Trees have countless benefits: they provide visual appeal, produce oxygen, sequester CO2, intercept airborne particulates, reduce smog, enhance public health, cool the air, filter water, capture and slow rainfall, recharge the aquifer, reduce water runoff, prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitat, decrease noise pollution, reduce crime, slow traffic, increase property values, enhance neighborhoods, attract businesses, increase tourism, encourage social interaction, provide places for recreation, increase quality of life.


NMEAC understands the importance of supporting our urban and natural forests to maximize the benefits from trees. Recent issues have involved the cutting of trees along Bluff Road by the Road Commission to extend road surface life, the cutting of trees on city property beside the airport to build the new Costco, the removal of trees for both the Vineyards Ridge Development and the proposed 81 on East Bay development. These actions have taken place without inviting community input. 

We believe it is important to consider forestry issues a priori when planning, zoning, and building decision are made.  A well-researched plan and program needs to be created for new tree planting. A survey of TC’s urban forest that identifies the number and types of tree species present, the extent of the tree canopy, and the health of existing trees needs to be undertaken to support our environment and to maximize our well-being and the quality of our lives.

Image: Christian Collins


Forum in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, November 13, 2018 

Trees are the answer to our pollution problem                                                                


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get done. It is not.”

— Dr. Seuss

I do care about people and the planet, both of which are under attack from our lack of response to climate change.

Our children and grandchildren areespecially vulnerable to the impacts of increasing air pollution and more serious storms.

Changing a light bulb has minimal impact, but going all out to maintain and expand our urban forests will have an enormous positive effect. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked by governments.

Planting trees is the most cost effective means of drawing CO2 from the atmosphere. Trees also constantly work to absorb lead, nickel, sulfur dioxide and cadmium from the air. Research has shown a 60 percent reduction in toxins from car exhausts on streets lined with trees. One mature tree can provide enough oxygen for two people; they are the lungs of the earth. Urban forests also have a positive effect on health by reducing skin cancer, hypertension and asthma. This is especially important for children in order to prevent harm to their cognitive development.

Trees cool in summer (less need for air conditioners), reduce wind speed, manage and help purify storm water and even reduce crime with their calming influence.

With 90 percent of our entire population living within boundaries of community forests, it has been estimated that the value of these services is $400 billion a year.

For every $1 spent on trees, $2.70 in benefits is received (United States Forest Service). Property values are increased for both residential and commercial properties. If we destroy trees we are hurting ourselves both in health and economics.

An urban forest must have three components: 1. A variety of ages and native species from a reputable source.

2. A comprehensive management plan, with attention to soils, nutrients, air and water.

3. Community-wide appreciation and support.

We have fine-tuned nature out of the urbanplanning process with our focus on buildings and asphalt; now we need to examine the ways we interact with, and support, natural resources.

Greater awareness is required if we are tobe sustainable. Interactive stakeholder events, educational programs in schools, media and marketing are all needed. Ecological stewardship is critical for our future.

We must act, sleep and breathe, remembering that it is the environment that sustains us.

For myself, I will follow the words of W.S. Merwin: “On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.”


About the author: Ann Rogers is the co-chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. She lives in Traverse City.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise.

Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@recordeagle. com. Please include biographical information and a photo.



get updates