How trees can save us

Author Alissa Walker

Dallas’s hottest summer days, Matt Grubisich would dispatch his colleagues at the Texas Trees Foundation to take manual air temperature readings across the city. “You think the number to go by is the weather station out at the airport,” he says, pointing to Dallas’s Love Field, five miles northwest of the city center. “But then we’d go to a parking lot downtown where it was 6 degrees warmer.”

As the director of operations and urban forestry for the Texas Trees Foundation, Grubisich was trying to demonstrate that Dallas needed to make major design changes to fortify itself against epic heat waves. “It’s easy to explain to people why they park under a tree when they drive to the grocery store,” he says. Getting local leaders and the population at large to take action to bring more trees to the city was a tougher sell.

Thanks to the city’s 2015 effort to map its urban forest, Grubisich and his team already knew that the city’s trees were not evenly distributed. Almost half of Dallas’s trees were located within the Great Trinity Forest, a 6,000-acre nature preserve. That didn’t leave a lot of trees for the rest of the city, where some neighborhoods only had tree canopy over 10 percent of their communities.

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We cannot play sleight-of-hand with our carbon budget.

Worldwide, scientists agree that one of the most powerful tools we have available to address the climate emergency are our living, mature trees – the powerful lungs of the ecosystem, with root networks that lock in soil carbon for millennia. Deforestation is counterproductive to stalling climate change.

The Napa County draft CAP offers “mitigations” which often include “preservation” of trees in areas that are already effectively protected, or replanting after deforestation, which leaves us with trees that will take 50 years to mature. In today’s world of exponential temperature increases, forest climate services are needed now, not 50 years after the climate takes a hit.

There is no real mitigation for the loss of our oak woodlands and forests. That is why the United Nations and climate scientists call for an immediate stop to deforestation. We are in a climate emergency and we cannot play sleight-of-hand with our carbon budget. 

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Urban forests are dying.

By Andrew Zaleski June 5, 201

Walk through Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and look up. The fan-shaped ginkgo leaves and ­ruby-red pearls dangling from cherry branches are the literal fruits of how Gene DeSantis has spent the predominant part of his life. On Saturdays, the slight, cap-wearing 57-year-old plants trees. By his count, 15,223 of them over the past 40 years.

For DeSantis, an MVP to local ­greening outfits, the routine began as a form of therapy. The Baltimore native spent some of his childhood in Los Angeles, with an alcoholic stepfather and drug-addicted mother. On the nights his stepfather’s drunkenness turned violent, the young DeSantis climbed trees in the yard to find peace. “Trees became my friends,” he says. “You could say I kind of grew up there.”

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Protecting Our Napa Valley: Saving trees, grapes and ourselves

AUTHOR Amber Manfree May 26, 2019

Global-scale projections of climate change impacts are common, but what about right here, at home? As we look to the future, a clear view can help our community plan wisely and save time, money, and energy.

The biggest effects of climate change in Napa County are likely to be extreme weather, gradually rising temperatures, and loss of native plants and animals. Some of the best tools we have to address these problems are local-scale cooling strategies and conservation of wildlands and waterways.

Napa has had torrential precipitation events the past couple of years, and five years of extreme drought before that. Climate scientists say this may be indicative of the future, and that problems can compound one another. The fires of 2017 were extraordinarily damaging due to extreme weather in the preceding years.

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