Mature trees play a starring role in a healthy community

Sugar Maple

Mature trees play a starring role in a healthy community

Toni Ellis, Founder Tree Trust
Special for The LM Community

Picture your favourite streetscape or park and ask yourself why you love it.  Chances are it’s because of the big leafy trees that grace your view. Really, can you think of a vista that is not made more lovely thanks to big trees?  Beauty aside, trees provide so much: cooling shade, wildlife habitat and storm water diversion; they help recharge water tables and calm street traffic.

Chances are you aren’t thinking about any of these ecological services during your pandemic walk, but it’s likely you’ve noticed that you feel better.  In fact, trees do make you feel better.  Studies have shown that just fifteen minutes spent among trees can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.

These days, everyone is talking about trees, specifically tree planting, as a panacea for climate change.  But anyone who has planted a sapling knows the challenges it faces.  Will anyone water it?  Will rodents girdle it? Will its genetics prove adapted to its new site? It’s a true wonder that so many young trees actually survive.

Today, while we wait for our young trees to grow into their role as climate champions, our mature trees are busy storing tons of carbon in their roots, branches and trunks. In fact, one large tree does the heavy lifting of close to 300 saplings.

While it’s tough to get saplings established, mature trees face their own challenges. Against some of these challenges, like invasive species, we are largely powerless. Other hazards, like neglect, can shorten the lives of our legacy trees, and we can do something about that.

Enter Tree Trust, a unique program established in 2019 by the Elora Environment Centre, to help prolong the lives of our mature trees.

Since then, our program has branched out into regional communities and it is our hope that other people, no matter where they live in the world, might take inspiration from our work and craft programs of their own.

Anyone interested in learning more about ours is welcome to visit treetrust.ca