24 November 2010

Trees will begin to die from the top down

We've had a lot of strong wind lately which has knocked over a bunch of trees in the forest. Sadly, many of the downed trees are young sugar maples which snap off a few feet above the ground. Most of the sugar maples on the property are small and not very vigourous. The bark has an unhealthy silver palour and the tops are thin and have lots of dead branches. The wood of this tree is kind of punky and I fear that the rest of the maples are similarly doomed.

The fact that the sugar maples on our land are in such bad shape is rather sad given that there used to be a sugar bush here. There is the outline of the sugar shack still visible in the woods. (Perhaps not visible in this picture. You'll just have to believe me.) I suppose at some point someone decided sugaring was too much work and sold off the trees for firewood. No doubt this was the economically sensible thing to do at the time. Unfortunately, with all the large maples gone, there isn't a good seed stock to replenish the forest. I don't know whether all our sick young maples are suffering from environmental stress or perhaps they just lost the genetic crapshoot.

There are Algonquin pictographs warning of environmental catastrophe that say there will be a time when the trees, the maple trees, will begin to die from the top down. This would have been inconceivable at the time, yet here we are, witnessing exactly that.

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