Monday, June 04, 2007

Urban Forestry

An interesting letter to the editor from Sunday's SHT:

Article published Jun 3, 2007

Urban forests can offset development

Current trends indicate a doubling of Florida's population by 2060 (to 34 million), with 80 percent of that influx settling within 40 miles of a coastline. To prepare for the inevitable urbanization and coastal density, planners are looking to "new urbanist" models that will reduce consumption of resources and conserve them for future use. Among these principles, "green infrastructure" and the use of the urban forest as a "bio-utility" are now recognized as critical to the success of smart growth.

A well-designed, -managed and -maintained urban forest has the proven capability to:

1. Sequester carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

2. Intercept deadly particulate pollution.

3. Control and filtrate surface water, circulating fresh rainfall back into the natural hydrological system.

4. Prevent coastal erosion.5. Cool our external and internal environments, thus reducing our energy consumption.

A healthy urban forest with "green corridors" preserves urban and suburban habitat for wildlife. Species selection, together with a feasible mitigation plan for invasives, is essential. Tree benefits do carry some costs -- principally maintenance and impact on hardscape. But the net benefit is increased if we focus on the planting and preservation of native species, which over the ages have established themselves harmoniously with other ecosystems (estuaries) and the patterns and needs of local wildlife.

Nonnatives seriously disrupt our environment.With recent publicity concerning habitat restoration projects in our area, it is important to address this issue in the context of the science of urban forestry management rather than focusing on a single species.

See the following Web sites for more information:

Tim Eiseler

The writer is a landscape architect, certified arborist and urban forester in Anna Maria.

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