Trees: Support System for Life

  March 1986

Photograph by Romano Cagnoni from the exhibition Trees at the Gallery of Photography March 10  – 30 1986

This exhibition brings together the current major issues which are threatening the world’s Tree Resources and, in many ways, the essential fabric of many people’s lives. The matrix of ecological and social, cultural and economic factors which is destroying trees on all continents is highly complex and often poorly understood. The Tree Council of Ireland is therefore very pleased to launch this exhibition as part of its environmental awareness programme during National Tree Week (9 – 14th March).

The exhibition covers the issues of Acid Rain, Desertification and Deforestation in both Third world and European contexts. In many ways, it is clear that the trees are fighting a losing battle when one considers that 50 hectares of natural and semi-natural forest are destroyed in every minute of every hour of everyday. Trees are an essential life-line for many people, but especially in the Third world where they are used for food, fodder, fuel, timber for buildings, and medicine. The scale of the problem is difficult to contemplate, but to even understand a fraction of this problem may help Irish people to treasure their own trees and landscape in a more positive way, while at the same time urging them to contribute their time, expertise and money to the fight against global tree destruction.

In India, massive deforestation gave rise to the CHIPCO Movement which began in Uttar Pradesh in 1973, when tree-fellers were prevented from cutting down trees by villagers who hugged the trees.The Movement has now spread all over the Himalayan region. One of its leaders, Sunderlal Bahugna explains their philosophy – “We should not forget that Mother Earth, who has been sustaining us since time immemorial, has enough to sustain us all, but very little to satisfy the greed of a few. We have a sacred duty to safeguard the rights of future generations to live on this earth”.

It is quite clear that the honeymoon of tree destruction cannot continue indefinitely, and that, while the technical means to balance the scales are available, the economic, social and political means are lacking. This exhibition outlines the challenge.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs.