The Urgent Need for a Living Library of Trees

Dear Forest Friend,

A decade ago, I wrote a master plan for protecting the global forest. It was hand delivered across the world and sometimes by private jet. That’s how valuable the contents were to science.

The plan has the utmost value, now that Australia has given us a hard lesson. The recent fires have played havoc with biodiversity and even complete genera have been lost. These species are gone forever.

My colleague, Professor E. O. Wilson of Harvard University, has said it all in his introduction to my book Arboretum Americana: “Who speaks for the trees, speaks for all of nature…” In other words, without trees there would not be a living planet as we know and recognize it today.

There is no safety net for trees across the globe. There isn’t even a seed bank for forests, let alone just for the trees. Like our food crops, trees produce seeds. These come from the sexual fertilization of a female egg with a male sperm and sometimes not. A living bank of tree seeds must be put together to either mend or amend what remains of our global forests.

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