If that’s the case, then we’re in trouble if you go by an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.
The story is titled: The Newest Status Symbol for High-Net Worth Homeowners: Trophy Trees, and looks at how the super rich are paying upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in huge old trees to their property by helicopter, barge, and flatbed truck.
The appeal of transporting a trophy tree is easy to explain, said Raymond Jungles, a Miami-based landscape architect. For one, a big tree helps mitigate the scale of a very big house. A unique or particularly old tree, like a piece of art, is also a great conversation piece. Lastly, it means high-net-worth buyers don’t have to wait for a newly planted tree to grow on their site.
So much for planting a tree under whose shade you’ll never sit. It’s all about instant gratification, and status.
One landscaper has developed his own technique, which he calls “arbor division,” for moving the largest trees. It involves slicing the tree vertically into several parts using 6-foot-long saws with specially hardened blades, transporting the individual pieces to the site, then reassembling the tree with steel aircraft cable, ratchet straps, and bolts.
He said he came up with his technique of cutting up the tree before transport years ago after some particularly demanding clients insisted that the trees on their site be delivered with their canopies intact rather than stripped back to the trunk. They didn’t want to wait for them to sprout back later.
Again, there’s that need for instant gratification.
The landscaper notes that cutting the trees vertically, leaving each piece with a portion of the root and foliage, transforms them into separate organisms. While the bark around them grows back as one, inside they are effectively separate living trees.
I don’t know anything about trees, but something about this just does not seem right. Taking a tree out of the place where it grew over several years, and then cutting it down and moving it just to satisfy a wealthy homeowner seems unnatural.
We are lucky to have a beautiful oak tree in our front yard that dwarfs our house; I can’t imagine not having it. But someone had the foresight to plant that tree a long time ago, so that it could be enjoyed by future generations, and not by the original planter.
It seems as if these wealthy homeowners have no desire in going down that path.
Perhaps if there is a rule in place, like we have in our township, that you have to plant six new trees if you cut one down, might mitigate the impact of what these wealthy homeowners are doing. Perhaps the number of new trees they have to plant is based on the value of the tree they cut down.
That still doesn’t fix the problem, but at least there is some benefit if this continues to be a trend.