It’s spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, a cause for celebration as those longer days return.
Today is also World Forestry Day – a time to think about the importance of forests, no matter what the season or where we live.
Since it was first observed in 1971, this annual event has been marked to help increase public awareness of forests and the many benefits they bring to our lives.
As living, breathing, interconnected ecosystems made up of trees, plants, insects, wildlife, fungi, microbes and more, forests give us so much that’s vital: cool and breathable air, clean water, food, edible oils, shelter, shade, building materials, medicines, fuel, recreation, solitude, serenity… the list could be much longer. And I’ve written before about the amazing power of trees to elevate our moods.
The photo above was taken during a winter walk here on Gabriola Island, when the forest was very quiet. The large tree in the centre is a Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), a conifer common to our region and one that’s well suited to our mild, often wet climate. Most of the surrounding trees are Douglas fir.
The forest floor is dominated by salal, a mainstay food for our local deer. They browse the salal year-round, and especially savour the new shoots in spring and the dark blue berries in late summer. The brownish plants on the right are dried fronds of last year’s bracken fern; a month or two from now, this scene should be almost completely green as the new bracken grows up.
World Forestry Day seems like a good time for taking a walk in the woods, doesn’t it?