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Planning for Trees

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A city without trees is like a world without poetry and music. Tree lined streets are more than shaded passageways linking buildings. They give us a chance to bring nature into the heart of our communities, while linking us to our past.

Scientists also have come to find a rational beauty in trees. Trees can significantly reduce temperatures in town and city centers, countering the “urban heat island” effect. This is accomplished not only through the shading effect of trees, but also through trees’ ability to store large quantities of carbon — a key factor in global warming. Not only are air-conditioning costs reduced, but efforts to combat global warming are assisted. If this weren’t enough, the leaves and branches of trees slow the movement of raindrops, lessening soil erosion and storm sewer system overload. Trees have also been found to reduce air pollution, by removing particulate matter from the air, while restoring oxygen to the atmosphere. …

What is the first large step that we can take as planners to challenge the inconsistency between our vision of the ideal city and our declining urban forests? One answer is to include trees in the comprehensive city or town plan. Shade trees are as important to most people as traffic lights, garbage trucks, and storm sewers. If the message of global warming has filtered down, then I suspect planting more trees will become of much greater concern, very soon. …

End of excerpt

… article continues with discussion of steps to take in including trees in the comprehensive plan; and design criteria that might be reflected in a tree plan — with suggestions regarding locational criteria; type and size; spacing; size at planting; continuity; and use of sun diagrams.

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