Forcing communities to opt for expensive plants and sprays over trees

A California couple recently opened up about their battle with a plant disease that their insecticide-laced trees developed, becoming another example of a group of algal blooms altering the landscape and threatening human health.

For two years, the bees came back. That’s why the couple decided to start planting new trees.

The bees stopped returning after the tarsue mosquito spread a rare plant disease around their city, Pleasanton, Calif.

Last year, the couple, who do not wish to be identified, planted about a dozen trees that appeared to be resistant to the disease. But while they were successfully growing and flocking around, it quickly spread throughout the city’s canopy.

“It caused holes in trees, all of a sudden the trees didn’t grow back like they were meant to,” the man, who works in real estate development, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “A month or two later, the trees were starting to die.”

Tree disease is now spreading in the United States, with millions of trees dying each year. But a lack of proper tree inspections is forcing more and more communities to choose between plants that have escaped healthy checks and instead working to treat trees with expensive sprays.

In 2016, a San Diego paper reported on similar concerns of not following proper protocol, and the treatments often fail, resulting in expensive limbs falling or trees becoming toxic.

Reforestation programs, including reforestation projects within an urban area like the Bay Area, that help expand urban forests around major cities have helped address this problem in many areas. They are the best way to protect trees from attack from pests, diseases, and even extreme weather.

They’re also particularly important in urban settings, where they provide significant health benefits.

“Studies have shown that urban trees are substantially more effective, at significantly less cost, than plants we control for rain water runoff and mitigate climate change,” according to a 2009 analysis from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFA) titled “Urban Renewal to Reduce Pollution and Improve Air Quality.”

However, planting trees and retrofitting existing trees to grow new healthy trees can be expensive.

To mitigate impacts of storms, insects, and diseases such as the one in Pleasanton, tree prices increased by 70 to 90 percent, leading to a significant financial burden for communities. And while the cost of treating trees in urban areas has increased, the number of treatments has declined.

A DFA 2011 research report explains that this trend has led to an increased total cost of urban forestry, particularly for communities that engage in reseeding or other urban tree regeneration projects.

Meanwhile, on the ground, each tree is very expensive, potentially up to $200 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

In rural towns, which don’t have enough city funding to replace affected trees, communities have to turn to outside sources such as grassroots organizations to try to fix urban forest issues.

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This year, the DFA estimated that tree replacement would cost $27.3 billion in North America and climate change would directly cause an estimated 11 million urban tree deaths from these additional deaths.

The progressive taxes that prevent young families from ever living close to city parks could be a major reason why that problem is growing so quickly. Even so, the costs could be far greater, as tree replacements could lead to neighborhood disturbances, maintenance costs, and, potentially, health risks.

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