Losing Battles to Save our Trees

In our posts “They can destroy your trees”   and “KILLER TREES!! Scare Tactic #3”  we told you about two efforts to save eucalyptus trees that were threatened with destruction.  Today we must tell you that those battles have been lost.

In Larkspur, 25 trees that have been destroyed were on private property.  The owner of that property was sued by her neighbors who demanded that the trees be destroyed because they believed them to be dangerous.  The owner of the trees made every effort to save her trees, even appealing unsuccessfully to the California Supreme Court for reversal of the court order to destroy most of her trees.  She organized demonstrations in a fruitless effort to interest local politicians to come to the defense of her trees.  Finally, when she was cited for contempt of court, she had her beautiful trees cut down.  



Yesterday we attended a memorial for her trees.  We find it hard to believe that her neighbors would prefer the barren landscape that remains or the PG&E pole that was installed to hold the electrical wires that had previously been held by the trees. 

In San Leandro, the neighbors worked equally hard to save the eucalyptus trees on the banks of the San Leandro Creek from being destroyed.  They faithfully attended a series of community meetings which were theoretically an opportunity for them to defend the health, safety, and beauty of their trees.  As is often the case when we advocate on behalf of our trees, we may be successful in demanding a public process, but that rarely seems to save our trees.

 That was the case in San Leandro.  Neighbors were informed at the last public meeting that 31 of the 47 trees originally in jeopardy will be removed and 2 will be “trimmed” to stumps, but allowed to regenerate (1).  After months of effort, neighbors have saved only 14 of their trees and the assumption is that the remaining 1,000 eucalypts on the banks of the creek remain in jeopardy. 

However, the county has made a commitment to an environmental review, which it had originally intended to avoid by destroying the trees piecemeal.  This environmental review will give the neighbors another opportunity to document the negative environmental impacts of tree destruction, whether the trees are native or non-native. 

As the needless destruction of non-native trees continues unabated, millions of native  oaks are being killed by Sudden Oak Death, millions of native pines are being killed by bark-beetles, and the ranges of native plants and trees are shifting to higher elevations as the climate changes.  Those who demand the destruction of non-native trees which are adapted to current climate, soil, and air quality conditions will doom us to a barren, treeless environment. 

It is long past time for environmentalists to reorder their priorities to put climate change mitigation ahead of their commitment to native plants.  Their crusade against non-native trees is contributing to climate change by releasing tons of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.  Ironically, as the climate changes, the native plants to which they are devoted are dying.  In other words, they are shooting themselves and the plants they prefer in the proverbial foot.

 (1) San Leandro Times, 9/2/10

2 thoughts on “Losing Battles to Save our Trees”

  1. I had a stand of eucalyptus trees cut down on my property. Interspersed amongst these eucalyptus were a number of small struggling oaks. After the trees were removed, the local widelife population exploded. A standing pine snag became filled with dozens of birds- quail, doves, hawks, vultures, blackbirds and who knows what else. the area where the eucalyptus formerly grew became a small savanna, and we frequently saw deer and turkey in the morning. The small oaks (quercus agrifolia) and pines (pinus radiata) took off and in ten years will probably replace the eucalyptus trees entirely.

    Deal with it
    Webmaster: Yes, we can deal with that. Here is a study conducted by a scientist comparing the species diversity in 6 hectares of eucalyptus forest and oak-bay woodland in Berkeley, California: “Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands in California,” Global Ecology and Biogeography, 11, 49-52, 2002. The study reports that the species richness and diversity of plants in the understory, insects in the leaf litter, birds, and mammals is virtually identical in these two types of forest.

    Either your experience is unique or you are seeing what you expected and wanted to see. We see that tendency frequently amongst native plants advocates who, for example, “see” dead birds in the eucalyptus forest that no one else sees.

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