The tallest tree in the world stands at 379 feet. It is found deep in the Redwood National Forest in California. A tree called General Sherman, a giant sequoia, is the largest tree in the world (over 52,000 cubic feet). Some of the oldest trees in the world still standing are estimated to be close to 5,000 years old. Trees survived floods, fire, perhaps even a meteor collision or two, but they might not survive one of the greatest threats produced in modern times – mankind itself.
Deforestation, pervasive air pollution, water source contamination – the ills that humanity has heaped on trees, and Mother Earth in general, are relentless and with long-lasting and wide-ranging repercussions.
In recent years, however, mankind seems to have finally recognized the error of its ways. Steps to curb and turn back the damage done to the environment (including trees) are multiplying. Tree planting and conservation efforts are taking place all over the world. Some are initiated on a grand scale by big corporations eager to put their spanking-new earth-friendly policies on display. Others are backyard eco-activists aiming to make a difference in their small corner of the world, one planted tree at a time.
On a more local level, tree topping, one of the most common and at the same time, most harmful practices in the tree industry, is still very much alive today. This practice occurs despite the evidence provided by experts in the field. Tree topping is unhealthy for trees and ultimately unsafe for people who live near them. There are so many ill-informed or simply unconcerned so-called arborists who resort to tree topping as a means of pruning that the sight of a tree shorn of its crown, its branches appearing as mere stumps sticking out of the trunk, is a common sight in most neighborhoods in America.
Tree topping can starve a tree. Without its crown, whose leaves manufacture food for the tree, it may not be possible for a tree to survive such a devastating loss. This is especially true if it does not have enough reserves from which to draw the necessary nutrients in order to recover. Tree topping also weakens trees, making them more prone to diseases as well as to toppling over in extreme weather situations. The trees become a threat to the property as well as to the safety of the people living there.
Perhaps the ultimate indignity of tree topping is the destruction of a tree’s natural balance and symmetry. A creation of such great beauty that it has inspired songs, poems and paintings throughout time, something that has been around for thousands of years, reduced to no more than a stump of its former glory – if that’s not a crime, perhaps it’s time to make it one.