Posted by George Morrison

Cannot See the Wood for the Trees   Word on the Week     25th March 2023.

There has been a major emphasis on tree planting in Ireland.   It seems we have fallen behind the rest of Europe and the Government is keen that we catch up.   There is much marginal land which could do well growing trees to say nothing of the acres of used bog now growing scrub and brushwood.

The ideal is to have woodlands joined together to provide continuous cover for wildlife.   This will encourage creatures such as Pine Marten, a shy animal, to populate the woodland.   A consequence of it expanding its territory has been to put a check on the grey squirrel which was threatening to wipe out the native red squirrel.

But it is beneath the forest floor that most of the action happens.   There is a vast underground lattice work of fungal strands linking the roots of trees and plants.   It has been called the Wood Wide Web after its better known computer World Wide Web network which it resembles beneath the ground.

These fungi grow alongside the roots of the plant or tree in a mutually beneficial relationship.   In recognition of their healthy properties fungi are being produced in pellet form and planted in the soil along with new trees.

The destruction of this network arises when clear felling of trees takes place.   This partly explains why it is hard to plant the area and the tree growth is very slow.   A better method is to extract mature trees and replant immediately permitting the roots of the sapling to engage with the nutrients the fungi supply.

With Ash-dieback destroying many of our fine Ash trees the foresters task is to replace them with disease resistant local trees such as Oak, Hazel or Birch.   The network of mycelium in the soil will supply nutrients to the new roots which in turn become part of the Wood Wide Web.

We are accustomed to thinking of fungi as mushrooms and toadstools but these are only a tiny fraction of the immense underground growth of long sinuous threads of cells that supply trees and plants with nitrogen and phosphoros.

They date back to the Garden of Eden.  They were at the root of the tree of Good and Evil helping it to produce the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2 Verse 17).  And they were at the root of the tree that was hewn to make the cross which God used to expiate the sin of disobedience when Adam fell into sin which spread to the race.

God provided a way of escape for us from our sins.   The Holy Spirit provides the network to convey it to every believing heart which names Jesus as Lord (I Corinthians 10 verses 9 to 13).