Tuesday meeting talks trees, pest prevention

Elizabeth Murray, Special to The Reporter
Jul. 19, 2012

The Boston Urban Forest Council invites members from the general public to participate in its next meeting on July 24.  The meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. at  the Boston Natural Areas Network headquarters at 62 Summer Street, Boston, will include updates on the council’s ongoing projects, upcoming events and fall project opportunities, like tree plantings.  

Eric Seaborn of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation will also be presenting the upcoming Urban Pest Detection Project and will speak about how to protect the city’s trees from invasive pests.  

Founded in November 2011, the Boston Urban Forest Council supports the Grow Boston Greener initiative, which aims to plant 100,000 trees in the city by 2020 to increase the urban canopy from 29 percent to 35 percent.  This effort is a collaboration between the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the U.S. Forest Service and the council.

Matthew Cahill, the program coordinator of the Boston Urban Forest Council, said no prior tree knowledge is necessary as the meeting is open to anyone with an interest.

“There’s a lot that needs to happen to kind of help the urban forest,” Cahill said. “People aren’t out there taking care of the trees and replanting.  There’s only so much the city can do.”

Cahill said it is really the grassroots organizations, like the Boston Urban Forest Council, who need to provide the care needed for the trees and the overall urban canopy.  He cited a recent study by the United States Forest Service of about 20 cities that the total urban loss of trees is about four million per year.  

“Trees are a living thing and they only live for so long, so there’s always going to be trees exiting and being removed for whatever reason,” Cahill said.  “If you don’t have a replanting plan, the city will be losing trees every year.”

Jim Hunt, the city of Boston’s chief of Environment and Energy Services, says that city continues to encourage more plantings by private institutions and residents to help revitalize Boston’s canopy. But, he said that city trees face a lot of challenges to growth, including the high temperatures that the region is now experiencing.

“For us, it’s been about how we can better engage residents and institutions, including our own public buildings like schools, where we have planted more shade trees and street trees,” said Hunt.

Cahill said walk-ins are welcome to the meeting, but it is preferred that those planning on attending RSVP with the council first.  Cahill can be contacted at mathew@bostonnatural.org or 617-542-7696 ext. 20 in order to reserve a spot.  Cahill also encourages prospective council members and the general public alike to look at the Boston Urban Forest Council’s Facebook page for tips on planting and maintaining trees in the city.