The Importance of Tomorrow’s Trees

By Karen Zumach, Community Forestry Managerbur oak 1

When was the last time you were stopped in your tracks by the size of a tree in your neighborhood or in your local park?  Chances are pretty good, that if you’re like me, it seems to happen less often these days. Larger trees seem to be disappearing from our landscape more and more each year. Storms, pests, old age, poor planting practices and disease all have a hand in taking pieces out of our urban canopy, bit by bit. This isn’t new, there have been storms and pests and old age and disease around for as long as trees have been planted in the urban landscape. What appears to be different these days, is that previous generations of land planners and policy makers recognized the value in planting trees, and lots of them in order to combat the attrition that happens, inevitably, when trees are planted outside of their natural habitat (ie:  the forest). We have those large trees today because someone, decades long ago, made the conscience decision to plant that tree. Not for themselves to enjoy, but for the benefit of future generations. As the Greek proverb goes, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

It’s not for lack of trying; budgets are squeezed more and more each year. We all know that tree planting is sexy, but tree maintenance – ensuring that those trees actually reach their full potential – is far, far less sexy. I suspect it’s hard to justify paying someone to hold a hose to water newly planted trees; it’s hard to see the long term benefits that investment will return. Trees are one of the very few investments that actually increase in value over time, much like a fine wine. Consider this, according to the National Tree Benefit calculator, conceived and developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co., a silver maple, planted in a park or other public setting provides environmental and economic benefits that, through this calculator, can actually be quantified…see for yourself:

tree benefits

So we need to plant more trees. Now. We’re losing the next generation of trees faster than we are planting them. We are all aware of the devastation that invasive pests and disease can wreak on our communities. We can do something about it. We can plant trees today. We can encourage our local decision-makers that trees are important to our communities and our way of life. It’s not just planting trees, it’s caring for the ones we already have so that our children will one day too, stand in awe of a giant tree in their neighborhood.

You can do your part by supporting the Tree Trust Green Futures Fund. Every gift you make to this fund goes directly toward planting trees in the Twin Cities metro area.

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