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Trees...habitat for more than wildlife!

Trees are a tremendous value to city life...economic value, health factors, and quality of life improve with an urban forest.

Have you noticed that trees make a tremendous difference in liveability of a city? Walking along a tree lined sidewalk is so much more pleasant than walking in a flat landscape, or in the glaring sun.

Just today, as my husband and I walked to lunch at a nearby cafe, we saw the workmen trimming 50' palm trees. I'm new to Los Angeles, and that's the first time I'd seen this process. Ladder trucks with a chainsaw wielding trimmer sheer off the dead fronds and the huge pile that fall are gathered by tractors with front loader scoops. It's a big job...I'm glad the city has the tools to do this trimming of the thousands of palm trees in this city.

It's easy to take trees for granted when they have always been on our street. But in the vastness of the U.S., we sometimes focus more on the open space of our vast plains and forests than about the trees in our urban areas. Urban space is valued for human endeavors...and trees can sometimes get in the way.

It is estimated that more than 80 percent of the population will live in urban areas by the year 2000.

Urban and community forestry plays an important role in enhancing community vitality and quality of life.

Street trees and forested areas in cities, towns and communities are more than amenities. Besides beauty, trees provide many practical benefits such as

  • shade from summer sun
    (Ask Atlanta how hot paved surfaces get!)
  • protection from winter wind
    (Ask Chicago about wind!)
  • habitat for wildlife
    (Where would our birds nest...our squirrels live?)
  • reduced water, air and noise pollution
    (Wouldn't we all welcome more of these benefits!)
  • increased property values
    (Do you want trees on your street?)
  • and revitalized tourism and local business trade.
    (Think Charleston or Boston...)

    Not only are the trees in your backyard important, but a shared "urban forestry program" in your town provides another way people can work together to plant and preserve trees, and in the process, develop important conservation values and fostering of community spirit. .

    Some Facts about urban forests

  • Urban trees reach maximum potential for environmental benefits after age 30, but the average life-span of a downtown urban tree is less than 10 years.

  • Most cities are removing more trees than they are planting.

    So, if you love trees (and I'm frequently privileged to hear people profess emotional ties to majestic and magnificent trees), here is a helpful checklist on how to plant, trim and otherwise manage trees in your backyard...or in your community. _____
    Checklist for planting trees in communities

    The USDA Forest Service, St. Paul Field Office provides information and assistance on forest health and tree care, natural resources management, and other forestry related topics.

    Remember to take a "Nature Break": Savor the coolness of your favorite tree's protective shade on your skin...and take mental note of the age your trees have reached.

    For more articles about URBAN NATURE

    Urban Agriculture for Outdoor Adventure
    Earth's Most Successful Life Form
    Kudzu Grows a Foot per Day
    Meow How? Should I keep my cat indoors?
    Habitat on Your Balcony and Garden Patio
    Keeping ants in nature where they belong