Trees make things worse off…when we interfere with them.

Trees, our friends that give us oxygen, soak up carbon, provide building materials and food, and sustain micro-ecosystems, are a big problem when we misuse them.

Without tress we probably wouldn’t survive.  So why the misuse?  Likely greed and ignorance.

While the misuse of tress from greed for financial gain may ultimately have dire consequences, poor design of urban treescapes means lower quality of life for people.

Poor treescape design, or total lack of it, comes from ignorance.  Quality treescape design is founded in deep knowledge of how particular trees perform in specific locations.  Proper tree selection is a big part of competent treescape design.

Here are some of basic considerations of treescape design:

  • Location affects tree selection, including geography, climate, soil type, natural local history of the species, and wildlife the tree species naturally helps support.
  • What fruit, if any, does the tree produce? Is it intended this fruit be consumed by the local people.  Will this fruit attract wildlife of type which may create vermin-related problems for the local people?  Will fallen, uncollected fruit become a health hazard?
  • Tree size is an obvious consideration. Large tress close to buildings are potentially dangerous if the tree falls in a storm, and their falling leaves are numerous and spread over a wide area, fouling many roof gutters.  Also, noisy annoying crows like to loiter in big trees.
  • Will the root system of a tree damage in-ground and on-ground infrastructure?
  • Trees absorb a lot of ground moisture which can alter soil volume and strength. Reactive clays are especially susceptible to this, resulting in soil differential settlement which can damage close-by structures starting at the footings.
  • Tree litter and tree fall (fruit, leaves, seeds, branches, bark) need to be considered for the particular location. Falling matter or rotting on-ground litter can be hazardous.  Infrastructure at a location may include pathways, carparking, building gutters, building decks, playgrounds, roads, kerbs and channels which all have different requirements regarding tree litter/fall.
  • Roads and kerbs and channels have significant stormwater drainage which discharges to the ocean. Nearby fruit and leaf fall getting into the system will enter the ocean and contribute to damaging high-nutrient levels.  Trees near roads and kerbs and channels need to be of small to medium size, and tidy species.
  • Deciduous trees allow sunlight in during winter. This benefits public spaces which otherwise can be desolate and cold places.  Deciduous tree species that lose their leaves in autumn are most beneficial, not those that lose their leaves in spring.
  • Large trees can block views can cause overshadowing for neighbours.
  • Rectifying the effect of previously poorly selected trees, now grown to maturity, is expensive. These trees have to be removed and replaced, which destroys ecosystems, and disrupts neighbors with significant cutting and mulching machine noise.  Tree removal is best done in autumn so as not to disrupt bird nesting season and done incrementally to allow wildlife dependent on the trees, to adapt.

Quality treescape design is complex and should only be done by competent qualified designers.  However, laws enforcing this are weak.  Too many trees in the urban environment exist as thoughtless mistakes, leaving things worse off.


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