Trees span generations of human life. Fundamentally, trees have much in common with generations of women. Like generations of women, trees sustain human life.
Like grandmothers and mothers, the older growth nourishes the new. Like generations of family trees, and forest trees, strong roots are an advantage when it comes to reaching full bloom. As it is for mothers and trees, the environment influences the long term development and outcome of their offspring and the developmental trajectory of subsequent generations.
If grandmothers and mothers shared an icon, we can think of no better than a tree. Surely it would be evergreen, constant and resilient. Would it be fir, cedar or pine? And surely there would be some of each and a multitude more to reflect our individual identities. Diversity is the strength of our people and of our forests.
The extraordinary relationship women share with trees, makes an exploration of this subject worthy in the context of climate action. What roles will generations of women play in climate action to sustain human life with their fellow woman, Mother Earth, Gaia, The Goddess of the Earth? Many have suggested that the success of climate action will depend on women. Grandmothers bringing to the fore their refined collaborative and co-operative community building skills. Mothers planting seeds in remote fields who understand the agricultural drivers of failure and success. Daughters coding algorithms, engineering satellite surveillance software and flying working drones. Political and corporate female leaders accelerating sustainable finance with global carbon measures and carbon accountability. For the first time in history, women will soon control more than half of global personal wealth. When viewed through an historical lens, our planet and women have arrived at a tipping point at more or less the same time.
This summer, the generations of women in our family took climate action with a fitness challenge called The TreesCO2 Step-Up Challenge. Canada’s national tree, the maple tree, averages about 30m in height, which approximates 150 stairs. For every 150 stairs climbed, or the equivalent 30m in elevation walked, run, hiked, biked or wheel chair wheeled, our partners Mackenzie Investments and GrandTrees committed to planting a tree. With the invigorating leadership of Canadian Olympic athletes we planted a forest of 2,625 trees, enough oxygen for over 10,000 people at a cost of $4 per tree. Families, athletes and employees, young and old came together to take climate action. Many hiked mountains, others climbed a ski jump staircase and some counted indoor stairs on laundry day or during quarantine. One even considered levitation in the dog days of summer. The greatest elevation gains came from the many cyclists who ascended hills like their lives depended on it. The scientists clearly think so.