Updated: Apr 24
Did you know that one third of our tree species are facing extinction? A recent report, issued by over 500 tree experts and 61 institutions, titled “State of the World’s Trees” indicates that we may lose 30% of the known 60,000 species.
In addition to tree loss and declining tree health, there have been terrible reductions in across a variety of species. In a new study by scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it has been discovered that 3 billion birds have gone missing in a very short time span. According to Cornell Lab Director John Fitzpatrick, this is “A staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling."
The greatest single action that you can do to celebrate Earth Day may be to do nothing at all. Putting an end to cutting or trimming trees and shrubs in the spring is one of the greatest and easiest things that you can do to make a difference this year and into the future. As the weather warms and snow melts, its understandable why many want to start to get outside and do yard work, yet cutting and/or trimming trees in the spring can be disastrous for species clinging to survival. For example, when you trim branches off of a tree in spring, you are leaving it more vulnerable to pests and diseases than if you trim in the fall or winter. Pests such as pine beetles are more likely to attack during the spring, and a trimmed tree with an open limb cut is more susceptible to pests entering.
Yet, the biggest threats to trees are logging, thinning and fire, in that order. Tree and forest loss can have significant impacts on wildlife like birds.
North American birds and most wildlife raise their young in the Spring. Why is this? For most species the spring provides resources babies need: warmer weather, higher foliage cover, longer days which equal more water for drinking and more access to food. Some birds in particular generally start seeking or building nest sites as early as February in some regions like California.
Some bird’s nests may be hard to see when hidden in limbs and leaves and thus accidental cutting of trees and limbs with nests often happens. And detractors from nature like the loud noises and disturbances that often go hand in hand with cutting can also have disastrous effects on wildlife seeking to raise young, as it can deter parents from coming near their nest sites or offspring to feed them. Being able to raise the next generation of offspring is critical for the continuation of the species.
So this Earth Day and every day this Spring it may be what you do not do that matters most.
Happy Earth Day, every day is Earth Day!
written by Catriona MacGregor
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