Forests are essential to our survival upon our spaceship Earth. Without them, our lands will become desert incapable of sustaining life. Trees are the forest’s interface between the atmosphere that we breathe and the land that we stand upon. Through the work of trees, we enjoy the benefits of soil creation, an active hydrological cycle, the moderation of climate, the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen through their respiration, the long-term sequestration of carbon, a nutrient rich landscape in which to manage and rotationally graze hogs on mast crops, a diverse forest habitat for wildlife, raw materials for the construction of our homes, and a place to retreat to in order to recharge our souls. Planted in endless rows of the same species, trees become a commodity on a plantation. While mixed species trees, together with herbs, fungi and their mycorrhizal associations, shrubs, brambles, fauna, exists as a diverse polyculture that is redundant and resilient to disturbance.
As small farmers participating in our market economy, we must show that diverse methods of maintaining a forest are just as, if not more, valuable to our income streams than the current practice of clear cutting a stand of timber every fifty to one-hundred fifty years to sell at commodity prices. To this end this article defines nine points that demonstrate why a forest, a polyculture of trees, is more valuable than the market value of their standing timber, once cut and processed into lumber.
Healthy soil is essential to all life on our planet, and forests composed of deciduous trees are efficient creators of soils. Using the mechanics and chemistry of their roots to break apart stones, they are able to extract and add nutrients with the humic acids that exists in the humus of their shed leaves carpeting the forest floor. As recyclers of nutrients, trees capably steward this production of humus from the tonnage of their decomposing leaves, making it available for the entire forest. This seasonal cycle of rebirth, growth, and death carpets the forest with the trees detritus, the byproduct of nutrient scavenging from deep within the earth, solar energy harvesting courtesy of photosynthesis, and water harvesting from the ground and the air. Together these processes redistribute this wealth throughout the forest in the fall and winter, sheltering the soil from the potential of erosion from the cold weather and seasonal rains, as well as contributing the carbon and nutrients that are necessary for the soil food web to regernatively create new soils. The fungi and microfauna, having found a suitable niche in these woodland soils, work together with the trees to exchange nutrients and to break down the leaves into humus rich topsoil, which allows for the continued growth of new trees, mushrooms, shrubs, and a plethora of wildlife.