As if it isn’t enough for trees to come out of dormancy on their own, this time of year people, like me, find great joy in tree planting. There are many benefits to the thoughtful planting of trees, some of which can be significant.
There are two broad reasons to plant trees – to make life better where we live and to restore habitat for wildlife. In both cases, there are added benefits to planting native species which already grow here and have evolved over time.
Around our homes, trees increase property values if selected and planted properly. They clean the air and moderate temperatures. They can produce fruit and other edible products. They take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it. They moderate noise. They are pleasing to look at, making us feel better. And, they provide shelter for native wildlife of all sorts- insects, birds, mammals, and others.
As a cornerstone of habitat restoration projects, native trees do all the things above plus provide larger tracts of habitat for animals, help slow down rainfall and reduce runoff, and preserve the ecological integrity and function of forests. They also provide useful, renewable products if managed properly.
Planting native trees is one of the most hands-on and practical ways to improve our environment. This spring, there are a couple of significant tree planting efforts taking place in our area. At Woodland Dunes, we will be planting about 3,000 large trees in areas of the preserve which have been cleared of invasive, non-native shrubs. This will both improve habitat, and also lessen the impact of the invasive emerald ash borer which will soon kill our ash trees which are an important part of our forest. A number of volunteers will be helping with this effort, happening in the latter part of May.
In the southern part of the County where Point Creek enters Lake Michigan, there is also a preserve undergoing habitat improvement by volunteers led by Ron Schaper. Part of that area had been planted as a pine plantation, some of those pines were removed so that the area could be returned to a more natural state. Volunteers will also be planting several dozen native species of trees and shrubs, starting this weekend, May 3, 4, and 5. If anyone is interested in helping with that, they can contact Ron at 920-489-4330 or at email@example.com. If interested in helping at Woodland Dunes, contact the Nature Center at 793-4007.
Both of these projects are designed to improve the landscape along Lake Michigan, an area important for wildlife. Putting in some time now will benefit wildlife and our communities for many years to come.
photo- volunteer Dr. Don DeBruyn and Jeni Klein, Woodland Dunes land manager, unloading trees for planting