Cutting Down Trees

Someone brought over the November/ December 09 copy of the Sierra Club Magazine. It fell open to the centerfold. There in a big blue box and large letters it said:


It’s cool because people are cutting down trees instead of spending Saturday playing videogames.”


In that case, just like the trees in Sutro Cloud Forest, the trees so gleefully being felled were non-natives.

Sutro Forest

Sutro Forest viewed from Forest Knolls

There’s always a good reason to cut down trees.

– They’re non-native…

– They’re in the way and the land is more valuable without them…

– They can be sold for lumber…

– They block the view…

It’s tough to argue that other people should preserve their trees when what we’re doing with ours is chopping them down. Fell Sutro Cloud Forest, save the Brazilian cloud forests. Kill the century-old eucalyptus trees, save the century-old pines.  But ideology aside, non-native trees are beneficial just like the ones that are native elsewhere.

Urban trees, native or not,  have multiple benefits:

Edgewood Forest

Forest hides UCSF hospital behind Edgewood

– They clean the air;

– They sequester carbon (1 acre=30 cars);

– They act as windbreaks;

– They muffle sound;

– They screen ugly buildings.

On Mount Sutro, the density of the forest creates an oasis that feels as though you’re completely outside the city. As long, of course, as we preserve that density.

Here in San Francisco, the Department of the Environment and Friends of the Urban Forest is offering residents the option of buying Christmas trees that can later be planted as urban trees. They note that the city could use another 100,000 trees, and only 12% of San Francisco is covered in greenery, compared to over 20% for Chicago, Seattle and New York. They’re offering magnolia, the Australian small-leaf Tristania; strawberry tree; and the New Zealand Christmas Tree. (The magnolia and the strawberry tree don’t like wind. The Australian and NZ trees are okay with it.)

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1 Response to Cutting Down Trees

  1. NatureLover says:

    I am sorry to say that the Sierra Club’s commitment to killing healthy trees just because they aren’t native, isn’t new.

    In July 2004, they published an article entitled “When Aliens Attack.” Here are a few quotes from that article: “’Kamikaze!’ The most enthusiastic team members start to yell…and fall upon the larger plants with samurai fervor.” “’Kill tammys!’ someone yells. ‘Boy, that was satisfying.’” Also, this description of the tools of the trade: “…a veritable armory of tamarisk-killing tools, 32 gallons of herbicide…more than 40 cases of beer…”

    As savesutro reported earlier, it is pointless to kill Tamarisk because their removal will not result in the return of the natives. They are only there because the underlying conditions have changed. Just killing the Tamarisk doesn’t change those underlying conditions. And there is no evidence that the Tarmarisks are damaging the environment in any way.

    However, we can be sure that pouring gallons of herbicide in a watershed (this Sierra Club expedition was a rafting trip on the Colorado River) WILL damage the environment.

    I was a Sierra Club member for over 30 years. I originally joined because I wanted clean water and clean air. The Sierra Club no longer cares about these issues or it wouldn’t be advocating for killing trees that sequester carbon or pouring toxic herbicides on those trees to prevent their regeneration.

    I didn’t leave the Sierra Club without trying to change its position on this issue. I fought as hard as I could to influence its leadership. What I discovered in that effort is that its leadership is “elected” by only about 100 people. That should make it relatively easy to vote them out of office, but it didn’t. People who shared my opinion found it easier to just drop their membership than to engage in the democratic process. Eventually, I reluctantly joined them by voting with my feet.

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