The recent news of tree cutting and replacement planting raises the question, Do we have a plan for our future treescapes? No, the simple answer is, the Island’s insular town administrators plan and plant without thoughtful consideration of all the options.
Poor plant selection without regard for adaptability, or choosing old and inferior (often invasive) trees results. The other limiting factor is aftercare — water and the stewardship of trees after planting — is not funded.
I spoke with Polly Hill Arboretum’s executive director, Tim Boland, who is not surprised: “When you look across North American municipal planning, biological infrastructure, trees, and greenways are not adequately funded, a larger symptom of our neglect in an investment in clean air and water. It’s no different on the Island; the landscapes reflect a benign neglect in our towns’ trees.
“The Arboretum is a rich resource of trained scientists and a living laboratory of trees with a documented history of growth, both successes and failures. An old bumper sticker I had on a now long-gone car stated, “Trees Are the Answer.” I still believe that’s true. Let’s plan and plant better trees to meet the challenges of climate change, and think of a more beautiful and verdant future.”