Not long ago I learned of an excellent service for urban forestry, www.treelink.org, which has a list-serve that is possibly the most subscribed interlink for professional arborists in the United States, if not the world. For several weeks now I’ve been reading the emails that fly back and forth between these folks who have the good fortune to make their living from planting and nurturing trees, and it has nurtured my soul to monitor the dialogue.
|Here’s your “smart growth,”
zero trees, and hot as hell
But today something set me off. I notice the tag at the end of one writer’s email which stated “urban forestry is America’s frontline defense against climate change.” And I couldn’t agree more.
So how is this statement reconciled with “new urbanism” and “smart growth” that packs people into cluster homes and super high density suburbs where there isn’t room for trees on any private parcels?
As someone active in urban forestry most of my life I think “smart growth,” “infill,” and the “urban service boundary” is utterly destroying the urban canopy.
Have these foresters seen any trees in the “new urbanist,” “smart-growth” communities where “low density” is now defined as eight homes per acre, and cluster housing now goes as high as 20 homes per acre? These are heat island dead zones, not leafy suburbs.
Perhaps it is time for urban forestry advocates to also advocate lower density zoning. There’s plenty of land. For more on this read Infill is Insane, Leapfrog Infill, Why Homes Aren’t Affordable, Agency Unsustainability, and California’s Land Use Choices.
Needless to say, the sentiments I expressed on this illustrious forum were not shared by the arborists – which is disappointing. To list just one example, “New Urbanists” cite the evils of the car as a primary example of why we need ultra high density housing. But the car is within 20 years of being a cradle to cradle, energy self-sufficient appliance – plugged into the home power system at night to recharge, 100% recycled when it wears out.
When greenbelts are mandated – and they are – instead of reducing “leapfrog” development, they stimulate leapfrog development. But instead of leaping into the adjacent open land, they leap across the greenbelt. The solution is NOT to control all development, everywhere. They tried that in the Soviet Union. Is that where green ideology is taking us? Because that isn’t green, it’s red.
Way back in 1995, when EcoWorld was born online, we made a statement that is more true today than ever: “The precious bird of environmentalism has been flying for too long with one wing, the left one.” This must be challenged, for the sake of our freedom, our prosperity, and, ironically, for the sake of the environment.