I live in the city of London, Ontario- also known as “The Forest City” because of the sheer number of trees interwoven in between the buildings. In fact, if you go up on a local hill and look down upon the city from certain angles you won’t even see a city, you’ll see a forest with buildings sticking out of it.
Because of this it’s fair to say that I’d always taken it for granted that people grew up surrounded by trees and nature until I went on my first trip to the American city of Detroit. Even Toronto and Hamilton have trees (just not as much as London), but the first thing that struck me about Detroit was their absence. Sure, you find them once you get out into the suburbs, but the core of Detroit it just miles and miles of pavement with only a few scraggly trees to show for it here and there. It felt so dead to me, and once I’d realized it was the lack of trees I knew why.
I think we need trees, both because of the air they process, and perhaps on a deeper psychological level where they keep us in contact with our place as part of the biosphere. Not to get all Avatar on you, but I do think we easily forget we are part of the natural life of this planet, and we need to think of ourselves more as custodians and less as occupants. Without the different parts of the biosphere, from plankton to trees, the system will begin to fall apart, and we’ll be wiped out eventually by our own stupidity and short-sightedness.
Not to end on such an unhappy note, go check out this cool story from the blog IslaFormosa that inspired this post.