Nature and Its Health

Pollution has already affected half of Britain’s trees. Visible symptoms like sparse foliage, broken tops, bare branches, or trees to which autumn seems to come early are the outward signs of complex internal problems. A survey done in 1991 showed that 56.7 percent of British trees had lost more than a quarter of their leaves. Britain ranks worst out of the whole of Europe: even heavily polluted Poland and the Czech Republic have relatively healthier trees. A combination of pollution and drought, with ensuing infestations of insects and fungi, seems to be the problem, resulting in the trees’ natural defense systems becoming weaker and weaker. This problem mirrors

humans’ own alarming global rise in 14 The Complete Home Guide to Herbs, Natural Healing, and Nutrition Traditional “tree dressing” in the winter months immune-system diseases and allergy problems. Much open land is being lost to development; it has fallen victim to money and an increase in population. Historically, common land in Britain was often unlawfully sold off by the crown and the church; more recently, footpaths have been plowed up by farmers and other landowners. Land has been given over to intensive farming, industry, and housing. But many Britons are now dedicated to reopening footpaths and preserving what little countryside we have left; some churchyards and cemeteries are now a

haven for nature. Spending time out in nature will inspire us to save and create more. We should also remember that trees and plants are intelligent enough to adapt to changes in the environment, responding with new reactions in order to survive, protecting themselves from or transforming pollution. As major oxygenators, trees are very important. Thus replanting is essential in order to keep the earth’s atmosphere, and all who live off it, healthy. Something that has increasingly struck me is that calcium-depleted soils produce sickly, weak trees that are prone to disease, while calciumrich soils produce the opposite. Trees fl ourish in mineral- and nutrientrich soils, the larger-leafed deciduous trees needing more nutrients than coniferous varieties. It is possible that we are in need of another ice age,
in which the rocks and earth are moved and crushed to replenish nutrients the soil. Unfortunately, glaciers can take nine hundred centuries to remineralize the earth, and then a few more centuries would be needed to warm the ground up enough to grow anything again! But general loss of nutrient-rich, undisturbed soils is certainly a huge factor in the loss of tree health. Interestingly enough, calcium is one of the most needed minerals for our own bodies — another similarity we have to plants. Like all things, trees and humans are part of the same blueprint of nature.