Trees for Watertown Annual Meeting Features Talk by City’s Senior Environmental Planner

The following announcement was provided by Trees for Watertown:

In the coming decades, our New England region will be at the heart of climate change impacts. According to a 2022 University of Massachusetts report, at current CO2 emission levels, the number of 90-degree days our city sees will increase to 80 per year by the end of the century, vector-borne diseases will increase, and animal and plant species will be lost. 

Of particular importance to Watertown, precipitation rates and river resulting stormwater flooding are set to rise substantially.  Storms will be more intense, leading to costly home flooding and personal property loss.  

In January 2020 the World Economic Forum launched the One Trillion Tree initiative. In July 2022 the Biden Administration announced the US government aims to plant over a billion trees.  Along with restoring forests, a healthy established population of urban shade trees is internationally recognized as one of the most powerfully effective means for protecting us from the most punishing effects of climate change. Cities across the world are planting thousands of trees to increase their tree canopy. However, the success of tree-planting efforts world-wide and here in Watertown depends on proper planning for the long term. Trees provide exponentially more protective ecological services when they are mature. This means it’s important to take good care of existing healthy trees, and to select, site, plant and maintain new trees carefully so that they can have long healthy lifetimes.

LETTER: A Miyawaki Forest for Watertown!

The Miyawaki Forest in Danehy Park in Cambridge. (Courtesy of Watertown Miyawaki Team)

This spring, a group of Watertown residents — known as the Watertown Miyawaki Team — met to develop a Miyawaki Forest. These forests are named for Akira Miyawaki (1928-2021), a Japanese botanist with a passion for trees. Traveling around his country, he noticed groves of large, mature trees growing near Shinto temples. He was surprised the trees were so healthy, in spite of growing close together.

Attendees of Tree Seminar Learned How Choose the Right Species for Their Homes

“Right Tree for Me” panel member Ben Anderson speaks while Anthony Fox, LIbby Shaw and Greg Mosman look on at the event hosted by Trees for Watertown. By Jim Briand of Trees for Watertown. On March 11th, Watertown residents gathered at the Watertown Free Public Library and on Zoom to hear from tree care experts at “The Right Tree for Me”, a free seminar sponsored by Trees for Watertown. The event featured four expert presenters speaking on different aspects of tree selection and care, followed by a lively panel discussion as the speakers proposed tree solutions for real world Watertown conditions. 

Following an introduction by TFW president Libby Shaw, Massachusetts Certified Arborist Greg Mosman of Barrett Tree Service East tackled the issue of tree affordability. He explained that the cost of planting a tree can vary depending on the size of the tree and how rare it is, but that small, bare-root trees can be purchased by mail order quite inexpensively and are easy to plant. An important caveat is that bare-root tree survival depends on the roots not drying out, so these should be planted right away after delivery. The audience at the Watertown Library listen to the “Right Tree for Me” panel at the recent event.

Find Out What Tree Fits Your Yard Best at Upcoming Event

The following information was provided by Trees for Watertown:

THE RIGHT TREE FOR ME:  Trees for Watertown to Offer Free Seminar

Experts Show How to Choose the Perfect Tree for Your Yard

On Saturday, March 11th from 9:30 to 11:30 AM at the Watertown Public Library, Trees for Watertown will present a free seminar titled “The Right Tree for Me”. It will be available both in person and via Zoom. According to TFW President Libby Shaw, the idea for the seminar began with the knowledge that 80 percent of Watertown’s trees are on private land. 

“Our goal is to improve the quality of life for city residents by increasing our city’s population of shade trees and these trees’ longevity,” Shaw said. “It’s trees with big, healthy canopies that provide the strongest infrastructural and ecological services. Watertown is doing great work with street trees, but street trees provide at most about 20 percemt of our city’s protective tree canopy. To succeed we need to help homeowners find ways to add and maintain healthy, long-lived trees in their yards.”

In planning the seminar, the Trees for Watertown team explored what kinds of information homeowners seek when they’re thinking about planting a tree. TFW members found that for some, affordability is a primary concern.  Others want tips on how best to plant a tree and maintain its health. 

One common question Watertown residents have is whether their yard is big enough to support a tree. Some just aren’t sure how to fit a tree into their landscaping.

OP-ED: As Watertown Builds, What Can Be Done to Protect Trees Adjacent to Construction?

This oak tree on Mount Auburn Street has been wrapped in 2×4’s to help prevent damage during road construction. By James Briand, Trees for Watertown

Watertown is a city under construction. From major public works such as the Mount Auburn Street renewal to numerous private developments, streets and lots are being disrupted for improvements. While the projects may deliver important benefits, the heavy equipment and excavation work required sometimes presents difficulties for mature trees in the zone adjacent to construction. Protecting such large, mature trees is vital, because even if new trees are planted post-project, it will be years before they can deliver the same cooling impact as lost mature trees.  

Watertown residents may have noticed the vertical 2×4 lumber barriers on many trees along the Mount Auburn Street construction area.

OP-ED: During the Drought, Don’t Forget Watertown’s Trees

Trees for WatertownIn times of drought, watering bags like these keep young trees alive. By Jim Briand of Trees for Watertown

When the rain stops falling, we tend to focus on the areas that respond most visibly—the lawn and the garden. A brown lawn and withered blossoms demand our attention with the hose and the watering can. Yet the most important plants in the yard — the trees — suffer as well. 

Prolonged droughts affect trees in serious ways, but the impact is not always immediately visible. In fact, it can take one to two years for the damage to become apparent.

Watertown Group Joins Other Tree Advocates to Stop Loss of Urban Tree Canopies

Tree advocacy groups from across the region met together for the first time on March 31st. Such groups
support planting of hundreds of trees each year such as this one recently planted at the Lowell School in Watertown. The following piece was provided by Trees for Watertown:

On March 31st, tree advocacy organizations from nine cities and towns throughout Eastern Massachusetts came together for the first time to discuss ways to reverse the concerning loss of protective urban tree canopy in our region. Organizations joined the conversation from larger cities such as Newton, Medford and Arlington, mid- sized cities such as Watertown, Lexington and Wellesley, and the smaller towns including Bedford, Weston, Maynard, and Groton. A representative from Boston’s tree advocacy organization Speaks for the Trees Boston was also present.

LETTER: Watertown Group Concerned About Loss of Trees on Private Properties

Dear fellow Watertown citizens:

The recent removal of multiple mature trees on Olcott Street raises significant issues about the proper balance of public and private interests here in Watertown. While a private landowner has a right to dispose of trees as they see fit, Watertown must recognize that the benefits of mature trees extend beyond the lot they sit on and are an asset to the community as a whole. Watertown is expending considerable resources to combat climate change and improve the community’s quality of life. Major investments have been made in street trees and in enhanced storm drainage systems designed to protect the city from climate-related extreme storms. Yet these efforts cannot succeed if they are at odds with actions on private land where 80 percent of the city’s tree canopy sits. The rights of private landowners are fundamental to our system.