Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The benefits of forests, as seen in 1923

Why forests are important



The following passage is quoted from a 1923 textbook, The New Agriculture For High Schools. The author, Dr. Kary C. Davis, advises students that some woodlands should be preserved on farms. Here are the reasons he gives:

Forests benefit regions in a number of ways:

1, They greatly modify and improve climate.

2. They greatly equalize temperature.

3. They break the force of the wind.

4. They check evaporation.

5. They prevent floods or make them less serious. The forest itself and its floor of leaves and trash absorbing the rainfall, retard the rush of water to streams.

6. Water power for mills and factories along streams is more uniform because of a steady supply of water coming from a stream through a well-protected forest watershed.

7. Wells and springs are more continuous in their flow because more water enters the soil and gradually seeks the underground currents.

Source: From the chapter titled "Woodland Projects" (p.322) in The New Agriculture for High Schools by Kary C. Davis, Ph.D. Published in 1923 by J.P. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.


It has been 85 years since the above points were listed.

We probably don't use as much water power today to run mills and factories (see #6 above,) but we depend on our rivers to produce electricity and to provide water for cities, agriculture, and recreation.

If we were rewriting this list today, we might also add that forests help reduce air pollution and serve as carbon sinks.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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