Interesting read on trees.
The article has nothing to do with hammock tree huggers, tree straps, or webbing straps, as we are like to call them, but a perspective on the not-so-obvious impact we have on living things around us, specifically trees.
This reminded me of a recent controversy where I work at Northern Arizona University I thought I'd share. In an indirect way, this information has helped influence my appreciation for trees and how to hang in a more responsible manner.
A few months ago, progress on a project to "green up" an old section on campus was halted due to protests from several individuals. The quad had grown from a barren field in the 1800s to a tree-lined parking lot that was enjoyed by many people today. The plans included removing the road and parking lot and turning the space into a pedestrian park with a wide walkway that circled the perimeter of the area, connecting all the old buildings. Some dying trees were slated for removal along with other trees that were adjacent to buildings to make way for this dual-use sidewalk/emergency vehicle access path.
The protesters didn't want to see any trees removed from the space, and recommended the walkway weave around the trees instead of removing them to make way for the path.
What I found interesting in the outcome was to hear from arborists and other landscaping experts who did several studies on the space. They informed everyone that weaving the path around the trees would cause more damage to more trees than just removing the few that were in the path's way. The experts pointed out that the pressure on the walkway damages the tree's root system, something I hadn't considered before.
Ironically, the space also included several non-native "water hungry" trees brought to campus from back East. These trees were not surviving due to their demands for water, which the natural environment does not supply in great abundance. New, native trees will replace almost all those that will be removed.
While not everyone was pleased with the final decision, a lot of folks, myself included, learned more about the complexities of our impact and interactions with trees.
When it comes to hammocks, I know there is a lot of debate about whether our activities have any noticeable impact and if some techniques, like webbing straps, are really worthwhile. It often takes years for damage to present itself in a tree, especially damage caused to a root system or to an area on the bark. However, in popular areas with lots of use, impact and damage can be seen much sooner (and in some species, almost immediately).
One of the eventualities we may see in popular parks and campgrounds will be the introduction of fixed hammock stands, perhaps over a box of sand. While this sounds pretty cool in some ways, the restrictions on not being able to hang "wherever we want" on trees may come as a shock.
Webbing straps, in my opinion, are an easy solution to help minimize the impact (seen and unseen) hammocks have on trees. I'm an ultralighter, a self-proclaimed "gram-weenie," who's found a way to be lightweight _and_ still use straps. You can have your cake and eat it too, if going lightweight is your cuppa. For those who care less about pack weight, webbing straps offer no penalties.
And if you muscled your way through this entire tripe, thanks. I think that what we promote on the forums, what we practice in the field, and what we teach to others in some large measure will come back to use. If we sow goodwill, we will reap a rich harvest.
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."
-- Nelson Henderson