Saturday, December 22, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Saving Of Natural Features part V

The Saving of Natural Features and

There has been a tendency in the United States, and perhaps in most countries, to use up or destroy
many things that would have been of value to future generations. We have needlessly wasted, destroyed and burned up large portions of the forests that would have been of priceless value even to the present generation. We have needlessly worn out and destroyed much of the natural richness of soil and have allowed large quantities of it to be washed away. We have destroyed most of the fur-bearing animals and the game that was once so abundant. We have destroyed the fish in rivers and lakes. All of these facts are quite generally recognized and regretted, but we have not yet reformed. The destruction of forests goes on, and scarcely any provision is made for the future supply of lumber. The same is true regarding many other natural products. Even coal and oil are not conserved as they should be.
One feature of this country, however, which is being destroyed and which is seldom mentioned, is its beauty. This loss is intimately connected with the other losses named. A needless destruction of a forest often leaves a barren waste. Compare the primeval forest with the “pine barrens” that have taken its place. Compare a newly discovered creek or river with banks well covered by native growth with the same river a generation later when its banks are denuded of growth and the river as if angry spends its energy in gouging out the land on either side. Compare the shores of a lake as first seen by white people with the same shores after the trees have been cut away and their places taken by ice-houses and other protruding or obtrusive buildings. Compare the tree-covered hills of some of the southern states with neighboring hills that have been denuded of forest and have been eroded by storms until the virgin soil has disappeared and the ground is worthless.
The history of what is taking place in this country is but a repetition of that in other lands. In France, for example, it has been necessary to spend millions to reforest mountains and foothills that had become worthless through erosion and to prevent the destruction of land below. Such destruction would result from its becoming covered with the material washed from above. The reforesting would bring back not only beauty but safety. Many countries once prosperous have become, through the destruction of their forests, like deserts and almost uninhabitable. The United States should avoid a catastrophe of this kind. The loss of beauty always accompanies the destruction of a forest. This is one of the many cases where beauty and utility are closely connected. The forest is valuable for the wood and timber it produces and for the protection it gives, but it is also valuable for its beauty; and this chapter would call especial attention to this attribute which it possesses, and base on it a plea for the preservation of woods. This plea would be for the protection of the undergrowth as well as of the larger trees. In subsequent chapters attention will be called to the various elements of natural beauty. In this chapter a general discussion of the subject of landscape-gardening in its relation to the entire country will be attempted.

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