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Trees And Mother Trees Are Chopped Down. . . Wilmington, N.C.

Human activities are compromising forests of all kinds and sizes. When species of trees are exterminated the living organisms and animals associated with them quickly reach the verge of disappearing as well. Lodging and land use change started with the beginning of the human race over 10,000 years ago but the appetite of the real estate industry for green and lush areas where they can develop complexes, condos, and houses has no boundaries. Not only are the biomasses of the large jungles of the world being decimated at a fast pace, but the insatiable hunger of the real estate industry also imposes unimaginable consequences for the environment that occur at an accelerated rate. Climate change is also the responsibility of countries, cities, towns and villages’s political leaders who are oblivious to the new scientific findings which show evidence of the way these ecological systems relate. The extent of this extraordinary web of relationships and how they build symbiotic relationships through the mycorrhizal networks in forests should be supported when planning new construction sites for homes. Trees shouldn't be chopped down at the leisure of the avid money-makers who—in conjunction with the politicians—don’t hesitate to disconnect a whole community by cutting the roots of the few trees that are left, disrupting the umbilical cord-like connection that has been proven to be shared with mother trees. But the real state industry in Wilmington, North Carolina, does not consider anything, but how to make money.

Science has proven that when mother trees are dying—or, in the best scenario going back to the soil in the form of hummus—they shoot valuable information to the ones that are going to take their place through their roots. Zooming out I close my eyes and fly over one more time by the Amazon Jungle’s dense vegetation where I also camped several times. Angel’s Falls (Churum Meru in the native dialect,) is located in my country of origin, Venezuela, but millions of people have seen it in the 2009 Disney movie, Avatar. Just like in the film, the planet's environment is poisonous but there aren’t avatars to protect the most precious lung of humanity or battle against gold mining, indiscriminate lodging and mercury contamination of the waterways. This, besides the thousands of mother trees being downed in the Amazon Jungle, leading to a dangerous loss of biodiversity in the last lung of the Earth.

Now, I’m zooming back into my current reality, which is living in North Carolina. For twelve years I lived in the coast, in Wilmington, where Hurricane Florence knocked down thousands of trees. The ones that were “touched” by the stormy winds were diligently chopped down with no hesitation in the following month of the aftermath. The tree canopy of our the area diminished by approximately 2,000 trees and Wilmingtonians are currently feeling the lack of trees with the Summer heat. My family are cooking themselves, frying in the high temperatures. I hope that they suffer at least without bothersome hurricanes in the region. Just rain and floods, like in the rest of the state.

After Hurricane Florence while branches, logs and debris were strewn everywhere, new developments started popping up in gentrified areas, replacing the green areas. New, expensive condos were built, and new condominium projects which replaced a small healthy jungle of mostly oak trees. Several blocks from what it was my home in Historic downtown, were built 20 units with 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms and single car garages, facing a centered courtyard area with sidewalks, benches and landscape lighting. The remaining trees are now contained in small squared spaces, similar to what is happening to the street I used to live, where their future growth will uproot the sidewalks.

In my opinion, this is an ecological crime. What is left of that beautiful little jungle is cornered, proscribed. I wonder how well the network will function, and if the remaining mother trees can still release their macronutrients well enough to maintain homeostasis inside and outside the complex. Will the big ones be able to redevelop their communication system through the cemented pathways well enough for the young, imprisoned ones to survive? As I walked back home with my dog Rocky, I dwelled on the 6 trees that are left after Florence. Six houses and one building is the extend of 7th Street of Historic Downtown Wilmington, where once stood 12 large oak trees. It felt good to walk under those shady oak trees on a hot summer day and navigate the cracked sidewalks where once lay large root systems. Will the ones that are left maintain their health? They need to be fed by the love of their families to maintain and achieve optimal health. Will they survive? I need to borrow some equanimity, and sugar, from the forests and see the world through the lens of the Complex Systems Science to gain some footing and solace. I wish that everyone will learn what I’ve been learning in the Sustainable Development Department at Appalachian State University, and I really hope that the transdisciplinary framework (CSS) will be implemented in North Carolina, for our own sake and the life of the planet.

A little before I left town, timid efforts were made by one of the neighbors in the street I lived. Few trees were planted replacing the fallen trees, but again, I start asking myself the questions stated above.


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