Sunday, May 26, 2024

Four trees became stumps April 19 in Bellis Circle, in Neighborhood 9 near North Cambridge, part of a Wednesday “Tree Massacre Slideshow.” (Photos: Charles Teague)

Fifty mature trees were cut down April 14-24 in my neighborhood, about half of which were more than 20 inches in diameter. On one February day, 60 were cut down near the commuter rail in Porter Square.

Tree preservation is neither about being pretty nor a primitive nature worship – despite the clear mental health benefits of trees for many. Instead, preservation is based on well-known benefits from trees: oxygen production, carbon dioxide removal, carbon storage in the wood, flood mitigation and the ability to cool heat from buildings and other sources. Trees reverse climate change.

There will be a “Tree Massacre Slideshow” at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 3-100 in Lesley University’s second floor University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, by the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods. It will feature pictures of trees cut down since a report by the city showing a 7 percent decline in our tree canopy between 2009-14.

A tree with a 29-inch trunk was taken down in Alewife Center on April 14.

To be sure, unsafe trees need to come down. But natural losses, exacerbated by extreme weather events that are increasing in frequency and intensity, make balanced and rational preservation even more critical. Our city’s tree replacement policies are disingenuous – the formula totals up the diameters of multiple saplings to equal the diameter of the removed tree trunks, with no regard for massive reduction in the volume of the canopy or for replacement saplings dying or failing to thrive in today’s environment of crazy weather and heavy traffic.

The “Tree Task Force” authorized in mid-February 2017 has yet to meet. The 2009-14 tree canopy comparison report was not published until October; a report based on new tree canopy data has not been released. There has been little or no action based on previous city task forces.

In the meantime, the slideshow will show constant, massive tree removals.

Charles Teague is a North Cambridge resident who caught W.R. Grace cutting down a tree in the public Linear Park, with the company having to fund three replacement trees. He also doubled the number of replacement Linear Park trees as part of the Dick’s Auto Body redevelopment permitting process and had the Cambridge Lumber redevelopment redesign its Linear Park boundary. Send email to [email protected].