Greening of Detroit singles out potential for urban trees to revitalize local ecosystem

The environment is playing a significant role in the resurgence of Detroit and Rebecca Salminen Witt, president of the nonprofit agency, Greening of Detroit, is a big part of the movement.

Greening’s mission statement has evolved over the years from specifically addressing replanting needs, to addressing the various needs of Detroit’s ecosystem.  The Greening of Detroit has filled several needs by creating planting and educational programs and encouraging environmental leadership and advocacy in the area.

In a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press, Witt explains that Greening’s forestry department has progressed to a green infrastructure department.  “Tree planting obviously is always going to be at the heart of what [this department] does,” stated Witt, “but they’re looking much more broadly at the ecosystem services that trees and forestry can provide, and they’re doing a lot of other things as well.”

Photo Credit: Greening of Detroit

The Greening of Detroit has broadened its methods from “classic tree planting,” to planting that will better utilize  the benefits of every tree; such as planting for stormwater retention and planting large, dense blocks of trees to remediate soil contamination.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted a new campaign for Detroit to repurpose vacant parcels of land into urban farmland.  Rebecca Witt is enthusiastic and prepared for the Greening of Detroit to take on similar opportunities for securing Detroit’s ecosystem, asserting:

That’s a pretty incredible thing to be able to think of a major American city that really could have an ecosystem that could support itself and all of its people in a way that is sustainable for the long term.

Some potential plans for Detroit include planting oak trees and maybe fruit orchards.

The Arbor Day Foundation avidly promotes the intrinsic benefits of urban trees. The work going on in Detroit isolates the potential of urban trees to revitalize a struggling community and establish a sustainable industry.

The Arbor Day Foundation agrees with research that explains the benefits of trees for stormwater retention. Rain refreshes and nourishes green landscape.  But as cities grow and tree cover is lost, so is the absorbing effect of plant life and soil.  Trees and vegetated infrastructure prevent costly stormwater runoff from polluting waterways with oil, heavy metal particles and other harmful substances.

Click here for a visual depiction of a city water system with few trees, and one with abundant trees.

Nonprofits like the Greening of Detroit are making huge impact and filling the inherent need for effective urban forestry tree planting and environmental care in communities nationwide.

J. Sterling Morton 2011 Winner

2011 National Arbor Day Awards

J. Sterling Morton Award Dr. Anne Hallum

Anne Hallum of the Alliance for International Reforestation (A.I.R) in DeLand, Fla., was presented with the J. Sterling Morton Award, the highest honor given by the Arbor Day Foundation. Hallum founded her nonprofit organization to help people in Guatemala by establishing a better, more sustainable quality of life through tree-planting. The Morton Award is named after J. Sterling Morton, who founded Arbor Day in 1872. Under Hallum’s direction and guidance, the Alliance for International Reforestation has been educating residents in Guatemala and Nicaragua since 1993, working with 25 to 30 villages at a time, each for a period of five years. The staff (all native residents) educates indigenous volunteers about proper tree-planting and agroforestry that will provide sustainable farming as well as protection from frequent and dangerous mudslides. Through proper tree-planting, mountainside erosion is controlled and mudslides are avoided during the harshest of storms. The native trees planted by local volunteers and farmers help preserve important forests, which have a tremendous impact on the villages. These trees improve nutrition for people and livestock, provide animal habitat, clean the air, protect local water, supply firewood, shade homes and fertilize crops. A.I.R. has worked with more than 110 villages in rural Guatemala and Nicaragua, adding more than 3.7 million trees to the region’s rain forest.

View Award Video for Dr. Anne Hallum 

2011 Arbor Day Award Winners

The day after National Arbor Day our annual Arbor Day awards banquet takes place.   The National Arbor Day Awards are a chance to highlight people across the world that are making a difference through trees.  For the next few weeks we are going to take an in-depth look at the 2011 Award Winners. 

But first I wanted to share with all of you the opening remarks from the founder and CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation, John Rosenow.   

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

I think Emerson was speaking of the power of intention.  The good people we honor tonight, these Arbor Day Award winners, clearly made their decisions, and sent their intentions out to the universe — backed up with large doses of hard work and collaboration and love.

The results have included the planting of thousands and thousands and thousands of trees—and the triumph of the human spirit.

Read more…

Happy Arbor Day 2011

Friday is National Arbor Day.  Although many states such as California, Maryland, Missouri, and Oregon have already celebrated Arbor Day, today is the nationally recognized tree planting holiday of Arbor Day. The original Arbor Day was celebrated April 10th, 1872 in Nebraska.  A day where an estimated 1 million trees were planted by individuals and counties in Nebraska.

I am curious what are you doing this Arbor Day to continue this 140 year old tradition? 

The Bradford Pear: Is It The Right Tree For You?

The Bradford Pear, Pyrus Calleryana, is native to Korea and China but gained popularity as an ornamental tree here in the US since the 1960s. Recently, however, the popularity of the Bradford Pear has been on the wane due to its structural weakness and subsequent splitting. Knowing about the advantages and disadvantages of the Bradford Pear will help you to decide if it is the right tree for you, or if you would be better off choosing another ornamental species.

  The Bradford Pear is Not For You If…

  • You mind the somewhat rank odor of the flowers and the mess the fruit makes
  • You are looking for a strong tree that lasts years and years. The Bradford Pear suffers from a weak structure that causes the tree to split if laden with snow or beaten by the wind.
  • You are looking for a tree with a deep root system. The Bradford Pear has very shallow roots and grows suckers that need taming regularly.

The Bradford Pear is For You if….

  • You want a fast growing tree that flowers early in spring
  • You are looking for rich autumn color (reds) and white spring blossoms
  • You want to attract birds to nest in the tree and eat the fruit
  • You are prepared to prune carefully to make up for the weak structure

Popular Alternatives to the Bradford Pear

The Japanese Zelkova is another colorful tree that will complement your property. It is very tolerant to wind, drought and air pollution and provides a good amount of shade. It is great as a yard or street tree due to its attractive vase-like profile and can double its height in 4-6 years.

The Red Maple will bring year-round red color to your yard and display deep scarlet leaves in the fall. Also a fast-growing tree, it can grow anywhere and provides a good amount of shade. The Red Maple is a popular landscape tree which produces flower and fruit in the spring before most other species.

The Chinese Pistache is a popular ornamental tree that is very long-lasting and has a very hard wood. It is deep rooted, drought-resistant and, very importantly, disease and insect-free. It grows 2-3 feet a year into a medium-sized shady tree with spectacular fall colors.

3 Little Giants

Some plants classified by the experts as “shrubs” are often thought of as “trees” by the general populace. And while the experts employ technical definitions to make the distinction, even they admit that there are exceptions to the rules that they come up with, rendering their definitions less than completely satisfying.

Further clouding the issue is the age-old debate of whether we should classify something according to its intrinsic qualities or how it is used by humans. The uses for a landscape plant such as rose of sharon include mass usage in a hedge to form a privacy screen and individual usage as a specimen plant.

Read more…

What is Your Favorite Tree

Recently on our Facebook Fan Page I asked the question, Do you have a favorite tree? I thought I would extend that offer to you.

What’s Your Favorite Tree and Why?

ADF Blog photo

New iPhone App Makes it Easy to Identify North American Trees

The Arbor Day Foundation has developed a new application to make identifying trees even easier for iPhone and iPod Touch users.

 The new application is called Arbor Day Tree Identification Guide: What Tree Is That?, and it’s based on the Arbor Day Foundation’s acclaimed tree identification guide, What Tree Is That? The new application is simple to use helps people identify the species of trees in just minutes. By identifying a few basic characteristics of a tree, such as leaf size and shape and branch structure, iPhone users will be able to determine what type of tree is in their backyard, neighborhood, city park or just about anywhere.

  Read more…

Announcing the Tree Campus Photo Contest Winners

This isn’t one of our normal topics, but since so many of you voted for this contest you are probably curious to know who won. Today the winner was announced and the picture above was the winner.

Congratulations to Kaylyn Sawin-Johnson, at the University of Colorado – Boulder, for winning the Arbordaynow.org Tree Campus Photo Contest!

Look at the Top 3 Winners.

Read Press Release

Bone Up on Your Evergreens!

It’s easy to ignore evergreens when the yard is loaded with flowers. Often called the “bones” of the landscape, some evergreens are about as sexy during the summer as just that — bones. The “flesh” draws all the attention when times are good: flowers, bolder and more sensual, steal the show while warm winds blow.

But when Old Man Winter arrives in the North, blowing icy gusts that chill us to the bone, we rediscover our admiration for that mousy little Blue Star juniper over there in the corner. It’s not that the evergreen, itself has changed; it’s just that the deciduous flowering plants around it have been deprived of foliage and flower alike. Evergreens have become the only game in town, a rare commodity. Suddenly, their stock price soars. Read more…