Plant trees in the spirit of climate rescue

Ron Martino shares why trees are a vital tool in helping to reverse climate change. 

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinion columns about fostering environmental stewardship for our surroundings and the well-being of our planet and future generations. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

A friend’s son recently died of COVID-19 in his 50s. Reading his obituary, there was guidance at the end of the condolences page to plant a tree as a remembrance of his life. It was a poignant reminder of mortality and an appropriate ritual of commemoration.

"Trees have been sacred since pre-Christian times"

If you walk around an old New England graveyard, you will often see the images of trees, often willows, carved into the gravestones. Trees have been sacred since pre-Christian times in Europe with old examples in almost every country of “special” old trees that are still venerated objects of remembrance.

In Boston, on the edge of Chinatown, there is a plaque honoring the “Liberty Tree” where colonists staged their first act of defiance against the Crown in 1765. The original tree was cut down by a Loyalist, Nathaniel Coffin Jr., in 1775. It was just a tree — but it was also a symbol of the awakening American desire for freedom.

Today, trees are still often a symbol of an emerging spirit. A spirit relevant on a planetary scale. A spirit of climate rescue. Many countries are engaged in planting millions of trees and racing to do other projects to stop and slowly reverse global warming and its catastrophic consequences. In 2018, China sent 60,000 soldiers into its countryside just to plant trees.

Newburyport, an environmental leader in many ways, has planted dozens of trees lately. Fortunately, there are great opportunities to expand our cities trees in keeping with our designation as Tree City USA by Arbor Day Foundation.

"Now we should think bigger."

That’s why ACES Youth Corps interns recently created a Tree Walk at the Indian Hill Reservoir to promote and educate visitors about the importance of trees. Mentored by ACES Ally Maple Crest farmer and teacher John Elwell and West Newbury Tree Commissioner Fred Chanania, Newburyport High School students Nicolas Forestell and Jackson Darling researched and developed a wonderful interpretive “Tree Walk” at the reservoir in West Newbury.

And now, ACES is joining with the Friends of Newburyport Trees (FONT), the Newburyport Tree Commission, the Newburyport Parks Department and others hoping to bring similar interpretive learning signage and pathways to public parks, streets, and open spaces in Newburyport. This artistic and scientifically vetted tree walk method will hopefully motivate more planting of trees, and add to the city’s ecotourism attractiveness. Trees are an important way to sequester carbon and help and modulate change. We need as many of them as we can plant in the city and surrounding communities.

As these organizations and others are now forming “Tree Teams,” so to speak, to refine and promulgate the idea, we have high hopes for more trees replacing those lost through disease or storm damage. Watch this space for more information as the plans roll out and we pick up shovels together.

Because we often see trees as decorative, not part of clean air and water infrastructure, we may see them as nice to have but we also need to see them as must have parts of the public domain. They provide the oxygen we breathe.

In the 1970s, a handful of business and civic leaders rose to action and saved the city from its then ruinous decay. We need a new cadre of entrepreneurs and public officials to rise and face our climate emergency and yes — plant trees, lots more trees.

Ron Martino lives in Newburyport, is an ACES adviser/mentor, and publishes “GreenTalk Daily” on Twitter @ronmartino4.

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about the author
Ron Martino

After a career in Marketing for science and high tech based corporations, Ron is a member of the Marketing Communications Team of the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards (ACES) where he often focuses on our communication strategies both in traditional and social media.

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