Lab Journal

Maple Monopoly!

July 16, 2010 by Nelida

We have come across some very devastating news in the Humboldt Park area. Of all the trees in the neighborhood, 14% are Honey Locust, 21% are Ash, and 29% are Maple!

Why is this so devastating? Well, the lack of diversity amongst trees is obvious, and tree diversity is essential for a healthy urban forest. The city of Chicago has noticed this as well (over one-third of all the trees in Chicago are Maple). Noticing a need to change this statistic, the City of Chicago has established a goal to have no tree species represent more than 15% of the street tree population.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why is tree diversity important?” When you have trees of the same species, you have a monoculture. Monocultures are very vulnerable because a single pest or disease can wipe them out. Right now, the planting of Ash trees is prohibited in Chicago due to the threat of the Emerald Ash Borer. That pest could easily wipe out 21% of all the trees in the neighborhood! However, if we have diversity amongst trees, the Borer would not be such a threat.

So go forth, plant more trees, and diversify the city of Chicago!

Read more about Chicago’s tree diversity ordinance.

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