Research in British Columbia has found evidence of nitrogen from fish in tree rings. The salmon that swim in the local rivers provide food for predators, such as bears and eagles, who leave the remains of the salmon lying around on the floor of the forest where it decomposes allowing the trees to absorb the nitrogen embedded in the bones of the salmon. In some cases, up to three-quarters of a tree’s nitrogen is from salmon. This implies that interfering in the life cycle of the salmon, for instance by commercial fishing, will impact on its predators, the forest and everything that is dependent on or interacts with the trees. The complex nature of these interconnections have been apparent to the aboriginal peoples of the world for a very long time [see ‘Blinded by reductionism‘ on August 24th, 2022]. To quote Suzanne Simard, ‘Mistreatment of one species is mistreatment of all. The rest of the planet has been waiting patiently for us to figure that out’.
Source: Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree, Penguin, 2021.
Image: photograph of an original painting bought by the author in Beijing
I’ve always heard that colonists were taught by indigenous people to plant fish with their corn.