Radical love: Great trees of New Brunswick

Written by Susan O'Donnell on May 23, 2019

Author David Palmer shares his love of great trees in Odell Park, Fredericton on May 22, 2019. Photo by Corey Robichaud.

More than 80 percent of New Brunswick’s land is forest. Many environmental activists are challenging corporate control of forestry and the view that the natural world is a commodity for private profit. One of the most radical ways to challenge corporate control of nature is to love trees.

A new book, The Great Trees of New Brunswick (2nd Edition) is a love story to trees native to our province along with “exotic” newcomer trees. Odell Park, Fredericton’s old-growth hemlock forest and habitat for all 32 native species of the Acadian forest, was the host for the book launch on May 22.

Co-author David Palmer led a walk through the Odell forest before the launch. About 80 tree-lovers joined the walk and learned that Odell park has the oldest stand of Eastern Hemlock in New Brunswick: a study by UNB in 2015 found the oldest tree in the stand was 588 years old. The oldest tree is still living but was damaged by post-tropical storm Arthur in 2014.

More than 125 people packed the Odell Park lodge for the launch to hear more about the great trees selected for the book. Wolastoq Nation Grand Chief Ron Tremblay welcomed everyone to the unceded and unsurrendered traditional territory of his ancestors. Photographer Arielle deMerchant shared stories about her adventures taking the pictures of some of the trees, including those selected for the book.

The book presents the trees by type: hardwoods (the ashes, aspen, poplar, basswood beech, the birches, butternut, black cherry, white elm, ironwood, the maples, the oaks); softwoods (cedar, fir, hemlock, the pines and the spruces); and favourite exotics. Each tree chapter includes its defining features, habitat and range, uses, and outlook for survival.

For their reading, Palmer and co-author Tracy Glynn chose the butternut tree, from a chapter that includes instructions on how to crack the nut and what to do with it, as well as the future of the tree in the province considering the canker recently introduced in the province that sadly may lead to a loss of 90% of the trees here by the end of the century.

The great butternut tree in Fredericton. Photo by Arielle deMerchant.

Author David Palmer is the past president of both the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Canadian Forestry Association of New Brunswick. Tracy Glynn is the past forest campaigner for Conservation Council and is currently a doctoral researcher with the RAVEN (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment) project at the University of New Brunswick.

Great Trees of New Brunswick is published by Goose Lane, and some of the proceeds of all book sales will go to the Conservation Council to support their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of forestry issues and advocate for sustainable environmental policies. The book is available for purchase at Conserver House, the office of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, 180 St. John Street in Fredericton and in bookstores across the province.

Susan O’Donnell is on the editorial board of the NB Media Co-op and a researcher with the RAVEN project.

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