Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest
By James Calemine
“The Earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed accordingly
to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed. Each
according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
By now everyone knows Chuck Leavell’s music resume. His collaborators include work with The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes and many more.
However, Leavell’s book Forever Green proves as one of the most insightful books ever written about the history and condition of the American Forest. The powerful message breaks down what trees are used for different items such as construction, athletic tools, paper, tooth paste, medicine, research and of course musical instruments. Leavell details his history about how he became involved in the business, and points out what other American tree farmers must endure hardships for the sake of everyone else.
Leavell’s detailed breakdown of wood gives a strong argument for examination about the way society views the issue. As far as music, Leavell provides details on exactly what trees are utilized for certain instruments in this passage; “Most of the acoustic instruments that we so deeply and dearly love to hear and play couldn’t exist. My beloved piano is made in large part from wood. Maple and spruce are two of the species often used in grand pianos—maple for the case and spruce for the soundboard. The guitar, mandolin, violin, viola, cello, contra-basses, drums, and clarinet are among the other instruments made from various wood species—maple, mahogany, rosewood, sycamore, spruce and ebony along with other more exotic woods. While other components like strings, metal parts, skins or plastic help make each instrument’s characteristic sounds, wood still is the basic material in all these instruments.”
Forever Green outlines the vital role trees play in the ecosystem. Leavell reminds the reader he understands forest management exists as a “controversial subject.” The book overflows with riveting facts, historic developments and first-hand insight a man who works close to the soil in the timber business experiences.
Leavell’s 2500 acres in Twiggs County, Georgia, located only four miles from the path Sherman took when he set Georgia ablaze in November and December of 1864, serves as a tree farm Leavell calls Charlane Plantation. Many authentic photographs in the book come from the Forest History Society. Leavell articulates the root of this important issue about how trees play an essential role in the environment, wildlife and U.S. economy.
The last word on Forever Green goes to former President Jimmy Carter, who wrote: “I’ve known Chuck Leavell for many years and have long respected his musical talents. As a fellow tree farmer I’m even more impressed by his work in conservation and forestry. In Forever Green he paints an honest portrait of America’s forests, and makes a powerful case for the careful management of one of our most precious natural resources.”
Buy the book. Plant a tree.