Cultivating Scale samples projects across a century of environmentalism, in order to explicate how tree planting has been promoted as a solution to alleged ecological conflict. The research adopts a telescopic narrative that advances from the tree to the planting schemes to the continent, while sampling three distinct ages of concern: the soil conservation movement in America, the struggle for air quality in China and the obscured risk of desertification in Africa. In each case, a supranational planting project is presented as a remedy to heal degraded land. As catastrophic evidence is mainstreamed, trees are enlisted as the link between culture and nature in order to regain control of deteriorated political agendas. This universal reaction is evocative of the idea that the ecology of 'greening’ has become a cultural project –– a measure of value and control. A geopolitical scheme is concealed when trees are aggrandized to an urban elite, initiating planted consequences in remote deserts and negligible territories. This research lays out the brief genealogy of each project, studies the necessity of singular species and presents the central arguments for what I take to be the primary positions currently available, in order to support the remarkable evolution of how land becomes exploited using scientific authority.
This scholarly project is currently being reinforced by teaching and research at Harvard Graduate School of Design and forms the basis for ongoing collaboration and thegenerous support of Harvard Arnold Arboretum.