The latest survey reported by Tree Pittsburgh revealed that Allegheny County experienced a tree canopy loss of 10,148 acres from 2010 to 2015. ‘Pests like the emerald ash borer & oak wilt had an impact on canopy loss but man-made losses (like housing, road, utility, rail expansion and gas drilling & pipelines) were the largest cause. Only 3-6% of the lost canopy acreage was attributable to the natural aging, dying and removal of trees’.
Okay, so we have met the enemy & it is us. But why should we care?
Well, according to Arbor Day Foundation studies, trees bring a number of benefits to communities.To name just a few:
- Having large trees in yards along streets increases a home’s value from 3-15%.
- Commercial retail areas with trees are more attractive to shoppers. They stay longer & spend up to 13% more. It’s good business.
- Trees reduce runoff & erosion resulting in improved water quality.
Further, we typically underestimate the investment in $’s but especially in time that goes into a mature shade tree. Some trees can take decades to even develop their mature conformation. A common White Oak can live for 400 yrs. The Bald Cypress, formerly the dominant species in wet SE USA bottomlands, can live for a 1000 yrs. It should inspire a bit of humility when we consider planting one & even more when cutting one down. Failing humility, however, a shade tree committee’s job is to take the long view. When you consider, by comparison, the relative shortness of our lives & even shorter times in elected office, no one individual should have the authority to squander the investment of past generations that now really belongs to future generation. A shade tree committee’s job is to prevent that while continuing to plan for the future, to ensure for the long view. I’ve attached the on-line links to some shade tree committees to show what their typical duties & responsibilities are:
Shade Tree Committee – Borough of Wilkinsburg
Shade Tree Committee Why do we need trees? Trees provide environmental, economic, aesthetic and other benefits. They cool the air in the summer, removing carbon …
Shade Tree Committee | Holmdel Township, NJ – Official Website
See the duties and membership requirements for the Shade Tree Committee.
Remember though, when you set up such a committee, don’t send a toothless shepherd dog out to guard the flock. Give it real duties & authority.
For urban tree planning, additional resources include:
TreeVitalize PA can provide information & funds.
Tree Tenders Training-Penn State Extension can provide valuable knowledge.
According to an old proverb, the best time to plant a tree was 20 yrs ago. The next best time is now. Have fun out there.