A Tree Falls in Brooklyn
New York City has laws governing the removal of street trees. One cannot even prune a tree without a permit, and only then after taking a course and being certified, hiring a licensed arborist, or getting City personnel to do the job. A neighbor in Brooklyn where I have the town house -- a self-proclaimed tree hater --campaigned to have an old oak tree removed from the tree pit in front of his house. The tree did have a bit of fungus, which feeds on dead wood. It was possible that the oak might only have had another thirty or forty years. In any event, the “messy” tree was taken down to the delight of the resident -- two days after he sold the house (above).
Just think about what trees do for the feeling of a neighborhood, not to mention their positive environmental effects. The average life span of a New York City street tree is seven years. Trees over one hundred years old should be cared for, venerated, and worshipped – whether they live on streets or in backyards.
Many communities have no protection whatsoever for trees – especially those growing on private property. On this week’s radio show and podcast, I interview Corey Kilgannon, a reporter for the New York Times who wrote an article discussing ordinances for towns in the metropolitan area. Some towns have no regulations. Others levee fines of $1500 or more, and even suggest jail sentences for cutting down a “landmark” tree: a rare species, trees over 150 years old or those with “extraordinary size or foliage.“ Landmark status may also be accorded trees unique in “location, historical significance, shade value, fragrance, erosion control, aesthetic features or scenic enhancement.”
But every new homeowner of an old house wants to put his or her stamp on a property. If you move into a house in the winter, wait until spring to see what ‘s growing there. New neighbors near my New Jersey garden cut down a large deciduous flowering quince, last week, because it looked like a bramble of thick branches. Well, that plant was one of our neighborhood’s favorites – Chaenomeles ‘Toyo Nishiki’ (left) with multicolored flowers.
Do you think that communities should have ordinances governing the removal of trees on private property? Let me know what you think, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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