A recent article in “US News” discussed the alarming tree loss in American cities. Satellite images taken in 1972 of Puget Sound in the Seattle region were compared to images taken in 1996. The results were startling. The amount of land with less than 20 percent tree coverage more than doubled during the period studied and the land with more than 50 percent tree cover dropped from almost 50 to 23 percent during the same time.
It is difficult for the average person to appreciate the importance of trees. Trees benefit us by filtering tons of pollutants from the air, absorbing storm water runoff, insulating houses, and absorbing carbon which help limits global warming. Tree loss has been so gradual that most people have not realized how dramatic the decline of the number of trees has been. It is also surprising to learn that only 10 percent of urban trees are owned by cities–the rest are privately owned.
How can we preserve the remaining trees? Finding ways to discourage property owners from cutting down trees is one way. Adding more land to parks is another. The popularity of urban tree plantings is of course another. Teaching more people about the importance of keeping trees should be our goal. We must preserve existing trees, try to get homeowners to plant new trees, and continue with the effort to plant more trees on city property. These efforts will perhaps reverse the decades-long loss of urban trees.
Join us on August 21 for the next Community Tree Care event. Meet in the Taix French Restaurant parking lot on Reservoir Street at 8:30 a.m. Bring some gloves and help us care for and nurture the trees that have been planted by our previous activities in the Echo Park community.