Tree cover in the United States is shrinking. The U.S. Forest Service found that the country lost 36 million trees each year between 2009 to 2014, reducing urban coverage by 1%.
Since trees can lower summer daytime temperatures by as many as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, losing them may lead to adverse outcomes. Cities could become more polluted, have higher temperatures, and be less healthy for inhabitants.
With more people moving to urban environments, that means now is the time for Americans to act to restore the urban tree canopies.
Why Are U.S. Cities Losing So Many Trees?
Several reasons exist for the amount of tree loss that U.S. cities experienced during the five-year review period. Insects, disease, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes all contributed significant numbers to this trend.
The one reason for tree loss that we can control involves the sensible development of our cities. Many urban environments are trading their canopies for impervious cover. That means there are more buildings and parking lots than green spaces.
Over 80% of the American population lives in an urban area. Most people live in the forested regions along the East or West coasts. When you put down a road, that means you need to cut down a tree.
It creates a lost value of roughly $100 million per year when the energy conservation and air pollution factors get calculated into monetary figures.
How Can Cities Start Planning for More Trees?
City designers can manage tree canopies in the layout and design of new buildings and infrastructure. Many of the native trees that we save when expanding our urban centers can’t find places to drop seeds to encourage regeneration.
That’s because Americans have turned natural areas into unnatural living spaces.
We must protect what we currently have. If you have trees on your property, then maintaining them is going to help the local community. That process starts by pruning dead limbs out of them, which also reduces the risk of home damage.
Trees can also provide noise control and reduce flood damage. It’s an affordable way to approach a cooler yard and a lower utility bill. It takes up to a century for some of the biggest ones to reach their maximum height, so it may be helpful to trim them instead of a complete removal.
Saving trees in U.S. cities will take the efforts of everyone. You can attend city council meetings, plant them on your property, and join local non-profit groups that are working to restore our urban canopies.