Trees provide many beneficial elements: oxygen, reduction of carbon dioxide levels, shade and protection as well as aesthetic and monetary value to a property, neighborhood or park. If you drive through the areas hit in Worcester by the Asian longhorned beetle, one quickly realizes the importance of trees.
First, it was Chestnut blight in the early 1900’s. Then came Dutch Elm disease and now enters the Asian longhorned beetle decimating the maples. The maples were planted to replace the elms. Do you see a pattern? The overuse of any single species planted as a street tree increases the potential of various diseases or insects wiping out an entire planted area.
It’s basic, common sense; the broader your mix, the less vulnerable. Many local nurseries are assisting municipalities to break this trend of single genus/species planting. Numerous disease-resistant shade and ornamental trees are available in the industry.
Budgets and politics often cloud comprehensive planning. We see too often the 5’ shade tree that grows into a 60’ maintenance hog planted underneath electric lines. You then spend 30 years pruning it back at great expense to the town or city. The cost of removal, pruning and maintenance is greatly reduced when proper planning takes place.
This is a great time for citizens to get involved. Visit the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project at http://www.massnrc.org/ Learn about these devastating pests, report pest sightings or sign up for alerts. Start a grass-roots group if one doesn’t exist to plan for the future of street tree plantings in your town or city. As Confucius said, "If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”
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