Silver and Gold
During the last month or so, designated events connected with NC Arbor Day, Earth Day and National Arbor Day have taken place around the state. Many groups have collaborated to plant trees in our urban forests. In Wilmington, a young oak tree was planted at one of the elementary schools as the Arbor Day event. That same week the Wilmington Tree Commission (WTC) presented its annual Tree Awards at a City Council Meeting and the NC Forest Service presented the Tree City USA award to the city. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Cape Fear Garden Club (CFGC) completed the project of planting 275 native seedling understory trees along the Cross-City Trail to commemorate the City’s 275th Anniversary. In addition, the WTC and Live Oak Bank planted 50 trees in another location along the trail. The WTC also gave out seedling longleaf pines during Earth Day and the Lake Fest event sponsored by Cape Fear River Watch.
All of these events focus on the planting of new trees. We do want to continue to provide the stimulus to plant new trees, to be appreciated by our next several generations. (The average rate of survival of a tree planted in the urban setting is seven years!) But what has become of our mature canopy trees? Development, disease and natural disasters have contributed to the shrinkage of our urban canopy cover—a most valuable resource to our local environment and urban life-style. Most people prefer to walk, ride bikes and play under the beautiful “spreading chestnut tree”. The benefits of our big trees are numerous; lists abound in literature. In Wilmington, the WTC and the CFGC annually present awards for Trees of Recognition for mature trees in the tour gardens during the North Carolina Azalea Festival, all trees appropriately marked with a monetary value tag obtained from the NC Forest Service and NC Urban Forest Council. In Charlotte, on Earth Day, TreesCharlotte, Arborguard one of our platinum sponsors opened and dedicated the section of the Mecklenburg County Greenway going through the headquarters of the Belk Corporation featuring many mature trees including a magnificent willow oak (Quercus phellos). Unfortunately, large, tough as nails, proven survivors, are removed regularly, such as the Sonic Oak (Quercus virginiana), a WTC Heritage Tree, for a road project. We need to RE-Think Removal, giving more consideration to the “continuing” canopy cover, not only for our personal benefit but to provide the necessary natural corridor for our wildlife to move about. In a recent letter addressed to the NC Legislature, the CFGC urged the legislature to require NC DOT and other agencies to give proper consideration to notable trees when planning new projects, just as they are required to give special consideration to cemeteries and other historic and environmentally significant properties. Let’s keep what we’ve got, if in worthy condition, but always planting to add to our future canopy cover. Honor our mothers, plant a tree.
Plant new trees but keep the old,
One is Silver and the other Gold!