Oh Woe! Another storm and more broken trees in our neighborhood and, I am afraid, broken and dying trees all over the Midwest and the whole world. Global warming, storms, plant diseases. Urban development and rampant destruction of rainforests all are contributing to the loss of trees that are needed to consume carbon dioxide and give us the life-giving oxygen that an increasing population sorely needs. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but there is some good news, or at least proposed solutions.

According to a recent article in the journal “Science” (July 4, 2019) a study by Swiss dendrology experts has determined that if we humans just planted a trillion trees we could cut polluting emissions and actually reverse global warming and many of our violent weather patterns.

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Is there space on earth for a trillion new trees?

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The researchers used Google Earth to determine that there is. The scientists estimate there are presently some 3 trillion trees on earth, but that we are losing trees much faster than replacing them. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, trees like people have a lifespan, some longer than others. Again using Google Earth the researchers determined that there are large areas of the earth that would benefit from new forests, a great many in the US, Russia and Asia.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, I just received a tree survey from the Arbor Day Foundation with a questionnaire and an offer of ten free trees (little ones) suitable for this zone in Illinois. I already have a dozen or so trees on my small property but I think I can find some space to start these little seedlings and, like puppies or kittens, find a permanent home for them later. Some local municipalities have tree commissions that have programs for replanting lost trees and I am told our city is considering re-establishing its tree commission. I hope that is the case because I haven’t driven on a local street in my small town that does not have dead, dying or damaged trees.

If you are considering planting a tree (or several) this fall the Dendrologists recommend several varieties that consume the most pollutants and produce more oxygen than others. They include Black Walnut, Horse Chestnut, Sweet Gum (I know, I know, but they are beautiful in the fall too), most varieties of Pines and the Illinois State Tree, White Oak. You would make the birds and other animals happy as well as we humans. I thought Alphie, my aging squirrel neighbor, seemed a little short of breath when he lost his squirrel home in a recent storm. Maybe an oxygen mask would help.

If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a Master Gardener volunteer at the University of Illinois Extension office in Charleston at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ . And be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners. The University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the extension office at 217-345-7034.

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