There is nothing like a little rain to strike a blow against urban tree decline. On a dry February morning in Puyallup, Washington, Marilyn Crook’s feet brushed against a tree she’d had in her family for generations. “I was just glad to see it grow,” she said. “It’s getting really thin.” Crook is a board member of the Puyallup Audubon Society. And like many other urban residents she views this tree, her namesake, as an asset — an anchor against unrelenting urban sprawl. So Crook’s group commissioned a study that found that trees are critical to more than just public health. Trees are also vital to the planet’s many suburban suburbs and into the suburbs of any other city: Washington, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, and many more are suffering from the loss of valuable urban trees. They are losing an estimated 36 million trees a year.
The decline in trees can have both immediate and long-term effects on the land and plants. Trees can increase stormwater, capture pollutants, help pollinate crops, and protect neighborhoods from fires and flooding.
The Urban Tree Initiative (UTI) is a collaboration between four state universities in Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, and Michigan, that’s led by Oregon State University (OSU). The research it has published has shown the importance of planting more trees in urban landscapes.
That research led to a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report.
Read more on Pacific Standard and Los Angeles Magazine.