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By Tom Cavanaugh, San Juan Capistrano
The city of San Juan Capistrano and many of its residents place little value on the benefits of trees and do nothing to prevent loss of trees and damage to trees from excessive, unnecessary, and unskilled trimming. Every year, trees are trimmed excessively and poorly, leaving them little of what they offer.
Trees absorb harmful sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One tree can produce a day’s supply of oxygen for four people. Yearly, trees can store 13 pounds of carbon; an acre would equal 2.6 tons of stored carbon.
Trees increase comfort and decrease utility bills by reducing air temperature when leaves evaporate water and by blocking sunlight. Shading large areas of asphalt, concrete and buildings minimizes the urban heat island effect; the radiation of heat, day and night, results in warmer temperatures. Urban areas are often nine degrees warmer than areas with tree cover. Ideally, 50 percent of total paved surfaces should be shaded.
The sheltered side of trees help settle out and trap up to 75 percent of dust, pollen and smoke from the air.
Trees absorb and block noise, up to as much as 40 percent, something good in increasingly dense neighborhoods and with increasing numbers of cars on the road.
Trees provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. Birds in our city no longer have safe havens or nesting places in trees reduced to nothing more than hat racks. This city once called itself a bird sanctuary—I guess no more.
Trees define space, add color, add beauty to the urban landscape and increase real estate values.
International Society of Arboriculture guidelines dictate less than 25% of crown, branch removal—seemingly not the case in our city. A city employee stated if it doesn’t kill the tree, just trim away; a very poor, harmful policy. Why does the city disregard the benefits of trees for its citizens and the environment? Please contact the city officials and ask that they not ignore the facts and no longer view trees as liabilities but as assets.