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Why we must protect trees

Trees. What’s not to like about trees? With so many attributes, it’s hard to imagine life without them.  Or to imagine Munibung Hill without them.  Yet, trees had a hard time of it at Munibung Hill for a long time.  They were viewed as an obstacle to commercial projects, be that cattle grazing, orchards, mineral processing, quarry mining for gravel or residential development.  Pictures of Munibung Hill in times past show denuded areas from north to south, east to west.  This was in stark contrast to when Aboriginal people cared for country. This story by Nick Baker and Anna Whitfeld  (ABC Radio National Late Night Live  program Mon 13 Jun 2022): Wood ‘shaped the whole of human history’, says this expert, which is why we must protect trees, reports on the work of Roland Ennos, who loves trees with a passion. They write: 

Like many people, this professor of biological sciences from the University of Hull appreciates trees for their aesthetic, ecological and material value.

But for Professor Ennos, it’s much more than that. He believes trees made us. He says we have trees — specifically wood — to thank for much of human progress to this point.

In his latest book, The Wood Age: How One Material Shaped the Whole of Human History, Professor Ennos argues that wood is closely intertwined with our evolution and has helped to define who we are today.

And as the world experiences rampant deforestation and the effects of climate change, he says it’s a crucial time to understand just how important trees are to humans.

In conclusion Nick and Anna quote Roland Ennos: 

“We need to have a sustainable use of wood … If we grow forests, harvest them and use that wood to make things like buildings and other structures, then that’s actually sequestering carbon dioxide,” he says. “We’re very fortunate that in recent years, people have developed whole new ways of making wooden objects and making wooden buildings.”

Professor Ennos says “giant skyscrapers and huge sports halls” made with wooden beams are being built around the world. 

“This has a far, far lower carbon impact than concrete,” he says. “So if we can replace concrete with wood from sustainable forests — that’s really the way we need to go.”

Get the full story here: Wood shaped human history