A Solitary Tree is Not a Lonely Tree

On the road...again!!!
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek



A Solitary Tree Is Not a Lonely Tree


When casual visitors to Internet sites mention planting trees as a useful practice, the whole gamut of their past experience and current expectations may come into their minds.  And if or when they decide to post personal comments—their opinions also come into play.

To be sure, most comments come from individuals who may have had limited exposure to the principles, practices, and purposes of tree planting.  It is visually rewarding to see a beautiful apple tree blossom in the spring of the year, whether that tree is a solitary specimen on a private plot of land, or a special individual in an orchard filled with apple trees.

To foresters and land managers, individual trees take a back seat in the planning and managing process of populating the landscape with suitable trees to fill a variety of environmental and cultural roles.  Most often the land does not belong to them but they are entrusted to be stewards of the land that is expected to provide goods and services to society at large.

Village trees or those planted with community use in mind are usually fewer in number than what might be expected in a plantation scheme, or in an orchard, but the importance of village shade trees, inside and outside of villages has a special relevance to the concept of planting for multiple use reasons.  But because a solitary tree or two does not attract as much attention, there is not much discussion in scientific circles about their real importance in community life.

The idea of having shade trees connotes a specific and long-term use in mind and there is no conflict of interest if the shade tree or trees are planted with the understanding that even non-property owners will benefit from their presence.  When the proposed shade trees are also intended as village shade, the community property aspect is even more strongly appreciated.

In semi-arid countries and even in genuine deserts, village shade trees are highly prized, with or without acknowledgement. Who knows how many lessons were offered under the broad branches and gentle shade of trees like the one shown below? How many after-hour and private conversations were held there? And how many people have listened to interesting speakers on a variety of topics?


Community Gathering



The village shade tree is and should be an asset in village life.  Thus, it is easy to imagine that a solitary tree does not get lonely for long.

Shade trees far from the village serve similar purposes, and are appreciated in the sameness of temporal values, season by season and year after year.  Non-verbal communication being what it is, there is no explanation required to understand how important shade trees are in relatively barren landscapes.


Many sheep and a few goats enjoy the shade.


To interpret the presence of a shade tree from a distance does not require going beyond observing the scene at hand, yet some shade trees also provide fodder in the form of seed pods that are intended for animal feed, and some trees also provide fruits that are harvested for human consumption. Thus, by way of analysis, it seems certain that large shade trees in open environments endure because they are too valuable to harm or remove them.

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