Regreening the Community
View of extent of damage caused by Hurricane Andrew.
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Regreening after a natural disaster is a long term process that will take many years for trees to grow and for a mature urban forest to become re-established. Unfortunately, a mature urban forest can be destroyed in a matter of minutes or hours when a disaster strikes. To regreen that community to its original condition will take years for the trees to grow and mature. Factors to consider in regreening process include:
Every day we receive many benefits from trees. These benefits may be direct or indirect. When pursuing funding for tree planting, maintenance or mitigation activities, it is important to emphasize the many benefits we receive from trees every day. For example, in the summertime many of us will park our cars under shady trees, walk on the shady side of a street, or have a picnic under the cool shade of a large park tree. In the autumn, many of us will take special drives to view the beautiful colors of tree leaves as they turn red, yellow, orange, and brown. We especially appreciate the color of evergreen trees in the wintertime. In the spring, we view the splendor of the flowering trees and anxiously await the breaking of buds and the coming of leaves. The presence of trees around homes can help increase property value- in fact, wooded lots tend to sell faster than open lots. When planted in the proper location, trees can help decrease summer cooling bills, and winter heating bills. Trees have also been found to have a healing effect on people, psychologically and physically. With the increasing awareness of the benefits of trees, people will realize the importance of maintaining the health of existing trees, and the desirability of planting new trees. The benefits we receive from trees can be listed according to the following categories.
Psychological Values: Trees often help reduce the stress associated with urban settings by creating feelings of relaxation and well-being. In fact, hospital surgery patients looking out the window at trees and vegetation had fewer complications, needed less medication, and had shorter hospital stays than people whose rooms faced buildings (Ulrich, 1984). People prefer trees and environments with natural vegetation to those without. Communities with tree-lined streets and downtown areas tend to be recognized as areas with high quality of life standards and high civic pride.
Economic Values: An important point to note about trees is that as a public expenditure, trees represent an investment that appreciates in value. All other public expenditures, including sidewalks, sewers, streets, etc., depreciate in value over time.
Property values of homes with many trees in comparison to homes lacking trees tend to be higher; in fact, lots with trees tend to sell faster than lots without trees.
Properly planted trees can reduce air conditioning needs and costs during the summer, and heating costs in the winter. In fact in one study, the values for an "average" 50 year old tree are as follows: air conditioning worth $73, soil erosion and stormwater worth $75, wildlife shelter worth $75, and air pollution control worth $50--a total of $273 (in 1985 dollars). A value of $57,151 was also estimated for the total value of the tree during its lifetime (compounded at 5 percent for 50 years) (Ebenreck, 1989).
Aesthetic Values: Trees provide a variety of aesthetic values including: providing pleasant scenery; screening unpleasant views and odors; accenting the architectural design of buildings; and providing landscapes that promote tourism. Because trees are living and growing features in the landscape, their beauty changes with the seasons and is dynamic and ever-present.
Architectural Functions: According to McCullen and Webb (1982), trees can be used architecturally in the following ways: visually completing building fronts and street frontages; providing enclosure; creating spaces by dividing large areas into smaller, more comprehensible units; reinforcing primary design by separating spaces, providing unity to diverse scenes, drawing attention to important features, emphasizing direction, and providing contrast; providing boundaries; and, controlling traffic by providing a physical barrier.
Engineering Functions: Trees can control erosion and runoff by intercepting rainfall and lessening the impact of precipitation on the ground and by stabilizing the soil with their roots. Properly located trees can control glare and reflection of headlights as well as morning and evening sunlight. Trees can reduce noises and sounds by scattering and reflecting sound with their leaves and branches. Trees can help control air pollution by removing and filtering airborne particles, emissions and other air pollutants.
Climatic Functions: Trees provide a wide variety of Climatic functions. Perhaps one of the most important is the ability of trees to provide shade from the sun's intensity and to cool the air through the process of evapotranspiration.
Amenity Functions: Trees provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and educational opportunities. Diversity of flora and fauna contributes to the overall health of the environment, particularly for humans. People benefit from interactions with wildlife; in fact, people want to be able to observe and interact with wildlife. Wooded areas, such as parks, greenbelts and parkways, provide many opportunities for urban recreational activities, including picnicking, walking, bike riding, and exercising.
Educational Values: Trees and natural wooded areas provide wonderful educational opportunities for young and old. Trees near schools represent an educational opportunity for teachers to share with students the importance of trees, their ability to survive in unique environments, and the many benefits we derive from trees.
Ideal community forestry programs include aspects of both private input and public government structure. Individuals and community groups often provide the energy and enthusiasm; the government provides continuity, authority, and resources. A community forestry program exists to maintain the health of the tree resources for the safety of people to exist in it. Therefore, a comprehensive urban and community forestry program involves effective planning and management of the tree resource, providing useful information to the public about the resource, and encourages community involvement and action in its management. There are many components of an effective, comprehensive urban and community forestry program. Hanson, et al. (1987) provides the following 12 indicators of an effective tree care program.
12 Indicators of an Effective Tree Care Program
An approach for smaller communities and communities with limited tree care budgets for management, is to combine the efforts of two or more communities. Professional consulting foresters are available to assist communities at any level, from simple identification and recommendation of trees that need to be removed or pruned to prevent liability, to an inventory of the entire community forest resource, and subsequent development of a long-range management plan.
Another approach for communities would be to combine forces for tree care with one or more other communities. For example, a professional forester could be hired to care for two different communities. The forester may work three days in one community, and two days in the other. Another example would be the sharing of equipment. One community may own a high-ranger vehicle, and another community may own a chipper truck. Together these communities could work out tree removal and pruning schedules, and share the equipment, thus keeping equipment costs low.
Adequate tree maintenance can be done in every community, large and small. To achieve it, though, may require innovative thinking, and the breaking down of traditional standards and rules that limit creativity. As long as people work together cooperatively to achieve the goal of a healthy, well maintained, and safe urban and community forest, much can be accomplished.
In the April/May 1993 issue of Urban Forests, Phillip D. Rodbell provided a caveat or warning about the need to carefully plan for tree planting after a natural disaster. Based on the findings and discussions of many meetings held throughout the United States in 1992, the National Urban Forestry Council concentrated on 11 key issues. One which pertains to Regreening The Community is quoted here for consideration by the readers of our manual. "There is a lack of planning for urban forestry needs after a natural disaster. Local officials should delay replanting efforts until adapted or appropriate tree stocks are available."
However, based on practical experience and user interviews, we found that the survivors of natural disasters are interested in replanting their community streets and backyards as soon as possible. Perhaps there is a compromise between Rodbell's caution and the general public's wishes. While initial regreening takes place and a reasonable number of commemorative trees are planted, a detailed tree inventory of existing and needed municipal trees should be accomplished. (Most small communities have not recorded when and where earlier trees were planted.) When the tree inventory has been completed and analyzed, municipal officials and advisory groups can then determine what is needed to rebuild the urban forest. Further, plans can be made regarding budgets and availability of required trees.
The USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, in cooperation with the National Arbor Day Foundation, encourage communities to meet and hopefully exceed the standards of Tree City USA. These standards can also be put to good use to reforest communities affected by natural disasters. Four standards exist that must be met to achieve Tree City USA status. (Refer to the Appendix entitled "Tree City USA: Foundation for Better Tree Management" at the end of this chapter for more information.) More than a thousand towns and cities, large and small, have gained Tree City USA status. The standards are definitely achievable and are as follows:
Tree City USA Standards
|Standard 1||A Tree Board or Department--Designation of a Tree Board, Department, Commission, or other authority ensures that someone will be held legally responsible for the care and maintenance of trees on public property. For smaller communities with limited budgets, a volunteer tree board is often the most practical approach. These volunteer tree boards are encouraged to work with a professional forester. For larger communities and cities, it is practical to have a forestry department with salaried professional foresters. In either case, what is critical is that some group or organization with legal status will implement an annual plan to maintain and care for the publicly owned trees.|
|Standard 2||A Community Tree Ordinance--An ordinance must be written that identifies public tree care policies that must be accomplished to maintain a healthy and safe urban forest.|
|Standard 3||A Community Forestry Program with an Annual Budget of at least $2 per capita--A wide variety of tree care activities (planting, pruning and removal) must be completed to ensure the health and quality of a community's urban forest. An adequate tree care budget is necessary to maintain a healthy community tree population. The $2 per capita is a minimum standard to meet; many communities exceed the $2 per capita requirement.|
|Standard 4||An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation--Perhaps one of the easiest and most enjoyable standards, the annual Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation, will promote awareness and support for the community forestry program.|
By meeting the above standards, communities will have the structure for a community forestry program that adequately maintains trees, promotes awareness and appreciation of trees, and demonstrates a commitment to the health and quality of the existing or replanted urban forests. Storm damaged communities are encouraged to achieve Tree City USA status (if they have not already done so).
Tree City USA Growth Award
Current Tree City USA communities are encouraged to achieve the newly established Tree City USA Growth Award. The USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, in cooperation with the National Arbor Day Foundation, also encourage the achievement of the Growth Award. The Growth Award recognizes higher levels of accomplishment of tree maintenance goals. To be eligible for the Growth Award, your community must have Tree City USA status for a second consecutive year, spend at least as much in its annual tree care budget as the previous year, and earn at least 10 or more points in the following Growth Award Eligible Activities. (Refer to the Appendix entitled "Tree City USA Growth Award" at the end of this chapter.)
|Category A||Education and Public Relations--Eligible activities range from the distribution of educational materials and publications relating to community forestry, to the training and continuing education of tree workers, forestry managers, tree board members, and youth.|
|Category B||Partnerships--Eligible activities include: Accomplishing new projects or organizations through partnerships with utilities, members of the green industry, and other communities; obtaining external funding for projects; tree planting on private property; and coordinating tree projects and engineering, forestry, and land use planning.|
|Category C||Planning and Management--Eligible activities include: Tree inventories; management plans; improved tree ordinances; improved or newly adopted standards and specifications for trees complementing the tree ordinance; achieving a budget line item in the city budget for tree maintenance; developing or protecting wildlife habitat, park or open space; and, developing or significantly improving a tree-care disaster plan.|
|Category D||Tree Planting and Maintenance--Eligible activities range from special tree planting and pruning projects, hazard tree assessments, and vegetation recycling programs--to special programs that eliminate destructive tree care practices and establishing a long-term contract with a nursery that ensures increased variety of species available for tree planting.|
The Tree City USA and the Tree City USA Growth Awards are national level awards available to every community. Also, remember that a variety of specific state-level awards may be available to communities. These are offered by conservation, natural resources, economic development, and other state agencies, state urban and community forestry councils, and state professional forestry societies.
American Forestry Association. 1989. Shading our cities. A resource guide for urban and community forests. G. Moll and S. Ebenreck, editors. Washington, D.C. island Press.
Forest Service, USDA. 1990. Urban and community forestry: A guide for the Interior Western United States. G.L. Younker, editor. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, UT 84401.
Grey, G.W. and F.J. Deneke. 1986. Urban forestry. 2d. ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Miller, R. 1988. Urban forestry: planning and managing urban green-spaces. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
Reynolds, M.K. and H.S. Ossenbruggen. 1992. Planting trees for communities. USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Durham, NH 03824.
Shigo, A.L. 1992. Modern arboriculture. Shigo and Trees, Associates, 4 Denbow Road, Durham, NH 03824-3105.
TreePeople. 1990. The simple act of planting a tree. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Ulrich, R. S. 1984. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science (224):420421.
Creating an urban oasis. Missouri Department of Conservation. Video, 20 minutes.
Trees, please! Pekin Illinois/Illinois Department of Conservation. Video, 15 minutes.
P.O. Box 2000
Washington D.C. 20013-2000
The National Volunteer Center
1111 North 19th Street, #500
Arlington, VA 22209 (703) 276-0542
National Arbor Day Foundation
100 Arbor Avenue
Nebraska City, NE 68410
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