Thursday May 03, 2018
The South Burlington Natural Resources Committee (SBNRC) invites residents to celebrate Arbor Day Friday, May 4. The committee has identified tree stewardship as a priority for their work over the next several years with an intention to provide community education opportunities to promote and advocate for tree planting, maintenance, and enhancement of street trees. In addition, the committee’s goals include providing input and recommendations to city officials on incentives and ways to increase the city’s overall tree canopy.
Just as other communities grapple with the task of finding solutions to climate and environmental challenges, so does South Burlington. The committee says Arbor Day is a great reminder of the difference trees make in our city and around the world. First celebrated April 10, 1872, with a planting of over one million trees, Arbor Day was originated by nature enthusiast and secretary of the Nebraska territory, J. Sterling Morton. National observance of Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, although many states observe it on different dates, depending on climate and planting season. Vermont celebrates Arbor Day the first Friday in May.
Trees provide a multitude of environmental and quality of life services to communities. A robust tree canopy can contribute to clean air and water, wildlife habitat, aesthetic quality, and the wellbeing of its citizens. In fact, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, roadside trees reduce nearby indoor air pollution by more than 50 percent, trees help to catch and filter rainwater that falls on impervious surfaces such as parking lots and rooftops, mature trees can reduce energy bills and reduce carbon footprint all while increasing property values, and without the benefit of trees and vegetated infrastructure, waterways are polluted as oils, heavy metal particles, and other harmful substances are washed away.
The National Wildlife Federation reports, “There are about 60 to 200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted,” adding, “This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year and saving four billion in energy costs.”
Planting new trees not only benefits the community and the planet, it can benefit the individual as well. According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent in energy used for heating.” In addition, the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, notes a mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.
South Burlington’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan also speaks to the value of trees. In section 2.5, Green Infrastructure, it reads, “Maintaining and growing a healthy tree canopy has extensive public health, social, and even economic benefits, including energy conservation and climate cooling, water filtration, absorptions of air pollutants, improved wildlife habitat, recreational enjoyment, aesthetic relief, noise reduction; studies even demonstrate improved mental health of people with exposure to more trees.”
According to “A Report on the City of South Burlington Existing and Potential Tree Canopy,” written by J O’Neil-Dunne from the UVM Spatial Analysis Laboratory, in 2014 South Burlington consisted of 33 percent tree canopy, with the potential for an additional 50 percent to be transformed to tree canopy, with the greatest potential on privately owned land.
The SBNRC wants to remind homeowners that they can contribute towards the city’s environmental resilience and quality of life, as well as lowering energy bills, reducing carbon footprint, and increasing their home’s value – simply by planting a tree.
To learn more about how trees can benefit you and your community, visit vermontcommunityforestry.org. This user-friendly website holds a wealth of information about trees, as well as a useful tool for selecting appropriate trees for any location. Lastly, the SBNRC invites you to share your ideas for the care of trees in your community.
SOURCE: Lindsay Bryce, member of the South Burlington Natural Resources Committee