Last Friday morning, feeling a bit antsy after hearing that our beautiful weather was coming to a screeching halt, I left the drafting table and ventured out to the garden to plant some small trees I had kept in urns over the summer. Studio was not until 1 and I had a couple of hours to work the soil. I had been reading several articles for a graduate project about tree inventory for my urban hydrology assessment class. It's not too difficult to get excited about the subject matter. I have discovered something about myself since returning to graduate school to study landscape architecture. It goes deep to my core and that is my passion for trees.
They are majestic. They are elegant. Trees are the foundation of our existence. They filter our air, soil, and water. Trees regulate our local climate with their shade and evapotranspiration. They provide food and shelter for all living things. They hold down our soil to prevent erosion and sedimentation. The term for this provisioning is ecosystem services and trees do all this for free. We just have to stand back and let them grow.
Most of these services go unnoticed...they just happen in the background. However, cities are starting to figure out that trees are an asset when they are recognized for these services. Scientists have assigned a dollar value per tree to the pollutant removal from our air. The housing industry claims that trees growing on a homeowner's lot increase the value of that property about 15%. A tree pulling waste and cycling nutrients from our soil and water is worth a ton of money when measured against having to build a new treatment plant for this very purpose.
I haven't even touched on the quality of life or the health and well-being aspect of trees. Can you imagine your world without trees? What a loss this would be. Yet researchers with American Forests have found a 30% decline in urban trees over the last 15 years.
I am passionate about these big guys. My yard is full of trees, some over 60 years old, some planted last week. I have my favorites, but it is like choosing the favorite child. They all have such individual characteristics that endear.There are two species tho, that have captured my heart since this past summer. They both stand across the fence, but I can see them now out the window from the second story here at my drafting table. Two large American Planetrees, or Sycamores, Platanus occidentalis and three mature Eastern White Pines, Pinus strobus. Not a day goes by that I don't make a conscious effort to connect with these trees that are a part of my daily life.
Go plant a tree today. There is still time before the ground freezes. Find a volunteer sapling that is struggling to survive and move it to a place where you can watch it grow and change over the seasons of your life. Find your passion for these wonderful stalwarts of our planet and protect them as if our lives depended on it.