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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)

Trees Grow where they are put, but Men may Choose

Trees Grow where they are put, but Men may Choose.

The different habit of growth of bush trees out in the open, as compared with in their native thicket, where they are forced upward in the quest for light, could be exemplified in many other ways. The forester may say that trees must be in regulated competition in order to secure the upright growth that represents the best timber value. From a commercial point of view, this may be true. But, if they could speak, what would the trees say?

With the human, as with the vegetable growth, the same question arises. Possibly a considerable commercial case could be built up for herding people in cities; they would be near their work; living tier on tier, they would increase site values, etc. But where do the children grow the more freely and the more sturdily?

In the jungle Nature works along lines of the survival of the fittest. The struggle for light, it is said, eliminates the unfit. But is the fittest always the best? If one takes commerce's own standard of the best, then one sees that the best indigenous timber trees are not regenerating naturally in the bush. Left to Nature, the rimu-totara cycle seems to have exhausted itself.

Fitness may, indeed, be a question of environment and association. In an afforestation scheme the forester can alter the association and possibly modify all the conditions. There would then be a different standard of fitness. The law of the indigenous is not the law of the exotics.

And as the planting of people is at least as important as the planting of trees, the question again forces itself: Is the expansion of New Zealand cities to be increasingly outward or increasingly upward? Are people to be planted tier upon tier in flats, or thrown out laterally in “one-family homes,” scattered around the suburban radius?