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Tree City USA
Anthony Corso | Stratford Court

The Del Mar City Council recently requested city staff to submit an application to the Arbor Day Foundation allowing Del Mar to officially become a “Tree City USA.” In so doing the City would join 3,400 other communities that currently hold the title and meet requirements for such designations including: maintaining a tree board or department and granting it the responsibility for writing and implementing an “Urban Forest Plan”; adopting a community tree ordinance: budgeting at least $2.00 per capita on urban forestry and proclaiming and celebrating an Arbor Day as a means of educating the public regarding the value and contribution of trees to environmental quality.

The term “Urban Forest” refers collectively to all trees growing in a community which are both publically and privately owned. Concern for the well-being of such “greenery” has engendered numerous studies and programs meant to protect, maintain and enhance tree life. The national movement referred to as “Tree City USA” has risen out of publically recognized factors threatening trees as well as an awakened understanding of the benefits they offer. The oft-cited threats include: insects and diseases, wildfires, invasive plants, climate change, air pollution and lack of adequate management.

On a positive note the benefits of an urban forest encompass: reducing energy use and the provision of thermal comfort by providing cover and shade; improving air quality by lowering air temperatures and reducing air pollution; affecting climate change by storing carbon emissions within tree tissues; improving water quality by intercepting and removing the flow of harmful substances; significantly reducing noise with proper planting design; creating and enhancing animal and plant habitats; and remediation of contaminated soils and landfills by absorbing, transforming of contaminant. Most noteworthy, there is considerable evidence that urban forests contribute to the economic vitality and character of a city and promote residents’ health and well-being.

Some Californian communities have become formidable advocates of the values and standards of Tree City USA and have gone so far as to identify large parcels of vacant land as potential sites for future urban forests.

Perhaps the goal for such activities might be to create a “City within a Forest.”



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