Anyone who has ever read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree knows that people take the benefits and gifts of the trees around us for granted. We underestimate how they affect our lives and how difficult it is to protect them.
It seems like we are finally learning the importance of trees not only to the health of the planet, but also to the health and wellbeing of people in particular.
The right trees in the right place
The main pledge from the COP 26 climate summit was the pledge by countries representing 85% of the world’s forests to stop or reverse deforestation by 2030. The United States, as well as other large forest countries such as Brazil, Canada, and Indonesia have all signed this agreement. President Joe Biden also pledged that the US would lead by example, announcing that it would spend $ 9 billion on forest conservation and restoration.
That promise, and the money to keep it, is a significant step forward. Individual countries need to get creative in dealing with climate change as an international agreement becomes increasingly unlikely. Forests and trees and are an excellent option.
Woods absorb around a third of the CO2 produced worldwide every year. Deforestation has made a major contribution to climate change.
The battle for California’s trees
California has 33 million hectares of forest, and we are rightly proud to encourage visitors to see places like the Redwoods. We conveniently forget or don’t even know that since the 1850s, 95% of the California original old sequoia forests were logged.
California can use its forests in two ways. Reforestation is an option, although it can be full of difficulties such as location problems, water availability and loss of biological diversity. It is much better to focus on protecting the trees and forests that we have and letting those areas expand naturally.
“California’s ancient sequoia trees, the tallest and oldest trees on earth, store more carbon per hectare of forest than any other forest in the world – by far,” said Sam Hodder, CEO of Save the Redwood League. “More than the Amazon rainforest or the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest.”
Save the Redwoods League is currently raising funds for the purchase of five miles of undeveloped coastal forest in Mendocino County. the Lost coastal property is a second growth forest between 80 and 100 years and is threatened by accelerated harvest or development. Saving such existing areas and having them expanded and connected to other protected areas is far better, cheaper and requires less maintenance than replanting.
Hodder noted that through accelerated protection and good management in collaboration with tribes, local communities and public institutions, the sequoia landscape can become old again and be a vital part of the fight against climate change.
San Jose trees
Trees in our communities are just as important to human health as large areas of forest hours away. The sheer visibility of green spaces is linked to improved mental health, less stress, and better work and school performance. Put simply, humans need nature, such as trees, in order to thrive.
San Jose’s revised design Community forest management plan cites research that even found that tree-lined streets contribute to healthier lifestyles. Unexpectedly, there are also fewer car accidents. There is even evidence that well-managed vegetation deter crime.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, but trees are rare commodities that become more valuable with age. In fact, every street tree brings nearly six dollars in utility for every dollar invested.
San Joses 2007 Green vision plan had the goal of planting 100,000 trees. Until 2014, the city planted forest in collaboration with Our City 12,289 trees in total which sequestered approximately 479.3 MT CO2 equivalent. The city’s goal was to have all trees planted by 2022; however, an apparent lack of resources has resulted in only 15,000-20,000 trees being planted to date.
Unfortunately, the management plan has also been found The canopy cover of San Jose has fallen nearly 2%, which equates to an area of about 2.7 miles. The main findings of the document are instructive. First and foremost, the city needs to act quickly to meet the trend towards decreasing roofing. The biggest obstacle to this, besides the broken cooperation between the parties involved, is the ubiquitous money problem. The means for planting and cultivating trees are far below requirements.
Maybe we haven’t learned anything from “The Giving Tree” after all.
San José Spotlight columnist Erin Zimmerman is a Climate Reality Director for the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Climate Reality Project. Erin, a longtime environmental and political activist, holds a PhD in political science. Your column appears every third Wednesday of the month. Contact Erin at [email protected].