(WIAT) — We all know planting trees is important for our environment. But, this planting event at East Lake Park goes even beyond just your typical plant a tree to support life. It was put on by the Alabama Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, partnered with multiple other entities, including Ruffner Mountain.
The trees at East Lake Park may have a pretty grim future all because of the Emerald Ash Borer. It’s an exotic beetle that was first found in the United States in the summer of 2002. It most likely came from materials imported from Asia. The adult beetles nibble on the leaves of ash trees, which isn’t where the problem lies. It’s the larva that feed on the inner bark that ends up killing the trees. Hundreds of millions of ash trees have died in North America because of the Emerald Ash Borer.
Back to how this impacts Birmingham. At East Lake Park, there’s basically one type of tree- the green ash. And the Emerald Ash Borer has already been sighted in Alabama.
Francesca Gross, Alabama Chapter of the Nature Conservancy said, “So, we expect to get it in Central Alabama in 4-5 years. And when that happens, all these beautiful shade trees will probably get infested and die. So, we will lose all of this shade.”
That’s why all the trees are being planted at East Lake Park. The whole goal is to create a more diverse forest so that we don’t have another issue with one bug wiping out the entire batch of trees. About 25 different kinds of trees were planted and the trees will serve multiple different functions.
“They also do a couple of really cool functions. We are in a very low spot right next to Village Creek and when the water comes up, it can flood a lot. So, what we’re putting in, when we plant a new tree, is what we call umbrellas and straws. The umbrellas come up above and capture the storm water and kind of dissipate it when it comes down and trees also pull water from their roots and go back into the atmosphere. So you have umbrellas and straws. We lose all these umbrellas and straws, we need to replace them,” Gross said.
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