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  • Writer's pictureCamelot Garden Club

Camelot ReLeaf: Why a Community in Northern Virginia Replants its Native Canopy Tree Cover

by Charles Kackley, Camelot ReLeaf Initiative

Over the decades since Camelot was built, we have lost hundreds of large native canopy trees such as maples and oaks. Over the next decades we will lose hundreds more leaving future residents in a treeless landscape…unless we take action now by planting new trees.

Sure, crape myrtles and Japanese maples are beautiful, and maybe you love the idea of not raking leaves in the fall, but consider the following benefits of native canopy trees.

Increase property values -- Research by the Arbor Day Foundation and USDA has shown that large trees can increase property values anywhere from 3% to 15%. A large mature tree can have an appraised value of between $1,000 to more than $10,000 according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

Cool your home – Having trees around your home can help you save up to 75% on your home cooling cost. A study from the Department of Energy shows that having trees placed in strategic locations on your property to give your home shade during the right parts of the day is the best way to keep cool during the summer.

Reduce the heat island effect -- Trees lower air temperatures through both evapotranspiration and shading. Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler then unshaded surfaces. A suburban neighborhood with mature trees is 4 to 6 degrees cooler than a neighborhood without trees.

Slow stormwater runoff – Stormwater runoff is a BIG problem in Northern Virginia. The result? The Accotink Creek, Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay all suffer from degraded water quality and reduced aquatic life. One of the best things you can do to help manage stormwater is to plant a tree. When rain falls on the canopy of a tree, the leaves and bark slow the water down. A single tree keeps 500 to 760 gallons per year. from reaching the ground. That which does reach the ground can be absorbed by the tree’s roots. A mature oak consumes over 40,000 gallons of water per year!

Provide oxygen, reduce air pollution and sequester carbon – Trees sustain our lives. One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people. The leaves take up gaseous pollutants and intercept particulates. A mature tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Provide food and habitat for wildlife – birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife need native trees for survival. For example, the white oak, which occurs naturally in our area, supports a staggering 537 species of butterflies and moths – the caterpillars of which are essential food for baby birds. Its acorns are food for more than 90 species of Virginia wildlife. But why native trees in particular? Only plants that evolved within a local area are able to participate meaningfully in the intricate plant/animal/fungal interactions that make up its ecosystem. In other words, if we want to see songbirds and butterflies, we need to grow native trees (and plants).

Would you like to know more about this initiative? Check out the Camelot ReLeaf page for information about tree sales and how you can participate.

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