The pointReturn adventure began not so much with the idea of giving trees a home, but to facilitate the home trees will make. For thirty years now I have not been able to pass a full grown tree without, at a minimum, registering its presence. Often I do not know its name or nature and I am more mystified, therefore. What is its inner life like? I am sure it has one, for, I sat alone once, for a whole two hours staring at a giant neem tree and let it heal my heart. It stood over 80 feet tall. In the evening breeze, it gently waved its boughs and I was sure it was all only for me; at any rate the universe did not exist save for the tree and me.
Skipping lyricism for bare facts, it can be asserted that barring those in the snow-capped poles -but, including those of us in deserts- man has survived mostly by trees in his habitat. And he is still an ignorant beneficiary of the largesse of nature delivered through trees. Ignorant, I say, because the ‘science’ of botany is nothing more than a continuing exercise to catalogue discovered facts about plants, a task yet to end, despite half a millennium of sustained devotion. Plants are the source of our food, energy, medicine, clothes, intoxication and creative urges. I also reluctantly add, they are the raw materials of much modern commerce.
The space under trees’ canopy is nature’s kitchen. I will not insult you by making this a primer on trees and their myriad ways, but the integrating role of trees can never be overstated nor frequently enough recalled. A collective of trees is greater than the sum of its constituents. I often find people saying ‘plant mangoes’ – or coconut or apple or oranges or whatever. But that is approaching them as units of profit production in the way specialised factories are designed.
Of course trees can be made to perform in a monoculture, just as square miles of agricultural mono-cropping can be, but you would be undervaluing their potential, let alone the cost of such a practice. But when trees are allowed to develop in the company of their fellow species, they are in a happy society, a mutually assistive one at that. They all grow well, producing an abundance of goods and services, with monetary profit as one of the many by-products. It is a tree’s nature to be of use, to produce, to serve the planet, not just man.