I am a conservation biologist that realizes we need to reconcile human activities and needs with habitat conservation. In other words, we can’t just have “pristine” wilderness set aside in zoo-like enclosures, we need to make habitats exist within the human construct and humans need to live within habitats. We don’t have two Earth’s and we can all live together. Corey Bradshaw at Conservation Bytes recently wrote about this (and the role of conservationists) and linked to Peter Kareiva’s talk about it as well. I don’t advocate for more habitat destruction, I advocate for smarter, more green design that incorporates habitat instead of destroys it.
Unfortunately, a new study has shown that trees in U.S. cities are declining. In particular, 17 out of 20 cities studied had fewer trees than they did 10 years ago. Not the trend we’d like to see. Trees are a bit of work to keep up and can die easily in urdan environments, so they need to be replaced often- which can be expensive. However, trees provided residents shade, oxygen, cleaner air, and places for social gatherings in addition to habitat for other species. Not to mention the mounting evidence that greenery can decrease stress and anxiety (can’t hear the birds singing without trees!).
One point the article makes is that Southwestern cities like LA don’t have the water to keep the trees alive. To that I say succulents! The greenery in urban areas doesn’t have to be trees per se but instead plants that are native and can survive in local habitats. Cacti and Yucca, for instance, can create beautiful urban gardens and provide flowers resources for insects and birds! Plus, the need very little water to grow and survive.
There are groups out there trying to get more trees/vegetation planted in cities and you can help! In England, Ireland, and some other international cities, there is Trees For Cities, a charity working to get more trees on the streets and people out enjoying them! In the US, Tree Link provides an awesome website with lists of urban forestry organizations in each state that encourage and plant trees in cities. They also manage Tree Bank, a site that allows you to support a local branch of urban forestry organization OR create a branch to collect funds for urban forestry. Pretty sweet- check out the local state organizations on Tree Link and see if you can donate or volunteer to plant or care for a tree in your city!