Most of us don’t like to kill trees. But for generations man has cleared the land of trees in order to plant crops for food. So it happens.
When the Europeans came to Australia they had neither Herbicides, nor Tractors, nor Chainsaws. The only tools he had were the axe, (please note spelling) or the saw.
But it took an awful amount of energy to cut down a tree that may have been two metres across. Huge straight trees may have justified the effort for the timber produced was of extreme value. But many trees were of less value and the farmer had neither the time nor the inclination. What he needed was for the land to be cleared so that he could plant crops or grow pasture.
And if it was pasture he needed he did not need the tree to be removed. He just needed it to stop growing – to die. A dead tree stops taking nutrients out of the soil and stop drinking the water.
In order to effectively kill the tree the early farmers would ring-bark the tree.
An axeman will cut a strip completely circling the tree and removing the bark and a small amount of the cambium layer. This is the thin wet layer of cells that are formed between the bark and the sapwood. This layer, which is probably only as thin as a few cells is the part that grows.
Below is a tree that would have been ring-barked a century ago.
Notice that the dead tree is not taking up much of the space required for grass.
A closer look at the scar.
And behind it is what the land would have looked like except that the trees are much younger and not as dense as it would have been.
I don’t know if ‘arboricide’ is a real word or not. But my Latin tells me if it is not real, at least it is correct. ‘Arbor’ is Latin for tree, ‘occidere’ is the verb to kill. So arboricide is to kill a tree. Now the Greek for tree is ‘dentro’ and if we put dentro together with occidere we should get dentrocide. But we don’t, because you should not join a greek word with a latin word.
Anyway, The Latin word that sounds a lot like dentro is dente so dentrocide is more likely to be the killing of a tooth and although dentists should get twenty years with hard labour it isn’t a real word.