In April, I was dismayed to learn that Newton County was planning to cut down 100 20-year-old oak trees lining the streets of a local subdivision. This past week, I saw that seven 20-year-old oak trees had been removed from along Clark Street, four at Trail Blazer Park and three just west of the intersection at Emory Street.
Reasons for street tree removal such as this range from sidewalk damage to potential interference with power lines. However, the benefits of trees are well documented and outweigh these situations that have alternative solutions, such as root and limb trimming.
Numerous sources report that street trees make streets more walkable by providing shade from the sun and relief from humidity. They can lower the electricity bills of surrounding houses and even lower the average driving speed, making roadways safer. There’s evidence that trees improve the health of nearby residents and significantly increase property values by beautifying the areas where they’re planted. Trees also improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and help reduce storm water run off.
Given the documented benefits that trees provide, particularly as we face a changing climate, it’s time that county and city officials reevaluate the criteria for street tree removal and develop plans to plant trees rather than remove them.