Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oak Abuse: Oak as fencepost #437

This kind of thing really steams my bean:

(Click to enlarge)
 California white oak (Quercus lobata), Highway 41 near Creston, CA.

I get it.  You're building a fence and come to an oak tree and you think, "Cool, it's like a giant pre-pounded fence post but with leaves."  And I know that a couple of fence staples and some barbed wire aren't going to kill the tree (unless you're wounding the tree during oak wilt season in the Upper Midwest, April 15 - June 15).

But I hate what it says about how we think about trees - as if they are, well, fence posts with leaves.

This one takes the idea a step farther: Oak as gate post.  Perfect!  A monster oak tree right where I want to put a gate!  Besides the fact that by definition vehicles will now be driving over and compacting the soil in the root zone, there's another problem with this:  Gates must be hinged vertically.  Oak tree trunks are conical.  How do we resolve this geometrical conundrum?  Easy - by gauging out the buttressed base of the tree to create a cavity in which the base of the gate will rest.

Ouch. This is somewhat - OK, a lot - less benign that just pounding some nails into a tree to string some barbed wire.  This is creating a nasty wound almost sure to become the entry point for fungal pathogens, not to mention a handy pooling spot for the moisture that will help feed those decay fungi.

Would it have been that hard to drive a fence post 10 feet away?  I think not.

Am I advocating cutting down another tree somewhere to make a fence post to drive 10 feet away from this tree instead of gauging this living tree in order to hinge the gate?  Yes.  Yes I am.

I believe it is a much "kinder" cut to harvest a tree with a specific purpose or use in mind (and then to replant or otherwise foster the regeneration of the piece of land from which the tree was harvested), than to subject a living tree to the indignity - and shortened life - of using it as a fence post.  Or clothesline pole.  Or flag pole.  Or etc.

But that's just me.

1 comment:

  1. Christian its nice to see someone who is passionate about trees as I am. I wished more people were like you.