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The Magnificent Ladies of the Pando

by Lori Leachman

The Pando (Latin for ‘I spread’) is a forest of Aspen trees in Fishlake National Forest at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau, in Utah. It is 106 acres of genetically identical, male Aspen trees. The trees reproduce asexually through the root system. These features make the Pando the largest single living organism on the planet. And, like much of the natural world, the Pando is under stress.

The Pando is considered one of the forty wonders of the world. It was first discovered in 1968 and has been under observation since that time. In the last decade, the forest has begun to experience a failure to thrive. This situation is the result of climate change, grazing by cattle and deer mules, and human disruption to the forest. Since the forest lacks genetic diversity, it relies on diversity across ages to ensure a flourishing, healthy forest. Climate, animal and human threats have combined to create a situation where young trees are not sprouting, or are being eaten and trampled before they can gain a robust foothold in the forest.

The series you see here are my tribute to The Pando Forest. They are the complement  to the male reality. They are the ladies that will save the day and help repair the forest! A recent climate study (NYT 7/5/19) suggested that if the planet were to add an additional 2.5 billion acres of forest, the trees would store an additional 200 gigatons of carbon. This will not reverse climate change, but is clearly part of the solution to climatic instability.e

These ladies of the Pando that you see here are dancing and undulating in all manner of daylight and season. They are dressed (with leaves) and undressed, alone and in groups. They are a tribute to the raw beauty and wonder to be  found in nature. They are magnificent in their gnarly, exotic ‘skin.’ They are rushing to our rescue.

To facilitate that rescue, 5% of all sales will be donated to the Western Aspen Alliance, a non-profit facilitating effective and appropriate management of Aspen ecosystems in Western North America.

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