Trees are the tallest, most massive, and oldest living organisms on Earth. As humans we are intimately, inseparably and deeply connected with trees. We prefer to live, work and play near trees. Trees symbolize strength, grace, beauty, and life across a wide variety of human cultures, worldwide, past and present. In urban and suburban neighborhoods, trees form the very core of neighborhood identity.
Trees help underwrite our enormous impact on the environment by reducing the effects of runoff from heavy rains, providing cleaner air and water, cooling shade in summer, increasing the quality of life in our communities, inviting growth and economic development, providing a stronger local identity, lowering energy costs, and raising property values.
Additional benefits continue to be uncovered by sociological research. For example, the presence of trees and grass in multi-family residential areas has been shown to increase the use of these areas by residents. Increased use, the data shows, strengthens ties between residents and helps deter crime. Trees are primary benefactors of our communities and our lives.
Funds for this project were provided in part by the Urban and Community Forestry Grant Assistance Program administered through the SC Forestry Commission and funded by the USDA Forest Service.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202/720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-A, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
We Have Seen The Enemy, and He is Us...
Trees have been around for almost 200 million years. Over this length of time, trees developed extraordinary characteristics that enable them to survive without being able to move away from things that threaten their survival. As a result, tree systems are completely different from animal systems. Animals depend on mobility to survive. Trees cannot move. Animals bodies are made up of cells that are generally soft and cannot support themselves. Trees cells are hard and rigid. When cells in animals' bodies die, they are replaced. Trees use dead cells in wood as functioning components of their living framework. Unfortunately for trees, we humans commonly misunderstand tree processes because our frame of reference is the animal's perspective.
For example, we see a tree produce new wood over the years to cover a trunk wound, and we believe the tree has "healed" the wound. We don't realize that trees cannot heal as we do, by replacing the damaged tissue with new tissue. Trees can only isolate the injured tissue (wall it off) and grow more wood around it. Trees, unlike humans, must continue to grow their entire lives. For trees, growth is life. When growth stops, life stops.
Because we don't understand trees very well, people are often the culprit for damage and injury to trees, often without intending to do so. People have their trees "topped" or "rounded over" to make them smaller, or to make them "look" better. People insist on leaving trees standing on construction sites, but allow their roots to be destroyed by grading and compaction and the trees soon die. People paint tree wounds with substances that trap moisture and make conditions in the injured wood ideal for decay. These are crimes against nature, but they are frequently committed out of ignorance by people who really do care about trees. Sometimes we are guilty of loving trees to death! Mostly, though, we are guilty of misunderstanding how trees work.
It is the purpose of "Trees for Rock Hill", a booklet published by the City of Rock Hill Utilities Department, to help connect people with accurate information on tree selection, planting, maintenance, and care. If it also strengthens your appreciation and increases your understanding of trees, perhaps it will help to assure tree-shaded neighborhoods for future generations of Rock Hillians. To obtain a copy of this booklet contact Matt Clinton at 803-329-5534.