This past week I had the opportunity to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Warsaw, Poland. There I attended side events and watched as more than 170 nations worked together to create a treaty that could turn the tide on human-induced climate change.
This is the 19th Conference on Progress, or COP19, after which the UN only has two more years to make a formulated decision.
COP19 High Minister Session, Tuesday 15 minutes before the start!
Trees took center stage as a success story coming out of COP19 with the REDD+ program, a program to limit deforestation through financial incentive to prevent logging, conversion of forestland to agriculture and pastureland, and fire prevention.
Not surprisingly, Trees are an extremely effective way to combat Climate Change, but the rate at which we are planting trees is being outpaced by the amount of trees we cut down each year, causing more damage to the climate than helping.
Coming out of COP19 I was able to meet with an organization called Plant for the Planet working to plant a trillion trees by 2020. To do this they sell fair trade organic chocolate; every three bars sell provides a tree to plant.
Plant for the Planet, founded by an 8 year old is now a global organization with more than 50+ chapters and their chocolate bar is the #1 fair trade chocolate sold in Germany.
Does this sound like something Southie Trees should do? Let us know in the comments!
Kate Brown and Amy Glynn are residents of Thomas Park, a historic street in South Boston that circles Dorchester Heights National Park. They are part of a group of neighbors determined to preserve the majestic leafy beauty of their tree-lined street. On the chopping block is a 150-year old English elm that predates the construction of the Dorchester Heights monument in 1902.
“We had no idea what we were in for when we first decided to fight the tree removal,” Kate told me this weekend. “When we began this process in May, we thought that our challenge was a neighbor who requested a curb cut for a driveway, but it turned out that our biggest obstacle has been the city of Boston itself.”
After the city failed to hold a tree hearing that met published standards and numerous calls to various city departments went unanswered, the neighborhood group felt that the city wasn’t listening to them. The advocates commissioned a tree assessment from an independent arborist which concluded that the tree was healthy. They filed a Freedom of Information Act to follow a paperwork trail that led through seven different city departments who deal with curb cuts. Finally, they filed a lawsuit against the city for an injunction against the removal of the tree.
On September 20th, a Superior Court judge issued a permanent injunction preventing the tree from being removed by the city. Unfortunately, the city has decided to continue to oppose the wishes of the concerned neighbors. On October 18th, the city filed a notice that they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.
After seven months and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, along with investment of financial resources, the advocates and their attorney (who has been working pro bono) are exhausted and discouraged. “It shouldn’t be this hard for us to engage with the city on important issues such as protecting heritage trees, Amy concluded. “This tree provides a public benefit that goes way beyond aesthetics. The services it provides, such as cooling, noise abatement, flood control and air cleaning are valuable. This tree would be very difficult to replace, no matter how many new trees are planted.”
This past Saturday we continued one of our most successful programs, Plant-A-Tree. More than a dozen community members signed up to receive a free tree.
Since beginning at Southie Trees in July, this was one of the greatest work experiences I had. Everyone was so appreciative of their new trees, and participants were eager to learn how to properly plant their trees for continued survival. This hands-on event not only provided us with the opportunity to teach and provide for the South Boston community, but also create future habitats for the urban ecosystem.
A special thank you to the Gate of Heaven Church, for providing the space and parking to have the event, as well as Donna Brown, Executive Director of South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation, our fiscal sponsor, and Phoebe Flemming, Executive Director of South Boston Grows, for assisting in running the planting workshop.
An additional thank you for everyone who took the time to participate!
Your Southie Trees Program Coordinator,
Working as a consultant for managing pension funds, Amy assists in helping these funds avoid investments that might create a conflict of interest or break one of the many complex rules of fund management.
Thus when she was contacted by Kate Brown, a neighbor up the street concerned about a tree cut, it was only natural for her to see if the rules were being followed.
A restraining order against the city and two tree hearings later, the situation is still unresolved. Amy, Kate Brown and a group of community leaders including Chris Soule from the Dorchester Heights Tree Association, and attorney Joseph Gregory have banded together in an effort to save a 150-year old tree at 60 Thomas Park. The group is now preparing to face the city in a court battle this Thursday to decide whether or not the tree should, or should not be cut down.
To learn more or get involved please reach out to Amy Glynn at email@example.com or Southie Trees at SouthieTrees1@gmail.com.
Hello Southie Tree-ers!
I am excited to announce that Plant-A-Tree applications for Fall 2013 have gone live! Submit yours by September 30th to be considered for the program! To find out more download our application at the bottom of this post or stop by 365 West Broadway to pick up a paper copy.
Save the Date! Saturday, September 14th
It will be a day marked by closed streets and festivities as the South Boston Street Festival takes place! Join us or stop by and say hello! I look forward to see you there!
Let’s get planting Southie!
In the last year, 70% of all development projects in the city of Boston have taken place in one area of the city: South Boston. As a result, green space has become a prime concern for local environmental advocates. Last thursday I had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues at a Planet Southie Meeting, a monthly environmental group meet up.
Located in the Distillery Building, we sat in a small circle of folding chairs surrounded by vibrantly colored local artwork.
After a roundtable introduction we dove right into business, discussing the events surrounding the recent tree cut on East 4th Street. Our discussion found the need for greater responsibility on the developers part to promote and create more public green space rather than less and use tree cuts as last resorts rather than first options.
Bill Gleason from the West Broadway Neighborhood Association proposed an interesting alternative, called “A Good-Neighbor Agreement,” that we are now working to implement. This agreement would help to connect the vision of future green space that communities in South Boston so desperately need with development plans.
In order to understand what this vision is we need community input. What is your vision of future green space in South Boston? Let us know by leaving a comment or emailing Southie Trees at SouthieTrees1@gmail.com.
This week I had my first encounter with the difficulties of tree preservation in South Boston. It began last Friday when I was contacted by a resident concerned about a tree removal on East 4th Street. The tree in question was not diseased or in any way unhealthy, it was, however, in the way of a proposed development project.
With the tree hearing already a few days past, I organized a petition and encouraged residents to contact the parks and recreation department to voice their opposition.
Less than 72 hours into the start of our opposition effort, the tree was felled. I hope the haste with which the tree was felled was not as a result of growing opposition but a decision made to benefit the greater welfare and environment of the surrounding community.
Though an unfortunate event, I hope this is can be used as an opportunity to strengthen community ties to green space issues as well as be a launching point for dialogue with the city of boston on tree removal policy.
If you are interested in learning more I encourage you to attend the next Planet Southie meeting where we will be discussing green space issues and more on August 22nd from 6:30-7:30pm at The Distillery, 516 E 2nd Street, South Boston. You can find out more at Planet Southie’s website here.
Your Southie Trees Program Coordinator,
Southie Trees has already discussed many of the aesthetic and natural benefits that come with having trees in the neighborhood. Often, however, we need to reiterate the health benefits that get overlooked. Trees have a significant impact on our health and the maintenance of a healthy environment.
Aside from removing carbon dioxide from the air trees also remove fine air particulate, small particles from car exhaust, industry, construction, even smoking, that pollutes the air. Removal of this particulate saves an average of one life in Boston every year. In fact, increasing tree coverage is considered a viable method for meeting air pollution standards.
In addition to reduced air pollution, tree coverage assists in reducing urban heat island effect, the process by which asphalt and concrete trap the heat from the sun and reflect it back into the environment; increasing smog, global warming, and energy costs. Trees shade concrete and asphalt, reducing and sometimes eliminating these effects, subsequently costing homeowners less in cooling costs.
From an economic perspective, a 2004 study found that consumers overwhelmingly preferred business areas with well-planted canopy-covered streets and suggests a link to the amount of time that shoppers are willing to spend in a store.
Here I list just a few of the myriad of benefits that trees have on our environment, economy, and culture.
How have trees benefitted you?
Today Southie Trees set up a table at the W. Broadway Farmers Market. While there we made friends with the Boston Cyclists Union and the hard working ladies who make the Farmers market a success. Plenty of candy was given away, a few Southie Tree pins to the lucky individuals that signed up for our newsletter, and we were even fortunate enough to receive a small donation.
It was great to see so many people supportive of Southie Trees’ efforts, many compliments were given which I am very grateful for. While I was there I also got a new bike helmet, corn, and some delicious scallions.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the market again next week, please don’t hesitate to stop by anytime from 1-3pm. I will be there, prepared to sign you up for our newsletter and quite happy to share with you the stories of Southie Trees.
Thank you to all who stopped by,
After a long day I often sit out on my apartment’s porch; talking with my housemates and relaxing before I end the night.
These moments have been made special to me because of the trees that sit below my porch along the hillside. Were it not for the trees there I would be faced with the omnipresent view of Boston building sprawl, persistent light pollution, and the drowning noises of the city.
This lack of nature is an unfamiliar sight to me, most of my early life was spent growing up on a sheep farm and time that I spend on the porch brings me back to the forests, fields, and animals I once played with and loved. It is my time to relax and be at peace.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to share and feel the connection with trees as I have. In a large part, my reasoning for joining Southie Trees was to extend this experience and love to others. In the process of doing so, I hope to instill a passion and a commitment to our fragile environment and sustainability.
How have trees or nature as a whole affected you? Leave a comment and let me know.