The City will hold a public meeting on June 28 (7PM at the Waban Library Center) about the DPW’s proposed removal of trees on Beacon Street and plans for replacing them. In the case of trees in Newton, “replacing” is not really replacing — unless you’re willing to wait one or two generations.
Newton’s ordinance for tree replacement — and the City’s equivalent policy for replacing trees removed from City land — calls for replacing the aggregate diameter of removed trees with the same aggregate diameter of new trees. Usually a tree is replaced with multiple smaller trees that add up to the same total diameter. This has a devastating effect on our tree canopy because diameter is an inadequate measure of area, much less volume. When a large, old tree is replaced by several thin, new ones with the same aggregate diameter, the aggregate trunk area of our trees is not held steady but decreases by 65% to 90%. And since the new trees are much shorter than the trees they replace, the volume of our tree canopy decreases even more drastically.
Yes, the replacement trees will grow. The ordinance and policies require that they survive for 18 months, and it can take a generation or more for canopy to be restored.
This article outlines a wide range of benefits of a city’s tree canopy, including stormwater control, reduced greenhouse gases, cooling through shading, higher property values, reduced noise, more community congregation, and better health.