THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS TO LOVE THEM
Image courtesy of The Santa Barbara Independent
Each Santa Barbara tree is an invaluable resource. Together, the city’s trees provide more than $2 million in annual benefits: from stormwater and carbon dioxide reduction to reduced energy costs. That’s why The community's Parks Division Forestry Program cares for over 23,000 street trees found here on the American Rivera. They include our Moreton Bay Fig Tree, believed to be the largest Ficus macrophylla in the United States. In fact, this particular type of tree is so popular, it has its own Instagram page.
History of Tree Admiration
There’s a good reason behind all the efforts put forth on behalf of the trees of Santa Barbara. Street trees add texture, color, and fragrance while providing shade, which prolongs the life of asphalt. But, the love and admiration of trees is not new. The European druids worshiped oaks; redwoods were a part of American Indian rituals; and Ancient Greeks, Romans, and scholars during the Middle Ages recognized trees in their literature. Then there are the Dryads and tree nymphs: tree spirits important characters in many ancient Greek myths.
Famous Original Tree Huggers
In more modern times, naturalist John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt became well known for valuing the wilderness, including trees. They established the modern conservation movement along with the National Park System and National Park Service.
More recently, Julia Butterfly Hill, an environmental activist, spent more than 2 years living in a 180-foot-tall, estimated 1,500-year-old California redwood tree to prevent loggers from cutting it -- as well as other old-growth redwoods -- down. Her book, The Legacy of Luna, is a classic among environmentalists.
Here are 8 reasons to love the trees of Santa Barbara.
- Trees Produce Oxygen
Human life could not exist if there were no trees. A mature, leafy tree produces enough oxygen per season for 10 people. What many people don't realize is that the forest also acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe. Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. They remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.
- Trees Clean the Soil
The term phytoremediation is the scientific word for the absorption of dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that enter the soil. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually transform the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills, and provide a barrier from water runoff into our streams.
- Trees Control Noise Pollution
Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. When planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your Santa Barbara home, trees can lessen the annoyance from major freeway and airport noise.
- Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff
Flash flooding is reduced by trees. When fully grown, one Colorado blue spruce, either planted or growing wild, can intercept more than 1000 gallons of water annually. Underground water-holding aquifers are recharged with this slowing down of water runoff. Recharged aquifers counter drought.
- Trees Are Carbon Sinks
To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots, and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas understood by a consensus of world scientists to be a major cause of global warming and climate change. A forest is a carbon storage area—or a sink—that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process stores carbon as wood so it does not infiltrate the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.
- Trees Provide Shade and Cooling
Trees are best known for producing shade, resulting in making Santa Barbara streets cooler in the summer. Studies have shown areas without cooling shade from trees can become heat islands, with temperatures as much as twelve degrees higher than surrounding areas.
- Trees Act as Windbreaks
During windy and cold seasons, trees located on the windward side act as windbreaks. A windbreak can lower home heating bills up to 30%. A reduction in wind can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place.
- Trees Fight Soil Erosion
Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. Tree roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater, and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.
Neighborhood Tree Planting Opportunities in Santa Barbara
The city welcomes working with community members in growing our urban forest. For many years, Forestry staff has coordinated tree planting opportunities for Santa Barbara residents interested in planting trees in street parkways. Community tree plantings typically focus on neighborhoods and involve youth, community groups, and other volunteers. If you are interested in a neighborhood planting project, call our Arborist at (805) 564-5433.
Now you know why people from all walks of life love the trees of Santa Barbara. It is so wonderful to live in a community that puts its precious resources toward important and invaluable assets like trees. If you’re looking to move in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please call at 805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. I’ll happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home in one of our sun-kissed tree-lined communities. You’ll be able to plant your own Santa Barbara tree at your own Santa Barbara home.