By: Anthony C. Arnoldi, Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0102B
We hear a lot in the news, both nationally and around the world, about how we are losing precious habitat for endangered species, how rain forests are being cut down, how paving over our woodlands and natural areas affects our wildlife and even ourselves. While all this is certainly true, we can feel good about having a stake in the positive inputs that can be done to help our environment.
Most of us, after all, have a little piece of the planet to care for – our yards. But how can our yards have any significant impact? Consider what two organizations, the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, have done. Both have programs that enable you to register your yard as a “recognized habitat that supplies the needed basic elements for wildlife.” One of the main elements needed is sufficient cover. Plants of all types contribute to this, but obviously, trees contribute the most cover in terms of spread, height, and providing the multiple strata of woody branches necessary for attracting and holding wildlife. Big trees have the most important role to play in this “mini-preserve” principle.
The benefits are not limited to wildlife. Trees produce needed oxygen, provide cooling, filter out particulate pollution from the air and help rainwater infiltrate the soil, averting flooding and other problems. They are very important in providing psychological relief from the daily pressures of life all of us feel. Studies have shown that children have milder symptoms of ADHD when spending time in a green setting. Crime is lower and productivity is higher in neighborhoods with accompanying trees. These days more of us are opting for vacations at our own “backyard resort,” so the condition of our “preserve” is more important than ever.
The trees that populate our “preserves” need to be healthy and safe. At least some need to be larger to be able to provide more of the key benefits to us, wildlife and the earth. They will reach larger size only with time and good care. (Good care is what forest trees have naturally through the nurturing environment they are in. Urban trees are different and suffer from overt deadwood accumulation, bad form, and susceptibility to pests.) Trees need to avoid the destructive activity of decay fungi, attacking insects, storms and defective structure. We can help them avoid these pitfalls and thereby achieve stature that is more significant. Our efforts toward correct pruning, insect and disease control, proper fertilizing and root health all contribute to this goal. Anything we can do to help them last longer, even simple but important things like watering during drought stress, can help increase the percent canopy cover in our urban areas that is needed so much.
We all have a part to play in the stewardship of the “green spaces” of our planet. Even our little pieces are important. If we were to add up all of the combined benefits of the mosaic of these “little preserves” all across our country, it would be impressive. And we can feel good that our part matters.
© Copyright 2009 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.