Destroying Urban Habitat
Dr. John Woods 05.22.17
Some people just don’t get it. When I heard my neighbor was going to cut down a twenty year old oak tree in his front yard, I was astonished. I talked to him about his plan and his reasoning for cutting the huge tree was ridiculous. His wife did not like sweeping up all the acorns falling on the sidewalk and in the yard. Really? Dude that is wildlife food at the least.
What this computer geek doesn’t realize is the many reasons for keeping such a tree. First and foremost, it provided much needed nesting cover for song birds, and a half dozen gray squirrels that resided in the tree. There was one big active squirrel nest in the tree when it was taken down. I pointed that out to him, but it had no impact whatsoever.
Other reasons for protecting urban tree habitats include just pleasing landscape beauty. Now the front of his house has a huge void that has no curb appeal. Trees can increase property values by as much as 15 percent, especially in an established neighborhood. What would you rather look at, a barren yard, or one with lush, green trees? I thought so.
Next, I am sure he will experience a heat gain from the lack of the tremendous shade cover he just removed. The tree was cut in the morning, and by noon you could already see the effects of the sun beating into the windows of the house. He will never admit that his cooling bill will likely rise.
There are of course bigger issues to having big trees as well. The O2 given off, though I guess admittedly small for one tree, is a factor to consider. Trees not only clean the soils, but also serve as air scrubbers. Every single tree contributes to this. Trees also provide wind breaks, and help to reduce noise pollution from traffic on the busy streets.
But, I guess for me other than the sheer looks of a beautiful tree across the street is the wildlife habitat features such a tree provides. And the acorns? By the end of winter all of those nuts would have been consumed by the squirrels, and the many birds coming across them. Even the ones rotted and left will add compost to the soil as well.
So, if you have the idea of cutting down a valuable tree, please think twice. There are many more compelling reasons to let it live.