Why Are These Trees Planted So Close To One Another?

The Council in Cambridge made a new cycle path that runs for miles around and into Cambridge, and they lined the path with saplings.

In parts, the saplings are planted three or four deep and close to one another. What you can see are the plastic sleeves that allow the saplings to grow without being browsed by Muntjac deer – which are the most likely browsers to eat them.

But why are the young trees planted so close to one another? It occurred to me that maybe the Council will thin them out when they have seen which do best and which can be sacrificed, but equally all the saplings could suffer from being planted so close in the first place.

If the intention is to thin them out, then what happens when the ‘duds’ are removed? Is that not going to disturb the root system of those being left?

Metafilter Answers

This is what I wondered, and I asked for answers on Metafilter. If you haven’t seen. heard, or used the site, let me recommend it to you. I asked the question today about why these trees are planted so close to one another? Here are two of the replies I received.


This is how they do buffer restoration and protection plantings near streams, etc. where I live as well. Where we are they expect about a third of the plants will be lost in one way or another. If they expect that sort of loss where that planting is then maybe that’s appropriate spacing to start and the plants will sort of thin themselves. Also are they all tree saplings? That may be appropriate spacing for shrubs or smaller plants after the “self thinning.”

If plants die or don’t grow in the first year or two they may not actually remove the plants if they aren’t diseased. Presumably they’ll remove the sleeves.

Close planting is to encourage vertical growth as everyone struggles for the light. That means straighter trunks with fewer kinky side-branches. Also, as alluded above, because nobody knows at the beginning which whips will survive. 

As for damage to the root-system of neighbours when the trees are thinned / die: the thinned saplings are cut close to the ground rather than uprooted, so the ground is undisturbed . . . and the vital underworld fungal network just diverts itself.

Will AI Solve The World’s Crises?

I asked an artificial intelligence program to suggest practical ways to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and this is its reply.

AI: There are several practical ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere:

Plant trees and other vegetation: Trees and other plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through a process called photosynthesis and store it as carbon in their leaves, stems, and roots. Planting trees and other vegetation can therefore help to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Use renewable energy sources: Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power do not produce CO2 emissions when generating electricity, unlike fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Switching to renewable energy sources can therefore help to reduce CO2 emissions.

Improve energy efficiency: Energy efficiency refers to the use of technologies and practices that reduce the amount of energy needed to perform a given task. For example, using energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances, and vehicles can help to reduce the amount of energy needed to light and power our homes and businesses, which in turn can help to reduce CO2 emissions.

Reduce deforestation: Deforestation – the cutting down of forests – releases CO2 into the atmosphere, as the trees are no longer able to absorb and store it. Reducing deforestation can therefore help to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Use public transportation or carpool: Transportation is a major source of CO2 emissions, as most vehicles run on fossil fuels. Using public transportation or carpooling instead of driving alone can help to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions from transportation.

Reduce consumption of meat and dairy products: The production of meat and dairy products generates significant amounts of CO2 emissions, due to the energy and resources required to raise and transport animals, as well as the methane produced by their digestive systems. Reducing consumption of these products can therefore help to reduce CO2 emissions.

What do you think of the response?

For what it’s worth, when I read AI’s response to my question, I can hear the even, measured tones of Siri, the AI app on my phone. Perhaps that uninvolved, even handed, disinterested approach that I hear in the response is exactly what is needed to solve the problem of how to stop the world-machine that we have built.

Follow this link and you can try ChatAI yourself.