That's quite a variety.
Unfortunately, in many communities, the variety of tree species is much more limited. Oftentimes, this limited variety of tree species is by choice. Large numbers of the same type of trees, known as a "monoculture," are planted in many communities. The ongoing crisis caused by the emerald ash borer, an invasive species, really dramatizes the danger of planting a monoculture, instead of a great variety of tree species. In New York State, the emerald ash borer is in the process of producing disaster, putting the state's 900 million ash trees at risk.
Here, in Grand Island, anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the trees are ash trees. According to entomologist Mark Whitmore of Cornell University, all of Grand Island's ash trees are infested.
- Asian longhorned beetle, which poses a threat to maple trees.
- Hemlock wooly adelgid, which poses a threat to hemlock trees. There are at least 274 cultivars of the hemlock trees known to exist.
So why do we need trees? Would the loss of all of these trees be a huge disaster? In a word, yes. In a few more words, trees are necessary for the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the environment and they put out oxygen. They provide shade. If trees are well placed around buildings, they can reduce the cost of air conditioning and heat because they act as wind breakers. Trees have deep roots, which helps prevent soil erosion and runoff.
I am writing about trees today because tomorrow is arbor day. It is a day in which trees are celebrated and planted. Many countries observe arbor day. In Japan, it's called "Greenery Day." And, speaking of Japan, there is, in Buffalo's Delaware Park, a beautiful Japanese garden. It came about because of a sister city relationship between Buffalo and Kanazawa, Japan. It was conceived in 1970 and the garden, with sculptures and cherry trees, was completed in 1974.
Buffalo's cherry blossom festival, held at the Japanese garden, began today and will continue tomorrow. I hope to have photographs of that to share within the next few days.
Conversation point: What are common species of trees in your community? Do you celebrate arbor day and how?