Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Photo: Jose A. Iglesias,

“A 35-foot tall ficus tree thought to be among the oldest in Maurice A. Ferré Park was chopped down by the city of Miami without any advance notice or a removal permit. What will take the beloved tree’s place? The city claims an oak tree will go there. But downtown residents who use the park daily dread the planting of an invasive species — a 300-square-foot electronic billboard blinging ads…

Photo: TJ Sabo, Courtesy of TJ Sabo

Billboards are coming to the park Billboards will indeed be the newest objects in the park, Carollo acknowledged last Friday — one on the north end and one on the south end, both facing Biscayne Boulevard, on the east side of the sidewalk. While it’s unclear if one of the LED signs will be placed on the exact spot where the tree stood, it will be close by, and unobstructed by the tree’s 40-foot-wide canopy as some 100,000 motorists pass by each day…

Although a proposal to put 45 digital billboards in Miami’s core was recently defeated by commissioners because of a public backlash, the placement of LED billboards in Ferré Park, Bayfront Park, Virginia Key Beach Park and at Miami Off-Street Parking facilities was approved Feb. 9 by a 3-1 vote, with Manolo Reyes opposed — warning, ‘we don’t want to look like Vegas.’

The two in Ferré Park — on monument bases and up to 400 square feet in size — will generate $800,000 in annual revenue from outdoor advertising companies…”

— Linda Robertson, Miami Herald

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Stopping Rapid Tree Loss with Water Resources Improvements: “Tampa to plant 30,000 trees by 2023 to restore city’s canopy”

Stopping Rapid Tree Loss with Water Resources Improvements: “Tampa to plant 30,000 trees by 2023 to restore city’s canopy”

Photo: Fox 13 Tampa

Photo: Fox 13 Tampa

“The city of Tampa will be adding hundreds of trees in two communities as part of the mayor’s mission to plant 30,000 new trees by 2030.

‘We were known, previously, as having one of the best tree canopies in the world,’ Mayor Jane Castor said. ‘Every five years, USF does a tree study in the city. This last tree study showed that we had lost approximately 8% of our canopy. And so, we are doing all that we can to replace that and replace it with trees that make a difference.’

Construction crews are already in the process of improving miles and miles of water transmission lines and wastewater pipelines in several communities as part of the Neighborhoods Design Build Project. Crews installing wastewater pipes are also planting trees.

Crews installing wastewater pipes are also planting trees.

On Friday, city leaders announced they are expanding this project to include a pilot program that will plant 200 trees across Macfarlane Park and Virginia Park.

‘We are marrying up, with our sustainability and resiliency department, our planting of trees,’ Castor said.

One of the reasons behind Tampa’s declining tree canopy is due to residential development, including the building of new homes and the expansion of existing ones. The goal is to plant 30,000 trees by 2030…”

— Ariel Plasencia, Fox 13 News

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Read about MIT study

“Cells of people living in greener areas age more slowly, research finds”

“Cells of people living in greener areas age more slowly, research finds”

Photo: James Houser New Orleans/Alamy

“Many studies have shown that people living in greener neighborhoods have several health benefits, including lower levels of stress and cardiovascular disease. But new research indicates that exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age.

The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that people who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had longer telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower ageing.

Telomeres are structures that sit on the ends of each cell’s 46 chromosomes, like the plastic caps on shoelaces, and keep DNA from unraveling. The longer a cell’s telomeres, the more times it can replicate. When telomeres become so short that cells can’t divide, the cells die.

‘Research is now showing that where we live, what we are exposed to, how much we exercise, what we eat, each of these can impact the speed of telomeres degrading and again our ageing process,’ said Aaron Hipp, a professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State and a co-author of the study. ‘A longer telomere is usually a younger telomere, or a more protective, helpful telomere. It is protecting that cell from the ageing process…’

Hipp and his colleagues looked at the medical records (that included measures of telomere lengths from biological samples) and survey responses from more than 7,800 people who participated in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted between 1999 and 2002. The researchers connected that information with census data to estimate the amount of green space in each person’s neighborhood. They found that a 5% increase in a neighborhood’s green space was associated with a 1% reduction in the ageing of cells. ‘The more green the area, the slower the cell ageing,’ said Hipp…”

— Katharine Gammon, The Guardian

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Century long cycle of hurricanes help move Florida’s Mangroves north:  “Part of the puzzle explained by centuries of history”

Century long cycle of hurricanes help move Florida’s Mangroves north: “Part of the puzzle explained by centuries of history”

Photo: WJXT

“Researchers have observed an increase in mangrove trees in southern Amelia Island, Florida, in recent years. This is well north of the plant’s typical cold-sensitive habitat.

Historically, mangroves have been limited to southern Florida. However, they are now increasing along the temperate zones farther north, from St. Johns to Nassau Counties.

This migration pattern is related to warmer winters and hurricanes. Warmer winters allow mangroves to survive further north, while hurricanes help to disperse their seeds.

A survey conducted by Dr. Candy Feller of the Smithsonian Institute in 2004 found no mangroves along the southern tip of Amelia Island. However, a return visit to the same site in 2017 found mangroves over six feet tall. In May 2023, the same trees had grown to nine feet tall and spread 20 feet wide.

Feller links this expansion to Hurricanes Frances and Jeanie, which hit Florida in 2004. These hurricanes sent wave energy right up the east coast, just when mangrove plant propagation was at peak season. This helped to disperse mangrove seeds throughout the region.

Hurricanes are an efficient mechanism for dispersing mangrove propagules. Thousands of propagules were washed ashore in Northeast Florida after Hurricane Ian in 2022.

Hurricanes are nothing new so why didn’t the plants establish locally decades ago? 

The answer is that freezes have kept the species in check. In the past, freezes would periodically kill off mangroves that had migrated too far north…”

— Mark Collins, Meteorologist, News4Jax

Image: A Slide from Dr. Candy Feller’s study showing cycles of hard frosts and hurricanes

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“US climate change reforestation plans face key problem: lack of tree seedlings”

“US climate change reforestation plans face key problem: lack of tree seedlings”

Photo: ChamilleWhite/Getty Images/iStockphoto/The Guardian

“US tree nurseries do not grow enough trees and lack the plant species diversity to meet ambitious plans, research says

Only 56 of 605 plant nurseries –  10% – grow and sell seedlings in the volumes needed for conservation and reforestation.

In an effort to slash carbon emissions and provide relief from extreme heat, governments across the nation and globally have pledged to plant trees. But the US is not equipped with the tree seedlings to furnish its own plans, according to a new study.

US tree nurseries do not grow nearly enough trees to bring ambitious planting schemes to fruition, and they also lack the plant species diversity those plans require, according to research published in the journal Bioscience on Monday.

For the study, 13 scientists examined 605 plant nurseries across 20 northern states. Only 56 of them – or less than 10% – grow and sell seedlings in the volumes needed for conservation and reforestation.

The team, led by two scientists at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, also found that forest nurseries tend to maintain a limited inventory of a select few species of trees, with priority placed on trees valued for commercial timber production. As a result, nurseries suffer from an ‘overwhelming scarcity of seedlings’ that are well-suited for climate plans, the authors write.

‘Despite the excitement and novelty of that idea in many policy and philanthropy circles – when push comes to shove, it’s very challenging on the ground to actually find either the species or the seed sources needed,’ said Peter Clark, a forest ecologist at the University of Vermont, who led the new study.

The research comes as swaths of the US face relentless heatwaves. Phoenix, which has experienced record-shattering heat this summer, has said it intends to plant 200 trees a mile in select areas, and has invested $1.5m into the plan. Many US municipalities have made similar tree planting pledges.

On the federal level, the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided money for the US Forest Service to plant more than 1bn trees in the next nine years. And the World Economic Forum also aims to help plant 1tn trees around the world by 2030….

But trees that can thrive amid local ecological and climate conditions are crucial to meeting such plans, and many nurseries the researchers examined had no stock available of seedlings that have adapted to local conditions. The researchers also found a dearth of ‘future-climate-suitable’ varieties, or varieties that will survive amid worsening heat and extreme weather conditions.

Trees that play key roles in local ecosystems were also scarce, the study found. The red spruce, for instance, is highly carbon-sequestering and serves as a habitat for many species, but has been threatened in recent decades by development and acid rain.

‘Efforts are in the works to restore the species, [but] in our investigation, we found only two nurseries that sold the species,’ said Clark.

Many factors led to the dearth of crucial seedlings, said Clark. Among them: the decline of government nurseries.

The decline of nurseries has also resulted in a loss of knowledge about seeds. And skilled seed collectors are also becoming rarer, meaning diverse seeds are becoming harder for nurseries to obtain, Clark added.

The researchers argue that dramatic increases in both seedling production and diversity at many regional nurseries will be central to any successful campaign to address climate crisis with tree planting.

The research calls for expanded federal and state investment into government owned and operated tree nurseries, as well as public seed collection efforts…”

— Dharna Noor, The Guardian

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“Tiny Forests With Big Benefits”

“Tiny Forests With Big Benefits”

Photo: Cassandra Klos for The New York Times

“The tiny forest lives atop an old landfill in the city of Cambridge, Mass. Though it is still a baby, it’s already acting quite a bit older than its actual age, which is just shy of 2.

Its aspens are growing at twice the speed normally expected, with fragrant sumac and tulip trees racing to catch up. It has absorbed storm water without washing out, suppressed many weeds and stayed lush throughout last year’s drought. The little forest managed all this because of its enriched soil and density, and despite its diminutive size: 1,400 native shrubs and saplings, thriving in an area roughly the size of a basketball court.

It is part of a sweeping movement that is transforming dusty highway shoulders, parking lots, schoolyards and junkyards worldwide. Tiny forests have been planted across Europe, in Africa, throughout Asia and in South America, Russia and the Middle East. India has hundreds, and Japan, where it all began, has thousands.

Now tiny forests are slowly but steadily appearing in the United States. In recent years, they’ve been planted alongside a corrections facility on the Yakama reservation in Washington, in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park and in Cambridge, where the forest is one of the first of its kind in the Northeast.

‘It’s just phenomenal,’ said Andrew Putnam, superintendent of urban forestry and landscapes for the city of Cambridge, on a recent visit to the forest, which was planted in the fall of 2021 in Danehy Park, a green space built atop the former city landfill. As dragonflies and white butterflies floated about, Mr. Putnam noted that within a few years, many of the now 14-foot saplings would be as tall as telephone poles and the forest would be self-sufficient…

‘This isn’t just a simple tree-planting method,’ said Katherine Pakradouni, a native plant horticulturist who oversaw the forest planting in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park. ‘This is about a whole system of ecology that supports all manner of life, both above and below ground’…”

— Cara Buckley, New York Times

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