The Maine Woods Initiative: 10 years later.” It describes the efforts of the AMC to preserve and protect large parts of Maine and their successes so far. The nice thing about forests is that they can regenerate themselves if given the chance. It is possible to harvest timber in a sustainable way.
Hiking in New England, you often come across a stone wall in the middle of the woods, and then realize that the entire area had been clear cut for farming a little more than a century ago. It is possible to come back.
While I hike and love to be out in the woods, right now I am sitting in my chair (made of wood), with my coffee cup on a table (made of wood), sitting on a coaster (made of wood) inside my wooden house. I also like to sit by a campfire (burning wood). There will always be a need for lumber and the key will be to use it in a sustainable way. The interesting thing about the article in Appalachia is that is suggest how timber harvesting can be done in a way that is sustainable and speeds reforestation. The AMC efforts do inspire hope that there will be forests in our future.