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Of bees and trees

Written by visitor Bruce D. Vilders, this letter to the editor of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser appeared in the February 3, 2019, edition.


As a recent visitor to Oahu, I was able to witness something worth noting. The Kalama Beach Club, which is on the registry of Hawaii historic places, was faced with taking down a 100-year-old rotting tree. Within the very center of the ironwood’s six-foot girth was a colony of honeybees.

Over a two-day period I watched the cutting of the tree and safe removal of the bees by Max Towey, an island beekeeper and a member of the Hawaii Beekeepers’ Association.

Photo courtesy of Max Towey

Why is this worth noting? Because it started with the decision of the Kalama Beach Club board of directors wanting to save the bees (rather than destroying them with a chemical biocide) and the precision cutting of the Hele Mai tree company, which allowed Towey to reach in and pull the bees out over several hours.

Good decision-making, with all the players working together, saved another colony of your very unique island pollinators.

Bruce D. Vilders

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The forest of healing

Shannon Seale is an IIN Certified Wellness Coach and Nature Connection Guide, following in the tradition of Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of forest bathing, which she defines as “slow, meditative walks in nature where all senses open to the beauty.” She believes that we are losing our vital connection to nature and that this loss is affecting our well-being in many ways: increased stress and the inability to balance our nervous system and brain activity.

Through her site, Shoshin Nature Connection, she offers services to help people reconnect with nature and revive their sense of wonder. On the About page, she writes:

Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism defined as “the practice of seeing life with WONDER, having a beginner’s mind”. I am a seeker of beauty, wonder and magic. My heart’s desire is to enrich the lives of others through the healing power of nature, from the lens of my camera. Each image invokes a swirl of words in my imagination, some of my own creation and others taken from quotes I happen upon. This is my wonderland. And my rabbit hole. A place where I share the beauty, inspiration, creativity and information from my day to day, alongside my personal services.

Photograph by Alan Mawyer


Smart Trees Pacific

This looks like a wonderful organization. Here is what STP says on its About page:

Smart Trees Pacific is a non-profit urban forestry organization serving Hawaii & the Pacific Region! We recognize that Hawaii’s tropical urban trees are a vital resource and we work to raise awareness & support for our urban forests! With over 40 years of collective experience that demonstrates our knowledge and skills in Urban Forestry, we are the leaders in developing sustainable and healthy community forests.

Our Mission

“Promote and provide resources to select, install, establish, and care for trees to provide solutions for the natural and human environment.”

The regreening of Niger

The following paragraphs are from the beginning of a Guardian article.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 3.30.09 PMRain had come to nearby villages, but not yet to Droum in southeast Niger. The sand under its stately trees looked completely barren, but Souley Cheibou, a farmer in his 60s, was not worried. He crooked a finger, fished in the sand, and brought out a millet seed. In a week or two, this seed would germinate and sprout, and soon the whole field would be green.

Cheibou’s peace of mind stemmed from the trees encircling him, which had been standing long before he was born. Despite appearances, these were not any old acacias. They were gao trees – known as winterthorns in English – with unique, seemingly magical powers.

From the peanut basin of Senegal to the Seno plains of Mali, to Yatenga, formerly the most degraded region of Burkina Faso, and as far south as Malawi: gaos are thriving in Africa. And over the past three decades, the landscape of southern Niger has been transformed by more than 200m new trees, many of them gaos. They have not been planted but have grown naturally on over 5m hectares of farmland, nurtured by thousands of farmers.

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Tree blindness

From “What Are Screens Doing to Our Eyes—and Our Ability To See?” a Wired article by Virginia Heffernan:

Not long ago a science writer named Gabriel Popkin began leading tree walks for city dwellers in Washington, DC, whose monomaniacal attention to screens had left them tree-blind. That’s right, tree blindness—and the broader concept of blindness to the natural world—might actually be the real danger screens pose to vision. In 2012, Popkin had learned about trees to cure this blindness in himself and went from a naif who could barely pick out an oak tree to an amateur arboriculturist who can distinguish hundreds of trees. The biggest living beings in his city suddenly seemed like friends to him, with features he could recognize and relish.

Once he could see trees, they became objects of intense interest to him—more exhilarating than apps, if you can believe it. “Take a moment to watch and listen to a flowering redbud tree full of pollen-drunk bumblebees,” he has written. “I promise you won’t be bored.”

Deforestation-free Olympics

Many thanks to the Rainforest Action Network for sending us this message and alerting us to rainforest destruction in connection with the 2020 Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities have publicly committed to host one of the greenest Olympic games in history. While they’ve touted their use of recycled e-waste medals and hydrogen cars, RAN and our allies found them using significant volumes of rainforest wood to build their new National Olympic Stadium, including from Shin Yang, a Malaysian supplier that has a history of rainforest destruction, illegal logging, and human rights abuses.

Send a message today to the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and demand no more rainforest wood for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

RANRAN and dozens of our allies have delivered multiple letters to the IOC and Tokyo Olympic authorities, urging them to adopt stronger safeguards for their timber supply chains. But thus far, they’ve continued to deny the serious risks of rainforest destruction, illegal logging, and rights abuses associated with the building of the Olympic Stadium and other facilities.

That’s why we need your voice now. We need a public outcry to break through to the Olympic authorities to let them know the reputation and credibility of the iconic Olympic games are at stake. By taking action now, we can help prevent further use of rainforest wood and make sure the Olympics adopts strong safeguards on rainforests and human rights. The eyes of the world are on Tokyo and there is a small and shrinking window of time to correct what could become a predictable and unnecessary stain on Japan’s moment in the Olympic spotlight.

Will you add your voice and call on the IOC to end deforestation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

90-year-old tree inspires poem

imagesPoetry editor Terrance Hayes selected Kazuko Shiraishi’s 2015 poem “Mommy’s Acquaintance, a 90-Year- Old-Tree” for publication in the New York Times Magazine edition of February 11, 2018. The poem first appeared in Sea, Land, Shadow 1951–2015, published by New Directions. In this tribute, Ms. Shiraishi personifies an old grape tree as “Mommy’s acquaintance.”

The poem was translated by Yumiko Tsumura, an award-winning translator, who writes of a tree in her own life: “I visit the same old cherry tree in my native village every time I go home in Spring as my acquaintance in my life path.”