The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - 44

Stewarding Your Own Forest
Wondering how you can make your community better, starting
with your own yard? We asked that question to the Van Guilders,
and they offered a few simple suggestions:
	
1.	 Plant the right tree in the right place. Stewards
frequently see homes flanked by saplings that will
grow to towering heights, with root systems that can
encroach on a foundation, causing costly damage.
2.	 Plan ahead when planting under power lines, selecting
specimens that won't grow taller than the lowest wires
above.
3.	 Finally: don't top your trees - "[it's] really bad for trees,
aside from being ugly," says Melanie. Topping weakens
trees and is often a death sentence over time, resulting
in expensive tree-removal.
Planting and pruning with care will give you cool shade and
fresh air ... perhaps for generations to come. -AF

Does Money Grow on Trees?
ABOVE:
The Tree Stewards assist
with planting, pruning and
watering public trees, like
those lining the walkways
at Elmwood Park.

Once upon a time, urban planners and citizens didn't
pay much attention to public trees. At best they were
seen as decorative objects, like public fountains or
public art. At worst, they were sometimes viewed as
an expensive nuisance, in the way of new development
and in need of constant upkeep.
But public perception of city trees is changing.
A mounting body of research suggests that urban
trees do critical work in curbing summer swelter,
lowering energy costs, preventing expensive stormwater
runoff problems, promoting student learning, enhancing
the lure of tourist destinations, boosting property values,
and, in some cases, even reducing crime.
Across the nation, trees are increasingly seen as a
valuable part of a city's infrastructure, just like the
electric grid, roadways or a water treatment facility.

Planting Neighborhood Pride
But perhaps some of the most important work of
trees - and of the Tree Stewards - is in planting

44

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

neighborhood pride ... especially in communities that
have historically been less leafy.
"It just makes the neighborhood cozier to have
that lining of trees. It 's like having curtains in
your home," says Sunni Purviance, president of the
Southeast Action Forum and creator of the I Heart
SE Campaign.
Last year, I Heart SE partnered with the Tree
Stewards and Fitness for Good to plant dozens of
trees in Southeast Roanoke, inviting neighbors to
come out and participate.
"I think it gives us ownership in the neighborhood
... helps us claim it as ours - as something that we
want to make better," Sunni says. I

Want to become a

Under the guidance of Roanoke
Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry
division, Tree Stewards receive 26
hours of free training beginning in
January, and they commit to donating
30 hours of service in their first year,
with a 20-hour annual commitment
after that.
To find out more, go to
roanoketreestewards.org. To learn
about donating funds to Trees
Roanoke, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group
that purchases public trees, see
treesroanoke.org.

TheRoanoker.com

COURTESY OF ROANOKE TREE STEWARDS

"People come out and ask what we're doing, thank
us for improving the neighborhood," says Harry Van
Guilder, a member of the Roanoke Tree Stewards'
inaugural training class with his wife, Melanie Van
Guilder. "It's very rewarding."
But take note: those rewards aren't just about
good vibes and gratitude. Trees offer real, measurable
benefits, too ... sometimes with dollar signs attached.


http://www.roanoketreestewards.org http://www.treesroanoke.org http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - September/October 2020

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The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - Cover3
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