- Goldsmith, Edward
Trees are threatened with extinction. Those that survive the woodman's axe and the developer's bulldozer are struck down or menaced by an increasing number of epidemics. At the beginning of this century the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) which once made up twenty-five per cent of the forests in the eastern half of the US was stricken by a fungus (Endothia parasitica). It has now virtually disappeared from the landscape. The loss is incalculable. Among other things its timber was highly prized for its beautiful grain and its resistance to dry rot. Thirty thousand million board feet of it are estimated to have been lost. The wood contained tannin that is used for making leather. The industry that extracted it is now bankrupt. The chestnut also provided a habitat for vast populations of squirrels and deer that fed on the nuts and great flocks of wild turkey. These have been decimated. What is more the fungus crossed the Atlantic where it is now wiping out European chestnut groves in Southern Italy. The loss was estimated twelve years ago at $1,000 million (Carefoot and Sprott 1967). But is money the right currency for expressing such a loss?