The Plastic Forest – a fable?


the ground. And you see boy, the trees that fell and rolled away were the food for the ground that allowed other young trees to grow. Nature looked after her own in the great forests, but unfortunately man in his haste to live, and his neglect of nature, forgot that there is a balance of nature that must not be forgotten.”

....“As the countries of the world became overpopulated the forests were overused and abused. The machine age, the great cities’ age, the great factory age—all created great problems with the air around the world. Some men warned of the dangers of the worsening air in the world, but not enough countries, as groups of people were known by, heeded their warning. The pressures mounted through the years and finally the disaster

....The man and the boy stood back from the lake’s edge a few hundred yards and watched the sunrise. The air was cool and the glint of the rays made them both squint as they looked across the water at the Plastic Forest.
....“Was there really a time when forests were made of trees that were little and grew bigger—were the forests green like that one over there—what were real forests like—do you remember them-?”
....“Wait now boy—one question at a time. No I have never seen a real forest of what they called wood trees. It was long ago and no one alive today in the world would remember. But I have seen pictures of the great forests; someday I will take you to the central library and you can see them for yourself. I have read the history of the trees and when you get older I will make sure you read of them too.”
....“The histories tell of great forests of beautiful tall trees. Most of the forests were green, like the one you know across the lake but then in some parts of the world at certain seasons there were forests of red and yellow trees.


Some wooden trees were called hardwood and some were called softwood. On this western land that we live in most of the trees were green and they covered the mountains like a thick carpet when seen from the sky.”
....“The great library, that I will take you to, has many pictures of the wooden forests. They tell of the beautiful smells of the forest, of the mists and fog of the forest, of the stillness of the forest, and of the abundance of animals in this part of the west. There were animals called deer, and bear and squirrels and beaver, and countless more. These animals used the forest for their home, for they could find food there and they could find safety from the hunter—man. I read once that the smell of freshly cut trees on a damp morning was a perfume that could never be duplicated by man and his sciences.
....“And the stories of the great winds that rushed through the trees of the forest and sounded like singing or whistling. The winds would sometimes get so strong the trees would bend and break or be blown over and crash to

British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1973

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of the Great Global War befell the world and the resulting terrible gasses and contaminated air were simply too much for the forests. The balance of nature was broken and all the forests of the world died. It is a miracle that some men lived on in caves and shelters and were able to keep records of the times.”

....“When the few remaining people of the world emerged from their caves and shelters the world was still and hot in the day and cold at night. The winds had ceased and instead of the great green carpets of trees, there stood the white skeletons of trees, their green coats gone and lost to man forever. It was then that mankind learned he would have to find a new way of life to survive.”

....The sun was now above the tops of the Plastic Forest across the lake. The air was warming up quite fast about the rocky area that the man and the boy were standing in. Soon they would have to go indoors for the heat would be overpowering in its reflection off the great rocky slopes.

....“But why do they call those trees the Plastic Forest—and why are they there?”
....“Son, without that plastic forest and hundreds of others like it we could not live in this world. You see the great forests of the world acted as a sort of giant filter system that purified our air and gave off oxygen for us to breathe. When the Great Global War was over the surviving people soon found out that they must have a substitute for the forests so that there would be good air to breathe. So all of what was left of man’s resources around this burned out globe were put to the test of creating a new filtering system to give us oxygen that we might survive. Systems were built to look like green trees—as a reminder to man of the wrong he had done. We really do little else now except tend the machines that keep the filtering systems working. There is little time now for the jobs of life that were known in other ages when the great forests did our work for us.”

....“It is getting very warm, we should return to the house.” They turned and began to walk up a well worn path to their home. “What is that father—do you see it over there among those rocks?”

The man stepped off the path and walked carefully over to where the boy was pointing. He knelt down and a look of disbelief came over his face. He had seen pictures—it was green and it was several inches high—and he could touch it—it was no picture!

....It was a tree?—a tree—a small tree—what were they called in the great library?—a seed or seedling—that was it, a tree seedling—and it was growing—here by the lake—near his home. But would it survive? Were there more like it? He would find out, for if this were a tree seedling, maybe someday there could be real forests again—Maybe.


....It was very hot, the boy cried to his father to come home and the man left his kneeling position and still looking back walked up the path with the boy. He opened the door to let the boy in and stood there framed in the shade of his doorway and looked over at the Plastic Forest on the other side of the lake. He wondered:
....Could there again be a forest around them some day—a real forest around them?

Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1973