One tree at a time, communities in South Florida are trying to save the world from the climate crisis.
“Palm trees do not sequester carbon at the same rate as our native canopy trees and do not provide shade, cool down streets and sidewalks to help counter the urban heat island effect that canopy trees do,” said Penni Redford, the Resilience and Climate Change Manager for West Palm Beach.
Kristine Crous, a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University, explains that palms don’t produce wood, so they’re poorer at storing carbon.
That is why some don’t think palms are actually trees at all. Botanists, ecologists, and forestry specialists all have a variety of definitions of what a tree actually is.
“Planting trees is great, but valuing old growth forest is equally important,” said Crous.
“Southern Live oak, Quercus Virginiana — large canopy trees, can withstand occasional floods and hurricanes and are resistant to salt spray, provide habitat for birds and a variety of moss and bromeliads in South Florida,” Redford said.
According to Redford, West Palm Beach gives out 1,000 native trees a year for residents and businesses to plant.
A joint research study from the University of Birmingham, Western Sydney University, Australian EucFACE , and BIFoR FACE is being done across the globe to study how trees adapt to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The research shows that mature oak trees can increase their rate of photosynthesis by up to a third in response to higher CO2 levels. In just the first three years of the 10-year project, the 175-year-old oaks clearly responded to higher CO2 by increasing their rate of photosynthesis.
The Pelican Island Audubon Society of Indian River County, FL is giving out Southern Live Oak trees – for free!
Oak trees support over 4,000 different species of insects and animals, more than any other tree (Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home, 2007). In Indian River County, 395 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars use Southern Live Oaks as food and protective shelter (http//nwf.org/Native Plant Finder/Plants/2804).
Contact the Pelican Island Audubon Society for your free Southern Live Oak.