While we continue to bleed tree-canopy loss in our communities, it is clear that councils who continue to give the green light to large infrastructure projects simply do not understand what they are creating in terms of future damage to our communities.
I would like to remind them of the value of maintaining tree life on our streets and avenues, and within parks and wooded sections of our cities:
• Trees absorb the CO2 in the atmosphere and store the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air;
• Trees absorb pollutants and gases in the air, including nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides, ammonia and ozone;
• In one year, an acre of trees provide enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe;
• Trees provide shade and keep us cool in hot weather. They can reduce temperatures on streets and in cities by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas concrete and asphalt are heat-trapping;
• Trees help us conserve energy by reducing the need for the use of air conditioning in houses where trees are present nearby;
• Trees conserve water by reducing evaporation of it by heat and by ensuring that water loss is minimized by absorbing rainfall through their root systems instead of losing it to runoff;
• Trees act like sponges and help remove pollutants from rainfall water before it reaches storm drains and bodies of water;
• Trees help reduce soil erosion and landslides with their root systems and reduce flood potential;
• Trees can reduce exposure to UVB rays from the sun by up to 50 per cent;
• Neighbourhoods and homes that are barren have been shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear;
• Trees provide a home and a habitat for wildlife. Imagine how challenging it has become for bird life to find appropriate nesting sites to help raise the next generation of their species. Birds are being squeezed out of many communities due to a complete lack of nest-building sites;
• The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighbourhood can raise property values by as much as 15 per cent;
• Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in.
• A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the storefronts instead of whizzing by.
These are just some of the many reasons for us to preserve trees and make them a large part of our communities, instead of clear-cutting huge swaths of them for what is promoted as ‘affordable housing’ for our growing communities and instead becomes yet another money-maker for a developer who cares little about the frivolous topic of tree preservation in the community.
Trees have communities, too, and communicate with each other to help them preserve and care for themselves through transportation of enzymes through their root systems.
If trees could talk, they would tell us that by removing them in the vast numbers that we continue to do, they are no longer able to help protect us from the future that awaits us in a world bereft of trees.
Wake up, community councils, and smell the coffee before the only thing we will be smelling is the slow burn of our communities from the ravages of our rapidly overheated climate. Stop the carnage before Mother Nature turns her back on us completely.
Michael King, White Rock