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Why sustainable landscapes improve quality of life; is the economy devaluing tree replacements?

Marc Lefkowitz  |  05/18/11 @ 12:30pm

  • The Brooklyn Center Naturalists is interested in imbuing the city with green lungs (replacing all that concrete) with their volunteer work on urban reforestation, vacant land-to-gardens and sustainable yards. Gloria Ferris makes some important points about the need for city's like Cleveland to plan for replanting trees that will grow tall to replace the behemoths reaching the end of their lives. In Old Brooklyn News, she writes:

    "In these economic times, the trend is to 'go cheap' and 'short term' with small-stature trees?A large-stature tree provides shade not only for the homes in its vicinity but also shades the paved surfaces surrounding it. A more shaded street equals a longer time between resurfacing, another fact which probably does not enter into the debate about tree replacement.

    Too often, trees are seen as an impediment to progress rather than an important aesthetic component.

    Think of our past-forests of oak, beech and maple greeted the early settlers in Cleveland. The folks who built this city of tree-lined streets knew, even without the scientific data, that large, majestic trees would enhance their quality of life, cooling the air during hot, humid summers, preventing soil erosion and preventing water runoff, and enhancing their commercial districts and neighborhoods.

    Then consider the present-for every large-stature tree lost, less energy is conserved, an urban heat island is formed, and our quality of air and water is comprised. We are fortunate that we can shape our future relationship with trees. Brooklyn Centre Naturalists is committed to promoting trees as an integral part of our park neighborhoods, and therefore is committed to the protection, preservation and replacement of large-stature trees."

    Without a well-funded and operated tree replacement program, Cleveland's stature as The Forest City will erode, one branch and one trunk at a time.

  • Lake Erie Protection Fund and Chagrin River Watershed Partners have built a section called Healthy Yard, Clean Water on the GreenCityBlueLake site. It looks at what individuals and communities can do-from backyards to big infrastructure projects-to slow flooding and keep our drinking water clean. It has very useful information on how best to landscape when you have a backyard stream, helpful tips on greening your household for water quality, environmentally friendly lawn care, and much more. Check it out.
  • Naturalist Jeff Riebe explains why natural yards are beneficial to wildlife, and he gives suggestions for native plants based on a shady or sunny yard in this month's Cleveland Metroparks newsletter. He writes: "Gardening for wildlife can be a rewarding way to appreciate nature and learn more about local plants and animals. When we restore native habitats, or leave part of our yard to remain wild we can make a difference in the lives of many of our suburban wildlife neighbors."
  • The Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity has selected its native plants of 2011. The consortium focuses on the threat of invasive species, and makes the case for native plants (attracts native wildlife, requires less fertilizer, promotes diversity). They're encouraging Northeast Ohioans to plant one or all of the three native plants of the year: Blazing Star, Allegheny Serviceberry, and Common Winterberry. For more information.
  • The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a conference on the "Importance of Plant and Soil Interactions to Urban Agriculture and Landscaping" next week. The group has a bunch of events coming up to promote more natural yards, sustainable water use (building rain barrels & rain gardens) and bioswale designs for communities. Check out their website for more details.

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