keeping it real.....


punk in drublic
Jan 18, 2007
Tha Dirty Bean...Boston Massachusetts
It sounds good to say you're gonna plant a bunch of trees, logistically its a F in nightmare. Believe me. Better to be realistic I think.

LOS ANGELES - Spurred by visions of their cities frying in a warmer world, mayors around the nation have grasped a green solution: trees. Like Johnny Appleseed, they have vowed to sow their seeds in great profusion, promising millions of new trees in the coming years. Arbor Day, that old fusty holiday, is getting a makeover.
Cities once planted trees because they were beautiful. Now trees are being retasked as "green infrastructure" managed by "urban foresters" to work as powerful energy-saving, carbon-sucking, wastewater-treating tools to save the planet. But as the mayors spin their green dreams, their re-leaf teams have had to confront a brutal reality: Planting a tree is a lot harder than it looks.
Urban tree farming can be a time-consuming, expensive, and exasperating experience - like children, trees require years of maintenance. Businesses complain about the cost, neighbors about the sap. Their roots are murder on sidewalks; their limbs tangle with power lines. "The city sidewalk can be one of the most hostile environments for a young tree," a cramped cell of garbage soil surrounded by smothering asphalt, says Gregory McPherson, a scientist with the federal Center for Urban Forest Research. "A virtual conflict zone," as one arborist put it, beset by disease, pollution, drought, insects - not to mention drunk drivers and staple guns and trip-and-fall lawsuits. "It's a tough life," sighs Marcia Bansley, executive director of Trees Atlanta. It's hard out there for a poplar.
Trees are the new potholes. On his first day in office, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helped pat moist mulch around a golden medallion sapling, the first in an audacious promise to transform this dense, dirty, dry city by planting 1 million new trees. That was almost three years ago. Lessons learned? "We have learned that a million is a really big number," says Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor who oversees the mass reforestation project, which has experienced some serious growing pains.
Boston's mayor, Thomas M. Menino, last year promised to add 100,000 trees by 2020, a goal that sounds almost humble compared with those of his counterparts. In Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels envisions a new tree for every man, woman, and child in the city - 649,000 maples, sweet gums, and cherries over the next 30 years. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, announcing his "Tree by Tree" project, is going for a million by 2025.
A million just has that aspirational ring.
Indeed, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon is calling his bid "One Million Trees for One Million People." The state of Nebraska is shooting for a million in a decade. New Mexico recently unveiled its "Plant a Million More" campaign. The Sacramento region is betting it can add 5 million. Going global, the United Nations launched the Billion Tree Campaign. (Less numerically ambitious programs are underway in cities such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Washington.)
Not be outdone, on Earth Day last year Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised New Yorkers a million trees in 10 years. The cost of planting a single street tree in Manhattan? About $1,000. Estimated cost of the urban reforestation project is $600 million, annual maintenance not included. An early hurdle faced by New York? The city can't hire trained arborists fast enough.
Driving around Los Angeles in his Prius is Andy Lipkis, the founder of TreePeople, one of the nation's most experienced organizations of "citizen foresters," who is helping Mayor Villaraigosa reach his million mark. Lipkis points to shady boulevards lined with ficus trees and then to entire neighborhoods devoid of any shrubbery at all, and he confirms what satellite imagery tells us: Poor people don't have plants. The thinnest tree cover is, no surprise, over the city's most impoverished neighborhoods. Where ritzy Bel Air has 53 percent canopy coverage, gritty South Central has only 7 percent.
Nationwide, three dozen cities have lost a quarter of their tree canopy since 1972, according to the group American Forests, which discovered that America is missing 600 million trees, as our major metropolitan areas fade from green to gray. But here's the problem: The increased density of American cities means there is less room for trees to replace the missing. The same is true in the suburbs: All those new mini-mansions built to the edge of the property line don't have big yards.
When Los Angeles launched its "Million Trees LA" project, it was assumed there would be plenty of room, but as it turns out, "the space is actually quite tight," says McPherson, the scientist with the Forest Service who surveyed the city's bio-inventory with the help of aerial reconnaissance and computer algorithms. McPherson found just 1.3 million spots to "realistically" plant in Los Angeles, most in the yards of private homes.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Greg as a city arborist how does the city justify there being so many more trees in the rich neighborhoods? I'm not pointing fingers just interested to know if it's identified and if so what rationalization there is for it?

I think I'm gonna plant one tree this year in my own yard, not one million or a billion but just one. My yard is already heavily forested though just the way I like it.:)
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Greg as a city arborist how does the city justify there being so many more trees in the rich neighborhoods? I'm not pointing fingers just interested to know if it's identified and if so what rationalization there is for it?


I equate it to education. So many people in the' hood think that trees give the bad guys a place to hide it is ridiculous. Another factor may be that the have immigrated form other countries (in the case of boston it is carribbean islands, puerto rico, D.R., haiti, etc.) where trees are seen as a liability only.

To counteract the lack of canopy cover in 'underserved' areas, we have targeted these neighborhoods and are planting heavily in them. Interestingly many residents of these areas have called to complain that they don't want the trees (too bad, you have been underserved:P) And remember that pic I posted of myself replanting vandalized trees? You guessed it, another 'underserved' area.

I don't really have all the answers ohsquishyone, I just cut 'em down and plant 'em as my budget allows.....

I was hoping Nick would weigh in on the situation in LA, we work with several non-profits and still have a tough time getting 1500 trees in the ground in a year.
Just a question was all. I live a pretty sheltered life here as far as population density goes so I find the big city's interesting to look at, but only from a great distance.:D
Interesting. Hong Kong has tree related challenges as well. There is a big public push for "greening" and so the policy makers have responded by dictating that large numbers of trees should be planted in urban areas. The problem with this is that there isn't the room for that specific number of trees (I can't remember what it is exactly), and so the agencies that actually do the work of planning, planting, and maintenance are stuck with a situation where they have to meet their quotas so they cram way too many trees into too small an area.
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As I am sitting here in the office a few more negative tree calls have come it. One guy says "we have enough oxygen as it is" another "I don't want the tree to fall on my house" (a 3in caliper, 8' tree):lol:
Poor people only see trees as a liability, an unneccessary expense. Wealthier (and smarter) people see trees as an asset worthy of a small amount of care and maintenance, in exchange for the benefits they provide. Less wealthy people would much rather you cut down their tree than trim it. And if you do trim it, you better cut A LOT!!! Especially any limb that might at some point in the next 50 years start growing towards MY HOUSE! CUT that sucker OFF!

I am so glad I don't deal with homeowners any more. :lol:
It sounds good to say you're gonna plant a bunch of trees, logistically its a F in nightmare. Believe me. Better to be realistic I think.

I work in an office full of people who are in charge of organizing tree planting with neighborhood folks, schools, parks, etc. One of the first things we have to do is settle on a number of how many trees to plant and we usually have to reign them in with a conversation like, "200??? How are you going to water all those trees? Lets do 20 and do more later if you feel like this isn't enough.

It is rare for someone to come back for more.

Right now as I look at the calendar I see 7 tree plantings up on the dock between now and the end of the planting season (June 1st). In total it will be about 20-250 trees. Each event entails a ton of work, city permits, getting funding, selecting species and spotting trees, etc, etc. Full time planting coordinators can do 2-4 events per month.

The million tree campaign in LA is just a joke if you are focussing on that 1,000,000 number. We'll not get anywhere close to that during Mayor Villagairosa's campaign. But when you see all the good it HAS caused, it is easy to say that it was all worth while.

For the record, in LA I don't see a difference of acceptance of trees based on financial class. The Beverly Hills folks want their trees, and we can't plant in Compton, Watts, South Central LA fast enough. Sprinkled in both groups are people that don't want trees, but they are by FAR the minority.

I am in charge of the Tree Care Department at TreePeople. We have been active in Los Angeles inspiring and educating people to plant and care for trees for about 35 years.

our poor suburbs are treeless too. when i went to south america i was sad at the lack of street trees. poverty is hard, but no trees? thats tragic.