2013/12/11
Healthy Trees for Green Ishinomaki!
Tree surgeon Kita’s struggle

Rinne Muramatsu, 6 th Grade, Okaido Elementary School


The water’s here! It’s here! The water’s here!!!

Kita Tomoyasu works as a tree surgeon, a type of tree doctor. He does things like dig holes to check whether the roots are healthy, stops up holes that appear, applies medicines to the sick trees, and treats them like a doctor would treat a person. Kita treats the trees of my school Okaido Elementary as well as those of Kazuma Elementary School. He spoke to us about the salt damage to the trees caused by the tsunami.

Every tree has three weak points. Firstly, on the outside; if it is withering then it is slowly getting weaker, and it is an important job to apply medicine. Secondly, there are the holes. If a tree is more than 70% hollow across its diameter, it could easily be blown down by a typhoon or strong wind. Thirdly, the roots. If the roots are ill-treated, the tree will also become weak. Sea water in particular damages it. Because of the salt content in sea water, the soil becomes hard and the water builds up. As a result, due to too much water, the roots become weaker.
There are three methods for saving trees like these. The first is, apply lots of water to wash away the sea water. The second is the same as the first, but uses medicines that allow the salt water to be drained away easily. The third, is to use plants that like salt water to absorb it.
We all went with Kita to the Sumiyoshi Park, and saw the trees that had suffered salt damage. There is no accurate data yet as to much damage the trees have suffered due to the salt from the recent tsunami, but in the case of Ishinomaki, it is thought that a great many trees have been damaged, as about 30% of flat land was submerged by water. After this, I hope that tree surgeons like Kita will work hard not only to save trees hit by salt damage, as well as those facing other threats the world over.
Finally, Kita explained to us the answer to the question, “Just how old is the camphor tree that the anime character “My Neighbour Totoro” lives in?” We think that Totoro is about 2 meters tall and weighs about 1000kg. The hollow inside of the trunk is about 6 metres, and the thickness of the tree is about 8.6 metres. As trees grow about 3mm thicker a year, on both sides about 6mm, that amounts to 8600mm divided by 6 = 1433 years. So that means that Totoro's camphor tree is actually over 1433 years old! By the way, the tree that has lived the longest is said to be 9550 years old.
(Translation: Brigitte Cann, Angus Turvill, Kevin Squibb, Claire Thompson, Jennifer Hikari Dixon)