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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

By Yetta Jager, Green Sanctuary Committee

Trees are good for us, locally and globally. Forest restoration is a promising strategy for sequestering excess atmospheric carbon globally. Each tree can absorb tens of pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. But there are limits to how much reforestation can help. For example, reforestation only helps where succession of natural vegetation under future climate will lead to forest.

Trees growing along streams improve water quality and provide shade and food for stream critters. Trees within forests provide flowers for pollinators, nuts (mast), seeds, and fruits, cavities for cavity-nesting wildlife, and leaves for insects to feed upon, which then feed many birds. Critters aren’t the only beneficiaries. We humans benefit from trees too. Forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) is a spiritual practice with health benefits; it lowers your blood pressure, elevates your mood, and boosts your immune system. And our minds benefit from learning to appreciate nature.

Westside’s Green Sanctuary committee is planting seeds for future generations. Jerry Thornton spoke last Sunday about an effort he is spearheading to distribute tree seedling to the Farragut area on March 16. For being a distribution site, Westside will receive 50 free tree seedlings, five each of ten species. We will plant river birch and baldcypress near the stream, American plum and flowering dogwoods near Grigsby Chapel Road, persimmon, pecan, white oak, cherrybark oak, black cherry and short-leaf pine in a ‘woodland triangle’ near Grigsby Chapel and the development next door. Another part of our vision for Westside includes nature education, possibly by adding identification tags to selected trees and starting an arboretum. If you share our vision, we invite you to choose some seedings to plant and watch them grow, removing 500 pounds of CO2 per year and providing shade and habitat for decades to come!

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