In the West, our forests need more frequent, low-intensity controlled burns performed by fire experts to mimic the natural cycle. This will help keep the “kindling” on the forest floor in check, reducing the risk of explosive megafires.
And in my town, it means clearing out unhealthy trees and planting some new ones, so our beloved shady neighborhood can persist for the next generation.
To re-create a bit of the natural processes for healthy trees where you live, consider:
- Removing dead wood/trees before they become storm hazards
- Clearing underbrush to discourage pests and reduce fire risk
- Keeping invasive species, like English ivy, in check
- Planting new trees in your backyard, especially as older ones die off, and/or participating in a local tree planting initiative.
Bottom line: to sustain our love of forests, take a cue from the ways in which nature has maintained forests over time, including letting some trees go—an important part of the cycle of life.
[Image: A crew works to remove a hickory uprooted by a combination of ivy, termites and Hurricane Irene. Credit: Sarene Marshall]
Sarene Marshall is the managing director for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Team. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Studies from University of Pennsylvania, and is fluent in Spanish. Sarene, a mother of two, enjoys gardening and gourmet cooking.