By Karol Kelly
Special to The Telegraph
Macon, GA (May 17, 2007)- As our urban community continues to grow, natural resource management becomes a crucial element for maintaining and developing both our quality of life and the quality of our environment. When I think of Middle Georgia, one of the first natural resources that comes to mind is our trees. Whether I’m in downtown admiring the streetscape, in historic neighborhoods shaded by dense tree canopies or driving through our outskirts past rows of loblolly pines, it is hard to escape the majesty of our trees.
Fortunately, there are a number of benefits that accompany the aesthetic value of trees. Did you know:
* Trees increase property value. Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.
* Trees reduce air pollution and absorb carbon dioxide. One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and emits four tons of oxygen. This sustains 18 people annually.
* Trees increase storm-water control and improve water quality. Trees reduce runoff and erosion thus allowing the ground water supply to replenish more quickly.
* Trees reduce energy consumption. Buildings surrounded by large, mature trees can reduce energy requirements by 30 percent. Additionally, the shade provided by urban trees cuts down on super-heated air associated with parking lots and shopping centers.
We are fortunate that Macon recognized the benefits of urban trees and established a citywide tree ordinance in 2001. While the word “ordinance” is not always a popular one, a tree ordinance defines how to manage and care for publicly owned trees and demonstrates a commitment to the community forest. The Macon Tree Ordinance establishes guidelines for city government and residents on protecting, regulating, removing and planting trees on city-owned property and public right-of-ways.
Many of the trees along our sidewalks and streets actually belong to the city even if they appear to be on private property. There are fines associated with damaging or removing city-owned trees — no matter their condition.
Georgia Forestry Commission
Georgia Urban Forestry Council