Yesterday’s post had Michele pondering whether trees even belong in cities, the very question raised in this Washington Post article published the same day. Here are some highlights, if you can call them that.
- What readers here already know – that trees "ease stress, fight cancer, lower crime, build civility, store water, bolster real estate prices," etc. Not to mention fight global warming.
- Across the U.S., 36 cities have lost a quarter of their tree canopy since 1972.
- Surveys of tree canopy reveal that "poor people don’t have plants." The thinnest canopy cover is always found in the poorest neighborhoods.
Turns out there’s a whole slew of reasons for that bit of environmental injustice and the article starts with the reality that it takes "intense community outreach to get neighbors to agree to plant and care for new trees." True enough. Even in my reasonably affluent little town, people take their free Earth Day trees home and water them exactly once. But in poor urban neighborhoods there’s more: "The soil is extremely dry, nutrient, poor, compacted. " You dig and it’s "like concrete." Often people don’t even have water hoses. Trees are sprayed with gang graffiti. Street lamps can fry trees grown under them. And here’s a problem that our friends at Plant Amnesty can confirm, in neighborhoods of all levels of affluence: "Municipal trimmers, which can leave trees with severe, lethal haircuts." No wonder the average life span of a street tree is only seven years – because of the early death of so many of them.
And nobody wants trees, anyway. "Businesses don’t like trees (when foliage blocks signage).
Bureaucrats don’t like trees (because they’re a hassle). And despite
what they say now, politicians have not been tree huggers."
Man, that’s depressing. Looking up from my computer screen to the stately white oaks outside my window, I’ve gotta wonder how long we’ll have them around.