In his book, The Creation: An appeal to Save Life on Earth, E. O. Wilson encourages us to call off the critics and proudly take on the role of becoming environmentalists. More pointedly, he asks that we “remain especially respectful and protective of the small and unfamiliar”. For it is within these so-called “bugs and weeds” that most all of the organisms and species upon earth are comprised.
An even more humble truth is the notion that we may have been created simply as a convenience for all the “little things that run the world.” For instance, we can’t deny the vast array of bacteria that populate our own bodies; participating in our own well-being and healthy existence. We have a daily reliance upon the little things despite our collective, persistent attempts to destroy them. These micro-organisms are far more adaptable to change then we will ever be and stand to survive even in our absence.
Within our own neighborhoods, we are now faced with one of the “Little Things” known as Emerald Ash Borer. We recognize that thousands of trees are at risk to this tiny assassin. Fortunately, we also know that we aren’t the first city or state that has been forced to contend with this insect. We are beneficiaries of scientific advancements and multi-disciplinary strategies, all formed during the westward expansion of Emerald Ash Borer. All of the available shared information improves our chances in the preservation of our own urban forests.
We have an appetite for quick fixes, single solutions and being in charge of such intruders. From our vantage point and study, we’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t a single solution problem. Certainly, chemical treatment is one important component within the menu of options. Nevertheless, treatment has its limitations. Without a robust, renewal strategy in play, we still have a high percentage of Ash trees to contend with regardless of the number of times we treat.
We are into the single best time of the year to plant trees. Fall enhances our changes to not only plant them but to keep them alive. There are a number of noteworthy advantages to planting trees in the fall. One of the best is that conditions are in play to improve survivability and enhance root development. So in the words of the late Dave Mooter, “the important metric isn’t the number of trees planted, but rather the number we keep alive.”
With the exception of a few species of trees, fall planting enhances our chances to improve upon the most important side of our late community forester’s equation. In addition, we need to not let our perception of the perfect tree cloud our selection. As we move towards a more diverse population of trees, we need a mix of age class, sizes, methods of production, habitat value, and type.
We can and should be having more conversations about creating remnants of wilderness or woodlands. To take action in the development of micro-environments of trees as they cool our cities, improve our air quality, hold our soils, and absorb our run-off.
Let’s recommit to becoming even more proactive in taking advantage of time (still slightly on our side) by planting a more diverse selection of trees starting today.
Unfortunately, since we individually may not have seen the personal death of an Ash Tree at our own address (as of yet), we sense the collective conversation has subsided. All the more reason for this to remain as a call to action and maximize the remaining fall weather available to simply plant a tree. There is no simple, better contribution to be made to our landscapes at this point in time.
Before we tuck everything away and put our garden “to bed”. Before we get distracted with all the pre-holiday staging…Let’s set aside time to give our neighborhoods and communities the Gift of a Tree. Every Little Thing Matters and every newly planted tree properly selected and placed counts!
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