Story telling from Australia
According to new research there could be as many as three trillion trees on our planet. This article on the BBC website explains more about how researchers ‘counted’ those trees. There’s a huge margin for error, so the actual number could be closer to 500 billion or ten times greater than three trillion. Whatever the true figure there’s no doubt numbers are dwindling. We chop down 15 billion a year, and replant only 5 billion.
Much as I rail against living in Sydney, our small suburb of this densely populated city is a green oasis compared to many, thanks to a local council that does everything it can to protect and plant trees. One of my unexpected favourites is the paperbark, which from a distance is a pretty shabby sort of tree with straggling limbs and scraggy leaves; it wouldn’t win any prizes for neatness. But the beauty of its bark takes my breath away.
Up close, anyone could hazard a guess what this Australian native might be called just by looking at the wafer thin bark that peels away, warped and twisted into endless misshapen layers.
Aboriginals made good use of it for thousands of years, stripping the bark to form ready-made sleeping mats for newborn babies. An Aboriginal guide once explained to me that the bark contains a natural insecticide that repels insects.
Whenever I pass a paperbark tree on one of the back streets of Balmain I’m struck by its unusual beauty.
A living work of art.