Even though the process of civilization has made man independent of nature and raised him to a higher level, yet he is continually aware of the fundamental influence of nature on generations of mankind.
Plants are a necessary condition of civilization, and of all life on Earth. Without plants, which are capable of producing organic material from chemical compounds and radiant energy from sunlight, there could be no life, no animals, not even man, for they provide the basic source of food and nourishment.
The forest provided primitive man with food, fuel and building material, affording him also protection against enemies and the elements. To realize the importance of trees and forests for man, however, there is no need to go so far back into the past. Even our great-grandfathers could say that trees and their wood were man’s companions from birth to death from wooden cradle to wooden coffin. Man used wood to build houses and make furniture, construct household utensils, tools and vehicles, and shape primitive weapons. Until almost the eighteenth century wood was also the only source of heat and energy. Today, metals, ceramics and plastics made by chemical processes have in many instances replaced wood. Hut wood’s importance and consumption throughout the world is not declining, quite- the contrary. Every year the wood from our trees and forests gives us millions of tons of paper and millions of books.
The value of forests and trees, however, does not rest only in the timber they yield. Man is beginning to realize with evergrowing awareness the other [unctions of the forest and its vegetation. Today we know how important trees and forests are in water management and in preventing soil erosion And the importance of parks and woodlands for man’s health and recreation cannot be over-stressed.
Vegetation, and, above all, trees are also important from ihe aesthetic viewpoint — refreshing both to the eye and spirit. How bleak and depressing a landscape without trees would be; and what a beautifying and softening effect wisely-placed greenery has, as it enhances modern buildings and constructions. That trees and forests are a source of profound aesthetic experience and inspirations is testified to by the works of prominent writers, painters, composers as well as the motifs of popular folk songs.
Today all civilized nations are making a concentrated effort to protect and increase greenery in cities and countryside. If we are to do a good job of protecting and propagating trees, however, we must know more about them, learn their life secrets and their requirements. Equipped with the necessary knowledge about trees and shrubs we will be better able to select species suitable for a given environment, and will be rewarded by their good and healthy growth.