So often at this time of the year I hear about Earth Day. Hippie holiday or educational outreach opportunity, Earth Day is a product of the 1970s and a challenge against poor modern environmental husbandry. Shortly following Earth Day many countries also observe Arbor Day. It is less popular, celebrated by fewer nations and is 100 years older.
I am not sure why Arbor Day often lingers in Earth Day’s shadow. I suppose it has less media hype behind it, perhaps because it wasn’t created during such a heated era in the United States. (Other countries adopted Earth Day in 1990 and Arbor Day adoptions range from 1805 in Spain to 2008 in the Republic of Macedonia.) Maybe it is because on Earth Day you can discuss environmental husbandry while on Arbor Day you traditionally get your hands dirty and plant a tree.
All I know is dirt is awesome and both days honor the natural world and foster an excuse for a fun educational experience—at least if you’re a kid. Though most kids neglect these experiences when they grow older and susceptible to more societal pressures, so you might as well make education stimulating for all age and intellectual levels so it permeates through the rest of society.
On the other hand, many ecosystems don’t naturally support trees, so there’s that….but for many regions there used to be trees until demand wiped out the supply or a new subdivision created large plots of lawn and no aesthetics or shade.
Trees make a nice addition, especially native species that can integrate into the local ecosystem and not require excessive maintenance because they are adapted for the regional climate and soil…and don’t introduce insects and microbes that transmit diseases originating from another continent that destroy both ornamental native trees planted by cities and large tracts of forest.
Hmm…I didn’t intend this post to be depressing.
I can compensate.
The Arbor Day Foundation runs an excellent web resource for selecting and planting trees, conservation, related pamphlets, public service announces in text and video formats, posters and news articles. They execute many programs that promote good forestry and landscaping practices, as well as ideas for individuals to honor Arbor Day, Tree Planting Day or any other name other countries have for celebrating the plants that built civilization.
Lastly, my favorite tree quotes:
“We make an immense mistake when we think of trees as solely an aesthetic member of a community. They cut pollution, they cool the air, they prevent erosion, they muffle sound, they produce oxygen. Then, after all that, they look good.”
–Dr. Richard Leakey
“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.”
“The best friend on earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on earth.”
–Frank Lloyd Wright
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”
“He that plants trees loves others beside himself.”
“I never before knew the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.”