Guest Column - The forest standard time

Bill Cook - MSU Extension forester and biologist

One blatant example of not fully recognizing the relationship between time and trees is planting a tree, or thousands, or even millions.  The promotion of tree planting campaigns sports rosy promises that make us all feel good.  However, what is too often omitted is that it takes decades to see advertised returns in full, and a lot of planted trees die long before their prime.  

Even a 20-foot tree in the front yard won’t yield thermal benefits to a house until it’s large enough to cast a sufficient amount of shade.  By then, the kids will be grown and out of college. 

For wildland forests, the steady, persistent, intangible, life-supporting benefits of forests are typically grossly under-valued, perhaps because they’re seen as “permanent”, or not seen at all, and the values get lost in the background of every-day living.  We take them for granted. 

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