Big Trees: Value

music
ambience: Outdoor ambience, birds

Trees have long been valued for their beauty and for their usefulness as a source of timber. Well, it turns out that some of our oldest, tallest trees have survived because they once weren’t deemed quite so useful. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“Trees have changed traditionally to become more important for what they look like, rather than for what can be made from them.”

Bruce Robinson is New York State coordinator of the American Forests Big Tree Program. They publish a registry of America’s tallest trees, which lists examples of over 800 species.

“Some of these big trees are not necessarily pretty in terms of the stateliness of the species. But from a standpoint of what has happened to that tree, these become a living legacy.”

In colonial times, the most perfect trees were often the first to be cut down. For example, a straight white pine would be marked for King George and used to make a ship-mast. So these days if you see a 200 year-old white pine in New England, it’s likely to be one that has forks or a crooked trunk. Nevertheless, that tree’s been part of two centuries of history.

“We have so many examples of trees being reference points. For example, survey marker was a tree, or a directional point to identify a community was the tree. The center of the park was a round, a clump of trees. If we go into New England, the trees still remain where the colonists were meeting to trace the movement of the British troops, and they were referenced to trees.”

To hear about our new CD please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Big Trees: Value

For many of America's oldest trees, imperfection enabled survival.
Air Date:03/04/2009
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: Outdoor ambience, birds

Trees have long been valued for their beauty and for their usefulness as a source of timber. Well, it turns out that some of our oldest, tallest trees have survived because they once weren't deemed quite so useful. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"Trees have changed traditionally to become more important for what they look like, rather than for what can be made from them."

Bruce Robinson is New York State coordinator of the American Forests Big Tree Program. They publish a registry of America's tallest trees, which lists examples of over 800 species.

"Some of these big trees are not necessarily pretty in terms of the stateliness of the species. But from a standpoint of what has happened to that tree, these become a living legacy."

In colonial times, the most perfect trees were often the first to be cut down. For example, a straight white pine would be marked for King George and used to make a ship-mast. So these days if you see a 200 year-old white pine in New England, it's likely to be one that has forks or a crooked trunk. Nevertheless, that tree's been part of two centuries of history.

"We have so many examples of trees being reference points. For example, survey marker was a tree, or a directional point to identify a community was the tree. The center of the park was a round, a clump of trees. If we go into New England, the trees still remain where the colonists were meeting to trace the movement of the British troops, and they were referenced to trees."

To hear about our new CD please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music