Our allies, the trees are important for many reasons. They bring beauty into our lives, they support birds and insects, and they play a critical role in climate stabilization.
When the maple tree next to the Floyd Farmers Market was under threat, because it was looking a little too ragged to be a downtown feature, local citizens stepped up to get help. It now proudly overlooks the Farmers Market Annexe and provides shade for passersby.
The fate of its neighbors, the green ash trees, was not so fortunate. All our regional ash trees are dying, because of infestation by emerald ash borer. Once infected, the trees die within two years. It is a classic story of an accidentally imported pest. The new arrival has not co-evolved with its host and so the numbers are not kept in a natural balance. The populations of new arrivals explode. The emerald ash borer beetle, first found in Detroit in 2002, has expanded it’s new territory to 33 states in the US plus three Canadian provinces. It is considered to be the most destructive forest insect ever to invade the US.
Each native tree has an important role to fill. Ash trees have been important in storm water filtration, stabilizing stream banks, and supporting a wide range of insects and animal. The loss of native trees is always a blow to the eco-system and as we know the global picture of deforestation is fueling an impending ecological disaster.
So, we need to pay attention to our allies, the trees–wherever we can make a difference–large or small. The following videos from our Blue Ridge Eco Fair capture some thoughts and suggestions about the importance of trees and what one person can do.