Tag Archives: Irminsul

I think that I shall never see a Billboard lovely as a Tree

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

I find it interesting that so many people hate trees.

They cause more neighbourhood disputes than any other issue. Trees are poisoned because they block views or for any number of innane reasons. It also seems (at least in Australia)  that everyone craves a McMansion which necessitates the removal of every single bit of plant life so that an extraordinarily large house can encompass every square metre of the available land. And then everyone whinges when they notice that birds have left the suburbs. https://roslynmotter.com/2010/05/30/not-in-my-backyard/

Though on the other hand, a recent article in the local paper told how twelve Ibis chicks were left orphaned after the Calvary Retirement Village in Ryde, New South Wales, got a permit from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to remove Ibis nests from palm trees on its site. Many trees were cut down deliberately because they were home to ibis, which some people consider to be pests. The point was made that the Ibis is not a pest but a native bird which has been forced to find trees in residential areas because their natural environment has been wiped out.

Meanwhile, in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens the staff were devastated after someone vandalised the historic Separation Tree. The 24-metre, 400 year old river red gum was the site of celebrations on November 15th, 1850, when Victoria broke away from New South Wales. On 19th August it was ringbarked when someone broke into the gardens and attacked it with an axe. With a huge gash surrounding the tree’s trunk there is a good chance that the 400 year old tree will die.

So, do trees have a raison d’etre? Do we really need them?

Well there are lots of reasons why we might. Most notably that the leaves of the trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, thus keeping the temperature on earth down to the levels that make our life on earth comfortable.  They then convert the CO2 to oxygen for us to breathe. The Amazon Rainforest for example, produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen supply.

If you’ve read my last blog you’ll see that research shows that the leaves of trees have, over the last ten years, become smaller so that their surface space does not absorb the same amount of CO2 from the atmosphere that they used to. This is a matter of great concern because if CO2 builds up in the atmosphere, the temperature on earth will increase, and this will lead to drier conditions, fires and generally intolerable conditions for humans, animals and plantlife as we know it.

The other reasons that trees are of benefit are as homes for animals and birds.  Animals and various bird varieties live in hollows in the trees and birds also make their homes in nests which they construct on the branches. Many animals including monkeys, fruit bats, possums, koalas and more, depend on trees for their homes.

Bees and wasps construct their hives on the trunks of trees.  

The Green Tree Ant which lives in tropical regions of India, Africa and Australia, construct their homes from leaves, building huge leaf homes in the branches of trees. They build nests by weaving leaves together with a sticky substance produced from their larvae. Many ants work together to constuct these oval shaped nests which can finish up being 300-500mm long.

Trees are also a safe haven for animals escaping from other predators. Out in the wild, a leopard will drag its catch up a tree so that it can eat in peace, free from lions and hyennas which would steal it off them.  Any animal that can climb a tree is in a great position to escape predatory animals that can’t. I’ve seen documentaries which showed baby bears running up into trees to escape angry male bears that would kill them if they could catch them.

And of course there are animals that can’t walk comfortably on land and which  prefer to live in trees. These are sloths, monkeys, possums, orangutans, squirrels, koalas and sugar gliders for example.

Also, trees provide foods  for animals and man.

Koalas eat only certain kinds of eucalyptus leaves. Sloths tend to stay with the same trees, eating their leaves, for their entire lives. Silkworms only eat mulberry leaves.  Trees provide fruits and flowers which are the sole food source of certain birds and animals and in a symbiotic arrangement, the birds, animals and even ants help the trees spread their seeds throughout the landscape.  They also help the flowers in the trees to pollinate by taking pollen from flower to flower.

Not only do trees provide fruit for eating, they also provide herbal remedies for both man and animals. The bark of the trees, the leaves, flowers and roots all have potential healing benefits. There is still much we don’t know about the healing powers of many trees and plants but many pharmaceuticals contain elements from plantlife. Animals also know intuitively to chew on the bark or leaves of trees if they are sick.

Teas, tinctures, poultices and extracts made from countless plants are used to soothe sore throats, boost immunity, ease congestion and relieve pain. Read more: Medicinal Uses for Trees & Plants | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_5831216_medicinal-uses-trees-_amp_-plants.html#ixzz0yFasZzMd

Quinine comes from the bark of a South American tree and is used in treatments for malaria.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center website, eucalyptus is a traditional diabetes treatment.

The leaves of olive trees are traditionally used to lower blood pressure, ward off colds and treat cardiovascular problems. Now research suggests that olive leaf extract products have a dramatic effect on excess weight and have the potential to combat obesity.

Ancient Olive Tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Willow tree bark contains salicin, a chemical used in the manufacture of aspirin.

Every part of the coconut palm is used by the Fijians. The leaves are interwoven for roof thatching and the coconut is an important ingredient in their cooking. 

Trees have been worshipped by many native and ancient people.

As a punishment to the ‘pagans’, in 772 King Charlemagne had Irminsul, the sacred tree of the Anglo Saxons, chopped down. From that time on country people have been leaving farms and moving to the city. This was the start of modern man’s disconnection with his farming roots.

Today we no longer worship trees. We worship money. We think nothing of chopping down any tree that stands in the way of development and progress. The theme of the movie Avatar where a sacred tree is blown up for the valuable mineral underneath is without doubt the way of the world these days.

Steve Irwin had a wonderful idea. He used to buy up as much land throughout the world as possible in order to protect the animals and trees on it and he encouraged others to do the same.

Well, unfortunately the late Steve Irwin is no longer with us and he was a rarity. Most people are keen to sell their treed properties to developers because that is where the big bucks lie.

Unfortunately that short sighted or ‘show me the money’ approach is what is going to cause ruination for us all. Many species are under threat because trees which are either their habitats /or the habitats of their prey/ or the source of their food, are being chopped down to either make more farm land available /or for housing developments/ or just for woodchipping as in the case of the Swift Parrot’s habitat.

The following are just some of the species under threat due to destruction of the habitats containing trees specific to their survival –

Orangutans – living in the jungles of South East Asia. Their jungles are being burnt down, particularly in Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations.

The Powerful Owl (Ninox Strenua) – the largest owl in Australia. It is recognised by its large, bright yellow, forward directing eyes. Powerful Owls feed on a range of possums and gliders. The presence of hollowed trees within the landscape is critical for their survival, not only as a home for their prey’s habitat, but also because Powerful Owls only nest in large hollows.

The Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolour) – is a specialised pollen and nectar feeding parrot that migrates across Bass Strait from summer breeding sites in Tasmania to winter feeding sites in mainland Australia. The most significant threat to this species is the loss of breeding habitat in Tasmania, primarily the harvesting of Tasmanian Blue Gum due to forestry practices including woodchipping. In 1989 it was estimated that only one third of the original Eucalyptus globulus forest remained.  The main threat in Victoria is a reduction in the extent of Box Ironbark woodlands which provide a source of winter flowering, nectar and pollen. See http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tZ4_xzXKbNkJ:bird.net.au/bird/index.php%3Ftitle%3DSwift_Parrot+parrot+under+threat+near+Horsham,+Victoria&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – A recent preliminary study in South-western Victoria indicated that the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo population should be considered endangered because of the loss of Brown Stringybark forests and suitable nesting hollows in South-east Australia. Past clearing of Brown Stringybark forests has reduced this essential habitat and has caused the remaining areas to be broken up and fragmented. Frequent burning, particularly by fires which damage the canopies, may have also had an adverse effect on the food resources of these Cockatoos.

Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami )  – The Glossy Black-cockatoo is a dusky brown to black cockatoo with a massive, bulbous bill and a broad, red band through the tail. The red in the tail is barred black and edged with yellow.  The species is uncommon although widespread throughout suitable forest and woodland habitats, from the central Queensland coast to East Gippsland in Victoria, and inland to the southern tablelands and central western plains of NSW, with a small population in the Riverina. An isolated population exists on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.  It feeds almost exclusively on the seeds of several species of she-oak (Casuarina and Allocasuarina species), shredding the cones with the massive bill. It is dependent on large hollow-bearing eucalypts for nest sites. It faces serious threat due to the reduction of suitable habitat through clearing for development/ Loss of tree hollows /Excessively frequent fire which reduces the abundance and recovery of she-oaks and also may destroy nest trees.

Koalas – Koalas are a uniquely Australian tree dwelling animal that is under serious threat in Australia. They succumb easily to stress and they are certainly suffering from some very stressful situations. They can only eat certain varieties of eucalyptus leaves and these days the major koala breeding areas seem to be slap bang in the middle of major areas of development – for example, Port Macquarie and Nelson Bay. As housing developments claim their trees, they are attacked by dogs and cats, and highways bissect their breeding areas so that many die trying to cross roads. Bushfires also claim many koalas’ lives. See https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/11/pity-about-the-australian-koala/ and http://wn.com/australia’s_shame__logging_deforestation_threatens_koala_habitat_near_nation’s_capital_china_cares

Soon, the only Australian birds left will be behind wire

The above are just a few of many, many birds and animals that depend on trees for survival. All are facing hard times in these days of urban encroachment on their native habitats. The Chinese panda is almost extinct because their bamboo plantations have been cut down for development, and so the list goes on.

You might ask why we should care if a few thousand species are wiped out. After all, what does it matter if a red or orange parrot bites the dust?

Well the reason is BIODIVERSITY.  Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms on earth – the different plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part.

As it happens, 2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity. 

Each bird, insect and animal is a link in an evolutionary chain. As each species is wiped out,  links are broken all over the place, and we are left with major chinks in the biological chain. We can only ask what the end result will be.

Today, a report was released titled ‘Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia’. It estimates that the number of sites classified as empty of mammal activity rose from 13% in 1996 to 55% in 2009 and predicts that in 20 years native mammals will be extinct. Presumably that does not include the human mammal. However, how can we be sure? We are just one link in that biological chain and if we are the only link left, what will that mean for our survival?

And how can we justify the deaths of so many species just so that we can steal their habitats?  What dreadful custodians we are of the earth.

The first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize – Wangari Maathai – was in Sydney in July this year. She formed the Green Belt movement out of concerns that rural women in Kenya’s lives have been devastated by deforestation.  Their drinking water and food has been affected and they have no fire wood for their cooking  and heating because of this deforestation. Since she commenced her organisation in 1977 they have instigated the planting of 40 million trees across Africa.

Israel has a very proactive reforestation project, having planted 230 million trees across their territory which is mostly desert.

Małgorzata Górska’s leadership in the fight to stop a controversial highway project led to a significant legal precedent for the environment that resulted in the protection of Poland’s Rospuda Valley, one of Europe’s last true wilderness areas.

In Russia, an unlikely housewife activist,  Yevgenia Chirikova, has been involved in a  three-year quest to save the Khimki forest from destruction. Chirikova became aware of a plan to fell a huge swath of forest so that a new highway could be built through it. The 150 hectare Khimki Forest forms part of Moscow’s dwindling green belt and was intended to be a preserve for local wildlife and to act as buffer against the pollution radiating from Moscow. She and other activists have been arrested many times during the course of her
campaign. Let’s hope she succeeds but then, it is not easy saving trees from man’s desires.

By the way, Australia is the most megadiverse developed country and supports almost 10 per cent of the biological diversity on earth. So when are we going to take the problem seriously?

Celebrate trees on http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Trees

Title courtesy of Ogden Nash.

(The Doofuzz Dudes series features some very fantasical trees such as the Moon Tree, the Blood Tree, The Tree of Life and Biter Trees)

Amazon at Lowest Level

THE Amazon, the world’s biggest river, is at its lowest level in more than 40 years near its source in northeastern Peru, causing havoc in a region where it is used as the only form of travel, authorities said.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/amazon-at-lowest-level-in-40-years/story-e6frfku0-1225913307084#ixzz0yL77FlSy

Normally, the Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean.  The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States .

The Amazon drains more territory than any other, from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela before running across Brazil and into the Atlantic.

The current problem is due to lack of rainfall and high temperatures in the region.

At present it is causing havoc on shipping in the region but no doubt it will have an impact on the Amazon Jungle.


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Not In My Backyard!

Possum from australian-wildlife.com/Possum-information.html

Oh we do so love cuddly, furry animals. Cute, pink noses and adorable little faces – you just want to grab them and cuddle them!

But when they’re jumping on your roof in the night and eating the oranges and figs off your very own trees – well that’s not cute at all! In fact that’s a statement of war!

Possums and fruit bats spring to mind.

The Royal Botanical Gardens have decided to wage war against fruit bats. Colonies of thousands of bats have been living in the Botanical Gardens in the middle of the Sydney CBD for years. Apparently they have destroyed trees and they have to go. So the method to be used in this war against the bats is noise. Every day in the gardens, a siren will be blasted. The noise is so annoying to bats that they will have no choice but to relocate.

But where to?

If anyone thinks that they’ll be welcomed in the suburbs then they have another thing coming. We don’t want possums so we definitely won’t want fruit bats.

Sydney is undergoing an “epidemic” of possum-dumping. Those cute little roof-hopping animals are being illegally trapped and dumped far away from home. I don’t suppose the trappers care too much about the future prospects for the possums, but once a native animal is taken to new territory its chances of survival are slim at best. Animals are territorial and will attack any interloper.

Put yourself in their paws. Imagine being taken far from home and dumped in the middle of nowhere without means of support.  You can certainly expect a hostile reaction from the natives.

Wires staff has been called to rescue 1030 ringtail and 843 brush tail possums this year in NSW. But once they rescue them, what next? Unless they know where they originally came from they can’t return them to their original habitat.

Soon we’ll be having the same problem with the fruit bats that have been driven from the Botanical Gardens.

But why are we finding fruit bats and possums to be so problematic? It’s all because their own native environments have been denuded to make way for ever more houses.

On Friday 9 April Sylvia Hale of the Greens Political Party spoke at a packed meeting at Crescent Head about the State Government’s plans to develop housing on high value conservation land on the Goolawah Estate at Crescent Head.

Locals are angry that development would destroy an endangered ecological community, which is home to many native animals including koalas, glossy black cockatoos and quolls. All  governments (Labor or Liberal) care not a fig for keeping vast tracts of land development free – they look at them with dollar signs in their eyes. There is a lot of money to be made in development fees!

Meanwhile, in the suburbs, as we have moved further and further from nature we all seem to view nature as an enemy to our comfort.  Living in our little castles we are increasingly annoyed by anything and everything natural.

We call the pest control service to nuke mice, birds, mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, wasps at the drop of a hat. It would be impossible to live through an ant invasion.  No one bothers with natural preventative measures. Toxic chemicals are sprayed all over the house and then everyone is surprised at the huge incidence of chemical sensitivity and allergic reactions amongst children and adults. Not to mention how the chemicals poison our pets and the soil in our gardens.

My view is that we have more to fear from the toxic chemicals than we do from a cockroach. I bet more people have died from chemicals than have died from cockroaches. Admittedly ugly to our sensitivities, I suspect that cockroaches find us vile too.

I constantly hear about how people have waged war against their neighbour’s trees. Someone once told me that one Saturday they went to the pictures and returned to find that a tree in their garden had vanished. Not a leaf or even a stump remained. Either it had been transported by aliens to their space ship, or the neighbour had taken possession during their absence. My mother also has been under pressure from a neighbour who took delight in pouring oil and poison into the roots of her trees. These are not isolated incidents. Councils would be hearing similar stories every day of the week.

Money Tree - now would that be chopped down?

Noise pollution laws protect us from the most horrible of noises – the sound of a crowing rooster. Not so long ago (well at least in my lifetime) everyone’s grandparents had hens in the backyard. I used to think how lovely it was to wake up to the sound of a rooster crowing. Now, anyone living in the suburbs with a rooster on their premises will be fined a considerable amount of money – last I heard it was $10,000.

So why do we hate nature so much? Why have people so warmly embraced the Mac Mansion Houses that take up every centlimetre of land, leaving absolutely no room for a tree or even a shrub? What has nature done to us that makes us so resentful?

Personally I blame King Charlemagne. In 772  he chopped down Irminsul, the sacred tree of the pagans in England. Ever since that day we have been leaving the land and moving to the city. We have all lost our bond with nature. We don’t understand the traditional way of life of Aborigines, Native American Indians and native jungle dwellers. They all stand in the way of our greedy desire for their land. All have been persecuted and now all have huge numbers suffering from white people’s conditions – alcoholism, diabetes and a sense of hopelessness.

By and large we hate trees – they block our views and their roots block drains. Annoying wildlife lives in them. Possums, birds, squirrels, wasps and more all live in trees and they defecate on the clothes on our lines. They launch their nightly attacks on our rooves and they make noises.

The war we are waging on nature seems harmless enough to us today. The day will come when we will cry that we have no trees and we have no native animals. But when that day comes it will be too late.

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Avatar Rules

I have just come home from seeing Avatar and Wow and double Wow! What  a movie!

James Cameron has done what the Doofuzz Dudes have been trying to do since book one in the series – alert the world to what mankind has become – so far removed from nature that all that matters to it is money, profit and more money and profit. 

In the back of the Blood Tree  I wrote about how King Charlemagne chopped down the sacred tree of the pagans all those years ago thus severing man’s link to nature.  I was knocked out to see how the humans in Avatar had brought a tonne of dynamite to blow up the sacred tree of the inhabitants (the Na’vi) of  the planet Pandora  because under the tree’s roots was an extremely valuable metal. 

But then, even as we watched the movie, hundreds of hectares of rainforest in Indonesia, the Amazon and probably Australia, had been burnt down, logged or blasted.

When did we decide that everything would be all right as long as we had heaps of money and possessions? When did we decide that the lives of animals were worthless?  When did we lose our bond with nature?

And are we happier for it? Apparently not. There were quite a few suicides related to the current financial crisis – people who couldn’t go on due to their monetary losses. People feel empty inside – they are stuffing a big hole inside themselves with more and more money and ‘things’. 

But how happy were the inhabitants of the planet Pandora?  The joy of sitting in front of a computer in an office for eight hours of every day or the joy of battling to get on board an overcrowded train twice a day could hardly be compared with the joy they experienced in their daily lives, flying on wonderous birds, riding amazing horse-like animals and running through the jungle. 

And was the audience barracking for the humans? Were they hoping that the humans would be able to chop down the sacred tree and get their mineral quota?

I don’t think so! Could this be because deep inside of all of us is the memory of Irminsul, the sacred tree of the pagans? Somewhere in our genetic memories is our connection to that tree and to nature.  If only we could find that bond with nature again. Maybe then we could be kind to the animals who share the earth with us and also to the last vestiges of greenery that still stand.

However, it is exhilarating that people like James Cameron in Avatar and Dr.Seuss in The Lorax are making us aware that there are choices. And maybe it’s still not too late.

Post Script – Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with my sentiments.  Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/hit-by-the-leftie-sledgehammer-20100101-llpp.html has quite a different view. She sees the movie as an attack on the US military and on humans in general. Actually, I don’t think that it is at all improbable that a company searching for a valuable mineral would employ soldiers to travel to another planet and instruct them to employ force to overcome the  inhabitants of the planet (‘savages’) and destroy their ‘flaky pagan’ religious artefacts if they stood in the way of the goal.  I suppose that if natives or aliens for that matter, have a religion which doesn’t have the right credentials in Miss Devine’s eyes, then they jolly well deserve to get what’s coming to them.

New Guinea is hardly another planet, but mining companies have dumped contaminated waste in the rivers which is destroying the environment, killing fish and natives.

See http://www.oxfam.org.au/explore/mining/our-mining-ombudsman-project/tolukuma-papua-new-guinea

River of poison

Each year, Tolukuma Gold Mine – formerly owned by Australian-based Emperor Mines Ltd – dumps more than 230,000 tonnes of mine waste into the Auga-Angabanga river system.

It’s a mining practice that’s illegal in Australia, but companies can get away with it in Papua New Guinea, and it’s destroying people’s lives.

“Please don’t do it to us … what you do not do in your own countries,” says local resident and Oxfam partner Matilda Koma.

This is why.

Communities living downstream from the mine report that:

  • People have become sick or died from drinking and washing in the river
  • Fish have died and food gardens have been destroyed, threatening their food supply
  • Changes in the river flow have caused flash flooding, making it difficult for locals to cross the river and access their market gardens

In 1996 the following was written on http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P1-2272355.html

Pratap Chatterjee
Inter Press Service English News Wire
LONDON, May 13 (IPS) — The mining of minerals from coal to
uranium has transformed mountains into craters and turned rivers
the color of blood, said representatives of indigenous peoples from
some 50 communities around the world, gathered in London this week.
From Namibia in southern Africa to Siberia near the Arctic
circle, from French Guyana on the north-eastern shoulder of South
America to Fiji in the South Pacific, speakers are in London for
the 6-16 May Consultation on Indigenous People and Mining,
organized by the World …Pratap Chatterjee
Inter Press Service English News Wire

So, Miranda Devine, if mining companies do that on earth, do you really think they would act ethically on other planets?

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