Friday, April 25, 2008
A World In Need of TreesAs Joyce Kilmer said in Trees, a poem every Catholic elementary student had to memorize, at least in my childhood :
Poems are made by fools like me,And I still know the damn thing by heart, as fortunately it's a short one. Trite and sentimental as it is, it celebrates a certain truth - the indispensable loveliness of trees. Okay, yes folks, it's true, another Arbor Day post. The last one wasn't exactly about Arbor Day, but this one certainly is. The idea of a tree, or an existing thirty foot shade oak, is a lot lovelier than the planting of new trees, especially in an urban environment. Despite the fact that urban trees are great investments: they absorb greenhouse gases, lower ambient temperatures, lower energy costs by providing natural cooling, mitigate the heat island effect, fight both crime and cancer, and just all around make us feel better, most American cities' tree canopies are shrinking in relation to the city growth. City budgets are inadequate to manage the maintenance of older trees, and most residential and commercial developments just haven't planted them. Tree planting and tree maintenance are not tasks to be lightly undertaken, as an article in this morning's WaPo, makes abundantly clear.
But only God can make a tree.
Cities once planted trees because they were beautiful. Now trees are being retasked as "green infrastructure" managed by "urban foresters" to work as powerful energy-saving, carbon-sucking, wastewater-treating tools to save the planet. But as the mayors spin their green dreams, their releaf teams have had to confront a brutal reality: Planting a tree is a lot harder than it looks.But there is a lot of good news here: despite the difficulties, cities across the country, from Los Angeles to New York, are undertaking ambitious tree-planting projects. Many states, like New Mexico, have also realized the enormous benefits that come with releafing, and now have reforestation projects under way. On Tuesday, HR 5867, The Energy Conservation through Trees Act, was introduced in the House. This legislation would create a grant program to help utilities with programs that target tree planting to reduce energy demand. The end result would be lower electric bills for homeowners and lower peak load demands for power companies.
The bill would use science-based guidelines to ensure trees are planted where they won’t affect pre-existing infrastructure, block solar panels or wind turbines, or damage power lines. Utilities would work with nonprofit tree-planting groups or similar municipal groups who would act as technical experts. Federal money would have to be matched by nonfederal dollars. (News from American Forests)
If, on this Arbor Day, you'd like to find out what releaf projects are happening in your community, The Alliance for Community Trees has a city-by-city, state-by-state list of organizations and neighborhood groups working to bring trees and all their legion of benefits back into our streets and our lives. Check it out, get involved! One of the lives you improve will be your own.
Technorati Tags: Arbor Day, green infrastructure, HR 5867, trees, urban releaf
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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