Culturally Modified Trees - Perspectives


No historical source - leave alone the cultural meaning - is so heavily endangered, and on the other hand as precise, as the CMT archives. They open new research fields, but do need very exact methodology. A crucial precondition for research is the preservation of old growth forests. So, in addition to ecological, cultural and other scientific reasons to keep them alive, they are historic sites of highest rank.

Countries, whose forests are at least partially untouched, have in most cases not yet realized what they have in front of their doors. E.g. for the history of northern Asia, they can frequently be even the only witnesses of the past. Once destroyed, the history is forgotten forever.

In Canada, where research was for obvious reasons concentrated in the western provinces with its old forests, Ontario has documented CMTs in 2001. In the Nagagamisis Provincial Park most trees found were between 80 and 110 years old, some probably more than 400.

On Hanson Island alone, David Garrick documented 1.800 CMTs. The Kwakwaka'wakw of the region could stop the destruction of their archive. Garrick also found trees in the Great Bear Rainforest on the territory of the Gitga'at First Nation. They are supposed to be logged for a street in the area of Langford. In February 2008 the Times Colonist reported of protesters being removed.

In 1985 already a protection program was started in Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest. At 338 spots more than 6.000 CMTs were identified, of which 3.000 are protected now.

17 CMTs were found in the Blue Mountain area within Pike National Forest, at least 26 in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Even trees more than 200 years old were registered in Manitou Experimental Forest north of Woodland Park. Most of these trees within the territory of the Ute are ponderosa pines. Researchers know that they haven't got that much time. The trees have a life-expectancy of 300 to 600 years. Many could be dated, being peeled between 1816 and 1848. In February 2008 the Colorado Historical Society decided to invest a part of its 7 million dollar budget into a CMT project in Mesa Verde National Park.

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