When I was young, I had a tree, a nest into which I climbed.
I resonate to these words of Richard Powers from The Overstory.
The judge asks, “Young, straight, faster-growing trees aren’t better than older, rotting trees?” “Better for us. Not for the forest.”
She describes how a rotting log is home to orders of magnitude more living tissue than the living tree. “I sometimes wonder whether a tree’s real task on Earth isn’t to bulk itself up in preparation to lying dead on the forest floor for a long time.” The judge asks what living things might need a dead tree. “Name your family. Your order. Birds, mammals, other plants. Tens of thousands of invertebrates. Three-quarters of the region’s amphibians need them. Almost all the reptiles. Animals that keep down the pests that kill other trees. A dead tree is an infinite hotel.” She tells him about the ambrosia beetle. The alcohol of rotting wood summons it. It moves into the log and excavates. Through its tunnel systems, it plants bits of fungus that it brought in with it, on a special formation on its head. The fungus eats the wood; the beetle eats the fungus. “Beetles are farming the log?” “They farm. Without subsidies. Unless you count the log.” “And those species that depend on rotting logs and snags: are any of them endangered?” She tells him: everything depends on everything else. There’s a kind of vole that needs old forest. It eats mushrooms that grow on rotting logs and excretes spores somewhere else. No rotting logs, no mushrooms; no mushrooms, no vole; no vole, no spreading fungus; no spreading fungus, no new trees. “Do you believe we can save these species by keeping fragments of older forest intact?” She thinks before answering. “No. Not fragments. Large forests live and breathe. They develop complex behaviors. Small fragments aren’t as resilient or as rich. The pieces must be large, for large creatures to live in them.”