I live on the edge of suburbia. When I came here, it was literally where the suburbs transformed to farms and forest. Our home is, or more correctly was, located in a transition zone of small acreage. In fact, the zoning is classified as ‘Parkland Living’ – an area that rejoiced in native flora and fauna – tall trees, shrubs and scrub that was home to myriad life.
But all things change. Populations increase and so does the demand for housing. The result is that I now watch as forest and farmland alike are clear-felled and subdivided into small housing lots. Most are ‘benched’ and all are left without a blade of grass let alone a shrub or tree. Those animals that are not killed in the process are forced to fight for new territories. Most of those end up dying too. And that benching changes the natural drainage patterns so that the impact stretches to the surrounding environments including the creeks and rivers.
Of course, most home-owners create gardens and some will even plant seedlings that might eventually become trees. But given the size of the lots, those trees inevitably become a problem and are cut down.
Without trees our life would be intolerable. Even if we could replace their oxygen generating capabilities, we could never replace the many benefits, physical and psychological that they provide us. They create shade, breezes, homes for countless birds, animals, insects and spiders. And countless studies have shown that they help ‘soothe the savage beast’ in humankind.
They keep our soil together and manage the water table (if given a chance). They also enrich the soil with their fallen leaves and branches. And billions of beneficial microbes live in the roots, working away in many and varied symbiotic relationships.
Better urban planning is the answer. But to achieve that we need to overcome an approval system that typically encourages maximum density at the lowest possible development cost. We need to think instead in terms of social costs and mental health as well as the health of all the life we share this planet with.
Thanks to Capital Garden Services for giving me an reason to share my anguish!