The next reason which must be considered is trees are very different then agricultural crops which are usually annuals. Trees grow very slowly and we are just beginning to understand the hidden life they share within the forests. We are now discovering that trees feel and communicate within the community they live in. It has become apparent that trees depend upon large masses of fungi that live within the soil and help the tree absorb moisture and feed other trees that are sick or injured. We have actually observed stumps holding on to life because they are being feed by other trees nearby. Science has also discovered that trees communicate with each other by scent and electronic impulses transmitted through their root systems. Fragrances are used to attract insects for the pollination process and this secret language of scent is even part of the human communication process. Scientists believe pheromones in sweat are a decisive factor when we choose our partners.
Science has also discovered that trees are aware of and care for their young. For years foresters have talked about the dominate and co-dominate trees within the forests, and believed that co-dominate trees are competing for the nutrients and therefore, hindering the growth of the dominate trees. We now know that the dominate trees are the mother trees and they continue to care for their offspring throughout their life. Many of these dominant tree species are capable of living to be 300 to 500 years of age. Many of the sapling and co-dominant trees can be close to 100 years old and simply waiting for their turn to grow into dominant individuals. Foresters have long defined economic maturity as 80 to 120 years of age, and recommended harvesting to maximize economic return at this age. This disrupts the natural processes within the forest community and tends to adversely impact diversity in the next generation of trees.
The most amazing discovery about the hidden life of trees has been the fact that when we introduce the agricultural principles to plants and work to maximize production outputs, we destroy the plants instincts and social abilities, leaving them as isolated individuals. This is true of plantations! Plantations destroy diversity and the hidden life of trees.
My next blog will continue this discussion.