Letter to the Editor: Maintain urban trees

Dear Editor,

I read with great interest the letter from Loretta Fleming concerning the Granite Curling Club proposal for redevelopment of its site. I am a member of the Club and I also live nearby in the heart of Westboro and often walk through Lion’s  Park, so I see both sides of the debate on this. There is one aspect of Ms. Fleming’s letter, though, that I’d like to address, and this is about the uptake and storage of carbon by trees.

Trees are living organisms that are born, grow-up, mature and die. It varies by species, by climate and by site conditions, but there will always come a time when a tree no longer absorbs much or any carbon from the air. 

The prime time for carbon uptake is during a tree’s early growth and mature stages. To optimize the ability of woodlands to sequester carbon, they should, in fact, be allowed to grow to a certain stage, typically decades in southern Canada, then cut down and the timber either buried in the ground or used in wooden buildings. The harvested area, meanwhile, should then be replanted with fast growing species. 

As such, preserving mature urban trees on the basis of helping to meet the Paris Accord targets isn’t a strong argument.

Instead, do argue to maintain urban trees for other reasons, and there are plenty. These include: the creation of shade from the heat of the sun; local cooling through evapotranspiration; play structures for children; habitat for birds, insects and ground cover plants; improved soil porosity to absorb snow melt and heavy rains; and the aesthetic values of tree flowers, the fascinating shapes of leaves and crowns; and glorious fall colours.

David Welch

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