Yes, there is plenty of talk about sex in The Global Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a book I read recently which is obviously a labour of love and carries a message that needs to be truly heard: the planet vitally needs trees; human beings need trees to survive, animal life needs trees to exist; we must stop killing the trees before it’s too late—and proceeds to tell us why in a series of essays which come straight from the heart.
There is no question that Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and medical biochemist who is an expert on the medicinal, environmental, and nutritional properties of trees set out with all the right intentions with this series of essays on the many reasons—both known and obscure—as to why trees are essential to the planet and to humanity. With essay titles like A Suit for Sustainability; The Paranormal; The Forest, the Fairy, and the Child; Two-Tier Agriculture; Medicinal Wood, and Green Sex and the Affairs of the Heart (yes, this one graphically depicts the sex life of trees), two things become clear: that this woman is passionate about trees, and that while she makes sound scientific and climactic arguments, her more esoteric ideas can’t be an easy sale for the average reader. Which might explain why this book hasn’t made any best-seller lists, even though it carries an important message. It might have worked better with stronger editing to structure Beresford-Krogerer’s ideas; I found that some notions kept being repeated from one essay to the other, while others were a bit too far-fetched for me, even though I have claimed in the past to be a Forest Fairy myself… But there was interesting information about the habits of the First Nations people, who depended on trees and forests for sustenance and to avoid starvation. I badly wanted to love this book, because I too passionately love trees (my name means “tree” in Hebrew, and I’ve often felt myself to be one too). Also, this book was a gift from a beloved aunt whose opinions matter to me (and who took the time to have the author dedicate it in my name). But really, it left me feeling mostly quite dejected. I can’t fault the author for that, but like most other appeals for conservancy, one can’t help but root for the cause while knowing there are more powerful capitalist interests killing animal and plant life on a daily basis who aren’t going to be stopping anytime soon. This doesn’t keep me from trying to make responsible choices and supporting the good fight, but sometimes my lack of optimism gets in the way and I feel like my only real contribution is the guilt of the world I carry on my shoulders.
Obviously, I’m not alone in feeling this way. When I posted this review on LibraryThing, a member responded by providing a link to an article in The Guardian about how the pessimism on environmental topics sparked a movement called the Dark Mountain Project which posits that we’ve done too little too late to avert “Ecocide”.
What do you think? Too little too late, or are there still reasons to hope for a positive outcome after more than fifty years of environmental activism?
Photo by Smiler