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Our Relationship with Trees

Part 1
by Tania Collier
© January 2008

Trees and all plant life have been in existence well before the birth of the human species.

In the era of the dinosaurs plant life grew to tremendous proportions. But, when you consider the wild
life that existed on the planet at that time you will have an understanding of why this was so.

I am not going to go into a history lesson of plant life pre-humans. Instead I am going to talk about
plant life and humans of today and of the past.

Throughout human history many civilisations have strived to control their external environment. They
have cut down vegetation, cleared forests and defaced Mother Earth so that they could have some form of
control in their lives.

Whilst some clearing has been necessary for the growth of food crops and to help proliferate the re-
growth of natural vegetation. I question has it really been necessary to clear the amounts of land that has
been done over the years.

In the early history of man it has been discovered that people would travel around in tribes.
Sometimes staying in one area for a many number of seasons before something ~ usually catastrophic ~
forced them to move on and find a new place to live.

These early people lived in harmony with the land and understood the Laws of Nature. They learnt
from the animals what the medicinal properties of plants were and often the Shaman or Medicine
Man/Woman would find other cures using the plant life around them.

These medicines were found in flowers, reeds, grasses, tree bark, roots, leaves and other plant
matter. Medicines were also found in the form of crystals.

The people learnt from the land and animals what would sustain them in times of need. What could
be used to provide shelter from rain, wind and snow. They learnt to follow the moon and stars in the sky
using them as a map so they could get back home when they have travelled far to capture food for the tribe.
They used the sun a s a guide to learn the different seasons and when would be the best time to hunt and
gather.

They learnt from Grandmother Wind when the snows were coming and would ensure they had
enough stores to get through the seasons that provided little bounty.

They lived in harmony with all their surroundings as the knew it was these things that provided for
them.

These teachings wee passed on from generation to generation throughout the different lands. Each
area had teachings relevant for there and there only. Some plants could not be found in some areas so a
substitute was used that contained the same medicinal properties as another.

Each plant, stone, tree and stream had its own specific purpose for where it resided. When the
people had to go to a new area that did not contain the vegetation that they had become accustomed to the
Medicine Man/Woman of the tribe would have to go in search of others so they could continue to heal the
sick and wounded, reduce labour pains and a myriad of other ailments that would at times afflict the
members of the tribe.

This continued for hundreds of years. Occasionally tribes would meet up with others and they would
show and teach each other their knowledge.

As the years went by the people continued to live in harmony with their environment. Sure, they had
the occasional 'fights' with other tribes when things did not go well. But all in all they lived harmonious,

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peaceful lives and never, never took more than what was needed.

As humans evolved and grew in population many things were seen to take place. It would seem that
the populace of the different countries dissected. Whilst some tribes continued to live in harmony with their
environment others seeked control.

The tribes who continued to live in harmony learnt much from the spirits of the trees, animals, rocks,
water, sky and earth. They listened to their surroundings and continued to teach their ways to the
generations that followed.

The other tribes of people seeked control of the lands. They believed that the land was/is there for
them to conquer and own. But this is not so for you can never own the trees, the water, the air that you
breathe. It is there for us to live with, to share, to enjoy, to be sustained by.

The tribes who lived amongst nature and her surroundings knew a long time ago the symbiotic
relationship we share with trees. They knew the bond between humans and trees was one of mutual benefit.
They knew that for the health and wellbeing of all life forms that we were the ones entrusted with the duty of
care to the trees and all life forms that humans share this planet with.

Many cultures knew that as the tree populace dwindled so to did our health. We need the trees as
much as they need us. Without them we would not have oxygen and without us they would not have carbon
dioxide. And therein lies the symbiotic relationship.

However, there is more to it than this. There is another crucial factor that is essential to all life and it
is water.

The ancestors of old knew that without trees there would be no rain. In more recent times studies
have found this 'theory' to be true. We need trees and we need water.

Areas that are lush with vegetation experience a continuum of rainfall which sustains all life. It helps
the trees to grow to large proportions which in turn enables them to produce more oxygen for us to breathe.

When these areas were cleared of vegetation a significant drop in rainfall was detected. Yet in areas
where trees remained the rainfall continued.

Lets take a brief look at the Amazon Jungle. It is home to a diverse array of wildlife, vegetation and
now just a handful of native tribes many of whom have never seen white man. Water from the Amazon
accounts for 15% of the total water that flows into the worlds oceans. This very same water has a chemical
purity that is equivalent to water that is distilled. Its size is measurable to Australia and every year there is a
loss of vegetation that is equal to the size of Brazil.

In regards to this matter one scientist has been quoted on the effects of the deforestation of the
Amazon: “The destruction of existing ecosystems would upset all manner of delicate ecological
balances and would entail irreversible destruction of an enormous source of oxygen which is
crucial for the survival of the biosphere.”
Australia was colonised in 1788 and since then the deforestation of areas has been occurring at an
alarming rate. This rate has become so great that the deforestation of the last 50+ years is equivalent to the
same amount that was cleared in the first 150 of colonisation. From 1990 land clearing has added up to more
than half of what has been cleared in Brazil. This is a significant amount of trees when you consider the
expanse of areas that are being cleared.

Doctor Eleanor White a scientist from the Canadian Natural Resources quoted in 1996: “Tree DNA
is surprisingly similar to human DNA. It has the same basic building blocks. It has the same bases.
They're arranged in the same way. The genetic code is the same in trees and in humans. There's a
surprising similarity.”
This is not new information, this has been known for many years by the people who chose to live as
one and in harmony with their surroundings. It is knowledge that was held and taught by the elders of all

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tribes.

There are other things that we can look at too. In the Australian Snowy Area a lot of horses and cattle
were allowed to roam freely amongst the mountain ranges. This was done for a number of reasons. Firstly
the vegetation was full of nutrition for the stock which reduced the need for supplement feeding. Secondly
the trees provided shelter for the stock from the sun and other climatic conditions. Thirdly by allowing the
stock to roam freely through the vegetation and forests they provided a service in helping to sustain the
mountainous regions ecosystems and the growth of plant life. When it was time to bring the cattle and/or
horses back into the stock yards the men and women would round them up on horseback.

Unfortunately this doesn't happen as frequently as it once did as more and more areas are being
cleared of trees.

The Celts used trees for their form of astrology. Depending on when your birth date fell it determined
what tree characteristics, traits you held within yourself.

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