The Treasure Valley Forest Carbon Assessment estimated there are currently 2.4 million trees in the Treasure Valley, but there is room for twice that many, write guest columnists Robert Maynard and Lance Davisson. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Mountain Sun)
The Society of American Foresters is the nonprofit national society for forestry professionals. We are a resource for education and assistance in sustainable forest conservation and management, in the urban as well as rural areas of Idaho and nationwide. Our local SAF Snake River Chapter of foresters actively participate in environmentally sound stewardship of our community and regional forests for public benefits. The Treasure Valley Canopy Network is comprised of public and private sector professionals and volunteers who recognize the value that trees and forests provide for the Treasure Valley.
Through collaboration, innovation and information sharing, they work to sustain and enhance our region’s urban forest. In our SAF “Foresters for All Idaho Forests” project, these two organizations have partnered together to further grow and improve our forest assets to help build healthy, vibrant, sustainable Treasure Valley communities and forests across Idaho. We appreciate this opportunity to share our work and tell our story.
In Boise — Idaho’s City of Trees — and communities throughout our valley, citizens since early days have been planting and caring for trees for shade, beauty, fruit and other values. Public and private forests in the region and beyond, managed to provide clean water, wood products, and fish, wildlife, recreation and other benefits, have likewise made a huge contribution to the quality of life we enjoy here. But today, with rapid growth and development, climate change and a new appreciation of the health and economic as well as amenity values that trees and forests provide, there has never been a greater need and opportunity to step up efforts to grow our urban and regional forest resources.
This of course includes planning for planting and growing more trees. There are opportunities through TVCN for all of us to join in tree planting. If you’re interested, check out the Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge at www.CityOfTreesChallenge.org. The shade and some other benefits that trees provide are obvious. But did you know that planting a tree in a suitable location to the west of a Treasure Valley home can result in up a 15% reduction in summer cooling costs? On a larger scale, a Treasure Valley Forest Carbon Assessment estimated the climate change mitigation and other values of Treasure Valley community forests to include nearly $10 million annually in economic benefits from improved air quality, decreased storm water runoff and carbon storage. This report estimated there are currently 2.4 million trees in the Treasure Valley, but there is room for twice that many.
We need to be smart about where and what kind of trees we plant, and how we plant and care for them after planting, to reap sustainable gains. This is where foresters, arborists and other professionals involved in the TVCN contribute to the effort. These experts also assist with decisions and actions regarding city trees that are dead and dying or otherwise need to be removed and replaced. The TVCN also includes an Idaho Chapter of the Urban Wood Network to use the wood from trees that are removed, for furniture and other wood products that can extend carbon storage and other benefits for decades after a tree dies.
For the larger forests around our valley and beyond, sustainable stewardship includes thinning and other harvest in addition to regeneration of trees to increase resiliency to drought, wildfires and extreme weather events, while producing a broad range of products that contribute to our quality of life in a changing climate. As part of the construction boom in the Treasure Valley, you may be noticing increased use of innovative products such as cross-laminated timber as well as standard wood construction in larger and higher buildings. This trend promises to save time and cost of construction compared to materials like concrete and steel, in addition to furnishing carbon storage and energy efficiency benefits. Foresters are helping to develop such uses and grow the forests that will yield these and so many other values.
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