Why I love trees

kahikatea (Dacrocarpus dacrydoides) grove, New Zealand's tallest tree
I grew up in South Africa, and as such my interest in the natural world was taken up by birds and larger mammals as I have mentioned previously. New Zealand has no native land mammals. It does however have two species of native bats, the long- and short-tailed bat. Interestingly, a recent finding of fossil evidence suggests that this hasn't always been the case. You can read about the fossils in this article in New Scientist if you are interested. 

With out mammals I needed something else tangible in the natural world to fill that gap, and New Zealand trees were that something else. It happened by accident. I was studying environmental science at university and one of the papers was on terrestrial ecology. One of the components of the paper involved a four day field trip to Pureora Forest Park. On this field trip we went into the bush and literally counted trees. Of course that is an over simplification of the process but it is pretty much what we did. But, in New Zealand trees are not just trees. They are TREES. I became fascinated by their size and majesty, and the dynamics of the forest. The way living things interact, the constant struggle for individuals to survive is an amazing thing. And trying to understand it is quite engaging and challenging.

The way I feel about it is beautifully captured by David Attenborough in  all the great natural history documentary he has narrated. We have the "Planet Earth" series at home, and I have watched the "Blue Planet" series previously, and parts of it are breathtaking. You can watch some of "Planet Earth" here but it is narrated by an American woman for the Discovery Channel who I think doesn't do it justice compared to Attenborough. The way he says "predator" is glorious.

To find out a bit more about New Zealand Forest follow the link below to watch two clips from 1984 filmed in New Zealand about the forest presented by another passionate naturalist called David Bellamy.

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. This is dinosaur country.

Our World: The Best Kept Secret - Whirinaki Forest


Paul said...

One of the things I love about trees is their simple elegance. What are they, if not old giant sticks made from sugar?

I love that almost none of the mass of a huge tree is actually alive and so doesn't need feeding - yet, most cleverly, that dead bulk is still used for everything from stability to transporting nutrients and water. A free lunch!

I love that trees use natural capillary action to 'pump' water from from the soil to their leaves, without having to expend so much as a single ATP.

Trees are models of ecological frugality. They're much better than those wasteful animals at managing their energy use. Try living for 2000 years, animals!

And they're nice to look at.

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