Tree City USA

The City of Cocoa has been recognized as a Tree City USA. The Tree City USA program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976. It is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. More than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA. They have achieved Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry  and celebrating Arbor Day. (Information provided from the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA webpage.)  

The Beauty and Value of Trees

The beauty of a tree is captured by what we see and retained by what we record as a visual display in the form of photographs, videos and or painted/sketched memories. By capturing this beauty a timeline is created of the largest living organism, by mass, on our planet through whose life we pass. But what is a tree and what is the measure of the beauty in one specimen compared to another?

The primary objective of a tree is to capture light, without which it cannot live. In the pursuit of light, a tree never grows anything it does not need. Its entire biomass is produced through photosynthetic process to create the building blocks around which strength of structure can be obtained whilst accessing light. The balance and symmetry of this enormous dynamic structure is crucial for the tree to survive many variances of climate all over the world. This ability to persevere in the harshest of climates and reproduce simultaneously is a true wonder. Man has never managed to replicate the material of wood and its ability to adapt to the touch of our environment, a process called thigmomorphogenesis …..PHEW!

What makes a tree a healthy specimen? When one looks at a tree roughly 92% of what you see is dead biomass, the remaining 8% of living cellular tissue is the outer ‘ring’, the vascular cambium (where nutrient is carried up from the ground and converted sugars down from the leaf area where photosynthesis has occurred), the periderm that grows the bark layer and the outer bark we see that provides protection for the tree from the external environment. Health therefore comes in two parts, physiological health (that 8%) and structural health (the remaining 92% responsible for holding the tree up). 

You are probably getting the idea of where this is leading in looking at which trees have a beauty that others do not. A tree should have a singular trunk column supported by an evenly distributed root system emanating from the base of the trunk parallel to the point of origin. This system should have the space to be capable of enlarging and accessing nutrient to supply its growing canopy throughout the anticipated genetic life span of the species. There should be a good structural crown commencement area at the top of the trunk column capable of supporting a constantly enlarging dynamic canopy that is able to capture enough consistent light to ensure good photosynthetic process.

The phrase most often coined is ‘Right Tree Right Place’. Making an open field tree fit into our urban environments is truly challenging and requires a very unique skill set by industry professionals after many years of training. Pruning can either retain natural beauty or irreversibly destroy it and, in the process, create a dangerous dynamic structure weighing in at approximately 70Llbs for every cubic foot. Beauty lies in the maintenance of shape, balance and structural integrity. Good leaf volume combined with an active root system ensures good photosynthetic process and the production of enough glucose and carbohydrates for the tree’s needs. Some of this is stored as latent energy, critical for survival, throughout the larger limbs. Removal of structure not only adversely affects balance but also a trees natural storage of reserves.

The final aspect of beauty in a tree is the unseen process during photosynthesis of capturing CO2 from our atmosphere and splitting that molecule to retain carbon as a building block in the tree’s life (carbon is the building block in all life on our planet and yes, we are made of carbon molecules too). Whilst splitting that molecule, the tree releases O2 (oxygen) back into the atmosphere. 

Where would we be without The Beauty of Trees ?

-Submitted by Simon Stratford