When I studied Cultural Conservation at the University of Victoria many years ago, one of the assignments was to complete an inventory of buildings. The houses on one city block were recorded, photographed and evaluated using a weighted scoring system. A building's significance was determined according to criteria such as historic features, style, condition, authenticity and age. This exercise was a preliminary step in the process of heritage designation and long-term preservation of the city's architectural gems. The lesson learned was that you have to know and understand what is out there before you can protect it.
I read with interest an article in Los Andes newspaper reporting that a team of high school students is creating an inventory of trees in the district of Guaymallen, near Mendoza city. The students each have a section of the city to work on, and are busy recording location, identifying species and evaluating the overall condition of individual trees. What a great project for raising environmental awareness and laying the groundwork for an arboreal preservation plan!
Trees at the edge of the canal on our finca
Canadian scientist Diane Beresford-Kroeger
would applaud this endeavour. In her 2010 book "The Global Forest" she stresses the importance of trees as "healers" of the planet, while explaining their vital role as hosts for diverse insect and bird life, and as anti-erosion and anti-famine plants. She states that the Western forest has not been intelligently managed since the Middle Ages, when a seven-year renewable cycle meant continuity, and 64 items of market value were carefully harvested from the sustainable woodlot. Beresford-Kroeger promotes the idea of creating a bioplan for one's farm that includes the addition of trees at the edges of the cultivated agricultural field. "A bioplan will walk organic farming one step further to increase the biodiversity of native species of plants and animals. Quite often an organic farm, good though it may be, can be a desert, too, if the farm is just composed of mile upon mile of crops in an empty acreage. The forest must come back to the farm in the form of an orchard, nut orchards and set-asides of select trees. "
If you want to reintroduce a forest to your property, Beresford-Kroeger has these suggestions:
- Choose quality seeds or saplings of species native to the local area, selected from the oldest, healthiest specimens. These epicenter trees are the most resistant to drought, climate change, and pestilence.
- Mix deciduous and coniferous trees.
- Post bird boxes to encourage wildlife presence, (their manure adds necessary nitrogen and an assortment of plant seeds to the forest floor).
- Allow wind to pass through, bringing spores for lichens, mosses, ferns and mushrooms.
Alamos, a windbreak for the vineyards
Beresford-Kroeger would also be pleased to know that I am reading the Kindle version of "The Global Forest" which was delivered in paperless format. She points out that the sex hormones in trees called "gibberellins" are bleeding into the large bodies of water where trees are milled for the pulp and paper industry. This huge hormonal load is being dumped directly into our drinking water and xenochemicals can now be found in the bodies of all mammals, including humans. As she so eloquently says, "The broken forest is in our children's tears."
At her country home near Ottawa, Ontario, Beresford-Kroeger has planted and cultivated, over a 30 year period, an incredible garden comprised of over 6000 species of trees, shrubs and flowers. She also maintains a seed bank for the future, and is actively working to educate people about methods for the renewal and preservation of biodiversity.
"The civilized world has not put a finger on the pulse of nature. It has ignored the pattern in which nature works, as if man himself is an independent species apart from the web of it. The truth is that man is only one species and he stands on a fragile platform of life that is but a whisper away from death. There is some time left. There is time for a different way of thinking in which man can rethread the needle and sew a life for the future."
Bodegas Los Toneles
( the barrels) is located in Guaymallen at Bandera de los Andes 1393. The winery boasts an excellent restaurant and conducts guided tours of their facility with wine-tastings. Owned by the Millan family, Los Toneles produced this bottle of 2 Estacas Chardonnay 2008
, with its aroma of tropical fruit and toasted bread, a medium body and a pineapple finish. We paired the wine with a citrus salad that celebrates the fruit of our trees - grapefruit and orange segments, walnuts and green olives - tossed with arugula, butter lettuce, endive and thin slices of goat cheese. A bottle of 2 Estacas sells for 15 pesos.