Future Human-Tree Relationships

This talk was part of a panel at the World-Ecology Research Network Conference 2019, delivered on May 31, 2019.

How might a sylvan future in which trees and plants are respected look? Trees, though often larger and older than humans, are either seen as a mere resource to be used or a beautiful green backdrop as nature. One legacy of the West is increasing deforestation worldwide, contributing to planetary environmental crisis. Western disregard of trees connects to larger disregard for life. Of course, much needs to be done in human realms as well as sylvan realms, and many cultures already have well-established traditions relating to arboreal neighbors. This talk will open questions from within the Western perspective around vegetal ethics and arboreality, an ontology of trees, in hopes of furthering a conversation on trees and plants as valuable beings and imagining what human-tree relationship might become.

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Trees can be as familiar to us as our own bodies.
— Nalini Nadkarni