Helping Preserve and Enhance our Urban Trees
Urban trees are the pillars of our community. They help decrease air pollution, reduce flooding, produce valuable resources, provide a habitat for wildlife, promote physical and mental health, and encourage a sense of community (Turner-Skoff & Cavender, 2019). We marvel at these benefits, but we also have a responsibility to take care of these trees.
Urban Tree Program
You are invited to join us on Wednesday, March 31 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. for a virtual program on Urban Trees: Planning, Policy, and Planting. This program, which is sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership, is part of the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read: Sangamon County. Programs and activities are taking place throughout our community in March and April based on the featured book Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (https://www.llcc.edu/community-education/academy-lifelong-learning/nea-big-read-sangamon-county/). The NEA Big Read: Sangamon County is presented by the Academy of Lifelong Learning at Lincoln Land Community College in partnership with the Lincoln Library.
The Urban Trees program will feature Dr. Lucia Vazquez, a UIS biology professor (who is also the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Research & Institutional Effectiveness) as the moderator. Dr. Vazquez also will share information about her own research on oak trees, as well as how she involves students in her research. Other speakers include the following:
- Melissa Custic, Chicago Region Trees Initiative Coordinator, The Morton Arboretum
- Jeff Reim, City of Springfield Arborist
- Jan Von Qualen, chair of the Springfield Urban Forestry Commission.
Ms. Custic will discuss the benefits of trees, as well as a Chicago metropolitan collaboration to develop a healthier, more diverse regional forest. Mr. Reim will provide an overview of the City of Springfield’s tree policies and the city’s recent designation as a Tree City USA. Ms. Von Qualen will share her passion for trees and provide an overview of the Springfield Urban Forestry Commission, including its plans for the future.
This urban tree program was inspired by Lab Girl, a science memoir in which Jahren describes her passion for trees and her experiences in conducting research on trees. As she describes her successes and many challenges, she interweaves vivid literary images and shares her immense knowledge about trees. She makes science and research “come alive.”
A sample of the quotes from her book are listed below:
- “The average ocean plant is one cell that lives for about twenty days. The average land plant is a two-ton tree that lives for more than one hundred years” (p. 3).
- “The leaves of the world comprise countless billion elaborations of a single, simple machine designed for one job only – a job upon which hinges humankind. Leaves make sugar. Plants are the only things in the universe that can make sugar out of nonliving inorganic matter” (p. 63).
- “If you know how to listen, each [tree] ring describes how the rain fell and the wind blew and the sun appeared every day at dawn” (p. 79).
- “Viewed from space our planet appears less green with each passing year” (p. 279).
In response to the last point, Jahren urges readers to plant a tree and “check it daily, because the first three years are critical” (p. 281).
I hope you will be able to attend the Urban Tree program and learn more about the benefits of trees and what we as a community and as individuals can do to help protect and enhance urban trees.
To register for this Zoom event, click here.
You also can watch this program live on the Citizens Club of Springfield Facebook site without registering (https://www.facebook.com/citizensclubspringfield/). If you are unable to attend the event, a recording will be made available on the Citizens Club’s Facebook site.
Turner-Skoff, J.B. & Cavender, N. (2019). The benefits of trees for livable and sustainable communities, Plants, People, Planet. 1, 323-335. DOI: 10.1002 https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ppp3.39
Tree photo provided by Susan Allen.
Bio: Beverly S. Bunch is a professor in the UIS Public Administration Department, with a joint appointment in the Center for State Policy and Leadership. She also is a board member of the Citizens Club of Springfield.