The Cedar, written by Salmon River Enhancement Society
The cedar has been called the “Tree of Life”. Cedars thrive in the moist areas beside rivers and streams. The dense foliage of the cedar shades the stream and keeps the water cool. Leaf and wood particles falling from the cedar provide food for the insects which in turn are food for fish and other wildlife of the stream and its banks. The root system of the cedar helps stabilize banks from erosion.
Some cedars will eventually fall into the stream as the stream changes its path with time. The wood lying in the stream performs a valuable function as the rushing waters after heavy rains cascade over the wood and scour out a deep pool on the downstream side. These pools are favoured as resting areas by the larger fish both because the deep water is cooler and because the depth and the wood cover protect them from the birds and other predators awaiting their opportunity to feed. Wood may also float up against banks and become jammed thus helping to stabilize the bank. If you see wood in a stream, leave it there.
Even cedars which are planted far from a stream are valuable. The watersheds or catchment areas surrounding local streams were once covered with evergreen forests of cedars, fir and spruce. The dense foliage and soft forest floor would act as a sponge to soak up heavy rains and prevent the rapid runoff that we see with cleared areas. The large volumes of water that rush down the streams from these cleared areas cause heavy bank erosion. Dry seasons are tolerated better in a watershed covered by evergreens as the water is able to gradually seep out of the forest to maintain an adequate water flow during the summer.
Trees and other vegetation are also nature’s air conditioner as they create more oxygen, clean and cool the air. Properly planted trees can lower the peak temperature of a house significantly during the summer. Remember that the summer sun is felt even on the north side of a house.
This small cedar, whether planted beside a stream or elsewhere in the watershed will grow over the decades into an important part of the ecosystem.