Friday, June 23, 2017

Trees in China

By Judy.

I have always thought of China and its capital Beijing as being industrial, smog emitting, high density living and void of trees. ….but I was wrong.

We have just returned from time visiting our son in Beijing and we were surprised by the value the Chinese put on trees. There is an evident priority plan to plant trees along highways, main arterial roads and in every available space alongside roads. The green of the city is evident everywhere you go, alongside the huge highways and amongst the tall, densely positioned buildings and apartments.
We saw many mature trees being planted alongside roads after being transported on the backs of trucks. Some trees would have been 1.2m to 1.5 m in trunk girth and perhaps 10m high. …planes, poplars, elms, willows and pines. And most times there is also a secondary planting of smaller trees like gingkos, cherries, pears. Yes it’s well organized and they are laid out in lines or avenues but the predominant feel of driving in China is ‘trees’ and ‘green’.

The second thing we noticed was the value placed on old trees. Old trees in parks or reserves are all labelled. The younger trees of 150 years have a green metal name plate, and older trees of 300 years have a red metal name plate, all with the tree’s number and details and sometimes a Q code for those with smartphones who read Mandarin, to learn about the tree. 

It is obvious that the Chinese value old trees because old trees are kept well into and through old age despite being wind or disease damaged. Huge metal poles are used to hold up limbs, leather straps are bound around a trunk to hold it together, huge metal or wooden constructions are built to hold up a tree and its canopy, which become in themselves a work of art or sculptural masterpiece. Sometimes fences or rails are necessary to keep people away from trees but this is because so many people want to touch them, not because of fear of prosecution if a limb should fail!! Old tree roots are carefully protected with attention to the area around the tree base; metal, wood or concrete slats to protect and give good drainage.

I would like to think that in West Gippsland we value our old native and planted trees and do all we can to keep them into their vintage years. We don’t need to start replanting as the Chinese do, YET, but we do need to stop chopping down and at least have a neutral rather than negative removal/replacement rate. And where appropriate supporting and keeping old trees into their twilight years.

We have a lot to learn from other nations!!

Judy Farmer

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