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Are you protecting your kids by getting your trees cut down?

Inspired and written after an attempt to quote a job for a client that wanted to “Protect her babies”


1st published in "The Bark" volume 24.


As humans, we like to control and manage risk as much as we can, whether it’s for our own benefit or the benefit of our families and community. Having big trees in your yard comes with a responsibility. Trees are often removed from residential areas and people’s yards in an attempt to manage risk. “I want to protect my children; I want to make it safe for them” or words to that effect, are often heard from clients when an arborist arrives to quote tree work. As families grow, some move to bigger homes and many houses get extended in size. Parents say, “We just need more space”. Outdoor space, is made into more indoor space so everyone can escape the elements.


But whether a block of land is cleared for a new home or trees are removed on existing house sites, what lessons are we teaching children? Are we conscious of the climate crisis and our growing reliance on climate-controlled environments? Are we teaching kids that nature is not worth as much as the movie room or vacant spare bedroom? Is the message we are sending that we do not need the services of trees because we have air conditioning and television?


Although typically low, and somewhat predictable by an arborist, the risk of trees is often determined by the homeowner as HIGH. By cutting a healthy tree down, the tree worker is agreeing with the homeowner’s beliefs. Either that, or their arboricultural knowledge is getting pushed aside to receive the pay cheque. There are so many other problems that come from not having enough trees and nature around. By removing one “problem” we encounter many more, that are not accounted for in the parent’s risk assessment.


Less green space means these risks are greater:


· poorer air quality = an increase in asthma attacks


· decrease in areas for outside activity = increase in obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure


· increase in UV = higher risk of melanoma


· decrease of shade = more reliance on A/C


· releasing carbon = exacerbating climate change for the future generations to deal with


· soil depletion = making it harder to restore nature


· not valuing nature = disconnection with the natural world, a view that nature is expendable


Without trees, the list of risks continues to rise.


Some arborists are facilitating our urban environments to have less nature. The consistent loss of tree canopy cover is shocking. We should not have to travel out of urban areas or visit a park to be in nature. Removing trees thinking we are protecting ourselves or because we cannot be bothered to look after them is simply wrong.


The proof is there, humans need nature now more than ever. We should be able to look out the window and see something that resembles the environment, pre urbanisation. The continuation of this trend is a problem for us now but is going to be an even bigger problem for future generations. If parents are trying to protect their children, they must be aware of their actions. Having trees where we live is important for our health and wellbeing, and for that of the planet. Trees cannot talk, to tell us the benefits they provide, it’s up to the carers of trees, arborists, to do that for them.


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