Trees and Hvar's Youngest Eco-Warrior

Published in Nature Watch

Trees are among Hvar's major assets. They need nurturing and protecting. Taliah Bradbury (7) is preparing to take on the task.

Conifers by the sea in Vitarnja Conifers by the sea in Vitarnja Vivian Grisogono

The abundant conifers which spread over the island create Hvar's year-round greenness. The autumn-winter cycle of leaves turning red and falling as autumn turns into winter exists mainly in the vineyards. The evergreen trees add to Hvar's image as a place of eternal sunshine, if not perpetual summer.

Locals tend to take the trees for granted. Many see them only as a source of fruits, firewood and Christmas trees. If they don't serve these purposes, they may be good for providing shade. If none of these applies, trees are often seen as a nuisance, blocking the view or creating a mess if they drop fruit, nuts or leaves on the ground. Once a tree is deemed a nuisance, it is usually mercilessly removed by chainsaw or even poison. Apart from human intervention, many of Hvar's trees have been lost to forest fires over the years, leaving swathes of bare land.

Seven-year-old Taliah Bradbury is in her first year at school, and already aware of the more wide-reaching importance of trees. Her interest was stimulated by learning about the rainforests of the Amazon, and the amount of damage being done by deforestation. She knows that the loss of the rainforest threatens the world's oxygen supply, so it's a danger to our very lives. She is determined to do something about it, even though she knows the bad people who are responsible for cutting down the Amazon's trees might try to harm her for her efforts. She's preparing to defend herself by practising judo. Taliah's older sister Hannah is also a young eco-warrior and judoka. Her particular interest is in animals, from dogs to elephants.

 Taliah's eco-actions have already begun at home. She is aware of the importance of keeping the environment clean, and tries to set an example to her classmates, especially those who have not yet learned the practical side of protecting the environment for the good of everyone.

Litter is a blight. Many people ignore it as if it didn't exist, but not young Taliah. She knows that the proper place for rubbish is in the bin.

As a Christmas present in 2015, Taliah received a most welcome gift - a lime tree of her own to plant, cherish, enjoy and protect!

 

An even greater surprise treat was a present related to the Amazon rainforest: five trees have been planted in her name in Ecuador, and she received a bar of chocolate from an indigenous tribe of coca-growers in the Peruvian Amazon, whose traditional way of life in their forest home is being preserved through their trade in chocolate.

Taliah's family made sure their Christmas celebrations followed sound environmental principles. Taliah was delighted to report to Eco Hvar that they had planted a proper tree with roots in a big pot, so that it would thrive year after year, and not just be thrown away after a few days like most people's Christmas trees.

Saturday January 16th 2016 saw the first eco-action of reforesting the slopes above the village of Svirce with Dalmatian black pines (crni borovi) which are considered to be a threatened species, and so are protected. A small band of about 20 people, including Taliah's dad Paul - following in his daughter's footsteps - set to work digging holes in the steep stony hillside. The project, organized by Irena Doric, founder of the local charity Odrzivi Otok, gave all the workers a chance to marvel at the resilience of Hvar's earlier generations who created and tilled their fields among these unforgiving rocks.

Taliah intends to be on hand to protect the trees her dad helped to plant as soon as she is big enough. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and Eco Hvar has every hope that many of Taliah's friends will join her as Hvar's budding eco-warriors.

© Vivian Grisogono 2016  

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