Monday, May 25, 2015

Bringing Back California Oaks

Here's a delightful local movement to think about, the plan to bring more oak trees back to California.

California was once home to several different types of oak forest, including the famous live oak savannahs that once covered much of the central coast and gave their name to Oakland, Encino, and many other places. The oaks were both the main support of local wildlife and a key food of the Indians. The native trees are highly drought tolerant, so are not threatened by the grim forecasts of long-lasting drought. These days a multifaceted movement has sprung up devoted to preserving the remaining oak forests and planting more oak trees.

Oakland has been a particular center of oak planting. Here environmental concerns have come together with worries over inequality. Oakland is divided into the wealthy hills, where there are big houses and lots of trees, and the flatlands, where many poor people live, the air quality is often the worst in the state, and tree cover is as little as 1%. Planting trees in the flatlands may improve the air, raise property values, and generally make life a little better for everybody. (More at Urban Releaf)

Working together, people can achieve a lot, if they care.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

It's funny that they're pushing the drought resistance of these trees, because more heavily forested areas are already innately more drought resistant than empty ones.

Trees help a region to retain water. They keep temperatures down with shade, reducing evaporation. The water that does evaporate doesn't get blown away so easily, because the trees are natural windbrakes. Trees offer large surface areas for dew to collect, returning moisture back from the air. Their roots store water underground. Their windbraking capacity reduces wind erosion, making even untreed pieces of land nearby more stable and better able to retain water. They feed entire ecosystems that ultimately help retain water.

Adding trees is just about the single best thing you can do for a region's ecological health in many cases.