We got an interesting item in the mail recently. Most likely many of you did too. It was the "Official Questionnaire" for the 2012 New York Tree Survey from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Being a retired research forester, I was, of course, interested.
They began with personal questions about age, marital and educational status and such (boring and not especially topical). Then came questions about trees - like "have you ever rested in the shade of a tree?" or " have you ever played on a tree swing?"
I may have flunked this portion of the exam because I'd never built a tree house. Guess I'll have to put that on my bucket list - if I can ever find the danged bucket.
Then they got down to it and asked "Can you identify the trees near your home?" (retired forester, what do you think?) "Have you ever planted a tree?" (Thousands.) And of course the whole reason to send the mailing any way, "Would you be willing to spare a few dollars ...
The question that got me thinking the most was, "Which one of the following would you say is the single most important function of trees?'' They listed seven real important "functions" (not uses, functions) .
What they should have asked was, "What should we do to ensure that forests will continue to be the best use for the land environmentally, economically and aesthetically?"
There seems to be a philosophy that: "The world's forests are being decimated, so we need to stop using wood or wood fiber for anything."
Nothing could be further from the truth. If you boycott all consumptive uses of forest products you will make forests economically worthless and they will be cut and burned (wasted) to clear the land for more profitable uses. It's happening all over South America.
Africa is beginning to see that saving their wonderful wildlife was not being accomplished by banning trophy hunting, and in some cases even subsistence hunting. The more enlightened countries realize now that when animals have no economic value, they will be eradicated to make room for domestic animals and crops that can be sold. And this slaughter will be carried out without regard to laws or humane methods.
Instead they now find economic benefit and employment as well as food when wealthy foreigners come to stay in luxurious "hunting camps" and spend thousands of dollars on licenses, guide fees, and gratuities.
Trees are a renewable resource and with proper management of forest properties, we can have the shade, the oxygen, the beauty and the forest products, including wildlife, forever.
John Crossley lives in Frewsburg.