It is probably the first time in human history that people have blamed trees for stealing water from them. It has happened in Cape Town, South Africa. The effects of climate change have sent poverty stricken Cape Towners into a state of panic. The people in the “Nature Conservancy” in Cape Town are cutting down thousands of trees just because they say the trees are stealing too much water from their reservoirs. Many environmentalists will criticize this drastic action of removing trees that protected the land from erosion.
The pine tree was introduced to South Africa from Europe about 200 years ago, and it has become thoroughly naturalized in Africa. The people who brought those first saplings to Africa must have thought the pine tree would be a good addition to the land; little could they have envisioned that an organization like the Nature Conservancy would one day cut down every pine tree and pull up every pine sapling.
Of all the things that contribute to climate change, there has never been any evidence that trees are to blame. In fact, just the opposite is true - carbon absorbing trees help to prevent climate change. The pine trees were well adapted for growing in the rugged mountainous terrain. Now there is a gaping hole in the environment where the trees once stood.
The Nature Conservancy has complained a lot about invasive species. People sometimes forget that the human race is an “invasive species”. According to the laws of nature, homo sapiens, mankind, is the most destructive invasive species in the animal kingdom, and it has wantonly destroyed millions of ecosystems since its arrival on this earth. Why should innocent pine trees be targeted as bad immigrants when the worst invasive species of all, the human race, brought them to South Africa?
The Nature Conservancy is overstepping what should be the boundary line of what is wrong about dealing with pine trees and other so-called invasive species. There are many more important and relevant causes of draught than just how much water a tree drinks. Invasive species are part of nature and are not always the villains they are portrayed to be. Even invasive trees should get some kind of respect from the human race. All trees should be allowed to retain their “water rights” in spite of thirsty, selfish and egotistical humans.
--Marlin O. Wallace