Sunday, January 18, 2015
One of the more interesting things I did this summer was visit an old-growth forest. While the scale of these trees was truly astounding, what struck me most was just how little of the tree was canopy and how much was trunk. Most of the mass of these trees is there to hold up other parts of the tree! Only a tiny fraction is actually devoted to gathering sunlight.
Moreover, there will be an equilibrium density for the trees. If they are clustered together too tightly, then one or more of their number will fall. If they are too sparse, new trees will grow up in the gaps. In other words, in their natural state, they live a marginal existence: clinging to the edge of life.